Dwelling: Artfully Done

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A couple creates a gallerylike home  for the art collection of their dreams.

As soon as they wrapped up their massive remodeling project, the owners of this Carmichael house went on an art-buying spree.

Big fans of contemporary art, they had long wanted to amass a collection of works by local and regional artists such as Mark Emerson, Joan Moment and Roger Berry. But they felt their traditional-style house wasn’t the right backdrop.

So they hired Donald Joseph Inc., a local architectural firm, and interior designer Bruce Benning to give the house an overhaul. The result? An open, light-filled gallerylike space that allows the art to take center stage.

It’s a canvas for a collection, says Benning. We wanted the house to recede so the owners could use bold art.

He opted for a neutral color scheme and ma-terials such as limestone, which are luxurious without being overly showy. We tried to provide a background for the art in a livable, soft way, Benning explains. People think of contemporary as slick and hard. This is calming and serene.   

Serene, yes. But there’s also drama aplenty. In the entry, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors disappear like magic into the walls, opening up the house to the backyard, where an infinity pool gives the place a hip, Bel Air vibe.

During the 18-month-long renovation, the homeowners haunted local galleries, dreaming of their future art collection. At JayJay, an East Sac gallery that represents a small stable of modern and postmodern painters, sculptors and photographers, they were intrigued by what they saw.

They kept coming back, thinking and looking and educating themselves, says Beth Jones, who owns the gallery with a partner, Lynda Jolley. When the renovation was completed, Jones and Jolley loaded up a truck with about 20 works and brought them to the house
for tryouts.

We put them up to see what the owners would respond to, explains Jones.

You can see something in a gallery and love it, Jolley adds. But when you see it up on the wall, it may not work. A lot depends on the light and the surroundings.

The pieces they were considering are what Jones and Jolley call museum-track art: works by up-and-coming artists who exhibit regularly and are either represented in museum collections or are likely to be in the future.

The couple ended up buying about 10 pieces in one fell swoop, including a large steel sculpture (Monad) by Clarksburg artist Roger Berry, an untitled acrylic on canvas by Michaele LeCompte,

Judith Foosaner’s Off Season #2 (charcoal on paper on canvas collage) and Mark Emerson’s Sooner or Later (polymer on panel).

When it came to pulling the trigger, the couple didn’t hesitate. We had a lot of pent-up demand, waiting for the house to be done, the husband explains. We’d had our eye on these artists for a long time.

Amassing an Art Collection

JayJay gallery’s Lynda Jolley and Beth Jones offer these tips for creating a collection:

• Educate yourself. Read art magazines. (The best, according to Jones and Jolley: Art in America, Artforum and Art Ltd.) Take an art-appreciation course at a local university or community college.

• Visit galleries and art museums. Get to know some dealers. They can answer many of your questions about art and artists.

• Don’t limit yourself to Second Saturday events. Go to galleries when they’re not packed with people who are there just for the free wine.

• Buy locally.
You don’t have to go to L.A. or New York, Jolley says. With Sac State and UC Davis, we have museum-track artists right here.