A We Love DC Interview: Amy Morton of Morton Fine Art

*A Pop-up Project, Pretty Little Things, 2010.

Since art appreciation and collection has historically been considered a past-time saved only for the affluent and rich, it is no surprise that a fine art gallery can sometimes be an intimidating place to enter.  However, a new take on the art gallery in DC, called Morton Fine Art (MFA), will challenge every preconceived notion you may just have about the art world.  Morton Fine Art is an art hybrid – one part traditional art gallery and one part, well, one part anything but traditional.  This month, MFA is presenting Pretty Little Things, a jewelry exhibition, as part of their on going and super successful exhibition concept called *A Pop-up Project.

We Love DC had the opportunity to talk with the founder and owner of MFA, Amy Morton, about Pretty Little Things, DC, and what art currently hangs on her living room wall.
We Love DC:  What is Morton Fine Art?

Amy Morton: Morton Fine Art is a curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. The model is meant to provide accessibility to all levels of fine art collectors through a comfortable and approachable environment.  MFA offers collectors access to new emerging and established contemporary artists, as well as affordable custom art service packages for placing and installing artwork.  MFA also curates temporary art exhibitions outside of MFA’s permanent gallery space, known as *A Pop-up Project, for public and corporate display

WLDC:  What inspired you to develop the curatorial group?

AM: The fine art market has changed in recent years.  The idea of a forming a gallery based on a hybrid business model allows MFA a new flexibility that seems to parallel the market demands, both from the perspective of the artist and of the collector.  MFA’s model combines the sale and display of art of a traditional art gallery; the mobile and temporary display of art of an art fair; the educational and curatorial aspect of a museum; and the professional advice and services of an art consultant. Being a curatorial group rather than a traditional art gallery allows us to be very creative, as many different projects fall within our scope.

WLDC:  What sets Morton Fine Art apart from other art galleries?

AM: MFA is entirely dedicated to the belief than anyone can become an art collector.  Our model is accessible and comfortable; we strive to take the extra time to get to know our collectors and to demystify some of the intimidating traits usually affiliated with fine art.  The model is meant to empower the collector, so we also offer a series of affordable art services including Sketchbook, a long-term art placement and collecting plan for a new collector; and Refresh, an immediate solution for placing existing artworks with the guidance of a curator and professional art installer.  Additionally MFA’s model differs from other art galleries with the inclusion of *A Pop-up Project, temporary art exhibitions that occur outside the Florida Ave gallery space.

WLDC:  What is Pretty Little Things?

AM: Pretty Little Things is a perfect example of what makes MFA different!   When considering a holiday show we opted to go with Pretty Little Things in lieu of a small works fine art show.  Pretty Little Things is a wearable art show featuring the work of five nationally known artisan jewelers, each working in a different medium: glass, legos with diamonds, stones, leather and industrial materials.  MFA is currently scattered with all kinds of delicious little objects priced under $1,000.  Wearable art is easy for people to relate to and covet.

WLDC:  If you could own any one piece of art, what would it be and why?

AM: Oh, I am addicted to collecting art!  I’ve had an art payment as one of my monthly bills for six years straight, so I am always buying something! I own pieces by nearly every artist that I represent, and if I don’t have one in my personal collection yet, I am saving for it!

WLDC:  What do you currently have hanging on your living room wall?

AM: I just counted twelve artworks currently hanging on my living room walls. I have an eclectic mix of abstract, figurative and landscape pieces in a variety of mediums and sizes.  Most of my artwork is contemporary, but I also have a few antique paintings of my hometown that I inherited from my grandmother.  I grew up in a house that was hung salon style, so I’m not afraid of creating a dynamic and mixed aesthetic experience.  Plus, I still interact with each piece in my collection daily, so my artwork will travel my life with me. I love it more than any other material possession!

WLDC:  What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when selecting a piece of art for purchase?

AM: I think sometimes new collectors can be apprehensive about embracing their own tastes.  I believe in buying what you love, living with it and honoring it. Oftentimes seemingly difficult imagery is better understood in the context of the artist’s intention, and that’s when a new level of collecting can begin – once the collector is liberated from the purely decorative voice.

*A Pop-up Project, Pretty Little Things, 2010.

WLDC:  What is the biggest advice you can give to the aspiring collector?

AM: Explore your tastes, look at everything. Exposing yourself to artwork helps to establish your tastes. Over time you will notice continuity in the type of artwork you like. Also, evaluate your collecting mission: is it purely something to enjoy and integrate as a decorative accent to a space, or is it a piece you will value for a lifetime and can’t live without?

WLDC:  What about DC excites you?

AM: DC is a great city!  I’ve been fortunate to call this city home for seven years. MFA is in lower Adams Morgan at the intersection of 18th and U, a neighborhood that exemplifies all that I love in DC – diversity, cultural appreciation, and a rich history with lots of delicious cuisine!

WLDC:  Where do you go to find inspiration in DC?

AM: Inspiration is everywhere and things take my attention in new ways every day. Even the same road offers something new if you walk it instead of drive it and vice versa.  The city is full of inspiring things just waiting to be noticed!

WLDC:  Who are some of your favorite local artists and why?

AM: I am devoted to the work of both Rosemary Feit Covey and Laurel Hausler; I have multiple pieces by both artists in my private collection and feel an affinity to both women’s artistic vision. If Baltimore counts as local, then I’ll also include Hadieh Shafie, whose stunning work is on display in MFA’s current *a pop-up project exhibition, “Ritual: Form, Script, Gesture”.  All these artists have strong, unique, female perspectives.

WLDC:  What are you working on for the future? Do you have any new projects?

AM: Lots of new projects!  This model is very high energy, so there is never a dull moment.  Coming up in February, MFA will host Death of the Fine Art Print, a mixed-media exhibition by artist, Rosemary Feit Covey. I also have a dynamite roster of nationally renowned artists for the Spring 2011 *A Pop-up Project.  The exhibition will be figurative in nature and tells a unique and powerful American story. Stay tuned!

Samantha can often be found daydreaming by the Rothkos of the East Gallery, sketching store facades along 14th, and snapping photos with her vintage polaroid at 9:30 club concerts. Since moving to DC in 2007 to get an MFA in Interior Design, her eyes can’t seem to be peeled away from the beautiful things in this city. Send any visual art, architecture, or design related news her way via Samantha (at) WeLoveDC.com

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