In this special 8-part, bi-weekly series—created in partnership with member artists of Archway Gallery in Montrose—we’re pleased to feature a selection of artists’ tips, recommendations, and perspectives on connecting with art, beginning your own collection, finding affordable art, and more. The series‘ concludes below, as Houston artist Liz Conces Spencer shares insights and stories about the different ways individuals can connect with original artworks, new and old.
True Confession: I’m an art junkie. If I had unlimited dollars or gold, I would spend them on Cheetos, chocolate and art, not necessarily in that order. And if you’ve ever been to my house or studio, you know it’s not a décor addiction; I really could care less about this season’s colors or that hot new trend.
I buy from the heart.
How Art Can Call to You
One of my favorite pieces is a largish black-and-white photograph by Fikry Botros. It depicts a dead sheep, tongue extruded, eyes barely closed. Its eerie beauty speaks to me of the fragility and finality of earthly life. I passed by it for at least two months while it was in the print bin at Archway Gallery, and each time it stopped me in my tracks.
Captivated and moved by this image, I finally bought it, knowing it would likely disturb the lovely man I live with, but confident that I would over the years encounter the same hard rock of universal understanding that moved me the first time I saw it. It’s in my studio, a treasured inspiration.
Connecting Personally with Art: Ideas, Images & Objects
Surrounding ourselves with meaning—with ideas, images and objects that move us—comes about easily to some people. Many of us have inherited objects or furniture or artwork from family members; it’s evocative and stirs memories or connections with our past. Saving a dining room set, or an armoire, or footstool, or photos is more common than we think. Memories are attached. The same can be said of inherited artwork, which evokes a sense of place and of people we may have grown up with.
These pieces can be a gift, or a burden as it is not for everyone a pleasant connection. Indeed, severing ties with an inherited past can be cathartic. Buying someone else’s treasure via antique or thrift stores can be fun; these treasures have a past and may bring spirits. That’s another story, for sure.
When it comes to art that is acquired, as one begins to collect outside the hand-me-downs and inherited items, a sense of intention can direct the ethic and activity… and this can happen like lightning.
Finding that special item can be unexpected and sometimes casual in that at times you find things where you least expect them. Conversely, you can also expect to find treasures where you most expect them—galleries, festivals, auction houses, etc.
Three Frequent Intentions When Collecting Art
Being a member of a friendly artist-owned gallery for many years, I’ve encountered a lot of people who browse and shop for different reasons. I’ve noticed the casual browsers, as well as those who are shopping with a purpose… those shopping for décor, those shopping for investment, and those shopping from the heart. It’s great when the first two reasons are informed by the third.
I treasure my fellow artists and the soul-expanding wealth of their work. In our gallery, I rarely see work that is completed as a “commodity.” It is instead reflective of each artist’s inner workings, a way to communicate to me and other viewers a piece of mind.
An Art Collection as a Personal Legacy
I buy art that knocks me over or touches my heart. It can be ceramic, steel, paint, or collage. I find personal meaning in works by others that send me on an internal journey of understanding and connection. My children and grandchildren will have first dibs on a wonderful collection if they survive me, and I hope I have raised them to collect with the same fire and passion.
I wonder who will end up with the dead sheep.
More About Archway Gallery & Liz Conces Spencer
Elevating local art and supporting the Houston art scene for 46 years, Archway Gallery is the longest-running artist-owned gallery in Texas. Stop by the Montrose gallery, meet an artist, and learn about owning original, local art. Plan a visit to the gallery or learn more.
Liz Conces Spencer is a Houston artist and member of Archway Gallery in Houston. Her workspace is at Mother Dog Studios in Downtown. She’s a teaching artist with Young Audiences of Houston and has had pieces commissioned for the Houston Arts Alliance, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Talento Bilingue, Cool Globes, Silver Eagle Distributing, City of Houston, Camp Aranzazu, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, Weingarten Art Group, Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston, Service Corporation International, and The Kroger Company. Her work was acquired in 2020 for the Houston Airport System’s Portable Art Collection.
Learn more about Archway Gallery and explore its current and upcoming exhibitions.
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