The View From Halcyon Farm: Choosing Art

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    “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.”

                                                                                -Georgia O’Keeffe

    Art is one of the most personal choices that you can make for your home. The pieces you select will automatically give your visitors myriad clues as to who you are. But really, a piece should speak to you and resonate in your soul. If you get a frisson of excitement, you know it’s the one!

    Who you are now is not the same person as who you were 10, 20 or 50 years ago. In college, many of us of a certain age, decorated our dorm rooms with posters of rock concerts, a museum’s signature exhibition or an art poster, readily available for hanging. Most of us didn’t even bother with a frame, we just tacked it on the wall with scotch tape.


    When we get a little older and purchase our first house, or rent our first apartment, we find that there is more wall space to fill than we can imagine! Our advice is to start small and not go buy the biggest pictures you can find to fill the space. Take it slowly and proceed with consideration.

    There are so many places to find good artwork, and we’re not talking about Ikea, that “art” store at the mall or anything being sold on the side of a major road. Baltimore is known for its arts community, in part because of the presence of MICA. The annual Art Market is a perfect place to look for art made by an as-yet unknown artist. This year’s Market is in mid-December.

    There are also a number of art galleries in Baltimore, including Renaissance Fine Arts in Cross Keys, and Light Street Gallery in Federal Hill. Many of these galleries have shows and sales throughout the year and they have a wide range of styles and artists.

    Again, local auction houses are a great place to find art. Many people worry about scratching their nose and buying a statue for $1 million, but that only happens in the movies! At an auction preview, you can get up close to a painting, see how it looks in person, and see its good and bad points. The catalogue will have detailed information about the background or provenance of the piece, and its painter, subject matter and condition.

    You might not want this 19th century lady currently up for auction at Alex Cooper, on your wall, but she could be an “instant ancestor.”


    You could make up a great story about her and entertain your friends with her courage against the Indians!

    You might want to collect genres of art, such as landscapes, seascapes or cityscapes from your favorite places around the globe. You may find a painter that you just love and begin assembling a private gallery of their works. We are fond of old maps of places that we love. Portraits, as mentioned above, can either be actual or instant ancestors.

    So much of the fun in buying art is the search for it. At Halcyon House Antiques, our current show features works from two Baltimore artists: Trafford Klots and Sam Robinson. Trafford’s moody and evocative paintings of Brittany and France are very collectable, and are parts of some significant collections.

    klots garden ptg (2)

    Sam’s work is more contemporary and realistic. His commissions for portraits of pets and people are destined to become heirlooms for future generations.


    Regardless of how you choose your art, or where it comes from, make sure it is something that you love. You’ll be looking at it every day!

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