Monday, June 24, 2013

Ruminations on a comment by Danny Olda

I don't think the resolution to this problem is making art more affordable (either by making cheaper art or producing richer people). This tends to lead to a market of artful objects rather than an actual art market.
Rather, perhaps we should be looking at a model for compensating artists for their cultural services independent of selling work, i.e. non-profits, alternative spaces, etc. This allows artists to make quality art unencumbered by the kitchy demands of a second-rate market. Once a consistent pattern of, let's say, Basel-worthy art has been established collectors will come.

 This is more of a condition than a problem, and it is not a new one.  In the case under discussion it has been exacerbated by hype and unreal expectations generated by questionable claims and labels. I do not expect the Bay area average household income to rise anywhere near the national average any time soon. Let's not kid ourselves, money matters -- at all levels of art. Between 2007 and 2011, the estimated (TEFAF figs) for art transactions dropped by 26%.

What is "an actual art market"?  Is creating a bubble isolating artists from their communities and extant markets, however rated, while waiting for Godot (in the form of an art fair or collectors making studio visits, of course) a good idea? How many subsidies, non-profits and alternative spaces would be needed to make this work? For how many artists? How would they be deemed eligible? In many European countries this has been going on for  a long time, with the government in the supporting role.

The current condition is not a problem with a solution. Locally, questionable labels applied like stickers to the area have created surreal expectations. What is an actual art market? There are several models/levels coexisting presently.

Once "Basel-worthy art" is made, collectors will not need to come to the work, the work will come to them at fairs (or the auction houses). This is already happening with Basel satellite show-worthy art being made or brokered in St. Pete, which at least two local gallerists are currently schlepping to the fairs.

 These fairs account for 31% of all art market sales, with 43% from gallery sales, and a mere 10% through the web. The top five percent of galleries account for 70% of gross sales.

I think there is room for a variety of approaches and models.

--- Luis

1 comment:

  1. Luis,
    I wrote this comment on Danny Olda's FB page, but it is the same thing I can say to you.
    My head spins just thinking about all this. I am an old artist. I am not originally from St. Pete. I have so many thoughts and opinions about the art scene in St. Pete. More often than not, I keep them to myself. I love St. Petersburg. I especially love the flowering of new art communities. However, I still don't feel like I fit into the "scene". I am trying to deal with the "why". I think your comments strike a chord on some of my reoccurring thoughts. I know people don't want to hear stuff like "Up north we do......blah, blah, blah...." Yet, I will tell you that before I came to St. Pete, I was in the Detroit cultural center. There was so many opportunities for artists. There were many nonprofits and art co-ops. There wasn't such a need to make "marketable", pretty home wares. In fact, there were real art collectors with real money and interest in contemporary art. One idea I have is the possibility of organizing an artist's "TOWN HALL MEETING". Why not get artists together and talk about all this?