Sunday, January 4, 2009

Art as Investment, Part 1

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Jessica Joslin

Stock market below 9000. Millions of homes in foreclosure. Great way to start 2009. Terrible time to invest your money, if you have any left. Or is it? There are plenty of bargains in the stock market, but what if it plunges further? Home prices are falling, but couldn't they fall further? I've made plenty of investment mistakes in the last 15 years, but the one investment that has so far proven infallible is the one that was never intended as an investment -- ART. Virtually every piece I own is now worth more than it was when I purchased it, in most cases a lot more.

That doesn't mean I have any interest in collecting on the interest, so to speak. The art works are part of my life, part of my family. I have no intention of selling. And that's why art is such a good investment. "Buy and hold" is the mantra of virtually every investment adviser, and what is nicer to "hold" than a beautiful work of art? (Just be sure to contact your insurance company to report the value of the art in your home, whether you rent or own, and if you rent, consider renter's insurance).

And now may be the best time in years to buy, when most of us are holder tighter to our wallet and purse strings than ever. It's a tough time to be a gallerist, which means it's a good time to be a buyer. Prices are stabilizing due to fewer buyers, but the abundance of quality art is at a peak. The incredible success of the fine art market over the past few years has helped hundreds of talented fine artists find representation. The variety is such that almost anyone can find something to love and cherish. Of course this doesn't mean that every work of art purchased is going to rise in value. But no matter the monetary value of a beloved work, it will always have tremendous value in your heart and home as long as you buy what you love.

With that in mind, we begin 2009 with a number of stupendous new shows, all great opportunities to acquire something to brighten your life in these troubling times. First up, two concurrent shows from LA Gallery godfather Billy Shire and director extraordinaire Annie Adjchavanich. Just open is Mark Todd and Alan Forbes at La Luz de Jesus, and opening next week is Jessica Joslin and Esther Pearl Watson at Billy Shire Fine Arts.

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Mark Todd

At La Luz, two artists deconstruct two popular art forms, the comic book and the rock poster. With "Fragments" Mark Todd (betrothed to Esther Pearl Watson, by the way) creates a new set of faux comic book covers (and a few extra surprises) with his distinctive folk-meets-post-modern interpretation for his most diverse show yet. Meanwhile Alan Forbes, well-known for his rock posters (over 400 to date!) plays with some of his favorite horror-inspired images to create a truly creepy collection called "Unmanned Vessels." "Fragments" and "Unmanned Vessels" has just opened, so there's a good chance you can snag something if you act quickly.

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Alan Forbes

Next Saturday January 10th sees the opening of Esther Pearl Watson and Jessica Joslin at Billy Shire Fine Arts. Ms. Watson, coming off of her recent museum show at The Oakland Museum of California uses her characteristic Outsider Art style in "Visions of the Future" to depict a series of lovely tableaus that might be a child's vision of her own future or an elegiac adult's remembrance of her past. In striking contrast are the steampunky animal sculptures of bone, brass, bits and bobs crafted by artist Jessica Joslin. "Clockwork Circus" is a collection of Ms. Joslin's amazing constructions that "draws from the whimsical, decadent aesthetic of the fin de si├Ęcle circus."

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Esther Pearl Watson

Coming next: Investments (er... art shows) in New York and Jerusalem!

Mark Todd and Alan Forbes at La Luz de Jesus

Jessica Joslin and Esther Pearl Watson at Billy Shire Fine Arts