The "New Art Collectors" aren't spending disposable income on art. They are making a conscious decision to spend their hard earned coins from their 9-5 earnings, part-time side jobs and entrepreneurial efforts on real art (and the artists) they believe in. They are single mothers and young bachelors who have graduated from the paper prints their parents took pride in. They are investing in original artwork. They are part of a movement and whether they know it or not, they are creating future wealth for their families.
Meet Donte and his grandmother.
It began with a phone call from a friend and supporter, "My homie want to get his grandmom painted, I'm gone bring the deposit to you".... no actually before that, came a picture via text, with the message "can you paint this?" - haha. The first thing I saw was this large white circle on what otherwise was a picture of a beautiful older woman. The "white circle"?, the glare from someone taking a picture of a picture with a flash dead front and center, lol. My reply, "of course... but can I get my hands on the original picture?". Many portrait commissions begin this way, in the age of what I am calling "the new Art Collectors", less than perfect images are passed off to artists such as myself in hopes of gaining the perfect painting.
Donte, a thirty-something yr old blue-collar worker, local football coach and dad, is not an avid art collector. You wouldn't find him surfing local art galleries for what and who is new. You will find him chauffeuring young boys to baseball practices, Sixer's games or tournaments on the beach. Now, commissioning his very first painting, he wanted the best. He soon delivered a picture, a physical picture of his grandmom to me. There she was, in my hand, big momma style huge fluffy curls, and a smile that said "I lived", and by lived, I mean.... lived through. The clients requests included: can you add roses? and maybe a dove or two? and the background, can it be the color I just painted my living room wall?......yet, ends the normal way, 'but just do what you want, I trust you'. (This is where all my fellow artists will share a small giggle)
The painting begins. I spend a few days in the studio, anticipating Ms. Izola's (whose name I didn't yet know at the time) arrival onto the canvas. There are some people who don't take on their identity until the final brushstroke. She came through instantly, within the first hour she was there, on the canvas, looking at me, almost as if saying..... "now, get this right young lady". In the days to come I painted her, talked to her, and sung as I painted. Ms. Izola made a huge presence in my space, her spirit was strong. So much so, I can remember sending a text message to my client many months after he already had her back home, asking the question (which I already suspected I knew the answer to) - your grandmom prayed for you a lot didn't she? / how you know? / I just know...
Interview with the new Art Collector:
MP: What was your first piece of artwork?
Collector: Yours. Well, I purchased a few things for decoration, but I don't even know who made them. My grandmom was my first original. Actually, I have these Miskeen t-shirts that Bariq (Bariq Cobbs) painted for me years ago. I cut the artwork out of the t-shirt and framed them. They're hanging in my home too, so you/yours was the second.
MP: Wow, Bariq. yes he's dope. and that was dope of you to recognize that as frame worthy art.
MP: What does having the portrait of our Grandmom in your house mean to you?
Collector: A lot. This was my grandmom's house, and it makes me feel like she's here. It gives it a homely feel, it makes me feel like she's here, watching over me.
MP: Does you artwork ever spark conversation?
Collector: Yes it does. Questions about my grandmom, who painted it, why.... etc. Mostly, people talk about how great it looks in my space and what a good job you did.
MP: wow. ok, .... last question Donte, do you remember what you felt when first seeing it?
Collector: Speechless. I knew what to expect from seeing your work, yet, I didn't know it would look just like her, so realistic, as if she was right there
MP: Do you remember tearing up? because I remember, like many of my clients, you came after work, covered in some type of dust, and hat pulled over your face.... yet, the teary eyes, they peeked through. So, do you remember... crying?
Collector: I might have
MP: You did.