Curator Interview: Meredyth Hyatt Moses on Collecting Art

"There is never anything better than looking at an artist's work in person."

We sat down with Meredyth Hyatt Moses, an independent curator and former gallerist, who owned and directed Clark Gallery in Boston for decades, and asked her for advice on collecting art. Her involvement in developing Boston arts' scene gives her experience and insight on what it means to be a Boston collector.  Here's what she had to say:

1. Were you already collecting before opening your gallery, and what made you decide to start buying art?

We were just beginning to collect art and it was because our home in Weston needed to have interesting art on the walls.  After opening the gallery on November 15, 1976 we decided it would be great to move into more serious collecting.  

2.     Do you remember the first piece you purchased?

The very first piece we collected may have been Bernard Buffet prints in the mid 50’s when were just married.  Could not afford original paintings yet.  

3. What resources do you suggest to a first time collector for how to get started?

Of course now with all that technology has to offer you can go online to look at various galleries and artists throughout the country and even beyond, but there is never anything better than looking at artist’s work in person. Visit museums locally and nationally.  Visit galleries in the same way.  Whenever traveling to new cities visit the local galleries.  We in Boston have a wonderful opportunity to visit art galleries, which are mostly on Harrison Ave in SoWa, but don't forget Gallery NAGA and Barbara Krakow in our Back Bay Newbury Street, where almost all of our galleries were in the 80’s and 90’s. Also, frequently in various artist’s neighborhoods like Ft. Point Channel there will be two openings  a year of artist studios where they live and work.  That gives a potential buyer a leg up to discover someone great.

4. When do you know it’s the right time to buy a piece?

You know when to buy a work of art when you see something that you truly cannot leave behind and must have.  My rule of thumb was to always go to reputable galleries where you know the work is carefully selected, and then if you can say "OMG" three times, buy it!  Be sure to stay within your budget and size and get help from a professional or the gallery in doing the installation.  Installing your new purchases properly is so important.  

5. Thoughts on buying from emerging vs. established artists?   

As a young gallerist, I did buy prints of the major 50’s artists like Jim Dine, Claus Oldenburg, David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, etc. But within a year or so of being very successful with that, I personally realized that I did not have anything to do with their careers. I wanted to help the ever emerging good artists in Boston.  In earlier days, most developing artists had to move to NYC to really get their careers going, but in the late 70’s and all through the 80’s and 90’s, they could live and work in Boston, and their careers took off.  We started Boston Art Dealer’s Association (BADA) and shared ideas and became a national presence for the artists by participating in major Art Fairs in Chicago and NYC.  If you live and work in Boston, I encourage you to buy the work of local artists,  but never exclude the ICA, MFA, deCordova and beyond to find out what is going on nationally as well.  

6.     What is your favorite part of collecting?

My favorite part of collecting has always been personal education and a deep appreciation for the privilege of being challenged daily by the art in my nest.  All of the art becomes my friends and enriches daily visual life.