Sunday, March 1, 2009

Buying Art

Ok ok ok, it is perhaps no secret that I myself am a painter and gallery owner, and so obviously I want you to buy the art that I create and represent. However, it is my hope that you will forgive me this bias, see past it, and seriously consider what I write here. This post means to enumerate the far reaching and compounding benefits caused by when you buy art, and hopefully this fact will enable you to be ok with my compromised position.

Disclaimer (2): This post operates under the fundamental opinion that Art is a positive force for any and every community. If you dispute this claim, I urge you to post comments as to why.

If you agree that having a strong Arts presence is an enhancing and desired quality, then you must see buying art as one of the most powerful means of attaining and sustaining such a presence.

I heard a woman on the radio the other day say that every artist is a small business. This way of thinking is a simple revolution. For too long too many see artists as the anti-business people, and this false distinction has worked to create a block in normal people's minds when it comes to buying art. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it has created disdain in the mind of many artists for the idea of marketing and promoting their own work. This is a tragedy, because self-promotion is essential for any artist looking to further their career. The most household names of Art History, particularly in the last century, have been people who tirelessly promoted their own projects (Picasso, Warhol, et al.). Good artists, like everyone else, should know that their fates are up to them, and that moreover it is no contradiction to their art or their principles for them to seek sales. Furthermore, people who are in a position to buy art should actively look for artist in whom they believe and make the choice to support them.

Parenthetically, I make an effort to say good artists because I am not, and no one should be, a supporter of making art for the sole end of making money. I would never advocate for such a base project. And the success of "commercial art" (i.e. art that has no aesthetic value but that people are willing to buy because it is for lack of a better word "safe" - see your nearest Holiday Inn) should be seen as an object of disdain to everyone. Indeed, the most effective way of combating such a relentless evil is by supporting that which is worth supporting. In that way you undermine shallow artistic ventures while bolstering those that are substantive.

That anyone in a position to buy art should actively look to do so has implications over and above the simple idea of a deserving artist getting paid. Art, unlike say hot dogs, and artists, unlike hot dog vendors, have a compacting effect on the quality of the community at large. Contextualized in economic terms, when you buy from a vendor, that vendor's business is bolstered, and (it is hoped) he or she then injects more capital back into the market place. This is good for the community, and there is no reason to suspect that this chain reaction is not set in motion when art is bought. But more so, buying good art encourages good artists to keep working, and this, if sustained, creates a flow of creativity and innovation that can be rewarding for a community in ways that money cannot buy.

The same goes for artistic establishments. In fact, even more so, because real art galleries make it their job to give to the community at large artists whom they deem particularly strong and worthwhile. As mechanisms that actively look for and seek to expose those who are exhibiting high levels of creativity, art galleries offer a source of culture and expansion to everybody. The more support they receive, the more resources they have to execute their missions. Most galleries have mission statements. Read them. Support the galleries who's missions you find worth supporting.

If good art enhances a community, what might it do to a household?

So far, mentioning artists, artistic establishments, and the community, I have only to discuss one last and most paramount beneficiary of you buying art. That is, you. I want to argue that there are few better feelings on this planet than becoming a Patron of something you respect, of knowing that you enabled someone you appreciate to continue what they do, and above all, to wake up in the morning to see hanging on your wall or posed in your living room a piece of art that you love and on which you chose to spend your hard earned money. And while you may be a fan of hot dogs, there is no denying that the satisfaction they give is but momentary (and can in fact be afterward quite troubling). Art is a gift to yourself that gives both visually and psychologically for as long as you retain the faculties of sight and thought.

Please share with me your reactions to this post, send it to and discuss it with all of your friends and acquaintances and ask them to do the same. Support your local galleries, and most importantly the artists they carry. Develop a collection at whatever means you have. Show it to people. Set an example for your neighbor. See what happens.

1 comment:

Kristian said...

A good read! One I'll remember for a good while. Thanks for the advice.