Visual Art

Buy Art!

If You Have Never Bought a Piece of Original Art, You Are Doing Life Wrong

Seattle is a terrible place to sell art. Dealers and artists will all, universally, tell you this. Nobody buys art here. Galleries barely stay open, and then they don't, and then artists leave town just as they're beginning to become interesting, and everybody asks, "What happened?" even though nobody has ever bought any art here.

This has to change. This is a manifesto.

I'm talking to you. You are an average Seattle person. You are not wealthy. You are the 99 percent.

The last time you avoided an art gallery out of intimidation or slunk out of one feeling out of your depth? That was the final time. Right here, right now—this is the end of your lifelong career of never once having bought a piece of original art.

I don't care what you buy. I don't care how much it costs. But you will buy something. We are going to change this city right now.

Let's begin with the following basic understanding: You are not buying art to make anyone rich. Approximately point-zero-zero-one percent of artists ever make as much money over the span of their entire careers as a Microsoft or Amazon employee in a single year. If you are concerned that your art purchasing will create a class of brats, then your concern ought to be placed elsewhere in your consumption cycle.

But you would be correct if you assumed that what we're really talking about is money. And talking about money in art is no easier than talking about money anywhere else.

An episode I witnessed recently brought it all together.

A man in a suit was kneeling on a carpeted floor. This was on VIP night at the inaugural Seattle Affordable Art Fair in November, and he was at the booth for Portland gallery Fourteen30 Contemporary. The man was trying to figure out how much the art cost. But the label that told him how much for that lovably odd oblong red painting on the wall was waaaaaaaaay down at floor level. The "Affordable" part of the Affordable Art Fair includes rules such as You must list your prices on the walls with the art—but Fourteen30 doesn't use wall labels at its actual location in Portland because they distract from looking at the art itself. "So labels on the floor, six-point font: That was my solution," said Fourteen30 owner Jeanine Jablonski. "Labels are visually distracting—people immediately go to text. I know I do. I would rather have a conversation with someone. But people are shy."

People are shy. Many of them, even if they are dressed-up VIPs, would rather kneel on the floor than ask the elegant woman near the desk who made something or how much it is. Money is embarrassing. Money in art, even more so. It is a truth in the art world that you are less likely to see labels on the walls the higher the cost of the artworks. If you think of artworks as "ascending" from the artist's studio to the gallery and finally to the museum, well, the museum is the place where you will never, ever, ever see a price tag at all. The art there is so legitimized that it has been removed from the market entirely. You can know almost anything else about an artwork at a museum, but if you were to ask how much it cost, you would be met either with blank stares—the guards and reception clerks certainly don't know—or with administration-level squirming.

I once wrote, somewhere on the internet, that I never wrote a negative review as a way of deterring people from actually seeing the art themselves, to which someone responded, "Then you completely misunderstand your role to give me consumer reports." But art has a double economy. One economy is nearly free. The other—where you actually buy—is perceived to be basically impossible to enter unless you're a Rockefeller. Yes, the art that's sold for millions and makes headlines for its auction records, etc., etc., no, you cannot afford that art. But who cares? The world is jammed with 99 percent art.

This is you. You want to own something that means something to you. The pleasure of an original thing is that, like anything you truly love, it attaches itself to the original part of you and builds it like a muscle, makes you feel more like you. It also connects you to someone else, the artist—but you don't have to tend that relationship, it's just there, simple, pure. You never have to meet the artist if you don't want to, but if you want to, you can ask the artist all about this thing you now have, and you will find that the artist also wants to hear what you see in it, and eventually you will both agree that neither of you really penetrates what the thing fully is, which is maybe why both of you love it so much. Let's say you have a couple more criteria: Maybe you would prefer art by someone local, someone who does not have a leg up in the 1 percent game of the international art world. And: You do not have money to burn.

Here's what you should know about what is affordable—a vital fact: Every gallery wants to help you buy something if you love it. (They are not in this for the money because what money?) Pay what you can every month, with zero interest. This is common. This is how it works. A work of art that costs $1,200 looks like it's out of reach; I know I can't spend that right now. But $100 a month for a year? How much was that last night of going out? How much was that sweater, dinner, cab ride? And you are paying how much in rent? Want a work of art enough and you will have it. It's not about affordability. It's about knowing that this is possible, and knowing you can ask to make it work. Knowing that dealers and artists want you to ask to make it work. The good ones don't care how much money you have. They care how much love you have.

Another reason to buy art: because a city cannot live on project managers and engineers alone. Because buying art is a way to notify artists that their presence is wanted. (Because it is most likely not going to pay their bills.) Do you know how many artists have considered stopping making art or leaving this place they love, but stayed and kept on just because of one or two or three encouraging art sales? It doesn't take much.

Dealers in Seattle are likewise not fat cats. Greg Kucera, the most established contemporary dealer, is no Larry Gagosian. (Gagosian is the mob boss of New York art, with locations spread across the globe.) Kucera boycotted the Affordable Art Fair in large part because he objected to the name. Basically, he was offended. After 30 years of making art affordable and accessible in Seattle, who's this outfit coming in and pretending they're presenting something new? (The Affordable Art Fair is a franchise out of the UK.) And screw those guys for focusing on price rather than quality. The lack of qualitative focus was apparent in the fair's selection of certain out-of-town galleries that filled their booths with floor-to-ceiling displays of truly dismal art displayed like magnets on a gift shop carousel—$10 would have been too much to pay for that stuff. Some Seattle dealers refused to put on the walls the signs provided by the fair's organizers that barked "Under a thousand dollars!" It just felt too bargain-basement.

