Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Artist's Community:Show Space

The second thing an artist's community needs is a place to show the artwork. This pretty much goes without saying that when the space is made available for making artwork eventually that artwork should be shared with the rest of the community. The most conventional way for this to happen is through two methods: The first is the time honored art galley and the second is an art fair. Either display or setting has its strengths and its weaknesses which I'll explore in the following paragraphs. I'll also propose an additional display opportunity that I've not seen that I think should be entertained by a community.

Art fairs or street fairs are great opportunities for artists to get out there and meet people interested in art. It is also an enjoyable way to spend a nice sunny day (I enjoy camping and barbecues and liken the art fair experience to a little of both). For artists this provides an opportunity to exert some control over what is shown and how it is displayed. On the other hand the context in which the artwork is shown is determined by the organizers of the event and the artists' booths often appear a little like a side show where the main event might be the local restaurants, corporate contributors' booths, or kettle corn. For the most part, however, art fairs do make the display of art by local artists an event and an opportunity for those without gallery representation a place to show their work to the public, therefor they are necessary and desirable.

For those with gallery representation I have little to say because this traditional meeting place for art and art collector is, strongly and rightfully, in a good position both financially and socially. My only suggestion to gallery owners is, perhaps, to provide and publicize greater openness to the public for a greater overall understanding of art by the public. I do understand the interest in the exclusivity between collector and private gallery. I've also enjoyed the availability of public galleries in the area. In most cases a small membership fee is attached but I find the benefits of this small fee understandable and seldom insurmountable (especially when compared to the fee for some art fairs- Wow!). Perhaps a little more civic planning would help funnel some tax dollars into or consolidate these galleries into art districts or areas that may, in fact, benefit both the galleries and the local stores, restaurants, and community. (Did I contradict myself? Very well, I contain multitudes!- but then, it is a matter of priorities)

I would like to interject the idea that public galleries could and should promote art collecting by celebrating the collectors themselves. By this I mean providing a mild competition open to collectors for recognition of their savvy discretion and taste. Perhaps a juried event based on theme- around local art collection, course- like a contemporary surrealist collection, seascapes, landscapes, political/social awareness, etc. This would be a chance for collectors to show their collection, receive accolades and reward for their support of local artists without having to invite an entire community into their home.

This last idea is to suggest collaboration between artists' communities and local retail outlets such as furniture stores. Although I believe the best way to see art is in the home with the time to look and think about it, galleries and museums run a close second. This does not mean that other settings would not provide an opportunity to see and appreciate art. I'm sure we've all heard the "that'll match the sofa" story that many artists find offensive but the fact is there are some artists that do not mind such a thing and, in fact, create accordingly. For just such artists an association between the artists' community and local retailers would help these artists find a place to show their work to the public. With a little education, salespeople may also help inform those in the community that may know little about art understand it and appreciate in more. This may even benefit the artists disinterested in matching sofas reach a new audience; and, like I mentioned before, it may help a person picture the work in its best setting, the home.

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