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How to Choose Art That is Perfect for YOUR Home | Kennedy Contemporary

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How to Choose Wall Art that is Perfectly Alluring

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Chris Gwaltney. “The Dress,” oil on canvas.

I stopped by The Walk Shopping Center (Newport Beach, California) one beautiful sunny afternoon, as fate would have it. I came across an opening for artist Joseph Justus in an art gallery that is new to me. I was ushered inside with a warm welcome and an introduction to the Kennedy Contemporary Gallery that opened earlier this year. 

I found the layout and art so compelling that I met up with Victoria Kennedy, the gallery owner, to discuss how she advises her clientele to select the perfect art for their home. The interview continues below.

Victoria Kennedy, owner of Kennedy Contemporary and LA Based artist Joseph Justus, photographed during the solo exhibition – Permission to Descend. Kennedy premiered Joseph’s new body of work developed during the pandemic to reflect our descent into everyday life. The exhibit runs through August 8. 

1. Question (Gigi Day): What advice do you have for clients that may be new to purchasing art?

Answer (Victoria Kennedy): Yes! There are five things to consider for first-time art buyers:

  • What do I like? Although the art world can appear intimidating, collecting art is exciting! We encourage our collectors to go to art fairs, exhibitions, museums and familiarize themselves with the market to inform their tastes. You don’t have to have an art history education to appreciate art – one of the most courageous and honest things you can say about art is, “I love this!”
Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) and LA Based artist Joseph Justus. “Carried Across the Water,” acrylic on canvas.
  • What is my goal? Do you want a small print for the bathroom? Or a showstopper piece for your entryway? Determine which walls need art to fill the space, as this will help to guide your search. We typically advise clients to place the higher value artworks in the impact spots where you (and your guests) will enjoy them every day.
  • What is my budget? Don’t be afraid to set a budget, despite how flexible or rigid. Keeping a number in mind can be helpful to help guide your search. If you only have $5k to spend on a larger piece, go for a younger or emerging artist with a lower price point as they are just starting their careers. Purchasing work from a more established artist with decades of selling experience will generally cost more, depending on their market, as they have a proven track record of selling experience.
  • Do your research: Browse on Pinterest, Instagram, or the Kennedy Contemporary website and find examples of artistic styles and colors you like. Better yet – visit local galleries and see art in person!
Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Michael Kessler. Art in a dining room: “Ascendant (2),” acrylic and mixed media on canvas.
  • Room dimensions: Before making a purchase, obtain the dimensions of your room and furnishings. At Kennedy Contemporary, we will work with a photo of your wall and do a photoshop mockup of any art you consider. It’s okay if you don’t know where to start – we are here to help! We make the art buying process easy, transparent, and enjoyable.

2. Question: I’d love to know more about your background and appreciation of art, artists and clientele.

Answer: As my academic background was in medieval art and history, I didn’t become familiar with the contemporary art world until graduating from Stanford University. One of my first jobs out of college was at a contemporary art gallery, where I fell in love with our artists’ stories and shared them with clients. This experience led me to pursue a Masters in Art Business from the Claremont Graduate University and later work for Berggruen Gallery and Saatchi Art. 

I love contemporary art because it is the art of our time. By purchasing contemporary art, you enable artists to continue their craft and create beauty and meaning for the world. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing a client fall in love with an artwork – it is such a special moment when their eyes light up at the sight of a piece hanging in their home.   

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Elyse Katz. Art over a fireplace, “A Balancing Act,” acrylic, mixed media, and cold wax on panel.

3. Question: Establishing a gallery (during a pandemic, no less) is an incredible commitment to the artists and the community. What has inspired your journey?

Answer: About six years ago, when I was living in London, I saw a piece by Lucio Fontana at a Sotheby’s auction preview. The unforgiving vertical cut in the canvas against the vibrant cerulean blue was mesmerizing. That work has continually stuck with me (though it’s unfortunately out of my price range!).

Although I appreciate the works of old and contemporary art “masters,” I am continually inspired by the artists we represent. It’s challenging to make a career as an artist, and even more so to create original and meaningful art! I am grateful for our artists as they create exciting artworks, but they are also wonderful, hard-working people.

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Leslie Allen. Artwork: Chinese Lanterns – Oil on canvas over panel.

4. Victoria, your gallery is such a visual treat. Will you share a little about the artists you are representing?

Answer: Kennedy Contemporary represents a carefully curated collection of artists in our Newport Beach gallery space. Our artists range from emerging to established – with many of our artists’ works residing in a museum, corporate and private collections across the globe. All demonstrate an unwavering commitment to their practice and are creating noteworthy works of art.