As Kucera insisted, We already have affordable art in Seattle. There is something undignified about having to point that out after all these years.

"I just checked my own inventory, and we have work under $500 by Shimomura, Newport, Daws, Calderon, Fitch, Livingston, Beecher, Dzama, Webb," Kucera said in an e-mail. "At under $1,000, it includes work by just about everyone else." We're talking Andy Warhol to Kara Walker, Alice Wheeler to Whiting Tennis and Victoria Haven.

Dirk Park, who started up the respected Aqua Art Miami held at Art Basel Miami Beach every December, told me at the Affordable Art Fair—where he was representing his own small new gallery in Seattle, Prole Drift, and where he ended up selling not one single piece of art but felt grateful that after three days of standing in the booth, he made contacts for his artists—that he's personally never bought anything more than $1,000. "And if I go over $500, Jaq [Chartier, his wife and a painter] and I have to agree. I do other things to sustain ourselves financially," he said. "This is a project."

Meanwhile, Park was selling hot-colored portraits of rock stars like Stevie Nicks and Ann and Nancy Wilson at prices that surpassed anything he'd ever paid personally (but still under the fair's bar of $10,000). That's because some people can pay those amounts, and a single one of those sales can finance a whole new series of works.

Affordable art really is everywhere. If for your first foray into art-buying you really can't spend more than $300, here are a few galleries at the very lowest price range to try: Bherd, Blindfold, Cullom, Davidson, Gallery4Culture, Ghost, Prole Drift, Punch, SOIL, Roq La Rue, Season, True Love, Vermillion. (There also are artist-run online sales sites, like Seattle Catalog at www.seacat.co, and low-cost local art mail subscriptions you can buy, like LxWxH.) But with even a modest payment plan, you owe it to yourself to get to Foster/White, G. Gibson, Grover/Thurston, James Harris, Greg Kucera, Linda Hodges, Platform, Traver—and to consider the higher-priced works also available at places like Davidson, Prole Drift, Roq La Rue, and Season.

If you want to buy but are truly intimidated by the idea of committing to a payment plan, consider starting with prints. A print is a limited-edition object created and controlled by an artist and meant to be a print. In case the terminology is new to you, a print is completely different than a poster. A poster is a photograph of something else—usually a painting—reproduced in an unlimited edition by a business entity that has nothing to do with the artist. Buying a poster is not buying art.

The home of antique prints and maps in Seattle is Davidson; another great prints place is Cullom. In my living room, I have two prints from Davidson. One is a hand-colored etching by Isaac Robert Cruikshank ($85). It was an illustration for a satire published in 1822 called My Cousin in the Army. A skinny, bug-eyed soldier with pants up by his nipples holds a sword aloft over a trio of rich old biddies and their rapt pets in a horrible-tchotchke parlor. Cruikshank engraved the plate with the image on it. He hand-colored a prototype. Then production workers hand-inked the object in my house.

My other print is called Shrimps! (plainly the best title for a work of art, ever; $60). The image comes from an oil painting (to me, an amusingly terrible one, but one held by the National Gallery in London) by a great printmaker, 18th-century Englishman William Hogarth—a buxom peasant girl balancing a platter of shrimps on her head, wearing a toothy smile and an expression of such delight, it suggests lobotomy. In my print, she looks just as in the painting, but with her left nipple exposed like a tiny bomb in the image. It's hilarious. But who made the joke? An actual Hogarth print would cost more than $60, and the engraving is dated 1782, when Hogarth died in 1764. The story is that Hogarth made the oil sketch with the nipple, but his widow commissioned a print of it from printmaker-to-the-king Francesco Bartolozzi. The plate is Bartolozzi. The nipple joke is Hogarth.

Davidson happens to be one of Kucera's local favorites. "I buy stuff from Sam Davidson"—Davidson Galleries' owner—"all the time for a few hundred bucks. And many things that I bought from Scott's gallery [Lawrimore Project] were less than $1,000, but spread out over the duration of his gallery, each small sale was welcome. Truly, it doesn't take that much to keep a gallery here in business."

Richard Thurston co-owns Grover/Thurston Gallery, on the Pioneer Square circuit. Fancy, right? But a Seattle dealer years ago (Mia Gallery, not open anymore) let him buy Terry Turrell's folk sculptures on incredibly modest payment plans. Today, Grover/Thurston represents Turrell, a Seattle artist, and they're happy to negotiate individual payment plans with anyone who can't imagine not living with one of Turrell's transformations of wreckage into totems. They understand falling in love with a piece of art, needing to have it, not having the cash.

"I'll work with you," Susan Grover, Thurston's co-owner says quietly, leaning over the counter one afternoon and talking to a woman whose birthday it was, who wanted a Turrell painting that she couldn't afford right then. The woman, based in Fremont, was an artist herself. She didn't have money to burn.

