Roger Gastman's advice for collecting and displaying art

Author and curator Roger Gastman, who started buying art as a teenager, offers advice for building a collection and showing it off.

Think passions, not price: Gastman displays framed concert fliers, record covers and letters as art. Other inexpensive pieces can be found at craft fairs and art school shows. "You can buy a signed original screen print for $30 to $100," he said. "Then you go to Michaels or Bed Bath & Beyond and for the same price get a frame."

Location, location, location: Creating an art-filled gallery wall? Start with the largest or most important piece in the center, making sure there is enough room for two small or medium-size pieces to go above it. "The deeper the moldings, the more you can pile in the art without feeling trapped by it," Gastman said. Pieces with intricate details are best hung at eye level, but large-scale graphics or portraits can go nearly all the way to the ceiling or the floor.

Opposites attract: Dark walls, such as the deep brown in his bedroom, make art with light colors pop, Gastman said. Complex and colorful works of art look best with simple architectural frames in basic black or natural wood. For black and white drawings and photos, crude and primitive artwork, and posters with strong graphics, try ornately carved gilt and lacquered frames.

Mix or match: Gastman frames similar pieces alike. His collection of midcentury prints by David Weidman, for instance, are all in natural wood frames. But when filling a wall, Gastman hangs different styles of frames. "It makes you spend more time looking," he said, citing his home office, which is filled with punk rock memorabilia in a variety of frames. "When everything on a wall is in the same frame, it reads as just one piece."

Go frameless: Many younger artists with whom Gastman works put their paintings on unframed wood and metal. Others finish their paintings in a gallery wrap, so the canvas continues around the side of the stretcher bar. "A lot of contemporary artists show their work that way, and that's how I hang it," he said. One advantage: "You can hang unframed piece edge to edge and create diptychs and triptychs."

— David A. Keeps

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World