Saturday, May 12, 2012

Awesome Art Collectors and the Gallery Work-VS-Museum Work Debate

I am so appreciative of my collectors. Their patronage and love of art allows me to do this crazy thing I do called painting.

In American Art Collector's June, 2012, issue there is an article about my new collectors, Committed to Collecting, Chip Eresman and Diana Garcia are dedicated to art and country. By Eric Christopher Cohler, Photography by Francis Smith. You may purchase it at any major bookstore.

It covers their journey to being collectors, the hows and whys of their collecting. Diana and Chip purchased The Three Fates at the recent Women Painting Women - The Expedition and Beyond at Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.
Red Kimono by Mia Bergeron, (from the 2010 Women Painting Women Invitational)  and work by Martin Poole and Ray Donley
The Three Fates in it's new home in their dining room. Over the fireplace a Thomas Beuchner, and to the right Ray Donley
Art by Jeffrey Johnson, Jorge Alberto, Larry Preston, Alejandro Rosemberg, Phillip Geiger, Martin Poole, Kevin Fitzgerald
This article brings up a subject I've been wanting to blog about for a while. "Do you make work for museums or galleries?" 

It's a debate I have never understood. I've heard artists say that they are not going the gallery route and that they instead paint museum quality work, as if it's an either, or, thing.

What!? Does that mean that artists that show in galleries are not producing museum quality work? Does that mean that if artists produce work for a gallery show they produce lesser work? Why is work made for private collections and work made for museums two different things?

There are two reasons why I think this is a harmful attitude for artists to have and a sign that the artist is buying into dysfunctional nonsense perpetuated by certain parts of the art world.

1. It may keep you from making the work you want to make.

I certainly expect that my work will be in museum collections, but museums or private collections, it makes no difference in my mind as to the kind of work I make. I paint what is provocative to me, making the best possible paintings I can. The trick is to find venues that do a great job connecting your work with savvy collectors, people who relate to the work, people that love the work enough to want to live with it.

On the practical side how much work of living artists do museums actually buy? Will you ever be able to support yourself and your work on museum sales? Is being a starving artist really a prerequisite to making high quality, provocative work? Not hardly!

Underlying this attitude is the idea that an artist that has financial success must not be making real work, meaningful work. Baloney!

2. The gallery work-vs-museum work question has an underlying condescending attitude toward collectors.

It doesn't give collectors any credit for knowing what is good art worth collecting. Should museum curators be the only ones getting to decide who is making good art? I don't think so.

My collectors really GET my work. They relate to it on an emotional and intellectual level. They are not seduced by technique or pretty colors that match their sofa. They GET art.

This gallery work-vs-museum work attitude by some is intimidating and may keep potential collectors out of galleries. How is that beneficial to artists or the art world?

I've been lucky enough to meet many of my collectors and have become friends with them. The similar life experiences we have shared, the things that inspired me to paint the work and inspired them to want to live with the work, are the experiences that make us friends. We just happened to have been introduced through the medium of my painting.
How sad for artists to miss out on these wonderfully rewarding relationships. All because of a dysfunctional attitude carried over from our art school days!

But as Dennis Miller says after one of his rants, I may be wrong.

If this is an interesting topic for you, you may find Tom Wolfe's book, The Painted Word, a good read. It explores many of these ideas about the dysfunctional nature of certain parts of the modern art era.

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