Saturday, 27 April 2013

Galleries, Grumbles and more Grumbles...

"Bridlington Priory from Kirkgate"
iPad Painting by
Glenn Marshall

I had occasion to visit two art galleries last week. The first was a well known 'contemporary' gallery and the second was a 'community' gallery. At opposite ends of the art market it is good that they are both surviving and prospering (I hope!). Although not a big fan of 'contemporary' or 'modern' art I appreciate that many people are attracted to it and by it, and buy it! I admit to being hopelessly old fashioned and like my paintings to look like real places or things. I am a great admirer of painters who have studied the craft of painting and apply it carefully rather than just 'expressing' themselves with daubs and splodges ..hey this is my blog, so just my opinion - no offence meant to anyone! This being so I should have had a better time in the community gallery, but it didn't work out like that. Why? Generally community galleries charge no commission and are open to any artist who can afford a small monthly rent for wall space. This is fine in theory but does not work out so good in practice because having a 'few bob' is not a guarantee of talent. And if you've paid for a space you are going to make sure you fill it up to get your money's worth! So the gallery ends up cram packed with mediocre paintings that completely overpower and seriously undercut the few talented artists on show.
But let me stress - I am not against the gallery system. I used galleries to full advantage for many years. In fact I used to have my own gallery - 'The Glenn Marshall Gallery' in Old Town, Bridlington.
"Glenn Marshall Gallery"
from an original watercolour by
Glenn Marshall
So why don't I have the Glenn Marshall Gallery now? What do you think? Bad location, because Old Town back then was rapidly gaining the reputation as THE art centre of the East Riding of Yorkshire and featured no less than eleven galleries in High Street! OK...maybe it was because the artwork wasn't up to much. Wrong again...of course I have to say that as only Merice's and my work were on display. Joking aside, we were doing  well with sales -so that wasn't the reason. What about the credit crunch? There is no doubt that this certainly impacted on everybody in the art sector but with judicious pricing and increased marketing we were riding the storm so that was not the reason I closed the gallery either. The real reason was...wait for it....the smoking ban. That's right - the smoking ban.
As well as eleven galleries, High Street had seven pubs, so when the ban was imposed, this forced seven groups of people out on to the streets to have a fag. They didn't mean any  harm to anyone. However congregated outside pubs with a drink in one hand and a fag in the other, and shouting across to groups outside other pubs on the opposite side of the street, they unfortunately presented an intimidating barrier to passers by. By the very nature of things the weekends were the busiest times for both sets of businesses and within a very short space of time the number of potential customers dropped dramatically.....time to close the gallery I'm afraid. I wasn't alone either - there are only two galleries left in Old Town now.
So let's finish with a big thank you to all gallery owners and long may you keep providing opportunities for artists to show their work.