Karen Comer-Lowe 

Pregnant women have doulas to help them negotiate childbirth.

And novice art collectors have a kind of doula, too, someone who talks them through the often scary, uncharted waters of acquisition.

As the principal of Comer Art Advisory (www.comerartadvisory.com), Karen Comer-Lowe is one of those behind-the-scenes people who make the art world tick. A former curator for the city of Atlanta's gallery system, this Howard University art history major has continued to shape the art scene as an adviser to corporate and individual clients.

Many people have a hard time grasping the concept of her job. "They'll say, 'Well, who do you represent?'" says Comer-Lowe. "I don't represent anyone. I'm the liaison. I'm that person who can help you understand looking at art."

One of Comer-Lowe's duties is to build a relationship with her clients and help them develop their "eye" by looking at images to see what they like and accompanying them to galleries and artists' studios.

Budget is generally the first thing they discuss, so Comer-Lowe knows whether to steer clients toward more affordable works on paper by an emerging Atlanta artists, or in the higher-priced direction of paintings by more established ones.

One of the obstacles she encounters in her job is the number of highly educated, well-heeled clients who are intimidated by art galleries. Some potential clients think they have to buy something to enter one.

But Comer-Lowe reassures them there's only one way to develop a taste for art, and that's "by looking at art and looking at as much art as possible."

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