Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do you buy it?

I noticed the lovely Kathryn Born blogged that you should be reading my blog. Well, shit. I suppose that means I need to be writing more. I recently took a break from writing to think more carefully about what this whole thing represents. I am not only passionate about art, but I have a commitment to honesty. Now, it may sound like there's not any particular relationship there, or that if there is, it would be self-evident. But it's not that easy or pretty to be honest in this art world. If I could actually say what comes to mind sometimes, especially in those moments of passion, I would probably manage to get myself reprimanded at work (possibly for good cause) and I would certainly burn some bridges (intentionally and otherwise). This art world is small. So there is the struggle. What do you want to hear? And if I tell you, and it pisses someone off, does that matter?

Here's the deal though. Get ready for the truth. The real truth.

You need to buy artwork.

That's it. You need to buy artwork. I know that sounds self serving and to a degree I acknowledge that it is, but arts communities are not surviving and will not thrive the way they should without patrons. This is not to dismiss diy communities, since artists will always create them and innovation is going to happen with or without direct injections of cash. Art will find a way. But what does that mean for galleries? What does it mean for artists who are outside of those specific communities? How do artists find ways to support their creations while balancing their (often razor thin) finances?

I fundamentally believe that art is an integral part of our culture; of who and where we are in time. It's of staggering importance and lots of people overlook the fact that traditionally, historically, the arts is supported by wealth. Chicago is, even in this economy, rich with private wealth. But it is definitively not flowing to the arts as it should if you ask me.

I hear people say that great art succeeds no matter what. If it's bought or not. If it "shows" or not. But the reality is that sales make artists. Without sales, artists toil and struggle and make, but you won't know about it. Even great galleries can't help great artists if no one buys. I don't have enough fingers for the number of great galleries that have closed in Chicago - mainly due to lack of sales. And even right now, there are too many great galleries showing too much great artwork in relation to how much those galleries are selling.

This is not to say I know the books of my fellow gallerists. I don't. My sincerest, deepest hope is that they are all doing well. But I know all of them want to sell more. This isn't just some way to make money. Ask gallerists. It's a bad way to make money. We are all in this because we love art and we love artists. Our measure of success ultimately depends on your contribution.

So this is where I'm standing now. It's not new ground. It's the backbone of ArtLetter. Time and time again, Paul tells you to buy something. He's right. It is not just good for the artist, or the gallery or just for you. It's larger than that and you must, underline must, get involved. Gallery hop. Shake a gallerists hand. Hell, shake my hand and ask me how to get started. We want to get you involved. Not because we are dirty and capitalistic and money-hungry, but because you are the engine that keeps our passion moving. We want to share it, I promise you.

I was talking with Tamara English the other day about all this and I told her that I was thinking of just posting about what I'd buy. Keep in mind, I do buy, but I can't afford everything I want. But you can buy. You can just buy one. Or if you have the means, I suggest you buy a lot. It helps more than you know.

On that note, I effing love Adam Ekberg. Go buy his work at Thomas Robertello Gallery. Here's an example of a piece I saw as a postcard and it was the reason I fell in love.

Adam Ekberg, A splash in the middle of the ocean, Inkjet Print, 2006

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