by Jeanne Beck
Reprinted with permission from Owl Light News | Copyright 2018
To some people, the words “collector” or “art collection” seem like they describe those with great wealth who pay thousands and thousands of dollars to purchase art. But that’s much like thinking everyone who enjoys a game of basketball at the YMCA is an NBA player.
Anyone can develop an interest in and appreciation for original works and start to build a collection slowly, over time.
Lauren Behelfer is definitely one who fits that category. A third generation jeweler in the family-owned Crown Jewelers in Downtown Canandaigua, Lauren works daily with color and design. In addition, she has always appreciated the visual arts, from the art classes she took in high school to her ongoing interest in photography.
About 15 years ago she visited the Waterfront Art Festival, where she purchased a lithograph print. Lauren says. “It was a framed, signed and numbered print of a tree and I love trees.”
However, with a busy life and career, Lauren didn’t purchase any other art works for a long time. “I’m not a person who goes to galleries or art openings,” Lauren explains.
Then three years ago Crown Jewelers displayed works by one of the participating artist competitors in Canandaigua’s Plein Arts Competition & Festival. When she went to that first Preview Party & Awards Ceremony, she fell in love with a painting by Elena Babak. The artist had painted a scene of cows in a pasture with the sun rising behind them. “The light and the scene spoke to me. Plus I loved how the parts looked a little blurry close up but when you backed away the images truly started to look realistic.”
Lauren returned to the festival for the second time last year. She decided she would only purchase a painting if it truly felt special to her. And sure enough, a painting by Beth Bathe of a “creepy old house” in Naples, reputed to be haunted, captured her imagination. She bought it immediately. “I only buy when something really moves me and I am certain I will want to look at it for a long period of time.”
This year, Lauren returned a third time to the 7th Annual Plein Air Festival Preview Party & Awards ceremony. Waiting in the long buffet line, she had the opportunity to chat with two artists. She talked to them about how the competition went for them this year as well as about the scenes they chose to paint.
One of the artists was Yung Hong Zong, a watercolorist from Portland, Oregon. This was his third year attending the Plein Arts Competition & Festival. She loved his painting of Grimes Glen and found out during their conversation that he had wanted to paint the scene the prior year, but ran out of time. This year he made sure he went to the creek early enough in the week to complete the painting. Lauren bought it right away.
Lauren enjoys talking with artists before she makes a purchase. Three years in a row the artists have told her the paintings she has felt most drawn to are their favorites as well. She acts quickly when she sees one that feels special to her. She saw people walking around the festival display making notes in their catalogues but she took the “he who hesitates, loses” approach and made her decisions quickly.
She will go to next year’s Plein Air Festival again. “These artists have such amazing talent. I may not call myself a collector, but I do appreciate beauty.”
Even though Lauren doesn’t spend all her time searching out art works to purchase, she is building a growing collection of original art works that are meaningful to her. It gives her great happiness to look at them. “I can see and enjoy all three every night because they’re all in my living room.”
Even if Lauren never decides to consider herself a collector, she is purchasing original works of art, supporting the work and creativity of others – and filling that need we all have inside for beauty.
Jeanne Beck is a mixed media artist and owner of Jeanne Beck Art Gallery & Studio, 154 Mill St., Canandaigua, NY. The gallery features periodic regional guest artists, classes and workshops as well as original works. Open Wed 12-4:30, Thurs-Sat., 10-4:30. 585-704-6419.
Header image © Roy Sowers 1999
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