Show and Tell: Hanging Art with Candita Clayton

The Pawtucket-based gallerist offers tips for displaying art like a pro.
Candita Clayton

All the components of this grid are mixed media on panel by Coral Bourgeois. Photography by Howard Chu.

Squared Off

A grid can be a high-impact way to display works of the same size, but it’s also one of the most challenging arrangements to pull off. “For one thing, the floor and ceiling aren’t always completely level,” Clayton says. To get started, pinpoint where you want the center of the grid to be and hang those pieces first. Then, measure out from there, using a level and pencil. Take into consideration that the wires on the back of each piece will likely hit at different spots. You can also make a paper template of your grid to figure out spacing and hook placements before you start hammering away. Above all, patience and precise measurements are key. Hanging art can be a daunting task, but that shouldn’t deter you from filling your walls with unique pieces that make you happy, no matter your budget, Clayton says. “Once you start, buying art becomes addicting. It’s no different from the farm-to-table movement with food. You get to know who is making your art, come to understand what their practice is and how it sustains them. It’s another way to support your community.”

Pro Tips

If you’re still not sure where to start, Clayton’s services include everything from hanging a single piece to helping clients arrange — and refresh — entire collections. But if you’re inspired to DIY, here are her tips.
• Use the industry rule of “sixty-three on center” — when the center of the work measures sixty-three inches from the floor — if you’re unsure of how high to hang a piece.
• Remember to refresh. Just because you hung something in one place doesn’t mean you can’t change it down the road.
• When in doubt, arrange pieces on the floor or use paper templates to figure out placement.
• Don’t be afraid to mix mediums in a grouping.
• Similar textures and colors create cohesion in an arrangement.
• Don’t buy art on vacation, especially if it’s pricey. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, and there’s a good chance you won’t love it as much when you get home.
• Always have an art-hanging toolkit on hand, including a tape measure, small and large level, pencils, a Magic Eraser, a variety of hooks, wall stabilizers, wire, wire cutters, blue painter’s tape and a tube of spackle.

Candita Clayton

From left: a landscape by Peter Roux, floral photos by Debby Krim and a sky landscape by Kirby Fredendall. Photography by Howard Chu.