Shortly after graduating from Columbia University in 2006, Tze Chun noticed a strange phenomenon among her friends: Even the ones pulling in six-figure salaries had nothing on their walls but ripped movie posters, if anything.
An art history major who longed to make the sometimes daunting art world more accessible for the younger generation, Chun understandably found this irksome. So she decided to do something about it, founding Uprise Art—the focus of this week’s Real.Est List Spotlight Series—an online gallery where buyers can shop for contemporary, original artwork, then set up an account that allows them to purchase pieces over time through monthly installments.
“It can be scary to spend $75,000 on art,” says Chun from the Uprise Art offices in the West Village. So when she launched the site in 2011, she resolved to eliminate that intimidation factor by offering affordable artwork—that means pieces that range from $500-$10,000—and the invest-over-time concept.
For as little as $50 a month, buyers can choose a piece from Uprise Art’s roster of 40 contemporary artists (working in a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, print, drawing and mixed media) and have it delivered and installed in a matter of days. Then they can sit back and enjoy the artwork in their apartments while they continue to pay it off.
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“Young [professionals] can be really risk-averse,” says Chun. But if they need only spend $50 dollars a month that “gets them to take a chance on a young artist and realize they love living with art they connect to.”
Chun views Uprise as a sort of “concierge service for art” because the gallery takes care of everything for the would-be collector—from framing to delivery to installation. (Mention BrickUnderground on your membership application to get $100 toward your first purchase and a complimentary in-home art consultation to help find the perfect piece.)
“We make art collecting easier, more affordable and more accessible,” she says.
How it works
A free membership gives you access to hundreds of curated contemporary pieces, as well as invitations to exclusive art parties and pop-up exhibitions in New York City and Boston, where you’ll get to meet artists and learn about what inspires them to do what they do.
Peruse the gallery’s offerings; prices range between $500 and $10,000 (including framing).
If you’re having trouble finding the right piece or simply don’t trust your own tastes, an Uprise Art consultant can offer free advice in person or, if you email a photo of your space, by phone.
Members have the option to buy a piece now or invest over time (for a minimum $50 a month, with every dollar going towards purchase price). Once you’ve made your decision, pay just $50 for the delivery and installation of your new artwork (more if a piece is oversized). It should be delivered to your apartment within two weeks. Then enjoy the artwork—even if you’re still paying it off.
Becoming a collector
- Be open-minded: If you’re too specific about what you’re looking for, you might miss out. “Someone says ‘I like Edward Hopper’ or ‘I like landscapes,’ and then they go for something bold and abstract,” says Chun. “People are often really surprised by what they end up liking.”
- Start small: Chun believes in supporting artists early in their careers. “You don’t have to go into Chelsea and drop $40,000 on a painting by a big name artist,” she says. “We introduce people to artists who are going places.”
- Get to know the artist: “Buying art means entering into a new relationship,” says Chun. “If you connect with an artist, you’ll continue to support their work throughout your lifetime, and they’ll continue to create new things that you love.” Also, buying art by a living artist means you are helping them continue to live and work as an artist. “That’s philanthropy you can live with, literally.”
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