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Buying Art For the Holidays

December 3, 2012

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for Capitol Hill artists. The Capitol Hill Art League and other Capitol Hill Arts Workshop artists and ceramicists make it fun and easy to buy art during the month of December at its Wrap It Up Party and Gallery offerings.

The Wrap It Up party is free to the public and held at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop Gallery Space.  The event is held December 8, 2012, from 4 to 8 p.m. and items not sold that evening remain in the gallery for purchase through December 21st.  This year the event is expanding to include other CHAW artists, including ceramicists from CHAW’s pottery studio on the lower level.  CHAW is located at 545 7th Street, SE, and there is a new parking opportunity at the corner of 8th and I Street, just a block away.

Why buy original art?

The two common questions that first-time art buyers ask are why pay money for an original piece of art work when I can buy an inexpensive piece of art at Target or Ikea?  And, how do I know what I am buying is any good or really worth anything?

There is one universal answer to these questions — it is best to buy what you love.  There is not any pricing formula to art.  Particular artists and styles of art fall in and out of favor and the prices rise and fall accordingly. The type of medium used for the art, the size, and the kind of frame do make a little difference in pricing.  For example, an original oil painting is probably going to cost more than an original digital photograph, because the cost to the artist for paint is more than the ink of a print.  A bronze statue is probably going to cost more than a cardboard cutout.

Owning a piece of original art is awesome because there is really only one of it in the entire world, and it was created in the case of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop – by someone you know or is a neighbor.  The art will travel with you over time or place and giving it as a gift communicates something special.  You didn’t just order it off the Internet, had it wrapped by someone else, and fed exed to your friend.  You actually spent time in selecting your gift.

It is also giving back to the artist that created the art, and in the case of the Wrap-It-Up event, a certain portion of each of the sales goes to the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop for operations.  Kate Fraser, former gallery owner in Georgetown and Bethesda, has juried several shows at CHAW and has worked with a number of the artists in promoting their careers.  She noted that the quality of artists at CHAW is exceptional and that buyers have a great opportunity to begin their art collecting at this local level.

Finally, buying art at the Wrap It Up party gives you a chance to ask questions about the different kind of art being sold.  Artists are on hand to [delete: that can] give you information about oil verses acrylic painting, or why silver gelatin prints are more expensive to buy than a digital print.  They can talk to you about using an original pottery mug and how to care for it, and the kind of glazes they used in making their pieces. Each artist has his/her resume on file with the gallery so you can find out more about their backgrounds and exhibition history.

In a fun and party atmosphere you can look, talk, and think about making your art purchase, and the artists will wrap it up for you to take home. The gallery will be selling original framed work, matted art prints, original cards, art books, original textiles, jewelry, pottery and ceramics, and 3-d art.  Don’t settle for ordinary this holiday season, buy Art @ CHAW.

Rindy O’Brien, Capitol Hill Art League

Cherry Blossom
Photography by Rindy O’Brien

Several years ago, the Cherry Blossom Morning, color photograph was sold at the Wrap It Up party to a first time art buyer that was leaving DC for a new job opportunity in Florida.  He was looking for a photograph that reminded him of his time in DC.  Two years later, the photograph was selected as a finalists in the National Cherry Blossom Photography Exhibition.  The art traveled with him and gained in value at the same time.