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Art for Real Estate’s Sake

Today’s article on the front page of the WSJ‘s “Weekend Journal” section, about homesellers who rent art from museums and galleries to give their abodes more appeal, gave me traumatic flashbacks to my own recent empty-nest move from a house to a co-op. No, I did not rent any Calders or Dalis to enhance my spacious picture-windowed, cathedral-ceilinged living room. None of that would have mattered anyway: The people who bought our beautiful Wright-ish redwood ranch from the ’60s knocked it down to construct their cookie-cutter mega-mansion.
But the article did bring back painful memories of the suburban schlock-art retrospective that affronted my husband and me as we toured the various condos and co-ops on the market in northern Jersey. I don’t think that good art would have made me more receptive to buying, but the unrelieved dreck definitely did make me wonder if living in those apartments was somehow inconsistent with good taste.
We ultimately wound up buying the last abode of the beloved salsa queen, Celia Cruz, subject of a recent posthumous Smithsonian retrospective. While it’s not my taste, I can’t bring myself to change her deep red, gold-flecked wallpaper, which still adorns our long entrance hallway. It’s all about provenance.
Thanks to his prominent mention in the second paragraph of the WSJ article, Seattle artist Drake Deknatel, who died last year in the arms of the waiter at his favorite local cafe (newspaper obit here), has now received national exposure as the quintessential “staging” artist, with his paintings used as marketing tools in “some 200 homes.” (Here are some images of his work.)
For me, “staging” my home consisted largely of trying to tidy up the gargantuan piles of files and publications adorning much of the floor space in my office. It’s amazing how quickly those piles have now replicated themselves in the den where Celia once displayed her Grammys.

an ArtsJournal blog