by Andrew Spencer
Everyone who visits Nantucket knows exactly what makes the island so special. It’s something you hold on to during those dreary winter months, a memory of what you have to look forward to when you come back. Then during those winter months, somebody asks you what it is, specifically, that’s so amazing about Nantucket? That’s when it hits you: You can’t put it in words. There’s definitely something about this place, something magical. But it’s also something that defies being tied down in words. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had something tangible and visual that would help you explain?
Fortunately for you, Nantucket is home to some of the most talented artists you’ll find anywhere, and they fully understand your predicament with explaining Nantucket in words. What’s more, a talented artist has the ability to express in paint or sculpture or glass or wood or any other medium those feelings that can’t be put into words. And while it’s all fine and dandy to talk about how piece of art has the power to transcend words, many of us aren’t well-versed in the process of buying art in the first place, so we don’t know exactly where to start.
First off, consider the space you’re thinking of putting something. Is it your home? Your office? Outside in your garden? All of these can influence the specific type of art you will want to consider. A related consideration is the size of the space. Are you thinking of a specific wall in your home on which to hang a painting? Maybe you have a small table that would just look a lot better with a sculpture on top of it. And don’t forget miniature paintings, which are small enough to sit on top of a dresser or a bedside table as a perpetual reminder of the island you love so much.
Another thing to think about is the style of art. A photograph is a different artistic message than an abstract painting, and they’re both very different from a glass sculpture. Think about colors, styles, techniques and media. All of these things can contribute to the mood an individual piece of art creates.
Of course, there’s the actual content of the work itself. Do you have a favorite beach? Or maybe it’s the peace of Main Street in the morning before the shops open that captures your personal Nantucket feeling. A photograph or a painting of that scene is just the thing. Does your taste tend more towards three-dimensions? Consider a sculpture made from glass, wood, or any other medium. The beauty in selecting a piece of art for yourself is that there is no wrong answer. When you see something that touches your heart, that’s the one for you.
Finally, remember that quality art comes at a price. Cost is a definite consideration, but need not be something that turns you off from buying a piece of art. You’re not buying a mass-produced item that can easily be recreated thousands of times without any trouble. You’re buying years of training. You’re buying boundless talent. You’re buying countless hours of devoted labor that went into creating the perfect expression of a given scene. You’re buying a piece of the artist along with the art. The price you pay is a reflection of the artist’s value, and that value is a product of all those years of training and all that work. And it all adds up to a gorgeous finished product. It’s okay to start small and add more pieces later. One of the many great things about Nantucket artists is that they never seem to run out of talent or inspiration, so they will keep producing phenomenal pieces.
Many of us have no doubt seen the television shows or heard the stories of someone who finds out that the painting they’ve had in their dining room is suddenly worth the GNP of Sweden, and it’s tempting to think of how we might spend the money we can earn from buying an investment in art. While it’s fun to dream about those things, I’m more of the opinion that art is to be enjoyed for its own sake. So as a final piece of advice, make sure the art speaks to you and makes you happy. One day you might look up and suddenly you’re on television getting a jaw-dropping estimate on the value of the painting you bought on a whim one summer. But even if that day never comes—and more importantly—you’ll still have a gorgeous memory of Nantucket that makes you happy every time you see it. And it’ll also help in those pesky conversations when you need to explain what makes Nantucket so special.
Article edited. Full version available in ONLY NANTUCKET FALL/WINTER 2018.