Wondering what a cruise ship art auction is all about? First: it’s exhilarating, exciting and educational, even if you don't know a thing about art. Second: it’s about learning to appreciate the finer things in life, which can include surprisingly affordable art - the ultimate of all vacation souvenirs! Imagine hanging a Thomas Kinkade in your living room or a colorful Peter Max at your office. Wow, what a great cruise memory you’ll be able to enjoy every day! Third: Did I mention there’s free champagne?
You don't have to be an art aficionado to buy what you love. Some of the Park West Gallery artists that have captivated me over the years include French painter Jean Claude Picot and Salvador Dali's Divine Comedy series, as well as artists Tomasz Rut from Poland and Shari Erickson of Atlanta.
Let’s learn more about the art of the cruise! Here’s my Q&A with Stoney Goldstein, Vice President of Sales for the land-based Park West Gallery of Southfield, Michigan. Since 1969, Park West has had the pleasure of helping over 2 million clients start a love affair with collecting art. They ship about 6,000 artworks to their clients every single week and proudly offer auctions on every ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, including the new Norwegian Bliss.
I don't know anything about art and I've never attended an onboard auction before. What's your advice?
The wonderful thing about art is that you don’t need to know anything to enjoy it. The best advice we can give is, “Follow your eye.” You will know when a certain work of art connects with you—you’ll just feel it. And, once an artwork catches your eye, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Besides the art auctions, do you offer any other events onboard?
We're always very excited about our shipboard programming. These aren't just art shows-they're events! On a seven-day Norwegian Cruise Line itinerary, we will usually offer around three unique auctions, each with a different theme and featured artwork. You can come, have a glass of champagne on us, and watch the auctioneer go. If you've never attended a live auction before, it's quite an experience. Everyone who attends receives a small promotional artwork and then we do raffles for larger works throughout the auction.
But we don't just do auctions. Throughout a weeklong cruise, we also usually hold three to five different art seminars, receptions, or exhibitions. Our art experts might take you through 30,000 years of art history in 30 minutes or they might host a "night at the museum" evening art gala. Our goal is to make art engaging and fun for everyone.
I’ve heard that art is expensive.
We pride ourselves on carrying artwork that will fit every budget. If you just want one small painting for your living room or if you're completely redoing your corporate offices, we have an incredible variety of artwork available.
In fact, we recently rolled out an all-new e-gallery to all of our onboard galleries. If you can't find exactly what you're looking for on the ship, one of our personal art consultants can help you browse over 2,300 works in our digital galleries. We even have a tool that will allow you to try out different frames on each work in our e-gallery, so you can know exactly what it will look like when you get it home.
What art mediums will passengers see onboard Norwegian Cruise Line ships? Are there any new techniques?
Park West offers a huge variety of artistic mediums—unique paintings of all kinds, watercolors, etchings, graphic works, lithographs, sculptures—the list goes on and on.
Our artists are constantly experimenting with new and exciting mediums. We have two new mediums, in particular, that our artists and collectors absolutely love. One is called dye sublimation, where the artist uses an advanced technique to transfer their image onto glass, metal, or plastic surfaces. That's related to our other new medium, the caldograph, where the artist bonds their image onto a wooden panel-it's a modern twist on a classic medium. ("The Mona Lisa" was actually painted onto a wood panel!)
Are some art mediums more popular than others?
Our clients love variety, so it's hard to say if one medium or size is more popular than another. We sell art of all shapes and sizes. On Norwegian Cruise Line, we definitely see a lot of interest in artwork from Peter Max, Lebo, and Guy Harvey, which makes sense because all three have painted the hulls of Norwegian ships. It's no surprise, after seeing a work of art that big, that a cruiser might want to take a piece of that home with them.
For more information, read: A Closer Look at the Hull Art on Norwegian Cruise Line Ships.
I need an insider tip: what are your favorite up-and-coming artists you can get enough of?
Park West is always adding to our family of artists. Recently, we’ve fallen in love with the work of Matt Beyrer, who creates these breathtaking paintings on wood that really incorporate the grain of the materials he’s working with. In terms of up-and-coming names, we also adore Orlando Quevedo, a gifted magic realist from Cuba, and Alexandre Renoir, a brilliant landscape artist who is actually the great-grandson of the famous Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Why should I buy art onboard when I can buy it on land?
At Park West, we're big believers that art should be for everyone. One way we put that into practice is by holding our art auctions on cruise ships. We don't expect you to come to us-we're going to bring the art to you. While you're having the vacation of a lifetime, we want to make sure that you have access to some of the most beautiful art in the world. You can browse, you can learn more, or maybe you bring home something to brighten your kitchen or office. If you leave your cruise with a new passion for art, our mission is accomplished.
There seem to be some misconceptions about onboard art auctions, can you clarify?
A lot of people only know art auctions from movies, where they seem stuffy, snobby, and expensive. In reality, our auctions are the exact opposite. We want to welcome you. Come browse with us, have a drink with us, see the show, and ask us a million questions. We love it. And, with our 40/40/40 guarantee-where you can return any artwork for 40 days or exchange any artwork for 40 months-you don't have to worry about post-vacation buyer's remorse either.
Where can cruisers find out more about the artists Park West Gallery represents?
The best source of information is parkwestgallery.com. We have full biographies of all of our artists, galleries of their works, and feature articles and interviews where you can learn even more about them.
Does Park West Gallery offer physical land-based galleries?
Yes. Park West has a beautiful gallery in our hometown of Southfield, Michigan, which is also connected to the Park West Museum, a free-to-the-public museum where we display our private collections of old and modern masters like Picasso, Renoir, Rembrandt, and more. In addition to our home gallery, every year, Park West holds several traveling land events in vacation destinations all over the world. These are often made available to our VIP collectors and they can involve excursions, fine dining, auctions, and opportunities to meet some of your favorite artists.
All images courtesy of Park West Gallery.