If that woman decides to buy, the gallery will take half and the artist the other half. This is the standard setup, the benefit to any artist of being "represented" by a gallery. One of the best ways to whittle down what you want is to troll the "artists" sections of the websites of galleries. That's the gallery's "stable." They might have inventory from those artists even if it isn't on display now. Ask.

Ask. It's time. recommended

I Bought This Thing and I Love It

I first saw Baso Fibonacci’s art on the streets around town: murals, wheat-pasted prints. During SIFF this spring, I went to Cafe Kanape off Broadway a lot, and Baso was having a show there of his wonderful wild-animal paintings: raccoon, grizzly bear, lynx, red panda, porcupine. When I contacted him, the owl painting I liked was already sold—but he offered to paint me my own owl. I took him up on it. The painting is oil enamel on glass (28 by 23 inches, $500), and this grave owl now watches over my home. GILLIAN ANDERSON

I found this beguiling thing at Ghost Gallery. I saw it and could not leave without it. Could not stop looking at it. What is it? A sculpture? Something else? It’s hard-plastic ribbons of various widths pinned to a board. From across the room, it looks 2-D, until you move in any direction: When your perspective changes, it changes. It’s called Loopholes. It’s 12.5 by 12.5 inches. It was $100. According to the back, the artist is Adriana Phillips. I love you, Adriana Phillips, whoever you are. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

This photograph hangs on my kitchen wall. I bought it at Photo Center Northwest for $100, but I don’t remember the photographer or the title. The main color is red, as if depicting the lurid dream of the half-empty ketchup bottle. True, nothing much is happening in the photo, but it never fails to hold my attention for a moment or two. Whenever I enter the kitchen, the image makes me aware not only of its own presence but the presence of all the other objects around me. What kind of dreams are the spoons, forks, bowls, fridge, and washer having? And all of these sleeping objects, like this picture on the wall, are mine. All mine. CHARLES MUDEDE

I came across Nathan Lambdin’s 5/13—To and From at the opening of Ghost Gallery in April 2010. Lambdin fashioned a contraption that held a few dozen markers, pressed them to the paper, and let the ink soak in on one side. He then dragged them across the paper and did the same on the other side, creating a similar, but not identical, pattern. I bought it for $300, and it’s about 36 inches wide. I love how this piece is all about the process of making it, and the meaning is left to whatever each individual viewer brings to it. AARON HUFFMAN

 

Comments (51) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Is the recession over? I hadn't noticed.
Posted by TheOtherWoman on December 5, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
alpha unicorn 2
We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs. Gloria Steinem
Posted by alpha unicorn on December 5, 2012 at 7:20 PM · Report this
baso 3
Great article, really glad you brought up the idea of making payments, my friends do that a lot when they want a piece.
Posted by baso http://www.thebaso.com on December 5, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
4
i've bought a few things from ghost gallery.. 500 and 100 dollars and they are great.
Posted by kruss1 on December 5, 2012 at 8:20 PM · Report this
5
Another even lower-budget way to support local artists is to buy lots of their cards - Art FX in Fremont has an abundance of these, for instance. They tend to be about $5 and a nice card can be given in lieu of a gift to many people; or they can off-set a crappy gift. They are sometimes prints, sometimes originals. Always small, cool little presents that support the arts and the local economy.
Posted by Bi Focal Goddess on December 5, 2012 at 8:45 PM · Report this
Xavier Lopez Jr. 6
Funny, Jonathan Wakuda and I were just talking about this tonight as we put new wheatpastes in Post Alley! Btw, any wheatpasters out there, head to Post Alley--the gum wall is invading the post wall!

Xavier-
Posted by Xavier Lopez Jr. on December 6, 2012 at 2:45 AM · Report this
sharonArnold 7
As someone who's been shouting this manifesto for some time, I'm happy to see the tide turning and more and more projects coming to light that make art buying more approachable. I think that it's only a matter of shifting priorities for a little while, if you want art in your life. I put off buying a new laptop for a few months so that I could purchase a painting. I'm a broke ass fool - if I can do it, anyone can. Sometimes art only costs as much as a month's worth of lattes. What can we do to make room in our lives, despite the recession? Unlike electronics or lattes, art lasts.

Seattle's bursting at the seams, it's an exciting time to start buying!

Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on December 6, 2012 at 7:25 AM · Report this
Anthropomorhpise Me 8
No one buys art because we all think we are Artists here.
Posted by Anthropomorhpise Me on December 6, 2012 at 9:15 AM · Report this
9
I used to live a few hours north of Seattle and my favorite piece of artwork I ever bought was at a gallery in Seattle for $20. Art is totally affordable for any price range.
Posted by westcoastflatlander on December 6, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
10
I partnered with local artist and started an online gallery selling high quality prints and photography. You can check it out here: http://arisingtide.org

Use the code happyholidays for a 10% discount. :)
Posted by TWBruhn on December 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
11
Good and needed article Jen. Thank you.

I have offered the payment plan many times. One collector even took two years to pay and it worked out for both of us.

