My Story of Where to Buy Art in Asheville, NC

 UGallery collector Carl’s living room, graced with Pat Forbes’ “Night Rain”, and Alana Clumeck’s “Bliss”
 UGallery collector Carl’s living room, graced with Pat Forbes’ “Night Rain”, and Alana Clumeck’s “Bliss”
 UGallery collector Carl’s living room, graced with Pat Forbes’ “Night Rain”, and Alana Clumeck’s “Bliss”

On a crisp fall morning, UGallery's Marketing Director, Karina, had the pleasure of talking with art collector Carl. With a cup of tea in hand, they had a lovely conversation about how Carl and his wife selected original art for their new home in the mountains of North Carolina. Read on to hear about Carl's journey from browsing local art to discovering the wonderful world of online art galleries.


UGallery: Thank you, Carl, for taking the time to talk with us today. You’re a wonderful patron of UGallery. Can you tell me how your collection got started?

Carl: About a year and a half ago, my wife and I retired to western North Carolina. We had lived in Louisiana for 34 years and worked in higher education. We always wanted to live in the mountains, so we retired here. When we moved, we really didn't bring any furniture. We didn't bring anything. There was nothing here, and we furnished the house from scratch. And so we got all new furniture, and one of the things that have always been important to me is I like art, I like original art. When we moved here, a lot of the furniture was in back order, so we had to wait. Different pieces came in at different times, and I knew that I wanted to furnish our house with original pieces. 

UG: How did you discover UGallery?

Carl: I never heard of UGallery. I didn't even know there was such a thing as online art galleries. I live near Asheville, North Carolina, and it's a very artsy place. It's in the mountains, and there are a lot of artists here. It's just a very artsy type of environment. It combines with the outdoors, and there's a lot of hiking and fishing. Originally, I thought, I'm just going to go to some art galleries. There’s a place in Asheville called the River Arts District where there are local artists who create different forms of art, whether it'd be sculpture, paintings, or what have you. And I thought I’m just going to go in there and pick up some pieces for our new home. 

So, one day, my sister and I went there, and they had some lovely stuff and very good people. But I didn't find what I wanted, and it was very discouraging for me. I went to a couple of other places, and it was the same thing. I didn't find what I wanted. I would find a piece here and there, but it was really more than what I wanted to spend. So at that point, and I don't know how this happened, but something told me to go into a search engine, Google, and knowing me, I probably typed in “online art gallery” or something similar. And UGallery was one of the first things that popped up. 

UG: How do you pick pieces for your home?

C: When I was looking online for pieces for our house - which I would consider mountain-modern, being it's in the mountains and it has a lot of wood, with a stone fireplace - I was looking for transitional pieces to match the design.

UG: Yes, your house is lovely. Thank you for sending the photos. 

C: Oh good, you got them. So we were looking for pieces that would fit, you know, according to our decor and our colors, things that had to match. There are a lot of animals here, we have bears, and we have deer, and turkeys. I found several pieces on UGallery, and one of the pieces that I found was a deer. Let me see who the artist is. 

UG: Is it Alana Clumeck?

C: Alana Clumeck, yes, that's correct. It was a deer, and it was kind of whimsical, the way she had painted it. And so that piece really fit perfectly. And then I found another piece by Pat Forbes, which is really modern. It was beautiful. We needed a piece to go by the fireplace, but we needed something that would coordinate with the grayish, greenish color of the wall. So it looked great there. And then, of course, I ordered some watercolors, some smaller watercolors, and I'm trying to think, McCargar? Is that her name? 

UG: Oh right, Catherine McCargar.

C: Yeah, I really wanted to frame those and put those in our bathroom because I was concerned about the moisture. 

UG: Yeah, good framing does help protect art on paper.

C: So I took them to a place to have them framed. And the guy who framed them did some extra work on them, and he was able to do some backing so that moisture can't get to them. So I got those two in the bathroom. And I had another one from Terri Bell, it's an interesting piece, and it's really pretty. My wife had wanted that, and she wanted us to put that downstairs, but when we re-did the bedroom upstairs, we ended up putting it there in the hallway. It looks great there. But the one piece that we get the most compliments on, it's kind of interesting, that piece is by Mary Pratt. 

UG: Mary Pratt’s painting looks perfect on that wall.

C: And it's a huge painting. It's really large, and originally, we had ordered another piece to go there. But when we got the first painting, it was beautiful, but it just didn't have the wow factor, you know? It just didn't fit exactly in the space. What’s wonderful about UGallery is you can buy a piece of art with free shipping. You can return it free of charge. The prices are very good. I mean, you can't beat it. So I called, I think it was Samantha at the time, and she arranged for me to send it back, and we got this piece instead. And I will tell you, of all the pieces that we have, we get more compliments on that piece than any other piece. It has some gold leaf in it.“Finding Gold” (SOLD) by Mary Pratt


UG: Yeah, it looks beautiful in the space with the lights from your fixture and from outdoors.

C: It's in our dining room, and it is just stunning. We live in a country club development, and we have a lot of friends that come over for dinner. And I think sometimes they're surprised that I did all of this online. They're surprised, and it's a great thing because you can look at the art and you can look at a volume of paintings, you can make a decision, it's free shipping, it's free returning, you have nothing to lose.

UG: It’s such an easy and accessible way to get art. 

