Monday, September 27, 2010

Lots of Pictures, Little Space

David Kassel, a professional art installer, helped Rachel Hudgins transform the entryway of her apartment into a salon-style gallery.

Published: September 22, 2010

WHEN Rachel Hudgins decided to turn a longtime hobby of photographing friends’ children into a career, she left Los Angeles and her job in the film industry and moved East, to be closer to the photography world in New York City.

She knew that trading her 2,000-square-foot Hollywood home for an apartment would mean paring down her belongings, and she had no problem with that. Getting rid of furnishings and objects she no longer loved was easy: “What was me at one point was not me today,” said Ms. Hudgins, 44, who moved into an 800-square-foot rental in Jersey City, for which she pays $1,800 a month, in 2008.

But Ms. Hudgins, who helped produce several of Richard Gere’s films, had also spent countless hours helping him with his fine-art photography collection, and had assembled a collection of her own in the process. And she had no intention of parting with it — the question was how to make it work in her new space.

Her idea was to display it on the walls of her stairwell, which functions as an entry hall. But the prospect of sorting through a collection of some 60 photographs and a dozen paintings, and then figuring out how to arrange them, was daunting.

“It was just going to be huge,” she said. “It could go so wrong. I have such an eclectic mix of stuff — flea market pictures, fine art photographs and old mirrors. If I put it up in the wrong way or don’t group it well, it would be a mess.”

To get help figuring out “what stays, what goes and how to arrange it all,” Ms. Hudgins responded to a notice in The New York Times (that is no longer running) offering to assist people with small decorating budgets by matching them with professional designers. David Kassel, the owner of ILevel, an art installation and design consultancy in Manhattan whose clients include museums and photography dealers, volunteered his time (although Ms. Hudgins did pay for his staff members’ services).

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