As Investments Sink, Art Looks More Beautiful

As traditional investments such as the stock market and real estate sink, some investors are deciding to put their money into something that can also hang on their wall.

Casi Bowers is not a big-time art collector with a big-time budget.

"That's one reason why I didn't think I had any business buying art," Bowers said.

But less than two years ago, Bowers spent $1,800 on a contemporary painting by artist Douglas Cartmel. It turned out to be a sound investment. 

"It's gone up," art dealer Marty Walker said.

Walker estimates that Bowers' painting might fetch double what she paid, partly because of Cartmel's growing repuation.

"The Dallas Museum of Art just bought one of his pieces," she said. 

But Walker cautions against betting on art.

"You don't know with certainty where things are going to head," she said.

Part of the challenge is spotting promising artists early in their careers.

"Every artist is an emerging artist at one time," Walker said. "Andy Warhol was an emerging artist at one point."

Emotions can also complicate matters -- selling a cherished piece of art to bank a gain in value can be difficult

"You fall in love with the work," Walker said.

Bowers said she does not plan to sell her painting anytime soon, even though it looks more beautiful than ever in today's economy.

"It's probably the only thing that's increased in value of any investment I've ever made," she said.

But Bowers said her painting pays a different kind of rich dividend.

"I just enjoy looking at it on the wall every day," she said.

Here are a few online resources for potential art buyers:

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