Death of brick-and-mortar galleries?

This article from Artspace about the state of brick-and-mortar galleries is really interesting. In the last couple years or so I have been constantly thinking about how quick and drastic the brick-and-mortar gallery model has changed. I sort of chalked it up to progress or changing times. Now I realize these changes are not always so positive. Embracing change is good but the old model has to be replaced with something that doesn’t lower the bar for advancement in art. Adapt or die seems to be the course of action. I just hope people are not adapting to a new low standard.
The modern art world has divided itself into so many genres, I’m not even sure what part of the art world I belong to anymore. Low brow, pop surreal, new contemporary etc….. A rose by any other name is still the final nail in the coffin. The art world that I see around me seems to be filled with artists and curators who cut off their noses to spite their face. If this Artspace article is correct, and it’s true that stand alone galleries are on the decline, then we need to examine the possible causes. Curators who constantly dumb down their curation for social media popularity or to turn a quick buck could be to blame. Artists who beat a dead horse because they lucked into some popular aesthetic or who make cheap tchotchke under the excuse that it makes art more “affordable and accessible for the masses or beginning collectors” should also take some responsibility. This always smacks of underestimating the art viewers ability to comprehend growth and change in in the art world. It also underestimates the new collector’s ability to invest in original art as opposed to just buying an inexpensive image. Lack of criticism in the age of “everyone wins a trophy” could also be a major player. How can artists and curators improve without criticism? These things devalue the art and the gallery experience. Add in the dependence on social media, and the equation breeds mediocrity. These fast moving changes push galleries and artists into unfortunate choices. I always felt like the responsibility of curators was to foster and discover new artists and to push established artists to experiment and challenge themselves. The contemporary internet “likes” model fosters pop culture themed group shows that pander to the masses. Many galleries are all feeding from the same pool of artists and recycling them from show to show and state to state. It must work since everyone is doing it, right? Possibly, but it’s a short game mentality. Social media is not the end of the brick-and-mortar galleries but it makes maintaining integrity much more difficult and much more important. Galleries will survive but they may not be a standard brick-and-mortar space on the same corner every month. Some galleries will thrive simply due to lack of competition. Some will move to more cost saving spaces. I feel that art and creativity is a long game. Reinvention is a must. I fall firmly into the category of constantly evolving and exploring different environments to learn, display and market art.

Stomping Ground with Eric Wert

Show is currently hanging at Gigantic Brewing through October



Opening reception photos

Eric Wert

Observation was crucial to the Dutch masters of the 17th century.  A fact that Eric Wert and the classic painters have in common.  With their internal glow and intricately painted tapestry backgrounds, Eric’s paintings raise the still life to new levels.  He has a knack for painting the real and making it surreal.

Eric was born and raised in the Willamette Valley, and lived in Chicago for several years. He returned home to live and work in Portland 9 years ago.  During his career, he has been very fortunate to have artwork included in over 100 exhibitions and art fairs across the U.S. and in Europe.  This exhibit with Hellion will be his 13th solo exhibition, and his first in the Pacific Northwest.

The subjects of the paintings in Stomping Ground are all local.  Some are unique species native to the region, such as the Northern Red Legged Frog; others, like the Bull Thistle, are invasives with which we are all familiar. These paintings are inspired both by observations of the distinctive flora and fauna of the Northwest, as well as by study of 17th century Dutch Golden age painters, such as  Otto Marseus Von Schrieck (1613- 1678), who cast an enlightenment age eye toward the beauty, strangeness and complexity of the often overlooked natural world.