Being a gallery artist for 30 years brought me nothing but love and respect for the fine professionals I have worked with for so long. I have no horror stories to report, no egregious deals, paintings disappearing or contracts not honored. It has been a good run.
But today, as many fellow artists, I enjoy the freedom of the countless options for presenting my art to the wide open world. And I still love galleries!
I also understand that having gallery representation is not necessarily the only option for artists.
Artists have the wonderful opportunity to reach out directly to a public they don’t yet know and attract thousands of followers and fans on their own or with a little help of online experts.
An ever-evolving new landscape is appearing in front of artists and art buyers or collectors alike.
There is more comforting news. Good art still attracts attention, regardless of where it's being made or shown and that includes galleries!
The two time-honored functions of galleries-- providing artists with exposure and providing collectors and buyers with access to that art-- are no longer indispensable to doing business as an artist. And yet it is and remains a magical and often serendipitous experience to set foot in beautiful art galleries and discover new art! The experience gets even better when the gallery is staffed, not by salespeople but true art professionals.
When I started off, galleries were the required necessary step along the way. Only there, journalists, media, critics, curators or institutions would show up. So much has changed!
Everybody today searches and shops online and that includes gallery owners, collectors, curators, investors or anyone else interested in art.
Cell phones, tablets and computers make the art world everyone’s oyster.
For artists, the chances of being discovered online are amazing. Art websites, newsletters, publications and blogs are on the hunt for fresh art and artists in order to introduce their discovery to their readers. More and more artists are being recognized for their talents, without galleries playing a role in that recognition
The traditional relationship between galleries and artists is upside down. Instead of artists presenting themselves to galleries or other official art venues galleries will reach out to artists with visible online profiles. Galleries often want to show a particular artist because they understand that followers and fans are a coveted reward, allowing these galleries to attract new audiences.
There is a lot to be gained in this new paradigm and yet a number of galleries need to do a better job at transparency and information sharing with their artists. Artists need to honor their contractual agreement with the gallery and not go behind to gallery’s back to sell the art buyer at a “discounted” price.
Honoring a relationship steeped in mutual respect and trust will go a long way to create friendships and returning art enthusiasts.
So, artists, be selective when you enter into a relationship with a gallery who is going to represent your art, art lovers pick the art galleries that speak to you. There are a number of great galleries out there. These gallerists are not just art merchants but people passionate about art and artists. They are beholding to the high standards of their trade.
One such gallery and a favorite of mine is the Thomas Anthony Gallery in Park City, Utah.
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