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A Frightening Thought

August 18, 2011
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Sometimes you read something that is down right frightening.  I recently read such an article.  This article was written by a very well known artist/writer/business man from the Metro Vancouver area, in British Columbia, Canada.  This author’s name is Chris Tyrell and his latest article is titled “What If There Were No More Galleries?”

Recently, two major Vancouver art galleries closed their doors.  These galleries were not small businesses but major, world-famous affairs.   Chris’s article , which you can read online by searching Chris Tyrell Opus Newsletter, is an opinion letter on the disappearance of exhibition venues for artists of all stripes and the consequences of this….galleries, it seems, may be going the way of the dinosaurs in many locals.

Unpredictable stock markets, rising unemployment and expensive commercial real estate are contributing to this trend but as Chris points out in his article, so too are direct sales festivals, charity art auctions and “vanity galleries”.  He also points out that government cutbacks, on all levels, are hitting the arts community hard, further compounding the problem.  Do check out his article so that you can read his thoughts on the direct consequence to the creative spirit.

Musee D'Orsay, Paris

I personally love visiting galleries.  I love the up close and personal viewing of major works of art.  I love the atmosphere, the intimacy and the emotional experience.  If galleries do go the way of the dinosaur the most accessible public venue for viewing original works might well be the graffiti on the sides of buildings in the dark alleys of our major cities.

I do realize that the chances of publicly funded galleries, such as the Orsay or the National Gallery, disappearing is highly unlikely but local galleries might not be so lucky.  Local galleries fill a void that is necessary for cultural pursuit and for those of us that are unable to fly say, to Paris.

Willing participants, Musee D'Orsay, Paris

If gallery representation is to become obsolete then one is left with what?

I personally find it challenging to ‘direct sale’ my own work.  It is very time consuming.  It makes it difficult to make time to paint.  Besides painting, an artist must now be  at least marginally competent at using the computer, must be a photographer, printer, book-keeper, marketing expert, a distributor, shipper, teacher (and student), historian, writer and somewhat versed in the law.  Whew, that is more than anyone counted on.  Gone are the days of the Impressionists where the painting day passed out in a field or beside a brook, in a garden or on a city street, painting until the light was spent….. after which a good time was had by all in the local establishment:)  In our time frame, many of us are trying to make a living through the ‘direct sales and art actions’ as Chris describes and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do so.

It remains to be seen how these new trends might affect the free reign of the creative spirit and the development of the ‘new kids on the block’.  Only time will tell.

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