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Collecting Art – The Intangible Moment of Looking at Something and Falling in Love
Twenty-Fourth Musing

by Ms. Terious


Collecting Art – The Intangible Moment of Looking at Something and Falling in Love

The Twenty-Fourth Musing

Perhaps you have thought about starting an art collection, but have no idea where to begin. This musing will break down collecting into easy steps contained in discussions I have had with various local collectors of art.

It is important that your first step, before you even begin your collection, is to realize that you are not buying merely objects, you are making a statement about who you are and what you love.

I often have thought about it this way: If someone were to come to my home who didn’t already know me and I was not there to greet them, just by looking at my walls and other displays, they would already know a lot about who I am as a person and what fills my soul.

An art collection can convey who you are at any given moment in time and express how you are changing as your collection grows and becomes more diverse.

Tracy and Rick Pawelski both laughingly said that they began collecting art as a couple when they began to buy houses and had walls.  Rick does add though, “Actually Tracy was a collector before I met her and that was one of the things that impressed me about her – she had some unique pieces already on her walls.” Tracy adds, “I think it is important to let people know that you don’t have to have a lot of money to begin collecting beautiful things. I began by collecting prints and I had a time when I was interested in the photography of Richard Avedon and bought a few of his black and white prints.” She adds that since she travelled quite a bit, she was able to purchase some pieces of art on her journeys.  Rick says, “when we became a couple and travelled, sometimes we bought art and other times we brought back our appreciation of the art that we viewed.”

Rick talks about spending time in signature art galleries and museums in order to grow their appreciation of art and also learn more about artists and their techniques. The Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy; The Prado in Madrid, Spain; The Louvre in Paris, France; The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; The National Gallery in D.C.; and closer to home, The Walters in Baltimore; and The Barnes and Philadelphia Museum in Philadelphia are all places they have travelled. He says, “It’s not as though we have Vermeer hanging on our walls but it has informed our sensibility.”

Tracy answers when asked the question about what started her interest in becoming an art collector, “First of all I think we underestimate the value of beauty, whether it is natural beauty outside of our windows or how we curate our art within our home.”

When Tracy and Rick made the decision of having a wedding gift idea list, it partially consisted of items that they loved from The Smith Gallery. They began with prints that they both loved and have built their collection to now include a large number of original, signature pieces. Tracy discussed how having prints framed beautifully and uniquely adds to the enjoyment and beauty of a collection.

The Pawelskis have gone on to create a beautiful and inviting home that not only includes commissioned pieces and art from around the world but also their vast collection of local artists’ pieces. Some of the names mentioned are Beverlee Lehr, an installation three-dimensional sculptor, Annie Lesch, Elide Hower, Jonathan Frazier, Julie Riker, Tina Berrier, P.D. Murray and many of the Seven Lively Artists.

When asked what makes them continue collecting, Rick answers that it increases their sensibilities in the arts and adds that it’s part of their adventure because there are great stories behind many of the pieces they have collected.  Tracy adds that they gravitate toward large, high impact, bold pieces of art but also love art that ranges from landscapes, to abstract, to still life, to modern western art depicting musicians, as Rick is a musician.

The interview ends with Tracy stating that having Debbie Smith of The Smith Gallery as a friend has definitely assisted in the couple’s ability to find and procure local artists. Both Tracy and Rick again state that it doesn’t take a lot of money in order to start an art collection that speaks to your soul and that going to various galleries and museums whenever you can, definitely helps in understanding and appreciating art and the artists who create it.

Pamela Parascandola has always enjoyed color and inspirational design, whether it be textile, wallpaper designs, or art and that was her jumping off point to becoming a collector of fine art. “I was inspired to begin collecting original art by my friend, artist Susan Benigni Landis. Susan and I have known each other since our boys were school aged children, and I fell in love with her art and style as a plein air artist.” She goes to to say that after beginning her collection of Susan’s art she wanted to go on and buy more art that gave her even more pleasure. Although Pam has only been collecting original art for the past three years it was through Susan’s art that Pam became acquainted with Debbie and The Smith Gallery and through her many trips to The Gallery, Pam’s collection began to grow. “It is so fulfilling to be the caretaker of original art and knowing what the artist put into it with their heart and soul and skill and that there is only one of these pieces… and that these pieces will always be treasured.”

Pam has remained close to the plein air style as it draws her in, but she has expanded beyond that to more impressionistic pieces that include people but always contain landscape and water.

 “Recently I’ve expanded to add a more contemporary piece by Peg Belcastro to my collection – not stark – but very colorful. It’s beyond what I’ve purchased before, but I know I will enjoy it!”

Pam collects mostly local artists and says this is mainly because The Smith Gallery is so accessible to her as she can walk in and browse, and she loves the idea of supporting local artists. The added appeal is that she has also been able to meet and discuss art with the artists that she sees at The Smith Gallery. She adds, “For a relatively small community we do have a wonderful group of local artists, and I do think that their art is so attainable.”

Pam states that another added joy is that when visitors are at her home, not only can she discuss her art collection, but she can also discuss the artists.

Pam mentions how The Smith Gallery makes the purchase of art even easier for people by having a payment plan which ensures that you can be certain that a piece of art will still be there when you next visit the gallery, you don’t have to walk away from something because it doesn’t suit your budget on that day.

