Affordable Artwork
January 2, 2005 8:10 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy some real, original paintings, but don't want to spend a fortune. Is there a good source for finding some original but affordable artwork? Bonus points for San Francisco-based (shouldn't be hard, I know.) [+]
posted by robbie01 to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check out student shows at local universities and colleges.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:13 PM on January 2, 2005

Response by poster: I'm several years past the point of posters, have graduated from framed prints from the mall, and a couple of years ago bought some genuine paintings from a genuine artist (mostly modern/abstracts by Silvia Poloto, so you can see the style I like.) It, however, hurt -- to the tune of a few thousand dollars. I have some more wall space to fill and would like to get some more real (i.e., not prints) artwork/paintings, but the general cost of paintings found in local galleries range from $500 (for small pieces) to many thousands of dollars for large--and Visa says no. I'd like something a little more economically practical, so maybe I should be looking at student work, or the work of the stereotypical "starving artist". Is there a good resource (online preferred) to find this kind of work without spending all of my weekends trying to find and visit independent artists' studios? Know any good artists in the area? ARE you a good artist in the area? Again, SF-preferred to avoid shipping and to support local community. Also, I'm interested exlusively in abstracts, so no Bob Ross impersonators or still-life practitioners, and I've never found anything I remotely liked at Art/Wine festivals. I appreciate responses inspiring me to just pick up a brush and paint my own (considering they're abstracts), which is tempting but probably not as easy as it sounds, and not an option I'm considering at the moment.
posted by robbie01 at 8:14 PM on January 2, 2005

Hang! Hang is great!

Also, "open studios" events.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:32 PM on January 2, 2005

Ebay. Seriously. Search: Art > Paintings > Abstract.

I've purchased some really nice pieces at very affordable prices. Never had a problem.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:36 PM on January 2, 2005

Response by poster: I purchased the pieces I currently own at Hang (coincidentally) -- loved the work, but didn't find the prices any more affordable than another gallery.
posted by robbie01 at 8:41 PM on January 2, 2005

Have you been there lately? They seem to have cut prices quite a bit in the past two years (fallout from dot-com bubble?)
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:44 PM on January 2, 2005

Response by poster: I visited the Palo Alto location about a year ago -- seemed about the same, but I haven't been to the San Francisco address (where I first purchased) in over a couple of years. I'll stop by again soon (and leave the credit card at home.)
posted by robbie01 at 8:48 PM on January 2, 2005

Southern Exposure, 66 Balmy, Adobe Books, The Luggage Store, and more! This is always a good current guide to interesting - and generally affordable - work in SF.

Local art schools (CCA, SFAI, etc) also generally have shows & sales pretty regularly. Great place to find emerging work.
posted by judith at 9:04 PM on January 2, 2005

The Oakland Museum has a fantastic rental and sales gallery - very nice paintings, drawings, and prints from woodcuts, linocuts and etchings for very reasonable prices.
posted by luriete at 9:31 PM on January 2, 2005

I went to eBay because Juicylicious had suggested it, and I was impressed and surprised with the quality of the offerings. Juicylicious is, once again, filled with genius.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:58 PM on January 2, 2005

My SO loves, particularly works by this guy. The artists are grouped by continent, so you might have to go through a few bios to find an artist in SF.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:37 PM on January 2, 2005

Check out independent coffee shops. Often they'll show art by local artists, some of which is quite good. By buying art this way, you're more likely to be supporting the artist than some Armani-clad art-mafia types (with apologies to any Armani-clad art-mafia types, their friends, and families).
posted by jimfl at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2005

Have you considered Goodwill? It's not as great as it used to be, but you can still get quality paintings of Jesus, little children, or little children with Jesus for pretty cheap.

You could also be really lucky, like I was, and find a jigsaw puzzle of fine cheeses that someone put together, glued to a piece of plywood, and varnished. I got that for my boss several years ago for his birthday, and it still comes up sometimes. Usually it comes up in conversation because I'm trying to get him to hang it in his living room, but he did hang it in his basement for a while.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:54 PM on January 2, 2005

A couple of friends have started buying art pieces, all under $500. What I've noticed is that if you're trying to buy local, most starving artists won't have strong web presences, but they usually at least have contact info up somewhere. If you want to focus online, eBay and the right search terms (perhaps "original art"?) will give you good results. If your local artists have connected themselves with a good gallery, then the gallery's website will most likely have works by and links to other artists. From there, you can follow the web of peers, inspirators, and collaborators.

