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Curating Art for Your Home: An Interview with Linda Dubin Garfield

Post by Erica Minutella

When you purchase a new home, the most exciting part is filling in the empty spaces and making the place your own. But after the furniture is taken care of and the first layers of paint are up, you might still feel like something’s missing.

It could very well be art. If you’ve never collected art before, it might feel intimidating to start now, when your budget’s already been set towards a mortgage and a new couch. But luckily Philly is brimming with affordable options, like art fairs and student exhibitions. We spoke with Linda Dubin Garfield, a local artist and curator and President of the Board at Da Vinci Art Alliance in South Philadelphia, on things you should think about when choosing art for the home.

Photo of Da Vinci Art Alliance

Erica: What have you learned from curating different spaces?

Linda: I have curated a number of shows where I pick artists who are compatible in the topic or color scheme or some other thing that I think helps the work hang together well. In a person’s home what I’ve done is I’ve gone to the home and looked at what they have. And then I bring over work or show them work that I think might work. And then we play around with it to make sure it’s compatible with their opinion. One of my themes is: great art does not have to match your sofa. You have to have some piece that you love and enjoy looking at. If you’re a great lover of butterflies then you might want a butterfly in a picture somewhere. You work with the individual and find out what works for them.

Does the physical space ever affect the way you curate?

It does. The space is very important because it depends how high the ceilings are, what else is in the room. So it depends on where you’re hanging.

What should new art collectors focus on when buying art?

They have to have a strong reaction to the picture. They have to love it. They have to look at it and there’s something about it. That’s the intangible. I took courses at the Barnes for years and we talked about light and line and all these different elements of the picture. Essentially it’s something in your brain that connects to something in that canvas that makes that one your favorite and the next one is okay. And that’s a fervent magical connection. So when you find something that you have that connection to, look at the space and figure out the size and orientation and go from there.

Where can people in Philly go to begin collecting?

There’s so many galleries. In Northern Liberties, in Old City, the art schools sometimes have student art fairs.

Are there any practical concerns that homeowners should think about when hanging art?

Some of the art is framed already. With paintings you don’t necessarily have to frame it if it’s stretched correctly. Or you can take it to a framer and get it framed. Most artists use a simple frame. But if you want a more ornate frame you can re-frame it when you take it home.

What about care tips?

Think about – in a bathroom for instance – will the steam affect it? The other thing is direct sunlight. Even under glass a painting can change color or fade. But generally once you put it up you just dust it and there it is.

Why hang art in a home?

I can’t imagine a room without art. When I was 8 years old it was my own pictures that my mother hung up. It just warms a place. It’s much more relaxed and friendly. It adds so much to the atmosphere.

If you want to learn more about curating art for your home, join us at our first-ever neighborhood happy hour event on May 16 at Da Vinci Art Alliance.

Category: Advice, Philly Homes
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