There is nothing like the feeling of watching someone become enamored with a piece of art and so I will do all I can to facilitate their purchase.
Posted by Marie on December 6, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
12
#8 what has that got to do with anything? I'm an artist, and my walls are becoming more and more filled with the work of amazing local artists. Do you think authors don't buy other author's books?
Posted by LORD ZOD on December 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
13
Don't forget about buying art directly from artists that aren't represented by a gallery. Plenty of talented under-the-radar and/or emerging artists out there to love and encourage with your enthusiasm and dollars. As the article mentioned, it's not always purely about the money but the motivation it gives the artist to keep going. That's especially true for artists not yet represented by a gallery.
Posted by joann e http://joannedmonds.com on December 6, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Dougsf 14
@10 - I love this idea. I rarely come across art that I both want and I can afford*, and I'm ALWAYS hoping the artist made prints, and so far I've been disappointing every time.

*Don't get me wrong, I get that $300 for a painting probably barely pays for supplies. $1,500 might actually pay an artist for their time.

Posted by Dougsf on December 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
Dougsf 15
@12 - I think the poster is implying we're all broke.
Posted by Dougsf on December 6, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
16
Bravo .. thanks for this article Jen ..buy art people, it will make you happier and cooler!
Posted by olive oyl on December 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM · Report this
Xavier Lopez Jr. 17
I have a confession to make. Not only am I an artist, co-curator of the Echo Echo Gallery at the Greenwood Collective--I am also a huge fan of art. I have purchased all sorts of art from Roq La Rue, Starheadboy, Narboo, Ryan Henry Ward, Flatcolor when it was around--and I can tell you--almost every artist, art gallery etc. is willing to work with you, bend over backwards to make a sale. I have almost always paid over time for big pieces and no one has ever made me feel like I was anything but an important client--believe me--Seattle's artists are working their butts off and this is their livelihood--they want to work with you! And keep in mind that there are galleries for every taste--every one should have S3A on their links, it is an excellent resource for many of the galleries that might not be as well known but that are doing some of the most amazing work!
Posted by Xavier Lopez Jr. on December 6, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
Xavier Lopez Jr. 18
Anthropomorhpise Me-- honestly--artists are the biggest fans of other artists. They are the biggest purchasers of art. I personally own work by Jenny Holzer,Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons, Victorian art, Works by Ego, Joe Vollan, Maggie Harbaugh, Starheadboy, Ryan Henry Ward, Tnglr and so many others!
Posted by Xavier Lopez Jr. on December 6, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
19
Don't forget, art lovers and viewers, to go to galleries that might be a bit off the beaten track in neighborhoods, like Patricia Cameron Gallery on Dexter Ave. N. in the Lake Union neighborhood, Francine Seders Gallery in the Phinney neighborhood, and also to come to the neighborhood ARTwalks. My studio is in the fabulous BallardWorks building, where 20 artists' studios are open from spring to winter on the 2nd Saturday, 6-9 PM--it's free and friendly, excellent art is inexpensive, the chance to visit an artist in her studio is a gift, yet hardly anything ever sells! After a long time working in Seattle, a great working environment, I tend to shrug, allow that many people would probably "rather be sailing," and continue to work hard and present my work to viewers as often as I can. Exhorting, admonishing and encouraging the newer generation of art lovers into becoming art buyers is a great idea! Thanks!
Sincerely,
Joan Stuart Ross
http://www.joanstuartross.com
Posted by joanstuartross on December 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
20
1. I have a dozen or so original paintings in my house, purchased for $500-$1200 each. We have a bunch of prints stored away because we've run out of display space. Let me establish that I Like Art.

2. I've never heard of a gallery offering me terms. MAYBE THEY SHOULD ADVERTISE THIS FACT? I am a professional, I have money to spend, I don't look "poor", but I do not typically receive a warm reception in a gallery, where more often that not I am the only person there who is not an employee. HOW FUCKING BUSY ARE YOU?

3. Having spent many years performing music at art openings (generally for free or no more than $75 in a few cases), allowing me hours to look at art and contemplate the asking price, I have concluded that a typical painting is priced at a month's rent and utilities for the artist. I understand--everyone's got to eat, but you've also got to decide if you want to sell paintings, at all. Or, if it's better to sell two paintings at $500 (yes, I know--paint is expensive, etc, etc--consider smaller paintings, they're easier to display in modest dwellings) or zero paintings at $1200. Eventually you will run out of space to store unsold paintings.
Posted by tiktok on December 6, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
21
Personally, I don't agree that it's so difficult to sell art in Seattle. Modern artists are too dependent on traditional forms of peddling their work and that's what is holding them back.

If you are an artist who has decided that art is too hard to sell or Seattle is not a good place to be an artist, well then you are a QUITTER and you will never make a name for yourself. Galleries and artwalks are not the only way to sell art, nor are they the most effective. You need to do more than mope around begging gallery owners to show your work or trying to sell one $1,500 painting every two months to a patron.

With a skillful use of the internet, artists can sell lots of art. Personally, I feel Seattle is the best place to be an artist and I make a great living creating and selling art full time.

If anyone want to buy some of my art, I have limited edition prints and originals available for sale at: www.facebook.com/aaronruttenart or www.surrealpixelstudio.com
Posted by Aaron Rutten, Seattle Artist on December 6, 2012 at 8:38 PM · Report this
22
Personally, I don't agree that it's so difficult to sell art in Seattle. Modern artists are too dependent on traditional forms of peddling their work and that's what is holding them back.

