*I have not added a picture to this post on purpose! Read on….
It has been some time since the discussion began about how the internet will change the viewing and purchase of art. Works of art from all over the world are now available to view on the web and this is wonderful for so many who might not otherwise be able to see them. However, some things don’t translate online. As an artist and collector, it is no substitute for seeing art in the flesh. For a generation born and bred online, knowing the difference isn’t a given anymore.
I’ve heard many say that art galleries will become obsolete and I believe that would be a serious mistake. Because of this easy availability of art online, a good experience in an art gallery now demands more than just hanging paintings on a wall.
My husband and I were in Northern New Mexico last week, escaping the Oklahoma summer heat. The elevation of Taos seems to keep it pleasant in spite of being on the edge of the desert. Kit Carson Road is ‘gallery row’ in Taos. We walked into pretty much every gallery and saw some wonderful work. Several were storefronts for a single artist, some were representing several artists. One experience, however, stood out.
The Parsons “Gallery of the West” has a side door entrance and opens up into a foyer. We were greeted and after wandering through all the rooms and admiring a particular artist, Don Ward, we paused in the foyer in front of this artist’s largest piece. It was a gorgeous sunset on the desert with a rich sky and a pleasing pattern of sage bushes in the foreground. And well out of our price range. We began to step back to leave.
“You should see how it changes in the light,” came a voice from behind us.
A lady named Jennifer stepped out of the office and started to play with the lighting on the painting. In full light, the sky colours were strong seeming to be the source of the light on the sage in the foreground. As the lights were turned down, the glow in the sky faded and the sage began to move forward. The rose gold tips of the plants dominated the painting. Suddenly, it was as if we had watched the sunset turn to twilight! How was this possible? It was like the painting transformed into a window on a world just on the edge of our own.
Our jaws dropped and delusions of selling a vital organ to get this painting flashed through our minds. If there was any way we could have walked out with that painting that day, we’d have done it.
When I got home, I spent some time online looking at pantings by this artist and THE painting on the gallery’s website. While the images are still beautiful, nothing could replace the experience of seeing it and watching how a change in light added to its dimension. And how the painting would have added dimension to OUR house. Even contemplating a painting in that price range was formerly out of the question. It was being there and the the insight Jennifer brought to the experience that elevated our interest in the painting and the artist. I will be a regular visitor and, perhaps one day, a collector of this artist’s work.
A good gallery is passionate about the work they bring in and share that passion. That is good for the artists and the collectors. It creates relationships. Not every visit may translate into a sale, but the loyalty on all sides a good relationship can breed will translate into value for everyone involved. That won’t ever become obsolete.
I encourage you to visit the Parsons Gallery of the West ***at 122 D Kit Carson Road, Taos New Mexico.
The Auburn Gallery of Fine Art at 190 Royal Street, Gravenhurst, Ontario is another gallery worth visiting if you’re up in the Muskoka region in Canada. Terry McLaughlin values the relationships she has with her artists and her collectors. I can speak on behalf of both in this case! She carries unique emerging and established Canadian artists and is one of the very best in the region – and that’s not just my opinion. Yes, this is a shameless plug for my friend and gallery!
** The painting was “Sunset over the Sage” by Don Ward and can be viewed on the Parsons Gallery website, but I recommend going to the Gallery if you can.
****link updated 09/10/14