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Seller's Market

By Page Leggett

Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

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It doesn’t take a lot of cash to own original art. All it takes, says local art dealer Judith Voglesonger, is a willingness to discover what art can bring to your life. She discovered that feeling when she began working for Thurston Twigg-Smith, a prolific (more than 3,000 pieces) collector in Honolulu. Voglesonger developed a love for original art then, but she says, “I didn’t have the wherewithal to spend gobs of money on it.”

She didn’t need to. When she and her family moved to Jacksonville, Fla., she began to collect and sell the work of affordable artists. And when the family moved to a new home in 2006, she threw a housewarming party, filling the blank walls with paintings by a Florida artist. That night she sold $22,000 worth of art.

A 2007 move to Charlotte presented her with an untapped market. The busy wife and mother of three began selling art on the playground and anywhere else she found herself. “I’ve made most of my sales in yoga pants or jeans,” she laughs. “I’ll be on the playground, at PTA or at pre-school, and someone will ask, ‘What do you do?’ When I say, ‘I sell art,’ that usually starts a conversation.”

That conversation expanded in September when she opened JWV Artists at J. Sam’s at Piedmont Town Center. The relaxed restaurant and wine bar is the antithesis of a stuffy gallery and the art, which ranges from abstract to impressionistic to photography, changes frequently. The setting makes it easy for people to inquire about the work—and then acquire it.

The SouthPark resident has no interest in running a traditional gallery. Her target market isn’t comfortable going into galleries, anyway. “They’re afraid someone will walk up and start speaking gibberish to them,” she says. While her typical client is a thirty-something resident of south Charlotte or Myers Park, she has clients in their 50s and 60s, as well. The common denominator among them all is a desire to buy original pieces without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.

Even as Volgesonger’s business continues to grow, she intentionally keeps her price point affordable. While her prices can go up to around $4,000, most are below $2,000. Her goal is to offer original art to buyers who might not necessarily already have it in their homes. “Art changes the energy in your home,” says Voglesonger. “It makes you feel something.”

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