The most honest art gallery in the world.

How to evaluate an art gallery

Most people, who say they like art, honestly do, but you won't see an original painting hanging in their home. Why not? Perhaps they believe that fine art costs too much. How much is too much? Some people would never consider paying $1,000 for a painting, when another would think nothing of paying $10,000 for a similar painting. How do you know if you are getting your money's worth? Therein lies the crux of the problem--what is a particular painting worth to you? If you are serious about a purchase of fine art, you want to make sure you are truly getting fine art and for a fair, reasonable price.

There are many retail art galleries out there--many are located in large metropolitan areas, while others are located in less populous, but still culturally vibrant areas. Don't think that by buying from a retail art gallery means that you will be paying too much. It is unfortunate that over the last several decades the practices of some art galleries has been somewhat less than scrupulous. This is primarily due to some, perhaps pushy sales people taking advantage of, or duping, a buyer into purchasing a painting of dubious merit. They extol its virtues by spouting art jargon that may be unfamiliar to, especially, a new buyer. Excited by the prospect of owning an "important piece", the buyer may overlook some critical attributes of the painting that, had been realized, may have given them pause, and the option to shop elsewhere. Unfortunately, some galleries are in it simply for the money. Their goal is to buy low-cost ("cheap") paintings mark them up outrageously and convince you that they are worth it.

What makes it even harder for the "wanna-be" or the "casual" collector is that there are many galleries--how do you choose? Are some galleries better than others with respect to selection and price? The answer is yes. The internet has made finding art galleries easier, but still, how do you choose? It will likely be first based on whether a particular gallery has an artist, painting style or subject that resonates with you. Second is price, which for most people is always a concern.

The price asked by a gallery is determined by a multitude of factors. The most important things to consider is that a good painting has to be first found and second purchased. This requires the labor and expertise, not to mention, the time of gallery owner. If you work for a living, you are paid an hourly wage to do your job--are you worth it? Of course you are! The same thing holds true for those who purchase paintings for a gallery—they do that work for you. A painting once purchased usually requires some attention. Most buyers of retail art do not want to hang a painting on their wall that has "defects"—dingy appearance, a hole in the canvas or a chipped frame. The attention may be as little as a light cleaning or frame repair to repairing a tear. A reputable gallery uses the services of a skilled conservationist to attend to the age-acquired flaws of a truly wonderful painting.

Aside from the cost by the owner to acquire a painting and to give it the required attention, another factor in determining price, is how much overhead the gallery carries. Rent and utilities take a bite out of a gallery's operating capital. A suitable venue, in a high-visibility location that showcases the artwork properly has some cost associated with it, and it is much greater in large cities and within certain areas of those large cities. Another factor is whether the gallery owns the paintings outright or if they are on consignment. If they are on consignment, there is a third party that will require a "cut" of the profits. Therefore the mark-up will tend to be a little higher. All of the above mentioned factors determine what value a gallery asks for a painting.

The Bedford Fine Art Gallery, one of the country's best-kept secrets. It is located in historic Bedford, Pennsylvania, and the venue is a nineteenth-century house, which is also home to gallery owners Jerry and Joan Hawk. The Barclay family, for which the house was built in 1889, founded or served on many of the local civic organizations, including the long-gone Bedford Art Club. This latter fact was unknown to the current owners when they purchased the home for their residence and an art gallery. Although the home had not served as a private residence for a period of approximately 50 years, it couldn't entirely shake the civic duty of its former owners—it once served as the Bedford County Public Library. It retains much of its original charm and architectural integrity, a fitting venue for fine nineteenth-century art. When people from large metropolitan areas "discover" us they are very pleased, not only with our venue and offerings of fine artwork, but the passion with which we bring to art collecting. We have sold to private collectors, corporations and beginning art collectors. They became repeat clients. We have a track record—see our webpage for the number of "sold" paintings. Our venue is homey and not intimidating. We will take the time to explain the artwork to visitors and educate them about styles and palettes. Art students from local colleges visit for research on class projects.

Bedford Fine Art Gallery has little overhead and takes few consignments. We offer big city selection with small town values and fair, reasonable prices. The Bedford Fine Art Gallery has one of the largest lists of nineteenth-century artists in the United States. We have personally and carefully selected each painting, at the pinnacle of the artist's career. Furthermore, all of our paintings are signed by the artist. Our paintings have been in exhibitions, books and published in American Art Review magazine. We offer a diversity selection of: realistic landscape, marine, still life, genre, American historical/political, sporting art, and animal themed paintings. Some of our best paintings are by skilled artists who sadly died young. They are valuable, not only due to artistic skill, but because they are rare. Other paintings are rare, not only by virtue of the skills of the artist, but because they have rarely been seen outside of museums or private collections. We research each artist we carry and have access to numerous art data bases.

Our website states our policies. If other galleries do not state their policies on their website, then there are probably no guarantees regarding authenticity, condition, or trade-ins. Authenticity guarantee is in our bill of sale. Bedford Fine Art Gallery is discreet—client information is kept private. We believe in the value of our paintings to the extent that we offer a "trade-in-guarantee". Bring the painting back and if it is undamaged, we will apply that price to a painting of greater value.

We offer discounts to and will accept consignments from repeat customers. If a client needs conservation work on a personal piece (not bought from us), we will use our strategic alliances with several conservators to have the work done with minimal mark-up.

We like to say that the Bedford Fine Art Gallery is "two hours from everywhere". While not entirely true, we will bring paintings to homes within an approximate two hour drive of our gallery for preview. For those more distant, we are the only gallery to have an app that allows you to project our paintings onto the walls of your home – to scale.

We have an in-house photo studio, with professional lighting, where we take the photos under optimal conditions and do not photo-shop. The resulting quality allows you to zoom-in on photos on our website to check condition, signatures, etc. Our gallery uses Solux gallery lighting, which is also used by many of the world's premiere museums. Bedford Fine Art Gallery is the only gallery on the Solux website to have a link to a video (a virtual tour of the Bedford Fine Art Gallery).

The Bedford Fine Art Gallery is your destination for finding timeless paintings to complement your home--paintings, which still remain relevant to contemporary living. Our art speaks for itself. No shock value. We practice what we preach in the above paragraphs. Our home. Our paintings. Our passion.

Welcome to our home.

Back to how-to articles