If you are an artist who has decided that art is too hard to sell or Seattle is not a good place to be an artist, well then you are a QUITTER and you will never make a name for yourself. Galleries and artwalks are not the only way to sell art, nor are they the most effective. You need to do more than mope around begging gallery owners to show your work or trying to sell one $1,500 painting every two months to a patron.

With a skillful use of the internet, artists can sell lots of art. Personally, I feel Seattle is the best place to be an artist and I make a great living creating and selling art full time.

If anyone want to buy some of my art, I have limited edition prints and originals available for sale at: www.facebook.com/aaronruttenart or www.surrealpixelstudio.com
Posted by AaronRuttenArtist on December 6, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
23
@20
"I've never heard of a gallery offering me terms."
Have you asked? And I don't mean that sarcastically. Have you ever point-blank said "I am interested in this piece of art, would I be able to make a down payment and pay it off over a few months?" I can't imagine any gallerist saying no to that. They don't advertise layaway because, hey, if you *can* pay it all off at once it will benefit both artist and gallery.

"I do not typically receive a warm reception in a gallery... HOW FUCKING BUSY ARE YOU?"
I'm sorry to hear that you've received cold shoulders. But, believe it or not, gallerists really ARE fucking busy. Behind the tranquil veneer there is a lot going on. Galleries are basically museums, offices, and retail stores all in one white-walled package. That surely doesn't excuse unfriendliness, but it does mean that they're not snubbing you on purpose.

Hopefully you can give Seattle galleries another shot!
Posted by -ink on December 6, 2012 at 10:45 PM · Report this
24
@20

Huh. The first time I fell I love with a piece out of my price range it was $2000. Yup...$2000. It wasnt even finished yet, just a half done sketch on the wall of the gallery/studio. Way out of my price range. I told the artist I loved it. She offered me $25 a month, no interest payments.

I'm still making payments. But I have beautiful art.

I'd leave it t that, except I was just recently at another gallery where I saw another piece. Again, way out of my price range. I told the gallery owner how amazed I was by the piece. Within 2 minutes she had asked me what payment terms she could offer me to have me walk out of the gallery with piece in hand.

This would at least imply anecdotally, that if you ASK...you'll get an offer.

Buy art.
Posted by tempo36 on December 7, 2012 at 12:55 AM · Report this
sharonArnold 25
In case anyone is curious what LxWxH is, feel free to visit the website - www.lengthbywidthbyheight.com.

In short, it's original art in a box (sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, etc) that you order online and it gets mailed to you! Historically, I've been curating in pairs and featuring a writer but 2013 is going to bring some changes, including the ability to buy individual pieces by artists under $200.

I'd also like to give props to ArtsYo! Like LxWxH, they promote the idea that art is a sustainable resource, and they make buying it super easy. www.seattle.artsyo.com
Posted by sharonArnold http://lengthbywidthbyheight.com on December 7, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
26
Jen -- what horrible subtitle to your article. "I hereby declare that anyone who is indifferent to a thing I like is doing life wrong." Frankly, I don't give a shit about your idea of art. As an engineer and project manager, venuring into the solace of the Olympic Mountains does far more for my soul than cleverly arranged plastic ribbons and photos of ketchup bottles, regardless of the breathless bullshit verbiage art reviewers attach to such doodlings.
Posted by ctmcmull on December 7, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
treacle 27
Ms. Treacle and I just purchased a beautiful & huge piece of art two weeks ago for $500 + art trade. I was a little skeptical at first, but I love it! and it blends perfectly with everything in our room. So worth it. So, so worth it.
Posted by treacle on December 7, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
28
@26
Jen is making a Humanities argument. One which I happen to agree with. Appreciation and support of art is in the same category as supporting music and literature. Good for you for appreciating the Olympics...preservation and appreciation of the outdoors is critical. But your critique of Jen's art, art which doesn't speak to me either by the way, implies to the rest of us that you would benefit from exposure to more art. If you think that her art is all there is, you're far too sheltered. If you think that ALL art is worthless and overdone, you're TERRIFYINGLY close minded. You might not give a shit about HER art, but you should give a shit about ART. As an aside, there has been quite a bit of research and study on how the lack of humanities education in engineers, mathematicians, etc is greatly to their detriment.

Art, music, drama, literature, poetry, philosophy and discourse are the things that separate us from the rest of the animals.
Posted by tempo36 on December 7, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
29
BTW the Fremont artist DID buy the Terry Turrell painting for her birthday and she LOVES it!! Susan Grover was a delight to work for. Who better than Artists to appreciate and support other artists.
Posted by Birthday girl on December 7, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
30
Art adds SO MUCH to one's environment. The energy in a room full of art is palpable. I Love it. I try to support other artist I admire. NO REGRETS and yes the Fremont artist did buy that Terry Turrell piece for her birthday and Susan Grover was a delight to work with. She delivered the art and hung it with a smile on a Sunday. Not only do I have a fabulous piece of timeless art I have a new friend.
Posted by Iloveart on December 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM · Report this
31
@23 Sure, gallery employees/owners are busy. But I've never been to a gallery in Seattle that managed to hit the right point between "openly ignoring patrons" and "forcing an uncomfortable discussion about a particular piece".