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Nicole Egert. Art in a bedroom over headboard: “Silence 1 and Silence 2,” acrylic on linen.

5. Why did you choose this (incredibly convenient) Newport Beach location?

Answer: As an entirely new gallery (we’ve only been open for seven months!), I chose a central location with lots of parking. Rather than set up shop in Laguna Beach, I feel it is important to meet our clients where they live – in Newport Beach. Utilizing my experiences in the international art world, I wanted to create a space showcasing noteworthy contemporary artists.

6. Question: Do you have any daily practices that you would like to share with our readers?

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents photographer Jon Setter. Green, Gray and Tan (Hobart, Tasmania) (Edition 2 of 8).

Answer: My husband and I live next to Talbert Park in Costa Mesa. I make it a point to walk the 2.5-mile loop every morning. It’s a great start to the day. After closing the gallery, I’ll often take a class at Ra Yoga. I love the Ra Strength class with Raquel – she is one of the most challenging instructors!

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Amy Van Winkle. Art in a bathroom over bathtub: “Afterglow #5” encaustic on wood panel.

7. Circling back to the importance of community, what are your favorite local shops or restaurants?

Answer: Tres Muchachos: This small restaurant is making big waves with its bold flavors and fun atmosphere. Their wine list is stellar, and my favorite dish is the pork belly tacos. We typically go here for gallery dinners or the weeknight cocktail with my husband.

Backhouse Fragrances: Locally made in Newport Beach, Backhouse candles are my go-to gifts to our clients (though sometimes I’ll buy an extra for myself!). Lido and Apolena are my favorite fragrances. 

Argaux: When I splurge on something, it’s usually wine. This online wine shop is based in Costa Mesa and led by two female sommeliers. They select exciting wines that are sustainably produced by smaller vineyards. I recently tried the 2019 Flaneur pinot noir from Oregon and loved it!

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Michael Kessler. Living Room Art – “Evaporations 1,” acrylic and paper on wood panel.

8. What would people be surprised to know about you?

Answer: I’m not a visual artist at all, but I love playing music. In my (limited) free time, I often write and record songs on the guitar and mandolin. My brother is also a musician, and sometimes we’ll collaborate and write songs together.

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents artist Heather Zusman. Wood sculpture “Flow.” “Sinuous paths are laminated from layers of veneer which create an organic balance, allowing each piece to appear effortless and light.”

9. Question: Thank you for your time today Victoria! I have enjoyed the personal tour and the behind-the-art stories of the talented artists you work with each day. And from a design perspective, you have really maximized this convenient location. I hope anyone that may be interested in contemporary art visits your site or better yet, stops by.

Answer: Thank you for this opportunity, Gigi! Although I grew up in Orange County, coming back as an adult has been such an incredible experience. It has been so gratifying to expand our community networks and meet other local businesses excited to have us in the neighborhood. We want to make contemporary art accessible, meaningful, and exciting!

Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents Copper Tritscheller. Wading Bird, bronze. Isn’t the entry just so welcoming?

To wrap it all up – Victoria Kennedy’s Top Takeaways

How to Choose Art For Your Home – 3 Top Takeaways
Takeaway #1: Identify the space, desired style, & budget when you’re looking for art.
Takeaway #2: Art is transformative – it can enliven a space and stir conversation.
Takeaway #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Text or email the art experts at Kennedy Contemporary for photoshop mockups and collecting questions.
Kennedy Contemporary (Newport Beach, CA) represents Joli Beal. “Packed In,” Balboa Island, oil on board.

We have set up a gallery line at (714) 519-6297 for texting, or email us at info@kennedycontemporary.com to set up an in-home consultation – we can’t wait to help you find the perfect piece!

Victoria Kennedy celebrating 1,000 followers on Instagram. Let’s help her get to 2,000 – follow Kennedy Contemporary on Instagram at @kennedycontemporary.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Meet-the-Artist Series in partnership with Kennedy Contemporary: Art and conversation with Chris Gwaltney, Elyse Katz, Heather Zusman, and Joseph Justus.


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Gigi Day
Gigi Dayhttps://themoddaily.com/
Gigi Day is a designer and writer. Her blog, The Mod Daily, is full of life-enhancing home décor, lifestyle tips, and advice to optimize life at home.

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