So, start with galleries and university arts programs websites and get in contact with the artist from there.
posted by lychee at 11:56 PM on January 2, 2005

A friend of mine lucked out and got some AWESOME abstract-ish art at a garage sale once.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:04 AM on January 3, 2005

This isn't what you're asking for, but you might consider shopping for photographs, which are often much more affordable. And not all photos are representational. Check out Seth Dickerman in SF for some terrific abstract photos.
posted by booth at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2005

Roll your own. When my roommate and I moved into our apartment, we spent a day in my parents' garage flinging paint at canvasses. All together, it cost us about $30-35 for the materials, we had a blast making abstract patterns/lines/whatever. We constantly get compliments on the "dip a paint-stirrer, wave it over a large canvas, get pretty lines" we have hanging over one of our couches.

Plus we got to choose the exact colors of paint to match our decor. He's kind of a girl.
posted by billybunny at 9:37 AM on January 3, 2005

Awe shucks sid.

Robbie - I have a gen-u-ine, un-opened, This American Life paint by number set (the 2nd one). Why not create your own art? I'd be willing to let it go for slightly less than $500.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2005

New Langton Arts has an art auction once a year where you can get fantastic work by accomplished artists for *really* cheap (you can also get drunk! it's a kegger! admission is about $25, but I've heard it's a great time, even if you don't buy anything). Also, if you haven't been by new langton yet, i *highly* recommend it -- it's one of the best galleries in san francisco (along with Pond, which i think no longer has an official exhibition space, and Lucky Tackle and Babilonia 1808*-- both technically in the East Bay).

Er, galleries aside, I'd recommend getting out and seeing shows! You don't have to go to all the crappy first thursday stuff that's down on fulton street or whatever, with the suited a-holes selling abstracts for thousands (the only reason we'd ever go there is to drink their wine) -- is a great resource for finding out about upcoming shows that aren't necessarily in gallery spaces, along with Squidlist (which everyone who lives in san francisco should be subscribed to, if you want to know about the cool events going on that, uh, no-one told you about). Most shows are going to occur on the first thursday of every month, because that's just the san francisco way.

If you want to drive up to Sacramento, the art opening day is on second saturdays (of the month), and you'll find that prices are a little more reasonable than san francisco (being that we're a podunk town). Also, depending on your tastes, you might like the work up here a little better, as it's a little more, uh, suburban (the artists working up here are more interested in making work to sell to folks looking to hang stuff in their home, rather than selling to collectors.)

I admire the fact that you are interested in supporting local artists -- that's great! Good luck finding something you like.

* Babilonia had a Kenji Yanobe show shortly after they opened, which remains one of the best shows i've ever seen anywhere, for any amount of money (it was free!).
posted by fishfucker at 11:57 AM on January 3, 2005

Unbroken squidlist link
posted by fishfucker at 11:58 AM on January 3, 2005

Can i interest you in a painting?
posted by garethspor at 12:56 PM on January 3, 2005

I have a friend named Mary Rhinelander, who I think is a real talent -- funny, quirky, graphic, and accessible. Here's a link to her website. Enjoy!
posted by adgnyc at 7:31 PM on January 3, 2005

Could I also interest you in a fine abstract painting? (There are newer and larger ones that aren't on the site. I haven't bothered to update the site in a loooooong time. The site design is embarrassing me.)

What you can't see on the web page is that the paintings are mostly on a metallic-painted base and include some metallic paint in the top layers as well, so they glow when lit properly.

I'm one of those artists who is allergic to the schmoozing required to get shows, so I've only had one coffee-house show, but sold a few paintings through eBay and a gallery. Mostly I just keep the paintings around the house or give them to friends and family. I got this book once on "How To Get Hung" and most of what it said is "You have to schmooze and meet a lot of people." As an introvert, my immediate reaction was "Forget it, I don't need to sell my art that much." :)

Anyway, it would be very cool if you were able to find paintings from MetaFilterians.
posted by litlnemo at 7:46 PM on January 3, 2005

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