I don't think it's too much to expect that someone from the gallery could acknowledge that I showed up, and then not subsequently try to make me feel stupid for missing some bullshit subtext about a piece in conversation.
Posted by Tyler Pierce on December 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM · Report this
32
Even if buying a piece of art wasn't a possibly-intimidating and usually-expensive proposition (even if a dealer/gallery owner helps 'make it work', I'm still out a few hundred bucks whether it be all at once or over time), beware the purchase of an unframed piece!

I recently purchased a small engraving for $80 - nice! Then I needed a mat cut for it and had it put in a frame for $275 - ouch! (I mean, I could have gone the way of the college student and push-pinned the thing to the wall, but that is disrespectful and I have some dignity.) I picked a nice frame and good glass for it, though - go big or go home.

It's a lesser-known cost of art purchasing, and if the piece is modest enough, it is certainly possible for a frame to cost more than the piece it will protect. Just a consideration.
Posted by bitethemailman on December 9, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
33
As an artist who moved from Seattle to the east coast in March 2012, my move had absolutely nothing to do with sales. I just missed the northeast a whole lot. It was time to return home.

I was selling quite a bit of work. My friends thought I was crazy to move away because the business side of my painting was not only gaining momentum but had made drastic leaps.

Having said that, about 60% of my 2011 sales came from outside of Seattle, selling to places such as Denver, coastal Oregon, northern CA and NYC. And those sales were also all the highest priced work.

Posted by Marie on December 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM · Report this
elissa 34
I honestly had no idea that payment plans for art existed. I am an artist myself--not visual--and I like the idea of all of this, but I am putting down plenty of money, constantly, supporting the artists within my discipline (=other writers) as Jen is suggesting we support visual artists here. I do have a few prints and a couple of other pieces that I bought for $150 or less, but I have admired many, many pieces I could not have handed over a lump of cash for on the spot. I would have considered a payment plan, though. My wall still has one open space...

I think we are all experiencing a lot of worthy demands on our wallets, not only from the basics of staying alive and all of that, but for those of us who are in arts communities, we like to buy books by local authors, support local nonprofits, or whatever makes us feel good. Art is one of those many things. To me, personally, books are just more personally relevant, and I buy them with reckless abandon. Each person has his/her point of personal relevance.
Posted by elissa http://washuta.net/blog on December 10, 2012 at 5:28 PM · Report this
35
Buy art? That would presuppose taste. And if you think there is taste in Seattle, just look at the architecture here.
Posted by Mister G on December 11, 2012 at 2:15 AM · Report this
elissa 36
I have been thinking about this a lot since commenting yesterday. In the past, I have only bought art when I could afford to put down $100, $200 on the spot for a piece or a couple of pieces. I seriously had no idea that a payment plan was something that was done. Buying pieces of art I loved in galleries seemed completely out of my reach, and some of the pieces I have truly loved seemed like things I would never be able to afford if they were paid for out of a single paycheck. I always felt that I was allowed to appreciate art only inasmuch as I could look at it when it was publicly displayed, but the actual purchasing was left to those with substantially more means.

I think it's really important to talk more about some of the ideas and notes in this piece; "Every gallery wants to help you buy something if you love it"--I honestly hadn't thought of it that way. I didn't know about payment plans. I am still going to find all of it intimidating. I'm seeing a desire to keep this payment plan stuff somewhat quiet because there's the desire to limit how many people take advantage of it, but I just don't see more visibility being a bad thing. I think it would get more people willing to buy.
Posted by elissa http://washuta.net/blog on December 11, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
37
Hi All,
Thanks again, Jen for writing this article, addressing the issue.
And from the large amount of feedback, looks like there are plenty of ways to include Art in life.
I love to go to music and cultural events, I paint and have worked in the Wine Trade and with restaurants for 20 years (Manhattan, St. Thomas, Arizona and Washington).
I manage the Gallery [context] at Seattle Design Center.

In Manhattan a popular joke was:
"Oh you're an (Actor, Musician, Writer, Artist, Dancer)? Cool. Which Restaurant do you work at?"
and from a friend "Every day I wake up, look in the mirror and tell myself, dammit, Jim: you're an Actor. Now Act like a Waiter..."

Point is, Art adds so much to our lives that we just take for granted. It's like Farms. No Farms, No Food. No Art, No Pleasure, and No Survival.
For real. (Check out Darwin and the Survival of Novelty)
I do mean Art in general, all Artistic Disciplines and creative expressions.

Business is a highly creative field, ask any entreprenuer, producer, event planner, attorney, developer, contractor, VC, etc.
We all have to come up with solutions and adaptations to our changing environments, whether it is a supply-chain disruption, tsunami or a line drawing that is missing... something. That's what Humans Kick Ass at.

Art creates the space in our perception where we can relax and let someone else drive for a while.
Tell us a story. The right story can leave us refreshed, and offer new tools to engage our life with.
Art provides opportunities both for social engagement, discourse and contemplative reflection.

I love Art because there is a magic to it. Art that we love can influence our lives in so many ways. The experience of art can be like a good conversation, it helps us hone our perceptions.

Ultimately we may become stronger, more ourselves by experiencing other expressions. The increase in our self-worth and therefor our earning potential is difficult to measure. You will know when you feel it.
So jump on in! Nervous? Start easy: go look at art, ask a question, make a statement.

