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Reaction to the Report: An Unnamed Gallery Owner

Cultivating a larger collector base is the biggest challenge facing Dallas art galleries, along with changing the attitude that one can only find “real” art in NY. Some even declare “I only buy in Santa Fe” ( I am not kidding!). In a city obsessed with appearances, money and celebrity, Dallas is not a place where folks root for the underdog. Oak Cliff sure is and I suspect it is one of the many reasons why people are flocking to it.  When galleries have greater financial support on a community level, more of our galleries can afford to participate in international art fairs, thus getting our local artists “out there.” (It’s hard to do any art fair with international audiences  at under 20k a pop and this is just for the smaller satellite fairs, and many galleries consider themselves lucky just to break even).

The quandary seems to be this: How do you get collectors/museums in Dallas to buy work by local emerging and mid-career artists who are creating work on par  with and/or more relevant than many “brand name” artists shown in NY? How do you get collectors to buy international artists shown at galleries in Dallas? It is not just a Dallas problem, even galleries in international art centers outside New York share the same problem.

The majority of my business stems from inquiries from the internet, and most are from out of state and many are located abroad. Surprisingly few sales occur with Dallas clients. But the few clients I DO have in Dallas “GET” the importance of buying and supporting local galleries and artists. It’s not rocket science to make this work, it just a decision, really, to become engaged and financially supportive of your community. Rather than all of this gnashing of teeth over the issue, perhaps the city should have some sort of cultural fund that helps galleries promote their artists to an international clientele. It seems to me the most direct route.

One comment on “Reaction to the Report: An Unnamed Gallery Owner

  1. Sorry to be so blunt about this, but the city should not be in the business of helping galleries promote their artists. If the art fairs are unjustly costly, then art galleries could address that or organize an alternative type of fair. Galleries have stables; a limited number of artists they have chosen to represent and promote. Why should taxpayer money contribute to advancing certain artists over others?

    Artists come up with capital all the time to develop exhibitions, 10- 20k is about par. If the work sells while at a gallery, they take 50%. Rarely, if at all, do galleries bankroll the costs that go into developing an exhibition (or framing). Artists are left with exorbitant expenses of unsold work all the time.

    If a gallery wants to participate in an art fair that costs 20k, they could take out a loan or put it on a credit card. Like artists do when they are working on a body of work.

    It is a sad and valid point that some collectors go out of town to buy. If memory serves, Dave Hickey wrote some blistering commentary on this phenomenon in relationship to the DMA and local galleries. Soon after, he left the Star Telegram to write somewhere else. Our loss. And perhaps the reason you chose to post your comments as “Unnamed Gallery Owner.”