‘In the eye of the beholder’:There is no wrong way to start collecting art

Published 9:02 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bob Henkel could not afford the first piece of art he bought.
“It was an antique, a French inkwell, in Los Angeles,” he recalled. “My wife and I really loved it, and we didn’t have the money for it. So, we bought it.”
When it comes to buying art, he always leads with his heart. Henkel, owner of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, said that is what buying art is all about.
“It’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “I haven’t taken an art class, but I have a feel for what looks good and what I’d like to have in my home.”
Henkel suggested people start with what they like and build a collection. Some of his customers buy local landscapes and landmarks.
He has another who collects face jugs. The history-rich pottery pieces earned an alternate name, “ugly jug,” nearly a century ago, but that has not stopped Henkel’s client from collecting more than 200 of them.
Henkel has never bought art as an investment. With an ever-changing art climate, it is hard to predict which pieces will gain value, Henkel said. He recommended anyone looking for value and investments in a gallery should start with quality pieces, not price tags.
Artist John Groesser said the first step he would suggest to someone looking to build a collection is to get to know the artists. On any given day, Groesser or another local artist may be found behind the counter of River Walk Gallery and Arts Center in downtown Washington.
“Every piece has a story,” he said.
Knowing the story will make the piece that much better when you take it home, he said.