Sooner or later, many people consider bying fine art. And yet, there are no guides specifically for the beginning art collector. Enter Cindi Maciolek, '79, a writer based in San Jose, CA, who just published The Basics of Buying Art (Grand Arbor Press, 1995) to fill the gap. "Galleries tend not to have enough time to educate the inexperienced buyer," says Maciolek, a native of Detroit. "I wanted to provide an alternate source for such an education. Too often people avoid the wonderful world of art due to a simple lack of knowledge." Cindi hopes that she can persuade more people to put their money in a beautiful painting rather than in mutual funds. "I want them to diversify so they can enjoy the beauty of art," she reasons. A frequent contributor to the Robb Report and a prolific writer who has interviewed many contemporary artists, Cindi has been honing her expertise on contemporary art for many years. Her book is filled with practical information; she explains that tempera is not a Japanese food, how a remarque can add value to a print, and the difference between a lithograph and a serigraph--in short, all the fundamentals of buying art. One chapter even deals with figuring out a piece's "fair price"--how to negotiate the price and how to research its worth. "One of my favorite pieces is a pastel of a ballerina," she says. "I don't know the artist, but it's beautiful. I paid $5 for it in a street fair in Leningrad. So, you see, to enjoy art, you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money." Although Cindi recommends that people buy what they like and not what they think will increase in value, art can be a great investment. "I have a lithograph of a carousel horse by (California muralist) Stacy Baumgardner," she notes. "I paid $125 for it years ago. Today it's worth between $10,000 and $15,000."

photo caption: Maciolek poses with three of her own favorite paintings, including a pastel-- depicting a ballerina--that she bought in Russia.