Where to buy nice art for your home under $200 (that isn’t Target)

Photo via @charlotteartleague on Instagram

There comes a time in nearly every life when framed posters can no longer pass for art.

Whatever adorned your dorm room wall is probably not what you want above your mantel when you’re, say, 27. And certainly not when you’re 47.

But you don’t have to buy something mass-produced and impersonal at Target to upgrade your art collection. (And believe me, I love Target as much as the next person. It’s just not where I buy art.)

When you’re ready to trade in your neon beer sign for something with staying power, consider these ideas. You can find original art on (almost) a beer budget.


Wendy Hickey, founder of Art Pop – featured in SouthPark Magazine

Follow the nonprofit art-on-billboards team on social media (@ArtPopStreetGal on Facebook), and learn when Founder Wendy Hickey’s hosting her next quarterly art sale. The works of the current crop of ArtPoppers are shown, gallery-style, four times a year at Le Meridien Hotel. Can’t wait to get your fix? Visit the ArtPop website artists’ page. From there, you can find individual artists’ websites for pricing info.

C3 Lab

A number of well-regarded artists (Sharon Dowell, Linda Luise Brown, among others) have studios at the South End coworking space that participates in the free South End Gallery Crawl on the first Friday of every month. “This not only includes our latest exhibition, but also open studios,” said C3 Lab Artistic Director Micah Cash. “All member artists are listed on our website, and collectors are encouraged to schedule appointments with artists directly.”

C3’s lobby features a rotating display of work from member artists. But the best time to buy may be at the annual members’ exhibition in December. The opening reception is Friday, Dec. 7 from 7-10 p.m.

Charlotte Art League

Photo via @charlotteartleague on Instagram. Piece by artist Mike Gibbons

Charlotte’s oldest nonprofit art gallery was forced to close its long-time location in SouthEnd. Fortunately, the co-op found even bigger space in NoDa along the Light Rail’s Sugar Creek stop. Local artists can rent studio space at CAL and display their work in their own space and at exhibitions which change monthly. www.charlotteartleague.com

CPCC Holiday Art Market

The annual market in the Ross Gallery (inside the Overcash building) on CPCC’s Central Campus is happening every Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Dec. 5. Students, faculty and some local artists have works – from ceramics to paintings to photography – for sale. Many are under $50.


8 x 10 study for a larger painting by Anne Harkness, from AVA Gallery in Davidson ($100, unframed)

Really. The wall-size paintings may be budget busters, but don’t let that stop you from asking staff about smaller works by artists you love. Gallerists often have – tucked away in a back room – works on paper, and studies for larger works, by artists they represent.

When I fell hard for an Anne Harkness painting of chairs (a frequent motif) at Davidson’s AVA Gallery that was outside my budget, the gallery manager steered me to Harkness’s 8 x 10 studies. I considered dozens before finding just the right piece for $100.

Garage sales

Don’t turn your nose up at the thought. Those willing to get up before dawn and pick through piles of crapola may just be rewarded. One of my finest paintings is an old oil landscape that came from a long-abandoned Queens Rd. West mansion.

Goodwill, Habitat ReStores, etc.

24 x 30 amateur landscape from antique store. The canvas has a couple of holes in it, but the price was right! ($35, framed)

You’re not likely to find a David Hockney, but you can find something original for a nice price. A grouping of vintage paint-by-numbers artwork (and I see one nearly every time I’m at a resale shop) looks cool on a gallery wall, and a single one might be had for as little as $20.

Lark & Key

This lovely South End spot featuring art and craft is a great place for a novice collector to begin. Check out the website’s “Art for $500 and Under” page. And don’t forget that art encompasses more than 2-D works. A collection of handmade pottery mugs, vases or bowls can be an inexpensive way to begin an art collection.

Ruby’s Gift

Photo via @rubysgiftnoda on Instagram. Pieces by artist Happy Emmy

The NoDa boutique has textiles, pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry and more – all by local makers.


The Plaza Midwood furniture and art collective has works by local artists such as Rod Wimer and Studio KMO plus a rotating exhibition featuring local talent. Some works are beyond the budget of an emerging collector, but you can generally find something small and special for under $200.

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

24 x 30 old, unsigned oil portrait from Sleepy Poet (under $200, unframed)

Be still, my heart. On a rainy weekend, there’s nothing better than getting lost amid the aisles of this South Blvd. institution. (There’s a newer location in downtown Gastonia, too.) Grab some popcorn, and enjoy the hunt. It feels good to repurpose and recycle.


Everything at this twice-yearly, always-packed marketplace is either vintage or handmade. The next one is just around the corner – Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Fillmore.


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