A Work of Art

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By Carmen Cristo

Three years ago, Kim and Richard Caron moved to their current home in Tupelo. They had decided to downsize once their children were in college. The new home is smaller, but the layout gives Kim more wall space than her previous home.  For an art gallery owner, filling walls with beautiful things is easy.

The Caron Gallery opened seven years ago in downtown Tupelo, featuring a rotating roster of Mississippi’s most talented artists. Kim spends her days surrounded by their varied works. At home, the pieces that hang on the walls are carefully chosen by Kim and her family, representatives of their tastes and values.

The Caron home is classic traditional, with a neutral color scheme and a mix of antique and modern furnishings. Kim purposely chose subtle hues and understated pieces to be a canvas for her colorful and eclectic art.

“We wanted the art to speak, not the furniture,” said Kim. “We just buy something we like and that we can afford and we make the space work.”

Most of the art traveled with them from their previous home, it took on a new life when arranged by new set of eyes. At the time of the move, Kim’s life was chaotic. When Staggs Interiors’ Kelly Holcomb asked Kim if he could hang her art for her, she did not hesitate.

“It was really fun to see how he displayed my art differently than I had before. Some of my art I hadn’t seen in a while or found a home in a new spot. In this house, they are grouped by how they coordinate, and it’s great,” she said.

Holcomb also arranged the pieces by color in a way that Kim had not thought to—placing the more serene images in the bedroom and the more high-energy pieces in heavily-trafficked areas. The dining room features both.

“Before, we had to be intentional about going to the living room and dining room. Now, we go through them to go to our master bedroom, so we are able to be more interactive with them,” said Kim. “I get to see all the pieces and think about when I got them. The art kind of tells the story of the different stages of our life, like ‘this one is from when we were first married and we didn’t have any money and we paid $100 for something and it was hard.’”

Kim did get one new piece for the new home from one of her favorite artists, Ellen Langford. She had never owned one of the Mississippi artist’s pieces before, and she saved the spot above the mantle while she waited on her custom painting.

“There’s something about her work—you just know it’s from her heart. It’s like her family she’s putting on the canvas, even though it’s not her family,” said Kim. “They are very much Southern images.”

Kim asked specifically for a big dog to be prominent in the painting, as labradors had always been part of their family life and carried nostalgia for her.

“If you just trust an artist and tell them a few things you like, they will do it. They’ll get it right. You just have to let go. We want to control it and make sure we get what we expect in our mind. If you don’t expect anything and just know they will create something beautiful, you will be so surprised and so happy,” Kim said.

Kim and her family spend a lot of time in the living room, where they can admire the piece in its place of prominence. The Carons also gather in the kitchen, where her collection of beloved figures are.

“They’re in some of the shelves and on the walls. Some of them are kind of strange, but I don’t care. There’s something about them I enjoy,” she said.

Most of Kim’s collections, including her figures, happened on accident over the years. She also enjoys encaustic pieces, or paintings made from layers of wax.

As an art gallery owner and an art collector, Kim’s primary motivation is supporting artists.

“If we can contribute to them living as a full-time artist and not having to paint at night as a second job, that is the biggest reward,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the art and connecting people to it.”

Second only to that is her pure enjoyment she gets from seeing an artist’s heart in a tangible object.

“That’s why we downsized. We wanted to be able to see the art and live among it,” Kim said. “Each piece we have is something about us that we are sharing with the people who enter our home.”

Kim Caron’s Top Tips for Displaying Art in Your Home

1. Just buy what you like. “Don’t stress about matching your art to a piece of furniture to a piece of fabric. All you need is a good neutral background. When you go look at art, if something speaks to you and you can figure out how to pay for it, get it. Put it on layaway if you have to. Then, take it home and walk it around your house and think about where it might fit. After a while, you’ll find your art collection has an underlying theme. They will work together.”

2. Look at your art as a collection. “When you add pieces and you aren’t sure where to put them, take everything down. Take it all off the wall, spread it out and look at it. Have someone with fresh eyes take a look with you. Take your time putting it back up. Leave it there overnight and look again in the morning. Take a day or maybe even a weekend. Decide what things have to go in certain places because of size, and then you can start making little collections or vignettes on the walls.”

3. Don’t rush it. “Don’t decide to hang something an hour before someone comes for dinner. Lean it against the wall. They won’t care. They are just happy to be welcomed into your home.”

4. Choose original. “Having original artwork in your home makes it more about you and your family. When people come in, they feel welcome because you’re sharing that art with them. It has such a warmth to it. Something generic won’t feel the same as something you’ve specifically chosen to be in your home.”

5. Don’t let that special piece slip away. “It’s not about having the most expensive art; it’s about what you fall in love with. If you would be so upset if someone got it instead of you, that’s when you figure out how to pay for it—ask if you can put it on layaway, talk to the artist about sending money in installments. There are a couple pieces that I still think about not getting ten or fifteen years later.”

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