Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Becoming an Art Town, Part II

[This is Part II of a Guest Blog entry by 600 Block of Central Gallerist and sculptress Donna Gordon]

I just read an article written in 2009 by an informed blogger about why people don't buy art. It should be read in its entirety [Link]

Here are a few points...

* People (in Indianapolis) have a ceiling of around $500 for a work of art, but think nothing of dropping $300 on a football game or a few hours of entertainment.

* Most places do not have a culture of art buying. I those that do, acquiring art parallels one's means of doing so. 

* Fear keeps a lot of potential buyers away. They feel like they could be ripped off, in the same way people do when buying a used car.

*Buying art is burdened with the stigma of significance, that it is something that induces anxiety in many buyers instead of the pleasure it should bring.

So what is the solution? First, we need to get out from under this economic nightmare. There is no mistaking high unemployment and empty storefronts. These are difficult times. Asking folks to consider buying art is like asking for a new baseball stadium in this environment. But even before the recession hit, galleries were struggling here. So it is not all about the economy. There is plenty of discretionary income in St. Pete.

So what can we do to safeguard and grow our visual arts community?

A major part of changing the culture of buying art and eliminating the idea that it is a highbrow pursuit. is community support by local press. It is my opinion that one purpose and even obligation of local reporting is to foster a sense of community while letting the public know what's going on in that community. While many arts blogs and newsletters have popped up online that fully support and report on the gallery and art fair scene, it is a disgrace when our own print distribution art critics will report on an art show in New York or a Chalk Walk in Sarasota but no reports on the numerous gallery shows right in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. They report on "art education" by using museum pieces to explain meaning, but offer no education to help readers feel comfortable making their first or tenth purchase. There are many art galleries in St Petersburg that one art critic has never set foot in. That type of narrow and irrelevant reporting just perpetuates the "highbrow myth" of buying art and further intimidates would-be collectors who live here.

We need to educate, not intimidate. When people are confronted with art sales figures from NYC and Sotheby's, they feel alienated. That is not their world, and it isn't ours as gallery owners, either! Those markets are about commodity exchange value as much as the art. Art for the rest of us needs to be accssible and art galleries need to create environments that are friendly and non-intimidating. We cannot rely on news reporting to educate, though that would help. As a gallery community we need to do a better job of education ourselves. through our Arts Associations and our own gallery websites, blogs and Facebook pages.

What do you think?

Donna Gordon Gallery & Studio

625 Central Ave, St Petersburg FL 33701

727-409-2051 cell

Gallery: [Link]

Studio: [Link]

[I want to thank Donna Gordon for this guest blog and urge anyone else interested in Guest Blogging on Art Taco to contact me at: ]

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