"I would love to be like a patron of the arts," Somers says.
Also getting serious were Steve and Judy Lipson who, from their first pot, soon moved into works on paper, mostly, by some of America's great artists, including Reginald Marsh, John Marin, Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Morris Graves, and printmaker Martin Lewis, whose almost obsessively rendered street scenes can be hypnotic.
Steve, a scrap metals dealer, and Judy, an attorney, began reading books and catalogues, attending auctions, and going on curator exhibit tours. "We became serious collectors pretty rapidly," Steve says.
"When I started buying art," he says, "I realized I can actually afford really good art that isn't super expensive."
Although their focus is on 20th century American, there are oddball things in their collection as well, including Mexican church doors circa 1700.
Much of the Lipsons' buying was done at auction, where prices, they say, can be favorable. "Finding a piece that's a good piece that's a good price," Steve says, "I feel better buying it."
For many collectors, the thrill is in the chase. Michael and Christianna Cohen love perusing photo fairs and galleries, and seeking out art while traveling. "The thrill of it for me is just seeing what's out there," Michael says. "You never know what's going to catch your eye."
But when it does, and when you love it, will you buy? Many people can't make that leap, Judy Lipson says.
"People are scared to spend $200 on art—people who can afford art. 'Am I buying the right thing?' But they wouldn't hesitate to spend that money on a refrigerator."
"People are funny about art," she says.
"Do you like it?" she advises. "Get it."
Photos: David Toerge, Patrick Quiroz