Black Water Run
- Keith Martin Johns



A Case For Collecting Florida Paintings

by: Jim Fitch

As seen in Antiques & Art Around Florida, Winter/Spring 2006

This is the first in a series of articles written to present fine art as a proven investment vehicle and valuable part of any estate, large or small.

The title is obviously a play on words. Most of us are familiar with the term "Old Masters", a reference to artists of renown, long dead, who have left a priceless legacy.

Priceless both historically and financially. Have you tried to buy a Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or even a Martin Johnson Heade painting lately?

The New Masters on the other hand are very much alive. The talented and dedicated among them will leave a similar legacy, a visual record of Florida in the twentieth century. Beyond that, their work will appreciate financially as future generations seek to know and understand a maturing Florida.

The information presented can be useful in acquiring art of most any kind. The focus, because of the opportunities presently available, will be on paintings by contemporary Florida Regionalists. In addition, I will profile Florida artists who, in my opinion, have investment potential by virtue of their commitment to the genre and their careers.

Artist profiles will include current prices received for their original work. Art has been referred to as "the last unregulated commodity". Thatís probably true! Consequently, tracking prices received by contemporary artists can be difficult. I agree with William Grampp, Professor of Economics who wrote a great commentary on art and money titled Pricing the Priceless. Grampp says that "The better informed the marketplace, the healthier the market." My objective is to provide useful information for anyone interested in considering art as investment.

This issue presents Tarpon Springs artist Keith Martin Johns and begins to build a case for acquiring art by debunking persistent beliefs about art. As we go along, I will present historical evidence substantiating the credibility of art as an investment vehicle.

DeBary on the St. Johns - Keith Martin Johns

Error #1

One stumbling block to considering art as investment is the erroneous belief that there exists a technical or aesthetic standard whereby itís possible to differentiate between "good" art and "bad" art and only a gifted few possess that ability. Dealers and critics are sometimes guilty of perpetuating the myth. The truth is, when you become even minimally aware of how and what paintings acquire value, you will realize that no such standard exists and there is no reliable link between any qualitative standard for art and itís subsequent value in the marketplace. Donít be put off from considering art as investment based on what you think you donít know. By going back no further than the American Revolution I will substantiate my statement with a brief review of art history.

Error #2

If Iíve held your interest to this point it may be because you have previously pondered the advisability of considering art as investment but have not acted on it. Youíre still pondering. If so, you may have received advice that goes like this, "If you buy art as investment be sure to buy something you like in case it doesnít appreciate." That usually turns out to be bad advice given by people who donít have a clue as to why art increases in value and worse, leads to impulse buying. A better strategy is to begin to consider art as a commodity, a subject I will cover in the next issue.

Florida's Forgotten Coast - Keith Martin Johns


Keith Martin Johns, Florida Artist

Iím often asked if you have to be born in Florida to qualify as a Florida Regionalist. The answer, of course, is "No, but it doesnít hurt." What really counts is 1) the commitment made to a career as a regional artist; 2) knowledge gained about Floridaís environment, history, and heritage, and; 3) talent and skill to present a subject honestly. I have seen Florida paintings by artists of some renown who have placed botanical trees and plants in an otherwise well crafted natural landscape. That suggests the artist has not built a relationship with the country hereabouts, is careless, or both.

Keith Johns is a third generation Floridian who grew up on the Gulf Coast in Charlotte County and has invested thirty years in his career as a Florida regional artist. Keith is proficient in watercolor, acrylics, and oils although his current medium of choice is oil. His familiarity with rivers, bays, and the marine environment in the state is evident in paintings like Floridaís Forgotten Coast, a scene typical of the region around Appalachicola. Itís correct to say that Keith Johns has paid his dues as a Florida Regionalist and has earned a place in the historical record of Floridaís contemporary art tradition.

Keithís passion for art is obvious but in a recent conversation I began to wonder what evoked the most passion from this artist, his career, his subject matter, or his and wife Lindaís involvement with their churchís outreach program. As Director of Missions for their local church Keith and Linda organize and oversee the missionary endeavors of the church and often travel out of country. Given an opportunity, they will tell you about the satisfaction they get from giving.

Sales records included here for Keith Martin Johns are for the calendar year 2004 and the first nine months of 2005. They have been averaged out over the period, are general, and intended only as a guide for prospective purchasers. Certain variables such as whether or not the sale is a commission, gallery sale, or the amount of detail in the subject matter are not factored in but must be considered.

Oil paintings, 16x20, average price received, $2,500.00

Oil paintings, 24x30, average price received, $4,500.00

Oil paintings, large, 48x72, price received, $12,500.00

Oil painting, high received for a 50x80, $20,000.00

Reproductions of the artistís work are available as limited edition prints or giclees. Visit the website at or call Linda at 800-457-5768.

Coming in the next issue, Art as Commodity.

Standing Alone - Keith Martin Johns

About the author:
Jim Fitch is the acquisition agent for the Florida Masters Collection, founder and past Curator of the Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC). E-mail him at

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