Rental program brings Art Gallery of Alberta into your home

Imagine visiting an art gallery and taking home the pieces you love. You can actually do that at the Art Gallery of Alberta — for as low as $9 a month.

The art gallery has more than 2,000 pieces by more than 150 Alberta artists to choose from

Monthly prices range from as low as $9 for a piece from an emerging artist, to $150 for the most expensive paintings. Sculptures can be less than $20 a month. (CBC)

Imagine visiting an art gallery and taking home the pieces you love.

You can actually do that at the Art Gallery of Alberta — for as low as $9 a month.

For more than 60 years, the gallery has run an art sales and rentals program for homes and offices at an affordable cost.

Art lovers can head to the building's basement where they can choose from racks of work from artists like Lynn Malin, an Edmonton painter of large canvas landscapes, contemporary artist Allen Ball, landscape painter Tom Gale, and abstract painter Graham Peacock.

Not into hanging something on the wall? The gallery has you covered.

"We do different media as well," the AGA's Janette Hubka told CBC's Edmonton AM.

"We do drawings and paintings and sculpture. Different subject matter, beautiful landscapes, really abstract, some mixed media work as well."

Refining taste through renting

Monthly prices range from as low as $9 for a piece from an emerging artist, to $150 for the most expensive paintings. Sculptures can be less than $20 a month.

Renters sign a one-year lease and can take the art home that day, or pay an extra $20 to $60 for deliver and instalment.

Art can be switched out every three months to a year, and renters have to sign an agreement in case of damage — but Hubka says she doesn't know of any clients that have ever ruined the art.

Artists get 50 per cent of the cost of rental. If a client decides they love the art, the cost of rental can go toward owning it — and artists would get 70 per cent of the cost. 

The art gallery has more than 2,000 pieces by more than 150 Alberta artists to choose from. 

Howard Spragins is one of the program's longtime renters.

He works in investment management at RBC and enjoys renting art for his office. He says it's helped him learn what he likes and doesn't like when it comes to art.

When he started renting art 25 years ago, he didn't have a lot of money.

"I just felt it was something that was needed for my office. It's not because I'm an art lover by any means. I'm really a neophyte, but I do enjoy art. I've learned some as I've gone along," he said.

Spragins said that as he got more into abstract art, it became a conversation starter for clients visiting his office.

"People are able to offer their own interpretation, which they frequently do," Spragins said.

"But for me, it's a way to stimulate conversation more than generate praise or dissatisfaction."

With files from Julia Lipscombe