Buying art shouldn’t be an intimidating experience. It doesn’t have to break the bank either.

So says emerging art collector Keith Cradle and Sonya Pfeiffer, owner and creative director of Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte.

Both point to the plethora of talented emerging and established artists in the Charlotte region and all of the ways to see their art – from fine art galleries and urban murals to artist residencies and museums.

“It’s stunning to look around and see how many artists we have in Charlotte who are doing fine work and the drive they have to have people find and interact with their work is also impressive,” Pfeiffer said.

One way to encounter some of these creatives is to participate in ASC’s Community Supported Art (CSA) program. Nine artists are commissioned to create new work, sold to the community in the form of 50 “shares” delivered at three pickup events that allow the artists and their patrons to meet and connect. Shares for the 2020 CSA season go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Here are additional expert tips for building your art collection, courtesy Cradle and Pfeiffer.


Two years ago, Cradle spotted an acrylic work by local artist Renee Cloud while at an artist residency showcase event at Goodyear Arts.

His friend Jen Edwards, now chief curator and curator of Contemporary Art at The Mint Museum, noticed he couldn’t take his eyes off the artwork and offered him advice.

“If you like it, you buy it,” he remembers being told. “You might not get a second chance.”

It became the first “real” artwork Cradle owned.


Reasons for buying art differ from person to person, Pfeiffer said. Some want to support a particular artist or gallery, while others view it as an investment.

Whatever the reason, there needs to be purpose. Think about the spaces where you’d like to have art. Before making a purchase, learn about the artist and the story behind the artwork.

Above all else, “love what you collect,” she said. “When you collect from that place, from that place of basic human response, the intentionality is authentic.”


There are several ways to get quality artwork you’ll love on a budget, Pfeiffer said. Buy work by emerging artists, consider a range of mediums and use nice frames to accentuate your art.

“What’s really critical,” she said, “is not to think that all good artwork is astronomically expensive. That’s simply not the case.”

Save up for when you find a piece you do love. If you go into a gallery, share your budget and ask if there is anything in your price range. And if you find something that is more than what you have on hand, ask if you can set up a payment plan.


Artists change the community they’re in, Pfeiffer said. Many find inspiration in the people or culture around them and their work is a reflection of the community.

By supporting them, you’re supporting the broader community, Cradle said.

“No matter how big or small, the money you pay for art from a local artist goes into their pockets to pay rent, pay bills and to create something new,” he said.

“If we don’t support them,” Pfeiffer added, “we’re going to lose them.”


Pfeiffer said she knows some are nervous about entering galleries, especially if they don’t have an arts background.

“You don’t have to know anything about art to walk into an art gallery,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s so exciting for gallery owners or artists for someone to walk in and say ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’”

Those associated with local galleries, from the maker to the advocate, are excited about what’s on their walls. They want to share that excitement with you.

“Once you walk into any Charlotte art gallery, you’re going to feel welcome,” she said.

– Bernie Petit | ASC Charlotte