Our Story

Karen Eckert

I had never thought much about art before I met A.J. Fries.  I enjoyed it; I went to Albright Knox once every 10 years, and liked to go to the local art festivals in Buffalo, NY.  But I never really thought about art and what it meant.

I met A.J. the new fashioned way, online.  We had so much in common and fell disgustingly in love right from the start; however, we came from very different worlds.  I am a suburban mom of three who teaches high school English.  A.J. is a painter and sees the world through a different lens then I did.  And I can’t tell you how excited my mother was when she found out I was dating a painter!  “You so need your ceilings done!”  No mom, not that kind of painter!

Art wasn’t something that was in the forefront of my mind.  Kids, money, work… those were what I focused on.  And still do!  But, after meeting A.J., I began to experience the community of artists in Buffalo.  They are an incredible, amazing bunch.  And although I had certainly been to Buffalo, I hadn’t taken advantage of all that the arts community had to offer:  First Friday gallery openings, the Burchfield Penney, the Tri-Main building, CEPA Gallery, and others.  When I went to my first art show, I was nervous.  I remember asking A.J. what I should wear, how do I talk about the art, what if I sounded inane or naïve?  Art was intimidating.

But then it wasn’t.  The more I went, the more artists I talked to and became friends with, the more I discovered that I have a voice in what I like and what I didn’t.  And that’s okay.  But my home wasn’t.  My walls were decorated with mass produced pictures that I purchased cheaply because they matched my décor.  My home, my walls, had no personality, no originality.  They had no voice.  I became drawn to the different styles and colors and voices in the artwork I was seeing.  And then I bought my first piece.

Pricing of art is tough to get over.  It’s expensive.  But then it’s not.  An artist puts weeks, sometimes months, into one piece, day after day.  A contractor on your home puts time and effort in much the same way.  But art is not valued or respected in our society, not the way it should be.  A concert is often a once in a lifetime event you splurge on, a musical you have always loved is a treat you take the whole family to, but a piece of art that will live on your walls is not considered worth the expense.  So I took the plunge and purchased a painting that spoke to me.

I loved it.  I was hooked.  Walking past it, hanging on my living room wall, I felt something every single day.  It had a voice, and I was not intimated by anyone’s critique of it.  I defended it and spoke about the brush stokes I saw in it, the shadows that were created, the lines that from far away created a tree but up close dissolved into a mess of color.  Those tricks made the painting sing for me.  And I wanted more.

A.J. and I spoke often about how I grew into an art collector and whether we could translate that for others.  Collect Art was born as a way to increase the love and enjoyment of acquiring original and unique works of art.  We are happy to promote our local community of Buffalo, but more so, we are happy to bring artwork to your homes that will help your walls have a voice too.  Some things are worth spending money on.  There is no rhyme or reason as to why a piece moves us to purchase it, it has a voice and it speaks to us.  We bring it home.

Let your voice be heard in your home as well.  Let your walls have originality, uniqueness, and personality.  Let Collect Art help you curate your home.

All the best,


A.J. Fries

I’ve known that I wanted to be an artist since I was a young child. The first experience that I remember is seeing an image of an Edward Kienholz installation, in a large art book. I was confused. I was intrigued. I was hooked. Since then my love of art has grown exponentially. Although I have had other interests, (I’m a life-long Bills and Sabres fan), I’ve devoted my life to seeing, discovering, exploring, and above all creating art. More recently, I’ve also concentrated my efforts to promote art, not just my own but art in general, often comically like the time that a fellow artist and I staged a tailgate party at the Albright Knox. My goal is to show people how fun and exciting and accessible art is.


Meeting Karen has allowed me to see art in a new light. When we met she was relatively uninitiated in the art world. During our time together I’ve had the pleasure of watching her discover for herself how wonderful the world of art and art collecting is.


With Collect Art, we hope to expose more people to art and the fun and rewarding experience of art collecting. In doing so we will also open up new opportunities for the extraordinary artists that we have in the Buffalo area.


Have fun collecting,