The art connection

Beth Jones

Photo By Larry Dalton

Art can be intimidating, or some people find it so. How ironic, then, that here in Sacramento we are blessed with a cornucopia of fine artists who produce high-quality work. So when neophytes go looking for help, art consultant Beth Jones is there to provide it. She started in 1984 working in and co-running a gallery, then spent most of the ’90s as an art broker. Recently, in addition to her consulting business, she and new partner Lynda Jolley opened Gallery 8 at 2906 Franklin Blvd., which was just re-christened as Jayjay; the gallery opens Second Saturday (Feb. 10) with Studio Visit, a show featuring works by 12 artists: Mary Cole, Mark Emerson, Susan Keizer, Jane Mikacich, Thomas Monteith, Jack Nielsen, Sandy Parris, Christine Remy, Nick Steinmetz, Ellen Van Fleet, Stacey Vetter and Roger Yoges.

What does an art consultant do?

Helps people find the art they need, whether it be for their home or for their commercial office space, place of business, company … So an art consultant works as a broker.

Isn’t there some kind of law that when a new building goes up, a certain percentage of the cost must be earmarked to buy art?

There’s a downtown ordinance. There’s a specific area, and I’m not exactly positive about all the stipulations; it has quite a few rules and regulations, and I think it has something to do with redevelopment. But when you build in the downtown area of Sacramento, 2 percent has to go toward art in public places, which would mean art that’s going to be placed in the public areas of that building—outside, inside.

Let’s say a corporate client asks you to buy some art. How would you go about determining what to advise them to buy?

First of all, you get to know your client very well. You visit the space and you know what the space looks like, what the flavor is—whether it’s traditional or contemporary or generic or what it is—which helps you decide what’s going to work in a space. And then, hopefully, what you think is going to work and what the client wants are the same. Or, you can educate your client to understand why you think this is best for them. Then you go find it for them.

How much educating do you find you have to do?

I think a large percentage of my job as a consultant is educating people. Maybe 25 or 30 percent of the people I work with are kind of knowledgeable. And 70 to 75 percent don’t have a clue, but want help.

What do you tell them?

We give them all kinds of historical reasons, why art is the way it is. It’s kind of a cliché—the “Oh, my kid could do it” type of thing. A lot of the work that is non-objective, or abstract, a lot of people find—"Oh, you know, anybody could do that.” It looks that way. And, of course, there is a lot of bad art that, probably, anybody could do. But the artists that we represent are very educated, have lots of experience and have been working on their art for a long time, so their imagery has an awful lot of foundation. And we teach the client about that. And usually, on particular pieces, I don’t have to do a lot of: “Oh, this is why you must have this.” Because, at that point, when we’re finally presenting the actual work, we’ve already laid the groundwork, and they’re beginning to get it. So what we show them, they see the merit.

What do you think of the quality of art being produced locally?

We’ve got a lot of great artists working here, one of the reasons being it’s an affordable place; they’re close to the Bay Area where lots of them show, and they can get to big museums and so forth. But here, they can have a live/work space, or have a separate studio from their live space, and be able to afford it and keep making their art. And Sac State, 25 or 30 years ago, had a pretty powerful faculty; UC Davis has had a lot of powerhouses. Even Sac City and American River College have a lot of very good instructors. And those instructors are bringing the next generation of artists to us all the time. And, as it’s very expensive for them to live in the Los Angeles or San Francisco areas, they tend to stay here. There are lots of artists who have been educated—undergraduate and graduate degrees—around Sacramento who are still living here and practicing.

What can art do for the soul?

It feeds the soul, changes how you see things, inspires. My own children have grown up in a house with a lot of confrontational—and some people would say provocative—images, and often asked us questions like, “Why do we have stuff like this in our house? Nobody else does.” Now, as older people, they’ll go to someone’s house [and later say] it was a very nice house, but their art was cheesy, or they didn’t have any art. So I think it’s been very influential on them, visually and aesthetically. Once a person begins to live with original art, I would say 99 percent of the time they never go back. They begin to make a commitment to trying to acquire more of that.