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Art style, quality is all in the eye of the beholder

Welcome to the periodic column called Art Talk. I hope to start a dialogue about art with collectors, artists and everybody who enjoys art in its many forms. I want to talk about the power of art. I'm passionate about art and all its foibles: its beauty, its calmness, its irritations - along with the irrational, hilarious and the downright serious stuff. I want to help dispel myths, maybe create a few of our own and make art available to everyone, not just those lucky folk with deep pockets. (Although I really like those deep pockets too.)

Art should be something you feel comfortable around. It's there to enjoy, puzzle over, challenge or just plain make you laugh. Art isn't scary and only understandable to a few weird artists or intellectuals. Art speaks to you individually and to us all collectively. When you look at a piece of art, whether it's a painting, a ceramic bowl or wooden statue, it should grab your heart and make you happy. It's got nothing to do with the price. Art that speaks to your inner soul can cost $30 or $30,000.

And that brings us to galleries. Galleries shouldn't be stuffy places you timidly venture inside and whisper to your friend. You should be able to relax, study the art, ask questions, make informed decisions and buy art. Their responsibility is to bring all types and styles of art to your attention. They should help you learn what you like so when you buy something you will enjoy it for many years. A gallery helps you to discover a young, emerging artist and start collecting that particular artist. You will find great joy as you follow the young artist's career. Another great joy is when you discover older artists and you start enjoying collecting their work. Art is ageless - regardless whether you're the artist or the collector.

A client who is a regular visitor to my gallery in Union Point, Ga., said to me recently, "I used to think art was all the same, but now I can see the different personalities and styles of the artist. It's exciting. I'm starting to understand art now."

Believe me, that was exciting to me as well. Her visits to the gallery had changed her perception of original art as unattainable, expensive and beyond her understanding. She's started collecting with small pieces, and I know she will continue to grow as a collector with a varied group of wonderful artists. And no one can call my gallery stuffy, as I run around in bare feet most of the time.

When I was in New Orleans, a new client introduced herself to me and said, "I've been wanting to buy your art for some time now. I've finally got the kids out of college, I'm done with prints and posters. Now I'm starting to collect original art." She bought two pieces and left so excited with the start of her new life. Three weeks later, Hurricane Katrina roared her destructive path through the area. Many months later, I was in New Orleans for a show, and she came to see me. She happened to be on a visit to the city. She had lost everything and was living in Texas with her sister.

"When I evacuated, all I took was your art and my mother's jewelry." She told me. "Now it's all I have in this world. I want to buy another piece and start rebuilding my live with things that really matter."

We were both in tears by then and I was honored beyond words. She chose her new piece, I gave her a big hug and watched her leave me once more with a big smile and a sense of hope. That moment was one I'll never forget. It showed me the power of art.

It brings joy. It gives hope. It enriches our lives in myriad ways. And so, visit your local galleries, start a new collection, discover new artists and new styles. Georgia's art scene is dynamic and growing constantly - be a part of it.

I look forward to starting this journey with you. We'll talk about many aspects of art. I'd like to hear from you - what interests you and what you would like to see, let me know. Send an e-mail to:

Anne Jenkins is the owner of Point of Art Gallery in Union Point, Ga.

Web posted on Thursday, August 02, 2007

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