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Original works by local artist Joan Burmeister adorn the blue wall.
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Original decor
Home is where the art is – or should be
By Janet Seitz Carlson

I am fascinated with seeing someone's thought processes, memories and talents expressed in an art form. There's joy in one-of-a-kind works that become the tapestry of my life and surroundings - artwork that tells stories, that offers surprises even after years, pieces that evoke memories.

Springfield resident Elaine Mayer says surveying her home's decor of original artwork (paintings, sculpture, pottery, glass and more) is a trip down memory lane. She thinks her interest in original art "is maybe from a good exposure to art in grade school through college." But "life keepsakes is another reason."  

Many of Mayer's pieces come from the Old Capitol Art Fair, where she found a "wide range of things to choose from, and for the most part, reasonable prices." Some works were bought to solve decor issues. Others involved subjects of interest, such as a burled wood wall sculpture and woodland scene watercolor painting that reinforced an appreciation of the woods. A few items were brought back from memorable trips.

"There were a few pieces that just called out and needed to be in this house," Mayer said. "Mostly, things have to be places I'd like to be, real or imagined, or have a memory. And they have to be in colors that are comfortable to me for me to bring them into my home."

Local art options for home or office are plentiful, can be surprisingly affordable and create many benefits.

"Local business support keeps our storefronts open, and dollars spent on original artwork go directly to individual artists, not a corporation," pointed out Prairie Art Alliance Executive Director Jane Johnson. "Another benefit is knowing the artist who produced the work, making it a much more personal item with more meaning than a mass-produced item numerous purchasers are going to have."   

Original artwork is available through several venues: area art fairs, arts organizations and galleries provide ongoing opportunities to peruse original works. 

What if you want some guidance for putting the whole package together?  

Save the date for Lincoln Land Community College's Interior Design Day on March 26. You'll have a choice of 25 $10 workshops offered and a one-day opportunity to learn from some area design professionals. Among the presenters will be Afar Design's Tara McVary, JB Interiors' Kelli Pachlhofer and Prairie Art Alliance's Jennifer Snopko. 

McVary has been teaching interior design at LLCC for several years, said LLCC's Judy Wagenblast. 

"We had a wonderful conversation about interior design and the elements of her class, including the influence of trends, technological developments with products and research about color and texture," Wagenblast said. "I realized how much information could be helpful to people who had specific needs related to their homes. 

"We kept talking and suddenly, we had the idea for a day devoted to interior design."

McVary uses the term "artist" in a broad sense, as "people who think things through," which affects everything from whom she seeks out for painting walls, woodworking, metalwork and more. 

"I don't watch HGTV," McVary said, but she knows people influenced by the network are trying to personalize their spaces. She's worked with clients to refresh existing art with a new frame and sought out new art as a finishing touch. 

Pachlhofer finds that people are personal with their artwork, and like McVary, she works with an existing piece or seeks artists to fulfill a specific goal.

"There's an advantage to buying locally," she said, as well as having something made specially to fit a certain size, space or other particulars.

Snopko's planned presentation will review budgeting for art, how to choose it, how and where to hang or display it, concept and aesthetics and how to care for artwork.

"Don't worry about every color in a painting," she said. Swatches are helpful to have a room's color scheme available when looking for art, she said, when trying to match a room to art. 

With an artist's permission and a deposit, Prairie Art Alliance allows patrons to try out art at home or work before purchase.

"I think once you have a taste for original art," Mayer said, "it's something you keep after and try to do when you can." n


Story published Friday, March 4, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 2 )

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