Art Changes Everything

Published on May 8th, 2020 | Posted in Essays

By Louis M. Salerno

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), Mont Blanc, oil on canvas, 22⅜ x 30⅛ inches, monogrammed lower right: ABierstadt.

There is a charming woman who visits the gallery several times a year; she says that she comes as a form of therapy. I watch as her expression brightens and her curiosity takes her far from her woes. She has never actually bought a painting and probably never will. Her relationship with us is transacted with a currency of hugs and compliments, and her account is always in good standing.

The magnitude of wonder isn’t bound by age; disinterested children of visitors meander through the gallery, but I often find them pondering a painting. Once, I asked a young boy why he was looking at a particular landscape. He simply said, “I want to go there.” I understood, because when I was a boy, there was a small painting in my grandmother’s house that I frequently admired. We lived in a well-manicured community, distinguished by its monotonous uniformity of architecture and landscape. But that little painting, of a dirt pathway into a wilderness, ignited my imagination. I have learned that it is possible to discover a lifelong passion for nature from a special painting.

To truly grasp art’s compelling power, consider a young couple who were contemplating an oil we offered by Frederic Edwin Church. They were willing to use all of the money that they had been saving for a down payment on their new home to acquire the painting. I felt obligated to advise them against it—a true rarity for any sane art dealer! Yet they insisted and proudly proclaimed themselves “the homeless collectors.”

Art is an enigma! Without any quantifiable utility, its impact is profound. Over my lifetime, as both a dealer and a collector, I have witnessed the joy and satisfaction that art brings to so many clients.

To all of you who have not yet visited us, I look forward to welcoming you. I promise that you will feel as if you are visiting friends who share your interests. I have always strived to be sure that everyone is at home here, regardless of their intention or ability to make a purchase.