C: There's nothing to lose, and in order for me to be able to have gotten what I've gotten, number one, I couldn't have done it. Number two, think about how many art galleries I would have gone to. And number three, I likely would have had to pay a whole lot more if I even could have found it.

UG: Thank you for your insight. Shopping online does save you time and frees you up even the leg work alone while searching for what fits perfectly into your home. What would you say is your favorite piece so far?

C: They're all my favorites. But we get more compliments on the Mary Pratt piece than any other. It just seems to hit people the right way, and I don't know if it's the gold leaf. I think all the paintings I bought are beautiful, but I would have to say that piece just because we get the most compliments on it. 

UG: You also mentioned that it's important for you to have original art. In connection to that, what does it mean for you to support artists? You've already been very interested in collecting. So what does it mean to put original art in your home? 

C: I've done a little bit of painting myself, and I think art and being able to paint or to do art is a gift. And that's important to support, whether it is music or whether it would be art or whatever kind of craft it is, I think it's important to purchase. I read an article recently that said - this is kind of off of the topic - that the only investment right now that's increasing in value is art. Good art. So yeah, I think it's important to support people in the arts. And not only that, an original piece of art just looks better than a print. In some cases, you do pay more, and in others, it's not a significant difference between a print and a piece of original art. 

UG: Yeah, that’s true. If we may ask, what was your career before retiring? 

C: Oh, sure. I was a professor, and my wife was a dean of a college of business. I was a professor of business.Carl’s dining room with Mary Pratt’s “Finding Gold” overlooking a forested mountainside

UG: You also mentioned that you decided to move near Asheville after retirement. What made you do so? 

C: Right. My wife and I traveled for ten years before we retired. We traveled all over the United States looking for a place to retire. And we knew we wanted to be in the mountains. This area was the only place that we kept coming back to. If you're ever over here, you need to visit. Number one, we love the environment. We love mountains. This area has that unique ability. You can go hiking, and you can do outdoor activities during the day. You have good restaurants. You have other cultural activities that you can attend in the evening. And that's kind of a unique combination. It's hard to find. We live near the State Theater of North Carolina, where off-Broadway plays and musicals come to perform. We moved here about a year and a half. We love it here. I just think it's a great place to live. Sometimes I wonder how we ever had time to work. We stay so busy. 

UG: You've purchased from UGallery almost all the art you have in your home -  why is UGallery special to you?

C: Well, I think, number one, it's an American company, and I feel more comfortable. I don't know, maybe it's a false sense of security, but I just feel more comfortable. I've talked with [UGallery Director] Alex several times, and he's been very accessible. I've talked with Samantha, and I feel the level of customer service is very good. It's a very high level of customer service, and I think that that has played a huge role in why I've returned. When I needed to return that one piece of art, I was able to talk with Samantha by phone. She was very receptive, and she was very easy to talk to, and she was very accommodating. And I think that those are big reasons. Number two is the selection. I think I told Alex I'm looking for another piece right now. I keep looking every week when the new art comes out on Thursday because I trust the site. I know that he has pieces that appeal to me. So I think the service, the selection of art, and the fact that I feel comfortable about the company as a whole. I know it's not a fly-by-night company. I know that it's been around a long time, for many years, and I feel comfortable. It's an established company. I'm an educated person, and I do my research, and I feel more comfortable dealing with people with whom I have confidence. The level of service has been excellent. The selection is excellent. The return policy is excellent. When the paintings arrive, they are well. What's the term?

UG: Well-packaged? 

C: Yes, very well-packaged. They're shipped well and packaged well. And I don't have to worry about the art being damaged. I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't find UGallery appealing in terms of purchasing art. I think it's a fantastic product, and I think the level of service is certainly better than you can get even at most, you know, brick-and-mortar art galleries. 

UG: It’s so wonderful to hear that from you, Carl. UGallery turns 16 this year, and it’s so lovely that you found us as we continue to grow as a company. 

C: Well, let me say one more thing. It’s the quality, the quality of the art. It's important to point that out because I'm pretty particular in terms of the quality. UGallery started out originally as a place for new or younger artists who are just starting out. But now, there are more established artists who sell their art on your site. And so I think just the quality of the art is so important. I think had the quality not been there, and I wouldn't have given it a second look, quite frankly. You know, when you look at the pieces that I have - the Mary Pratt piece, the Pat Forbes piece, the Catherine McCargar pieces - those pieces are high-quality pieces, plain and simple. I can't say enough good things about them. You would find those in practically any great gallery in the United States. So I'm very happy that I found you all. I will continue to use your site. I will continue to recommend you to people that I know. I'm very happy and very satisfied with the product and the level of service. 

UG: Thank you so much. It's been really lovely talking with you and hearing your story. And we really appreciate the time that you spared for this call. 

C: Okay. But you know, the other thing I want to mention to you is I've talked with Alex a couple of times, and he is just a super nice guy. He's easy to talk to. And the fact that you would have the owner or the CEO literally take his time to talk with me and be interested in the pieces and what I'm looking for is very special. I think it's a very unusual thing for owners or CEOs to do. So I think that's a real plus. I mean, I see nothing but a really bright future for this company. I think it's going to take off even more. 

UG: Thank you, Carl. We really appreciate you for taking the time to talk with us and thank you for sharing your story. It's fascinating to hear how you started and how you continue to support UGallery. 

C: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.