Why is it so tough to walk into a snooty gallery?

Sometimes, when I walk down the street in an Arts District, I see gallery after gallery of emptiness save the art on the walls. Why is no one there? Maybe you should walk in. Oh, I know you feel uncomfortable, but let me assure you. Unless you’re dressed to the nines, the clerk behind the counter will probably ignore you anyway!

I strolled alone into a contemporary gallery in New Orleans recently because Zab had been detained by a friend on the sidewalk outside. I wore normal day-in-the-city clothes, so of course the lady in attendance barely nodded a hello. It was freeing in that I could peruse the art without being bothered by “May I help you?”

After a few minutes, Zab arrived in his crisp white starched shirt and classic typical-Zab khakis. The clerk jumped up and made a bee line to assist this obviously wealthy art patron. That’s easy to do with Zab. Not only is he cute, but he silently commands a “presence’ when he enters a room.

The clerk seemed a bit despondent after Zab approached plain-ol’-me, but she did not give up despite his questionable taste in wives. She handed Zab a price list and followed us as we moved from piece to piece. She goo-gooed over the artist’s increasing monetary value on the art scene and asked Zab which artists he collected.

He smiled slyly at me and said, “Oh I have a few Zabbias and a David Borgerding.” The clerk, of course, did not recognize the Zabbia artist but perked up at the name of Borgerding. We were escorted to the private showing room in the back where we saw David’s latest sculpture from his machine shop. It was indeed impressive and yes, overpriced. Zab is especially good at this sort of masquerade, so he turned to me with, “What do you think? Over the mantel in the den?”

Playing along, I said “I don’t know…that one is so…last year!”

He agreed and the clerk did too! Of course! Zab then completes the amusing show by refusing to leave his card but mentions that “his people” will call “her people” if he were interested.

Zab and his one “people” (me), left the gallery with a small but satisfied feeling of smugness. No words were necessary.

Don't worry, art will sell again!

Denver...an arts meca, an artist's paradise, kindred spirits that share my love of arting-around.  Was so surprised to meet Macy Dorf there, a nationally known potter, whose techniques are highlighted in Pottery Making Illustrated. He owns "Artists on Santa Fe", a business fronted by a coop gallery and supported by thirty artist studios in the back.

Macy gave us a tour of his own studio and showed me his improvised extruder for his sculptural pieces as well as his slip trough. We discussed the sad plight of artists trying to sell during an insufferable recession or during tax time, and both agreed that those are the ideal times for all artists to build up their inventory.

Leaving with promises of future encounters via an exchange of contact info, I knew I would see him again somehow. The other galleries down the street paled by comparison to my Macy experience, and I wondered if their owners admired or resented Macy's competition.  How could the "Artists on Santa Fe" be anything but an aid to their existence? Everyone by now knows that McDonald's builds by Burger King, by Wendy's, and by Arby's for a reason: the consumer gravitates to a retail area in which she has a choice.  Do I want an abstract acrylic on canvas with my Big Mac or a figurative metal sculpture with my sodium-glazed fries?

The concept of Freedom of Choice can sometimes be overwhelming and, I might add, fear-inducing. If we are overloaded with possibilities, our senses backfire on us as we scream "Give me a break here!"  Sometimes, it's just easier to let someone tell us what to do, or better yet, to crawl into the security of a hole, a sanctuary, free of that pesky decision-making. When we do just that, we have succumbed to fear's BFF, paralysis.

We are instantly paralyzed when we amplify our fears. Think how smoothly our paranoia blocks our quest for creative problem solving. Phobias breed freely when we feed them with our worries causing them to multiply gladly as we sacrifice our lives to make room for their offspring. I often think of those who are so afraid of changing their comfort zone that they even avoid leaving home except for a quick commute to the job and back.

Yes, a recession makes it difficult for artists to sell work, but so does tax time. Now read that sentence again. Notice that I did not say your work is to blame nor is your timing to blame nor is your pricing to blame. This is not the time to be paralyzed by self-doubt. Just get some work done. Build up your inventory. Join your fellow artists in a nurturing support system. Brainstorm for new ideas. Break traditional ground. Most of all, be ready, for art will sell again.