© 2011 Kathleen Bitetti/ www.kathleenbitetti.com

So where can one find affordable art to buy?  There are many places in Boston and for that matter in South Boston to buy affordable art. Contemporary art galleries are the first places to go and by going it will help you get a sense of what kind of art you like.  Galleries are usually free and don’t be shy about asking questions. Let the gallery staff know you are a beginning collector. Any galleriest worth their salt will be happy to talk to you and help you. When I first go into a gallery and I see work that I like, I look for more information about the show. The price list, the press release and artist information, are usually near the gallery front desk. Again if you can’t find this information, ask for it.

Remember that many galleries may have art work in your price range in their inventory and many have payment plans as well. Unframed works are usually less expensive than framed works and works on paper (drawings, prints, etc.) are usually less expensive than other types of work. Galleries usually store works on paper in what are called flat files. As a general rule, works by new or “emerging” artists tend to be less expensive than work by established artists. Sometimes artists will make a limited print edition of a painting which enables more people to buy the image at  a lower price.

The Boston Art Dealers Association has a free map of many of the contemporary commercial art galleries in Boston (www.artmapboston.com), but note some galleries have moved or closed that are listed on the map as it was published in September 2009.  The Boston Drawing Project at Carol and Sons is a good place to start to see a wide range of works on paper (http://www.carrollandsons.net/boston-drawing-project/about.php).  Artists’ co-op galleries are also great places to visit. They are run by the artists who show there and there are several located in the South End: Bromfield Gallery (www.bromfieldgallery.com), Kingston Gallery (www.kingstongallery.com), and the Boston Sculptor’s Gallery (www.bostonsculptors.com).

There are five contemporary art galleries in South Boston that are within walking distance of each other.  The Norman Crump Gallery is next to Flood Square Hardware on 628 East Broadway (Call for Hrs.) (www.normancrumpgallery.com). There are three on East Second Street:  the LaMontange Gallery, 555 East Second Street (Hrs. Wed- Sat 11-6) (www.lamontagnegallery.com); the Distillery Gallery (Hrs. M-Sat 11am-4pm) (http://www.gallery.distilleryboston.com/); and the Proof Gallery, 2nd Floor of The Distillery, 516 East Second St. (Hrs. Th-Sat 12-5pm) (www.proof-gallery.com). Besides having regular shows, the Proof Gallery has a flat file that has affordable works on paper ranging from artists books, prints, paintings on paper, to photography (price range $20-600). And the fifth gallery is Medicine Wheel Productions which is  located on the 2nd Floor of 110K Street.  Medicine Wheel has a gallery as well as an art store that features art work made from its projects and programs. Also check out the art work in their second floor foyer (Hrs. M-Fri 9-6pm & by appointment)  (www.mwponline.org).

One can also research South Boston artists’ work via two online resources. If you find work that you like by an artist from these resources, email them directly:

The Distillery Tenant directory:

The Fort Point Artists Community (FPAC) directory:


There is also a FPAC shop: Shop fpac- Made in Fort Point located at 12 Farnsworth Street, Boston MA 02210 617-423-1100 (Hrs. M-F 11am -6pm & Sat 11am -4pm)

Open studios events are very easy way to both to meet artists and to collect art. There has been a blossoming of these events in the greater Boston area. These events are also free. In the fall, Boston has over ten open studio events. For more information http://www.cityofboston.gov/arts/visual/openstudios.asp (Note Fort Point’s open studios is in October, while South Boston’s are held in November).

Art auctions and art benefits are yet another way to collect work, but be aware that artists can’t write off their art donation’s fair market value as a tax deduction.  Check to see if the artists had the option to receive a percentage of the sale. Most artists don’t earn a living from their work exclusively, so the option to have part of an auction/benefit sale is important. Also take into consideration if the organization sponsoring the event has helped artists and/or is dedicated to artists and not just trying to jump on the art auction/art benefit band wagon. Again make sure you get the artist’s contact information for your records and to stay in touch with them.

And finally, make looking and buying art a fun activity. Think of it as one big adventure taking you to places that you normally wouldn’t go to. Always check a gallery’s website to confirm they are open/have an exhibition up before you plan a visit. Get a group of friends together and spend a Saturday going to galleries or attend the evening art openings together. A group trip to one of the area’s open studios is a great way to get to know another part of your neighborhood or to go to a neighborhood area you have never been to before.

Next- -How to frame your art work, ways to display your art, and how to care for your art collection.