Friday, July 22, 2011
Why Visit a Studio
On a recent trip to Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my friend Jessica and I visited several galleries in that area known for its galleries. An art gallery: a room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited. On Canyon Road there are fewer pieces of art in every room of the gallery and the closest you are likely to get to the artist is his signature at the bottom of the painting.
Galleries generally represent only the most elite of artists in an area though it should be allowed that this is of the opinion of the gallery owner, who is not necessarily the primary artist displayed. In tough economic times even the galleries owned by an artist are hedging their bets by carrying the work of more than one artist. As a New Mexico resident and not unfamiliar with the art world I was rather at a loss as to the "elite aspect" of some of the artists. i.e. I hadn't a clue as to who they were, and like a tourist assumed because their work was getting upwards of $150 per square inch (no small canvases displayed) they had to be worth that price. Paintings ranged from $6000 to $19,000.
Which brings us to the number one reason for visiting a studio rather than a gallery: Price. Artists cannot charge less than the gallery that represented them but most artists with open studios are not represented on Canyon Road.
Reason #2: Variety. A studio is an artist's work space where they frequently display all their works not currently represented by a gallery including those pieces that are not large enough to be expensive enough to support rents on Canyon Road. And it is where works that "don't fit" in the smaller galleries that represent them are displayed.
Reason #3. Investment. A studio is where you can get in on the ground floor. Let's face it an artist currently getting $150 per square inch for a 30 x 40 inch painting is getting close to the ceiling in these tough economic times. If you are purchasing art for an investment you will have to wait a long, long time for a $20,000 painting to double in value. Meanwhile it is hanging over the couch reminding you of your error. And even the Canyon Road art can depreciate.
Reason #4: Meeting the Artist. Being able to meet the creator of the art you buy is one of the reasons art fairs were so popular for so very long. It was a requirement that the artist be in the booth the entire fair. I find the paintings I sell are ones that have a story behind them (actually the vast majority of mine do) and it is telling the tale that customers drawn to a particular work get "hooked." And buying a piece of art from an artist in their studio becomes a whole other story to share with your guests.
Reason #5: Connection. How much easier it is to relate to a paint splattered painter looking for a paper towel than that snooty clerk at the gallery. How great to see other works in progress and know the process behind that fantastic sky in the painting you are taking home with you.
That is just five reasons. That the artist has more latitude to make a deal with you could be number 6 or just and addendum to number 1. The iced coffee and warm zucchini bread might be number 7. You only get treats an a gallery during opening events for which you have gotten an engraved invitation. The list could go on. Maybe in a later blog.
BTW I noticed that none of the galleries we visited on Canyon Road offered Giclee prints. I guess they cannot sell them for enough to pay the rent. And if they did they probably would be a great deal more expensive than the cost of the original from the artist at their studio.