Art is an opportunity for contemplation. Its presence creates a tangible pause. There is so much evidence that slowing down our thoughts and our breathing, as we do when we gaze at a work of art, makes us healthier, more lively, more happy people.

Art will, if we allow it, move us to connect with ourselves, to connect us to the creator of the piece, and to each other. I like to think of art as a touchstone for mindful living, especially if the piece is made by hand and if it has a story behind it.

Paintings by Heather Sawtelle, — Local Oakland artist, sourced by Laura Martin Bovard, on Facebook.

Paintings by Heather Sawtelle, — Local Oakland artist; sourced by Laura Martin Bovard via Facebook.

Art makes us feel.

And that’s what we are here to do, as spiritual beings having this human experience, to connect and to feel.

In my work, I find that some clients are on board with the idea of purchasing and hanging real works of art in their homes, and some balk.

We have all heard the story or felt ourselves how baffling art can be.

“Why is this line on a canvas art?” we ask.

Monotype by artist Betty Merken, — Sourced by art consultant Laura Grigsby,

Monotype by artist Betty Merken, — Sourced by art consultant Laura Grigsby,

“I could do that!” we exclaim.

And then experts explain to us why this is not so.

We had a client recently who, though not an artist herself, decided to paint a “Modern Art” abstract, squiggles in gray and white — to match the room we were designing.

But this is not a story about how silly she was for trying. Or whether art snobs have a point.

As we were working with this client, we came across a painting at a gallery that we thought she would like. A piece by an artist named Gisela Colón (, displayed by local Bay Area art curator and gallery owner Stephanie Breitbard (

Our instincts were correct; our client fell in love with Colón’s work.

As a result, our client commissioned the artist to create a piece for her home. This experience sparked a new interest; this client is now an avid art collector.

It turned out it wasn’t the “I can do that” snark that caused her to paint that first canvas, herself.

Her true desire was to be involved in the process of making art.

By commissioning a piece, she became part of the story of the art. And she felt touched on a heart level when she engaged with the work directly as a patron.

Just painting shapes on a certain-sized canvas, in the right colors, is about the mind or the ego making art.

What artists do is they connect within, to their souls, and to spirit (inspiration = to breathe in spirit), and then express that connection, that divine channeling, so that we, the viewer or consumer, can feel it, can take it into our own bodies through our senses and our hearts, and connect, to the artist, to our own soul’s longing, to source.

Sometimes a piece itself speaks to you; or it’s the story of how the piece was made; or the story of how you came to acquire it — what country you were traveling in, the gallery you stumbled upon featuring a little-known artist who became a good friend, and later became famous.

Client-commissioned artwork by an artist in Bhutan: a painting of a quilt from the family’s travels.

Client-commissioned artwork by an artist in Bhutan: a painting of a quilt from the family’s travels.

And sometimes, we need help choosing and acquiring art.

In my work, sourcing art is a combination of personal research, and introducing clients to Art Consultants in situations where that expert’s resources, energy, and expertise are a good fit with the project and client.

Art Consultants are specialists in their fields who do copious legwork researching specific art genres and tracking the market. They help us have access to and make decisions about art we might never have found or selected on our own.

Recently, we have been referring many of our clients to Danielle Fox, at Slate Gallery ( in Oakland, one of our Uptown neighbors! She goes the extra mile for us and for our clients and she has been a dream to work with.

Some tips for researching art on your own: If you are interested in contemporary art by local Oakland artists, check out Open Studios, a multi-location event taking place over several days in early June each year and curated by Pro Arts (see Following artists on Facebook or Instagram can be a way to keep tabs on people whose work intrigues you.

If you think you might have the need for an art consultant, or would like to further discuss the value of hiring an art consultant and find out more about the people who work in that field, please call us. We would be happy to learn more about you and help you choose the consultant who is right for you.


A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post