Marion, The Art and Lutherie is the least expensive decent guitar that I have seen (I work for a company that runs an acoustic music shop, so I see a LOT of guitars). It is an all laminate instrument, so it will never have the sound of a guitar built of solid wood, or even a good guitar with just a solid soundboard. That said, it is a great sounding and playing guitar for what it is. It's quality to dollars ratio is very high. I think it sounds better and certainly plays better than some guitars that cost two or three times as much and do have solid tops.
This is your first steel string guitar, so you don't really know what you are looking for in a good guitar. So why by a good guitar? Buy an inexpensive but functional guitar that works well and that you find attractive, and in a couple of years you will know what feel and sound you want in your "real" guitar. I usually don't go for colored guitars, but I agree that the blue A&L is strangely attractive. I say buy it.