Be supportive. Purchase a small, inexpensive original artwork from a real live person in your city. Feel the impact of the investment you just made in your world, and the world of another.
It really can be that simple.

All good things,
-Zal.
More...
Posted by Zal http://gallerycontext.wordpress.com on December 12, 2012 at 2:03 PM · Report this
38
Hi All,
Thanks again, Jen for writing this article, addressing the issue.
And from the large amount of feedback, looks like there are plenty of ways to include Art in life.
I love to go to music and cultural events, I paint and have worked in the Wine Trade and with restaurants for 20 years (Manhattan, St. Thomas, Arizona and Washington).
I manage the Gallery [context] at Seattle Design Center.

In Manhattan a popular joke was:
"Oh you're an (Actor, Musician, Writer, Artist, Dancer)? Cool. Which Restaurant do you work at?"
and from a friend "Every day I wake up, look in the mirror and tell myself, dammit, Jim: you're an Actor. Now Act like a Waiter..."

Point is, Art adds so much to our lives that we just take for granted. It's like Farms. No Farms, No Food. No Art, No Pleasure, and No Survival.
For real. (Check out Darwin and the Survival of Novelty)
I do mean Art in general, all Artistic Disciplines and creative expressions.

Business is a highly creative field, ask any entreprenuer, producer, event planner, attorney, developer, contractor, VC, etc.
We all have to come up with solutions and adaptations to our changing environments, whether it is a supply-chain disruption, tsunami or a line drawing that is missing... something. That's what Humans Kick Ass at.

Art creates the space in our perception where we can relax and let someone else drive for a while.
Tell us a story. The right story can leave us refreshed, and offer new tools to engage our life with.
Art provides opportunities both for social engagement, discourse and contemplative reflection.

I love Art because there is a magic to it. Art that we love can influence our lives in so many ways. The experience of art can be like a good conversation, it helps us hone our perceptions.

Ultimately we may become stronger, more ourselves by experiencing other expressions. The increase in our self-worth and therefor our earning potential is difficult to measure. You will know when you feel it.
So jump on in! Nervous? Start easy: go look at art, ask a question, make a statement.

Be supportive. Purchase a small, inexpensive original artwork from a real live person in your city. Feel the impact of the investment you just made in your world, and the world of another.
It really can be that simple.

All good things,
-Zal.
More...
Posted by Zal http://gallerycontext.wordpress.com on December 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
39
Thanks for sharing this article, Jen. I think it is extremely informative and eye-opening to many. I am a local artist, mostly a sculptor, who has been making work in a variety of materials and scales for almost 20 years now. I have extensive training in studio art in academic and non-academic settings. Though I have had some successes-such as limited grants and a couple public art commissions, I have always struggled to make a consistent income via art. I have avoided the gallery scene mostly because not all gallerists are created equal yet they all want %50 of my work. I hope to find the right commercial gallery one day, but until then, I will try to sell direct when possible. So far, though I am a metal sculptor, I have had the most luck selling paintings via commission. ( I have painted for many years and I used to paint murals and sets everyday for almost 8 years. So I didn't just pick up a brush and call myself a painter. Still, it is not what I'm most passionate about.) Just a few weeks ago I decided to try an Etsy experiment. I am selling small abstract paintings on wood panels from $50-$150 and other small, 2D works in copper. This is as affordable as it comes, in my opinion. It may be too cheap for me to sustain, but for now, if you love art, and want to see some of what't out there, please visit my Etsy shop, "The SeenShop" and Like me on my Facebook business page if you like what you see. Thanks! Best of luck to all artists and gallerists out there who are working hard everyday to share quality art with the world. Cheers and Happy Holidays! Nicki

http://www.facebook.com/TheSeenshop
http://www.etsy.com/shop/seenshop
Or, if you prefer sculpture, please visit my webpage, http://www.nickisucec.com/

THANKS!!
Posted by Nicki S http://www.nickisucec.com/ on December 13, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
40
As a Seattle artist, Thank you.
www.kerrysmith-art.com
Posted by kerrysmith-art on December 14, 2012 at 5:58 AM · Report this
PENNER 41
Thanks Jen, Interesting article and feedback. I love art. I collect art. I got rid of my television because I needed space for art. I can look at my art like I use to watch television. It brings much more joy and stimulation. Yes, there are galleries in this world ( Berlin, New York City- and other cities to which I haven't been) where you don't even get a warm greeting. And for those galleries you have to either give them a second chance or write them off. No I'm not wealthy, but I love art, I love to speak with artists whose work I enjoy and I like to learn about art. I like to see the progression of an artist and their work over time. And yes galleries will work with you on payment terms- ask, it is a yes or no question but it has to be posed. And about prices; I don't look at prices until I think I'm interested in buying. Then it is a question of do I think it is worth the price, can I make payments, should I buy it? All pieces in my collection are under 5 $figures$. I have a short list of pieces above 5 figures which I would like to own, but don't because I lack the funds or haven't talked terms with the gallery. Sometimes I wait and think about an art piece too long and another art lover buys it. Then the decision has been made and I look forward to other pieces which I may fall in love with. Seattle has affordable art and great galleries. My favs are G.Gibson, Greg Kucera and Davidson. -MWD, art custodian
Posted by PENNER on December 14, 2012 at 7:10 PM · Report this
42
@Aaron Rutten, I'm sorry if I'm coming off rude, but as an artist who is frustrated with living and trying to sell in Seattle, I have to admit that I don't think you are an artist, your an illustrator and there's a big difference! I looked at your work, and frankly, the kind of work you do is the kind of work that REAL artists would consider the work of a sellout! Any decent artist can do what you do and sell it! Try making real art and then sell it, then you'll earn the respect of other artists! If I had to make the kind of art that you do in order to sell, I would quit making art! Again, I'm not trying to be rude, I'm just responding honestly to your comments about selling or not selling art in Seattle!
Posted by Lamont on December 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM · Report this
43
Dear Jen, I'm a visual artist who has chosen to live within her means and work in a Pioneer Square studio that I can afford. Not too large, no windows yet, but I am visited by 200+ viewers each month.

