Ask Elizabeth A. Halpen if she has an appreciative eye for art and she answers instantly.
“No, I don’t think so,” the town of Oswegatchie resident said.
Now, ordinarily, an admission like that would be benign enough. But when you’re going into business as an artist representative, that choice of words could be embarrassing if not a career killer.
But not to worry. Mrs. Halpen, 71, is learning her “fifth or sixth career” in a friendly, family surrounding.
That’s because her first two clients are her brother, Edward Basta, and her nephew, Peter J. Basta.
Not surprisingly, she thinks their stuff is pretty good, as she plans to sell it at craft fairs and on Facebook at www.facebook.com\ms.liz.art.rep.
Both her brother and nephew are Odgensburg natives. Edward, 69, of Syracuse, is a landscape artist by trade who specializes in wood art. Peter, 36, who lives in Carthage, is an illustrator when he’s not teaching art at Beaver River Central School.
“Isn’t that beautiful?” Mrs. Halpen asked, pointing to one of her nephew’s illustrations and a pair of Mr. Basta’s vases. “We have to get that out there.”
Her brother admires his sister’s efforts.
“I believe that Elizabeth is reinventing herself,” Mr. Basta said. “In my mind, she has taken herself to a new level and quite frankly I am flattered that someone would want to represent me because I’m good and not just her brother.”
That goes for her nephew, too.
“Each summer I vow to take the plunge into the craft fair market, but I am never able to follow through,” Peter said. “Since my youth, Aunt Liz has been very supportive of my art. I am grateful that she is willing to use her keen artistic sense and craft fair experience to help display and promote my talent.”
Uncle Ed, by the way, is “the most creative member of our family,” according to Peter.
Mrs. Halpen credits Brooke James, business advisor at the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton for helping her launch.
“She has been invaluable in helping me get this started,” she said.
Mr. Basta hopes his sister will take her budding promotional skills and tap them into the Northern New York’s thriving artists community.
“Marketing requires a special talent,” he said. “I do think there is a market for someone with her talents and I have encouraged her to contact other artists in the north country. Like any other entrepreneur, it takes time to get noticed. But she has perseverance and is excited by her new challenge. It’s a good partnership.”
Other artists be advised. This newly-minted artist representative already has her standards set pretty high, by her brother and her nephew.
“I’m not ruling it out,” Mrs. Halpen said of the possibility of promoting other artists. “But they’d have to be the same caliber.”