Judith Weston Voglesonger started her company Art House Charlotte by doing deals at the playground, over coffee, even while her kids played at The Little Gym. The 41-year-old mother of three created and runs Art House Charlotte, helping to get original, affordable art in homes and businesses across Charlotte.
“I never buy a piece for a specific place in my home. I buy art because I connect with it, and then I find a place for it.”
She encourages her clients to take the same approach, adding, “That’s how you buy meaningful things. It’s not about matching the paint or the drapes.”
Now known as one of the premier art dealers in town, Judith originally fell into the work while she was living in Hawaii after college. She was headed to law school when she realized that wasn’t her passion. She found what she thought would be temporary work as an assistant to a famous art collector in Honolulu. He had millions of dollars in art – so many works he owned a home that served only as a storage place for his collection. It was her job to manage the collection and help put on events featuring the art. Eventually she even helped him open a museum that is now known as the Honolulu Museum of Art.
“I was surrounded by beautiful, original works for so long, so when I moved back to the mainland I was on the hunt to find original art – but things that I could afford.”
She and her then-husband had just moved into a big house in Florida with a lot of empty walls. A friend suggested she host a party for a local artist. She did – and made the artist $22,000 in one night and got some great art out of the deal. The artist also asked that Judith represent her. That was 2006.
Judith now represents 25 artists who all do contemporary art that is relevant now, and she is passionate about helping everyone from soccer moms to interior designers and business owners find one-of-a-kind works for their spaces.
“It doesn’t matter what’s in style – my biggest challenge is to convince clients to follow their eye and buy what they like. If you go to a true art collector’s home, there’s nothing that coordinates or matches. It’s all about connecting with the piece, the way it makes you feel, the way it makes your space feel. It’s not about coordinating with curtains or throw pillows, it’s about having a visceral connection and allowing it to change the energy of your space. It’s about trusting your eye and not worrying about asking anyone else’s opinion.”
Amy George is a long-time client of Judith’s and says, “I had never bought a piece of original art until I met Judith, and it’s surprisingly addictive!”
Amy says she always assumed she couldn’t afford anything that wasn’t store-bought, and art was never really her thing. Until she met Judith. “I was never really exposed to it. Some people go to art galleries on vacation, but that’s not us. I started out with a tiny piece that Judith helped me buy, and I realized it makes me happy walking by it.”
So she kept buying and says now she has no wall space left to fill.
“What I like about Judith is that she quickly discerns your style and what might appeal to you. And she’s hilarious and just really fun to be around.”
If you’re looking to start a collection of your own, Judith says Charlotte is the perfect place to start. She believes the Queen City is home to a thriving arts scene and doesn’t get enough credit because of comparisons to nearby cities like Asheville or Charleston.
“Those cities are saturated with visitors, and there is so much talent right here in Charlotte. There is such a creative environment,” she says. “People think because we’re a newer city there isn’t depth, but I think there are so many talented individuals. I used to source the art from around the country, but now I focus on local artists. I don’t need to pay shipping costs to find fantastic work – there is great work here.”
Her best advice if you’re just starting to fill your walls and hoping to find that perfect piece?
For starters: Don’t be afraid to ask the price — if it’s not in your price point, you can ask to commission a smaller size. If the piece is not the size you want, you can commission something that will fit the space you have in mind. And she says don’t be afraid to look for art in non-traditional places. Many artists now sell their work directly to customers on social media, on Facebook or etsy.
People send me texts with blank wall spaces and measurements and pics from Instagram or Facebook asking my opinion, and I love helping in that way. I’ll come to your home or business with pieces I think might work, or I have a mini-gallery right in my home that I open up to clients all the time.”
She also has a “traveling boutique” that she sets up at model homes, restaurants and businesses and invites clients to special gatherings. They’re usually filled with well-dressed people drinking wine, snacking and laughing — and almost always snagging a cool new piece of art. Because with Art House Charlotte, it’s just so easy.
To learn more about Art House Charlotte or to book an appointment to view the current selection of art at Art House Charlotte, call (904) 707-5884 or visit arthousecharlotte.com.
All photography by Ray Dunbar
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