PRO-PORTRAIT: Art Consultant Francie Kelley: “I think it is really important to have beauty in our lives.”

“I grew up with art, and I had become a good photographer, so I trusted my aesthetic. I didn’t understand the difference between a purchase order and an invoice, but I just trusted my eye, and I trusted my aesthetic.”

For a time, she was juggling a career as a singer/actor, while selling art to designers. But the day came when she was called to an audition at the same day and time as a client meeting for her art business. She had come to a crossroads in her career. It was on that day she made a career decision at this fork in the road, and hasn’t looked back. It proved to be a wise choice.

Eventually, Francie bought out her business partner, moved to a new location, and set up shop as an art consultant offering a broad range of services from framing, to mirrors, to anything you would put on a wall.

For a period of over ten years, Francie worked intensely on hotel projects in Las Vegas—during the heyday of themed hotels. She learned how to be resourceful, and learned how to deal with clients. She learned the difference between an invoice and a purchase order. And, despite all of the good work in Vegas, she never pigeon-holed herself, building a successful clientele in corporate, healthcare, high-end residential, as well as hospitality.

“I’m a source queen. Anyone could potentially find what I have, but I am the filter.”

Francie has spent 25 years of culling a broad swath of sources—from artists, to galleries, to tradespeople, looking into the art that falls into her aesthetic.

She’s had residential clients who have spent $1 million on art. One this year started out with a little picture framing, then ended up purchasing an original Wayne Thiebaud, a group of California Plein Air painters, and some mid-career contemporary artists, and some photography. “He was a fabulous client who was really open. I’m really good at meeting people, being in their space, and getting a sense of who they are, and what’s meaningful to them, and them bringing it to them.”

Yes Francie’s aesthetic is strong, and yes her sources are both deep and wide, but all of this would be for-not if not for her skill in working with the triad of client, designer and artist. While her “client” is nearly always the owner of the walls where the art will be hung, she works tightly with the designers who are designing the space, and the artists who create and sell the work.

“Often, I interface with the designer.  When I don’t have an opportunity to present my vision personally to the client, I feel that’s unfortunate. I sometimes have to rely on the designer to develop a concept or an idea.”

And, she loves working with the artists. “One of my greatest joys is calling an artist and saying I sold your work “send me an invoice” because that supports them, and it allows them to create. It gives them the nutrition they need. 

To source new art, she trusts her aesthetics, and relies on a handful of galleries. She rarely finds great work among the incredible amount of unsolicited work she receives. “…about 5% is something I’d be interested in.”

"Francie is the first 'go to' choice for a lot on major designers and collectors so I'm fortunate to be a part of her select network,” says artist Chase Langford. “These are people I'd probably never connect with otherwise.  She's placed a lot of my work, arranged some significant commissions and I've worked with her on the Pasadena Showcase homes which create a lot additional exposure for both Paragone and my art." 

But at the end of the day, Francie is driven by what she creates. “I see so much more depth to art than just decoration. Good art comes from the soul of an artist, and for someone to be moved by that, it is a gift for everybody. We need creativity in our lives, and we need it in the world. It is part of what nourishes our soul.

Thank you Francie, for bringing nourishment to artists, and to those who interact with it on a daily basis. We’re all better for it.

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