Two new websites are promising to lend a great deal more transparency to the almost 19th-century economy of art sales. These sites are devoted to direct sales, not auctions, so prices are listed and you can buy work without having to bid up the price. Onview.com launched last week, with so many Java-script errors that I gave up on checking it out, but not before noting the high caliber of the participating galleries. Another site, eartgroup.com, has a similarly impressive stable. As with books, competition between websites devoted to selling art should help keep prices down. It's important to remember, though, that high-end art is not a pure commodity business-there's little substitute for the guidance an art professional can give if you're worried about whether your purchase will retain or increase its value over time. Also, spending thousands of dollars on something you can't examine personally is a nervy venture. But just being able to quickly locate galleries that carry particular artists, and to find out prices-sometimes a guarded secret-without having to establish your bona fides with a particular gallery, puts a great deal of power in art buyers' hands.
Local galleries are almost completely unrepresented on these international websites, which is surprising given the tech orientation of the local economy. Greg Kucera Gallery-which already posts its entire inventory of prints, with prices, on its own website, gregkucera.com-is the only local gallery listed on onview.com, and eartgroup.com has yet to sign a single gallery in this state.
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The creators and performers of Teatro ZinZanni are in the midst of preparations for a run in San Francisco, opening in the middle of March. When that best possible form of dinner theater opened on Mercer Street, it looked like an expensive experiment by One Reel productions, one whose high front-end costs would make profitability a difficult goal. Instead, the run here was extended and extended, adding up to 14 months of shows (and steady employment for its troupe of local actors and European circus performers), as residents, tourists, and conventioneers continued to be attracted to the $80-a-head cabaret. Congratulations, and best wishes for the San Francisco run, to the producers.
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By the time the Seattle City Council finally passes an ordinance expanding arts funding on city construction projects, little may be left of the expanded funding. Multiple possible amendments are floating around the ordinance, which was drafted to commit two percent of construction costs on city projects to public art. The huge budget of the civic center is already exempted from the two percent requirement, and amendments may be proposed to reduce the number to 1.5 percent, and to exempt any project that has already been budgeted. The effect would be to put off any expanded funding half a decade or more into the future, at which point the city's biggest building spree since the '60s will have mostly ended.
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After a national search, A Contemporary Theatre found its new managing director within its own staff. Jim Loder, who has served as general manager under outgoing managing director Susan Baird Trapnell since July 1999, will move up to take over her position. Loder's background includes five years as general manager of Intiman Theatre, and five years as company manager of the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Trapnell, who announced her resignation from ACT in August, was recently appointed to the vacant post of Executive Director of the Seattle Arts Commission.
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