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Whether it's hints from Heloise, how-to videos on Facebook, or all those books for dummies, we love the tips, advice, and short-cuts that make life easier. There is also a dizzying array of services available for those who would rather not cook, clean, weed, run errands, or perform other drudgery—or, at least, they’d rather spend less time on it. Our resident experts—the writers of Spree—have gathered some strategies for making life a little bit easier in this issue.


The following article is a sample of what you'll find in this month's Buffalo Spree. To get more Life Hack tips, pick up this month's issue at a location near you.



Bruce Adams works, featured by The Benjaman Gallery, with gallery dog Gizmo


New ways to collect and show art


Installment plans

While art collecting often comes with sizable price tags, a number of Buffalo-area galleries offer installment plans to break them down into more manageable pieces. Two of those are Body of Trade and Commerce (BT&C) and the Benjaman Gallery, both in Buffalo. 


Anna Kaplan, who curates BT&C, says it accepts installments for any amount and cites some examples: a $400 piece was paid off in batches and one collector is making regular payments on a $20,000 balance. The only requirement is that pieces be paid off in six months. Kaplan explains that she works with collectors to “make sure they are not intimidated by the pricing.” Terms are decided on an individual basis and BT&C never charges interest. For local collectors, Kaplan delivers the artwork when it is available—whether it’s paid off or not—so the new owner can enjoy it as soon as possible.


At the Benjaman Gallery, collectors can embark on installment plans from six to eighteen months, depending on the price of the piece or package. Curator Emily Tucker says she finds the plan “definitely helps younger or first-time collectors feel comfortable. It also makes more expensive works accessible to a broader audience. We have actually taken advantage of installment plans not only locally through the gallery, but on some of our online sites as well.” 


On one of those sites, 1stdibs.com, a young doctor purchased a Phillipe Halsman photograph for $15,000 over the course of a year. Tucker worked with the site and the client to set up a contract that enabled him to pay for the work in more manageable pieces. Tucker, who has taken advantage of installment herself, recommends the service for anyone who wants to get into art collecting, regardless of financial status. 


Calling new collectors

“Art seems to be a difficult hurdle for new and emerging collectors to consider financially,” says Karen Eckert, cofounder of Collect Art. “People spend money on the right flooring, landscaping, and ceramic tile, but neglect their walls—or place impersonal printed work from big box stores because it matches the furniture.” Eckert knows all about it because, before she met her husband, artist A. J. Fries, she did the same thing. Today, she and Fries run an online gallery and website that seeks to reach members of the Western New York community who may not otherwise consider themselves collectors. 


“Many times, people who are not familiar with the art scene in Buffalo are intimidated by art:  talking about it, showing up at art events, and spending the money on it. We eliminated one issue with that by making it solely an online business,” Eckert explains. Collect Art’s Custom Gallery allows collectors to log on and work with a local artist—first filling out a survey —to create a custom nine-by-twelve piece for $250. With a solid group of twenty-six local artists who have exhibited nationally, the service allows both veteran and first-time collectors to acquire a unique piece for a price point Eckert and Fries hope encourages exploration. 


In addition, the online Featured Gallery offers a new “show” every eight weeks. For locals who like to socialize with their shopping, the couple runs “Collect Art Happy Hours” at local bars. During those events, attendees can take advantage of drink specials by showing the Collect Art website on their phones, meet the featured artists, and talk to other enthusiasts. A slideshow screen is set up to see the art on sale, but Eckert says they purposely do not bring physical artwork with them, to eliminate the “intimidation factor” of a wall full of pieces. 


“The purpose of the happy hour is to meet some of the artists, talk to people, learn about Collect Art, and have fun,” Eckert says. “This strange idea of a no-art art show has worked incredibly well and has the added bonus of pulling in patrons of the bar and restaurant to come and talk to us.”


Collect Art is online at collectartnow.com and the next scheduled happy hour is November 3 at The Filling Station in Larkinville. That event will feature a wine tasting and art pairing, and tickets will be on sale through October. 


Art lending: dress up walls without the commitment

When MJ Peterson real estate agent Mark DiGiampaolo moved to Buffalo in 1991, he was surprised not only by the amount of art created in the area, but also by the easy availability of those pieces. By 2015, he had collected more than 100 works and started using those pieces to stage houses he was selling. Last fall, it dawned on him that other agents might also benefit from the service, and Off the Walls Buffalo was born. After receiving “an overwhelmingly positive” response from his colleagues, he registered Off the Walls as a business and created a website, while expanding his collection to include works with diverse subjects for a wide variety of settings and patrons. Within nine months, his collection had ballooned to more than 250 pieces. 


“All pieces are original oils, acrylics, watercolors, or signed and numbered lithographs, collagraphs, serigraphs, and monoprints,” DiGiampaolo emphasizes. “Authenticity is paramount. The artist must have had direct contact with the work; I’m not after commercial reproductions.”


Originally, DiGiampaolo started the business to provide artwork for open houses and staging during a listing, but, as time went on, he discovered other outlets: theater sets, corporate parties, and even the locally filmed Marshall, have all borrowed pieces. Fees range from fifteen to twenty dollars for a single piece and up to $250 for a collection of fifteen, depending on the client’s budget. 


“My goal is getting art out into the public realm as much as possible,” the agent and art lover says. “This is as much an educational as it is an entrepreneurial opportunity. We have a remarkable heritage of great art in Western New York. We also have a significant community of artists currently creating in and around Buffalo. Hopefully, I can play a small part in helping others discover this treasure through Off The Walls Buffalo.”


Off The Walls Buffalo is located at 38 North Pearl Street in Buffalo and online at offthewallsbuffalo.com.


For businesses looking to showcase local art for a cause, Autism Services, Inc. offers an art-lending program to share its art program’s work with a broader audience. Program founder Veronica Federiconi considers the art program, and this opportunity to showcase the work of local artists on the spectrum, “emblematic of the organization as a whole.” 


The art is only available for lending to businesses, to ensure an audience of a certain size. After a business makes an annual donation to the Autism Services, Inc. program, staff helps lending site representatives choose the art from a variety of artists, subject matter, and styles. Art transportation, installation, and labels describing the art and its creators are all included with that annual donation. 


About 200 program participants create work for lending to local businesses and corporations, but there are about fifty who are most active in generating bodies of work. There is no time limit on the loan or number of pieces businesses can borrow.


More information on art lending through Autism Services, Inc. is available at autism-services-inc.org



For many more Life Hacks, pick up Spree at a location near you, or subscribe today so you won't miss another issue.


Lizz Schumer freelances for a number of outlets and teaches journalism at Cansius College.


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