When I am fortunate enough to have good sales, I buy art and choose to re-invest it in others. They are my community and the fabric of Pioneer Square.

Please, even if you are unable to purchase a piece of work, inquire about why we painted what we did, how we choose supplies, our story. Listen to what inspires us. Ask the Gallery owners and engage them. We want you to know about our work.

For those of you who have chosen to support me for the past 6 years, I thank you. Your investment is paying off as a journal is featuring me in 2013. Barb/MMNstudios
Posted by BarbMMNStudios http://www.MorninNoonanNight.com on December 19, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
44
The STRANGER could host and heavily promote twice a year studio shows if in fact buying art and supporting artists is the goal.
Posted by chapala21 on December 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM · Report this
45
Thanks Jen for a really sweet article here.
Posted by sunrised on January 4, 2013 at 6:13 AM · Report this
46
Nice article, Jen. As an artist, seeing prices helps me gauge how much to charge for my work. As well, the mindset of the current generation seems removed from past conventions regarding art's value. The playing field of aesthetic knowledge, experience and taste is more level and the average person can find emotional attachment in many works at almost any price point.
Posted by Dominic Gomez on January 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Report this
47
Hi Jen-
I enjoyed this article and agree with just about every word you say. My family opened a small neighborhood gallery "Alki Arts" on Alki Beach 2 1/2 years ago- we represent local artists and one out of towner with locally themed art. We have been pretty successful opening while other places were closing by selling affordable, accessible art that people seem to love. We welcome artists, families, and 'well behaved' pets...basically no one is made to feel foolish or unwelcome in our space.
We now have spread out to a temporary 'pop up' space at the foot of the Harbor Steps on Western. We sell a good amount of art because we post the prices, we make people feel welcomed, the art is talented, and people can afford it... We invite you to stop by.
Our philosophy is that art is for everyone and everyone that walks in matters. (I had previously worked in other galleries and know how cold they can be.) Thanks for spreading the love-Diane V
Posted by Diane V http://www.alkiarts.com on January 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM · Report this
48
I like your general idea of buying what you like and what you can afford. When in the military and moving frequently, my wife and I decided to create a tradition of buying a painting by a local artist at every place we lived. We now, after many years, have a collection that we love and that fills our home. None were what one would call overly expensive, except for the Dali lithograph, but some have appreciated over time. Even so there are no thoughts of selling. They have become family,

Retired Colonel and father of Seattle area artist.
Posted by Retbird on March 16, 2013 at 9:46 AM · Report this
49
It's unfortunate that some people think that digital art is not "real art." Lamont, I'm sorry that you aren't enjoying the level of success you'd like in Seattle, but nowadays you have to work hard to get what you want.

Insulting me and my artwork just makes you look ignorant. If you don't think I am a real artist, that's fine with me. I'm sorry if my statement offended you or anyone else, but I make a good point. -- You can't just make art and expect it to sell its self. You have to be open to trying new things if you want to get ahead.

If you think you're better than everyone else because you use oil paints or whatever materials, it's that lame-ass pretentious attitude that turns people off to buying art. Take that stick (or paintbrush) out of your ass and maybe people will be more comfortable buying your work.

- Aaron Rutten www.youtube.com/anatomyofrockthe
Posted by AaronRuttenArtist on April 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM · Report this
50
yep seattle is terrible on buying art...when i moved here from AUSTIN,TX i heard all the hype over the years about how innovative and top shelf seattle was and how well rounded. i havent seen the well rounded part yet.i and my other half are artists too. we get lots of window shoppers but very few buyers...but saying"thats a nice painting" to us doesnt pay the bills or put money in our pockets. i deeply respect all good artists..who work hard at their craft and the only huuuuuge complaint i have about seattle is the art buying sucks ass...i totallly agree that people need to start checking out allllll the artists...and not just the ones in the galleries...but also the ones outside the galleries...theres lots of interesting stuff around...we artists dont care about whether we make a big sale..even though it would be nice...but just a sale...any sale is good...if anybody wants to check out our stuff...find us at www.fremontheightsart.com take care artists and keep at it....
Posted by pollock5150 on December 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
51
@ArronRutten, more than a year has past and this is the first time I'm reading this article once again. I said some harsh things about your art at that time and I feel terrible about that! I should not have said those things! That was totally uncalled for by me! And for that, if it's not too late, I apologize! Hopefully you'll see this!
Posted by makeart on April 12, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Most Commented in Visual Art