Affordable Art : How to Find & Display It!


With the inaugural Affordable Art Fair coming to Los Angeles this January, we’ve asked Judith Pinerio, Director of the Affordable Art Fair, for tips on shopping for and selecting the perfect frame.

CH+D: So you’ve finally attained some amazing art, what do you do with it?

Judith Pinerio: First congratulations on purchasing something you love. If you have not already done so, you’ll need to decide where your new purchase will reside in your home or office. You’ll need to think about not just the size of the wall or the where the light hits in the daytime, but also the room’s function. Meaning, what might be appropriate for your private space might not be what you would choose for the kitchen.  Once you have decided where to install it, you can now think about framing it or changing the mat or frame already with it.  Framing and matting services can add up quickly, especially for paintings or fragile works, so best to explore your options and do some initial research. 

 Stewart Penguin Framed Art, $1,400 @

CH+D: How do you go about buying a frame to make your new piece look its best?

JP: It is best to take the work with you to the framer or the store, if you can safely, but first you may want to do some research into what is available and where your tastes seem to fall. Of course, always ask when you buy a work of art what the gallery or artist suggest too.

CH+D: How do you choose a frame that works for the piece yet does not take away from it?

JP: For paintings, the decision to frame or not to frame is really a visual and personal one. Most contemporary paintings are left unframed.  However, one popular option is to place it in a floating frame, which leaves a space between the edge of the frame and the canvas. Also, you should take into consideration the edges of the painting, as they will be hidden if you frame it.  This is a particular issue if the edges of the painting are finished and part of the image itself, and if so, you won’t want to hide them with a frame. Always remember that you want to see the painting not the frame, therefore your frame choice should not overpower the art. 

For works on paper, such as photographs and prints, you’ll want to get them framed to protect their delicate surface.  Works already mounted on Plexiglas or aluminum however, don’t necessarily need to be framed as they are already fixed and probably coated. 

The same rule applies to works on paper as with paintings—simply put you don’t want to overpower your new purchase with the matting or framing.  Some pictures though work well with a large or colorful mat, for example, some designers like to use red mats with black and white photos to liven a room and make the image pop.  That said, go with what enhances the work, not what matches your couch.  This way you can relocate the piece to a different wall and it will still look its best. Works on paper are easy to transport with you to the frame shop you choose, which can make your decision process easier.  

CH+D: What elements deteriorate the art over the years and how can one choose the right materials to protect pieces?

JP: Choosing the right materials will help you protect your new purchase.  All mats should be acid-free, 100% cotton rag or other natural materials.  Any tape used should be linen tape only (no wrapping tape please!). 

For the glass, you have a few options such as ultraviolet or UV glass, regular glass, or non-glare glass. The UV glass won’t completely prevent fading, just like dyed hair in the sun fades no matter what you do, but will help somewhat.  Do not forget that regular glass is heavy—so use proper hanging mechanisms. 

You can also consider an acrylic surface, such as Plexiglas, as they are shatterproof, lighter, and can be UV treated.  However, they do attract dust and are not suited for popular glass cleaners.  One hint of advice, do not use pastels, charcoals or other powder type mediums with Plexiglas as the material attracts static electricity and can damage the artwork.  

Never dry mount a work on paper –unless it has little or no value.  You’ll never be able to reverse this process and you may regret it.

CH+D: What are the best resources available to consumers?

JP: The best resource is to ask the gallery or artist from which you bought the work of art what framing they recommend.  Take notes, and ask questions. As with any other service, you will want to make sure you have done your due diligence in researching a framer.  Shop around, learn what you like, ask the questions you want to ask.  Don’t just go with the most expensive or cheapest quote, find someone you trust.  You love the work of art you purchased, so take your time in picking a framer.

The inaugural Affordable Art Fair in Los Angeles will be at L.A. LIVE at the Event Deck from January 18th – 22nd, 2012.  

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