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Y’all with the living room reveal on Monday I wanted to do a show and tell on some of my favorite art pieces that I bought, collected, or reframed for this room. Art is the single most difficult thing for people to commit to – we think because art is supposed to say something about you and your style since it’s the one thing in the house that is fully decorative (meaning has zero practical function). This makes it HIGHLY personal, which can make people understandably feel paralyzed especially since great art can be so expensive. Up until five years ago (when we did the first Portland Project) I bought almost exclusively vintage art because contemporary art by current artists is just hard to find at affordable prices (understandably). But as you can imagine, when I started to incorporate newer pieces along with my vintage collection my walls, nay the whole room, just came alive for me. I don’t think that most people would walk in and say, “Your art collection is epic” but to me, it really does represent my style because I know art that feels like “me” almost immediately. And yet for me, I’m all over the place – I love all mediums, all styles – I have a massive vintage portrait and seascape collection, as well as weird old drawings, huge abstracts, etc. I think it’s one of the areas where I feel the most brave and confident. I can almost guarantee to myself that if I love a piece I’ll find a place for it.
When we did the first Portland Project we did a call out for artists to borrow for the staging of the house in exchange for photos, press, and potential sales. I think it was highly successful for everyone, but the big winner was me for realizing the power of great contemporary art by local artists. These are pieces that feel like they have a story and a soul, beyond just being cool to look at. This is where I discovered and fell in love with artists like MaryAnn Puls. So when we moved up here she reached out and said she was at a gallery now, which I was so happy for but feared that I wouldn’t be able to afford her work any longer. But then I pulled on my big mama blog pants and remembered that supporting local artists was one thing I felt really good about using my budget for – IF I loved the pieces of course.
My First Gallery Purchase
So I went down to the Laura Vincent Gallery to see MaryAnn’s recent collection. Not only did I fall in love with hers but also with another artist named Marilyn Joyce. They all varied in pricing and many were framed while others weren’t yet.
MaryAnn Puls’ work is full of such incredible energy and movement, in often unexpected (yet cohesive) colors. They are mixed media – collages and painting/drawing. There was one piece that was an immediate “hell yes” (the blue one that is in our entry) while a few others I wanted to make sure I had the exact spot for before I splurged. I know I just said the opposite, that “I can almost guarantee to find a spot in my house if I love a piece,” which is true, but when these pieces were between $500 – $1,500 I needed to make sure they weren’t going to end up over the toilet in our powder room. If you are going to splurge on contemporary art make sure that your eyeballs get to see it and appreciate it ALL THE TIME.
Hand Dyed Paper Collages
I was specifically looking for something simple/graphic and powerful for the entry or over the fireplace. Both walls were white and very textural. The entry had the new white wallpaper and the fireplace was painted white brick. So when I found these by Marilyn Joyce I thought they might be perfect to pop off of both white textural surfaces but still not be too busy. Ultimately, they ended up not being big enough to hold either wall, but I still bought them and had them framed (shout out to Dave!) because I loved them so much.
Our handyman, Dave, is an expert framer and while I don’t think he does this service for everyone, since he lives really close he actually brought all the frame and mat options to us and helped us decide on exactly how to frame them.
These MaryAnn Puls pieces are older ones that I bought years ago and actually gave them all to my team. There were a few extra that I obviously hoarded. We ended up float framing these (where you can see the edging) in a darker wood frame.
This is a Cy Twombly lithograph that I bought at the Rose Bowl, YEARS ago. Most people make fun of me for it, as it is just scribbles, but I love anything by him and won’t ever be able to afford an original so it makes me incredibly happy. After seven years of having it, I was so excited to reframe it properly since it’s just been in a basic chrome frame. We chose to float frame it with a white mat that matched the white of the paper, with a white oak frame.
I don’t love everything to have glass fronts in it (depending on where you put it with a window it can reflect so much that you can’t see it). So unless it needs the projection of the glass I sometimes skip it. I had these two art posters float framed and mounted for this reason.
I purposefully tried to not hang any art until I had most of the ones I LOVED framed and ready to go because I didn’t want to move them around endlessly and put a million holes in our new walls (so many of the pieces looked so good on all the walls). I needed to dial in the entry collection while also doing the living room walls and it’s such a domino effect. I don’t love multiple collections in one room for me, right now. I want breathing room, and where your eye dances around without too much contrast. Don’t get me wrong, there are rooms where I love floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall gallery collection, but not right now for this house. I like art on every wall to be mixed up (some solid pieces, some diptychs, some small collections, maybe one large collection, a mirror, etc). Here’s a helpful post about it if you need some guidance:)
Come back Monday for the living room reveal, folks. 🙂
*Pretty Photos by Kaitlin Green