Are Galleries Still Relevant?

Almost a year ago I began to tell our clients/artists/suppliers and friends that I was moving our well established Sherway Gardens gallery location to a new 7200 SQ ft space, which was going to become a true art hub – embracing all forms of art and experiences. We had tremendous support, however I will admit there were a few that were unsure about our move and wondered if galleries are still relevant? Or was the internet taking over the traditional gallery role?

With more pop up galleries appearing online and the recent economic downturn, many galleries have gone by the wayside. Many consumers believe that they are getting a better deal via the internet – others purchase online because it is more convenient. The internet does validate the work of artists by allowing them to increase public awareness of their work. It also allows a consumer to determine style, which in turn is beneficial when beginning to collect work and it can also provide important details such as price, medium and artist biographical information.

However – most artists and dealers agree that there is nothing more important than experiencing art in person in order to really get a sense of the piece.

There is definitely a different experience meeting someone in person, rather than just looking at their photography on a website. The dating websites are the perfect example; how many think they have found their soul mate only to discover they look nothing like their picture when they finally meet for a date. The same holds true for viewing and experiencing a work of art in a gallery.

Can you really connect with a painting you view online? We often think we can see the art when viewing it online but there is a barrier obscuring your vision – and distance from the actual piece can distort your perception, while not being able to see how a work of art hangs or is displayed next to or near other works of art is an issue as well.

The gallery setting allows showings to be curated or purposefully selected for viewing. Galleries provide a forum to showcase work through solo or group exhibitions and allow the public to experience art first hand. The public is also able to learn more through experienced art consultants about the particular style of work, the execution of the work and about the artist.

Galleries are also a place to build a community – a real, true social network and that is important. Warm body introductions are important. Social networks on the internet are okay to rack up followers or friends but as Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn states, “There is a big difference between being the most connected person and being the “best connected person”. Art exhibitions and openings are a great way to meet new people and exchange ideas. The art community is a wonderful community and one of the things I personally love most about being a “Gallerina” (female gallery owner).

So support your local art galleries and experience what can happen. You may be surprised at what you see, whom you meet and what you will learn.

Donna Child