Several years ago, I was asked in an interview, “Why is having art in your life important?” The question floored me. How do I articulate something that is such an intrinsic component of my life? Where do I start? I have been truly fortunate as the daughter of an art gallery owner to grow up with walls filled with great art, have stood in awe in museums and art galleries since as far back as I can remember, and have visited friends’ homes and been blown away by their pieces. Art was always a cornerstone of my life. How do I explain the need to engage with my surroundings, the profound sadness I have looking at empty walls?

Experts will tell you there are three reasons in today’s world people choose to surround themselves with art. They love it, they want to make money from it, or they want to show others their ability to discern excellence (or more plainly to showcase their great taste and “eye”).

While this last sentiment is shared by many and was the driving force in sustaining many areas of the art world for centuries, the appreciation of art takes on a more human role for me. At its most basic, the feeling of “loving” art is the foundation for my motivation to surround myself with it. 

But before we dive into art’s importance, it is worthwhile to take a moment to appreciate what “art” might means to others. For many, art stirs thoughts of galleries, elite classes, and unattainable standards. And others would not think of it at all, as they might say they “do not understand it”. Yet, art has existed in cultures for time immemorial through the basic desire of humans to beautify all that surrounds them, to document history, to pay homage to greater beliefs, and simply to communicate with one another.

There were times when art was indeed inaccessible to the average person.

But now art can be viewed all around us. Public art (whether sculptures in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s sculpture garden, along our riverbanks, at Saint John’s Market Square, on Moncton’s buildings, and even manhole covers) engages the viewer and becomes sought-out for tourists. How many photographs do you have of vacations with your family in front of fountains, murals or sitting beside iconic sculptures? And now during COVID-19 there are so many opportunities to discover and interact with art. Record numbers of world-class art galleries have opened their virtual doors and released images and videos of their treasures and the artists who created them. Art has probably never been so accessible.

And yet, having it on our own walls, in our own homes, is more important now than ever before.

Art engages the heart, stimulates the mind, promotes conversation, increases creativity, and helps us look at things in new ways.  Original works of art provide the owner with both visual appeal and a glimpse into the insight and genius of the artist. And good art repays the attention it is given; the more you look, the more you feel, the more you learn, the more you appreciate.

During the pandemic, these benefits have been profoundly felt by our friends and clients who have shared their personal experiences with their art. “This period of adversity has given us opportunity to ponder our art and through it, become energized and hopeful for a better tomorrow…"

Others have spoken of their personal connections to their art and how it has helped them in dealing with their loneliness.

One of my very favourite testimonials about a painting by New Brunswick artist Alexandrya Eaton says it all. “One cannot help but be uplifted when you catch sight of a piece that fills a space with such warmth, vibrant colour, strength, and fun. It is in a central location in our home that we all walk by many times a day, and its energy impacts us in a positive way. I notice our children bringing their toys to play there... unconsciously drawn to the backdrop Drya's flowers give to their imaginary worlds. Truthfully, it makes me smile every time I see it. “

In the coming months, questions people ask us will be broached in this blog, including reproductions versus original multiples, art in New Brunswick focusing on history, ceramics, and contemporary art, building a collection, what to look for in good art, and what to do with your art when you are considering your estate. We hope you enjoy.

Germaine Pataki-Thériault

2nd generation owner, Gallery 78

This appeared in the Daily Gleaner in December 2020.