Pam mentions that art can be a wonderful gift for someone you know well. She recently gifted her husband with a piece by artist Thom Glace as her husband is an avid fisherman. She also has purchased a print from the same artist as a gift to her son who is graduating from college telling him that, “This is a forever piece, don’t ever get rid of it.” She goes on to say how special it is to give a gift of art to someone. “I’ve taken the time to look at the piece of art I would like to gift to this person and I can say, ‘Oh they will love this.’”

Pam says that she never worries about where a new piece of art will go in her home, she understands that if she is moved by a certain piece of art it belongs in her home and she will make a space for it.

On an ending note, Pam talked about an art class at The Art Association of Harrisburg she enrolled in and says, “I came to realize how difficult it is to create art. At first, I was nervous…but I realized that it was a valuable experience by enriching my exposure to creativity and coming to the understanding of how difficult this can be. Jonathan Frazier was downstairs playing the piano and having this background music certainly enriched the experience.” She went on to say that this experience gave her an opportunity to talk with others who are working on their creative skills and also the opportunity to play with color that can inform all aspects of her life. She mentions that it was eye opening to see how different artists will portray the same scene in many different ways.

Bill McQuade has been a collector of art for over fifteen years. Because he travels for his work, he will often pick up various pieces of handcrafted art as he appreciates the time and talent needed to produce these items. He has gotten past purchasing prints and the only prints hanging in his home are photographs that he has taken.

“We are very blessed in this area to have such fantastic artists…I have picked up watercolors and oils and find that art is actually quite reasonably priced in our area.” He enjoys seeing new local artists that are being shown in local galleries for the first time.

 Because of his love of the outdoors which was partially honed by his time spent as a Boy Scout leader, he tends to gravitate toward outdoor art done in the realism style. A common theme in his art collection are woodlands, landscapes, and waterscapes.

When asked what began his quest in art collecting, he says, “I took art lessons in the red barn at The Art Center Schools and Galleries in Mechanicsburg and have always been intrigued by realism and the artistic process.” He goes on to say that this experience added to his appreciation of artists’ skills and a desire to collect fine art.

Bill states that he enjoys walking up his stairwell, pausing and observing every piece of art there and finds that he is always able to see something new in them. He mentions that, as an engineer, he finds realism in art to appeal to his sensibility, and art in general to offer him an escape from his work life into a space where he can just enjoy beauty.

Although the art style of realism appeals to Bill the most, he also is drawn to outdoor art done in an impressionistic art style and finds plein air art to be a style he enjoys.

Local artists such as Kim Stone, Linda Williard, Julie Riker, Rosanne Wolfe, Karen Ferrick, and Jonathan Frazier are all part of Bill’s collection. A goal he has is to commission one of Jonathan’s charcoal/graphite etchings for his collection.

 He mentions his amazement of Roseanne Wolfe’s ability to portray glass in her paintings. His prized Rosanne Wolfe painting hangs in his stairwell and was purchased through an auction to raise funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Bill’s father passed from cancer, and it is quite meaningful to him to have purchased this piece as it has the double role of serving as a reminder of his father and assisting the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in raising money.

Bill also has a wall of framed photographs he took of his two sons which were framed by Smith Gallery and Fine Custom Framing. Bill remarks on the distinctive framing skills of The Gallery and thoughtfulness in framing a piece in the best way possible for not only the art but also for the space in which it will hang.

Bill mentions that possibly the time has come for him to have Debbie from The Smith Gallery come in and offer her services in assisting with the perfect hanging of his art collection.  He is a fan of Debbie’s YouTube, Art Talks 2 U, and the monthly Musings that appear on Facebook, the gallery’s website, and emailed through Constant Contact and mentions that there is always something new to learn from reading and listening to these two informative items.

He states that visiting various museums and galleries have informed his appreciation of art and its history and how this new appreciation assists him in enjoying his art collection to an even higher level.

He states that his experiences with The Smith Gallery have always been positive because of the amount of time the staff are willing to spend discussing art and the framing of art with each customer that comes to the gallery.


Visit The Smith Gallery to view more art by the artists’ works shown in this musing, and many other talented artists whose works are also featured. View the YouTube channel ArtTalks2ufor The Smith Gallery Art Talks with many of the artists exhibiting in the gallery.  Make sure to follow The Smith Gallery on their Facebook page The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing, their Instagram @FineArt2U, and online at fineart2u.com to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming events.

The Smith Gallery & Fine Custom Framing has added a new feature to their website. In honor of their 37th anniversary in business, you can now shop for art in their online gallery, https://www.smithcustomframing.com/shop-art/ . If you are hungry for local art and it is late at night or a Sunday afternoon, just click on this link and replenish your joy of viewing amazing artwork!



The Tenth Muse was created to give inspiration, information and confidence to the reader.

This publication celebrates The Tenth Muse that is alive in all of us! She gives us the confidence to embrace going beyond the nine original muses.

Ms. Terious explores many subjects related to art and framing that can be used in the real world as you explore your own personal tastes and experiences without boundaries.

See all Tenth Muse articles