in defense of the art dealer

alight and aloft
Alight and Aloft – 24×12 ○

Artists talk about art dealers. Neighbouring business owners talk about art dealers. Lessors and landlords talk about art dealers. Even other art dealers talk about art dealers. And not all of it is good! 🙂

It’s a simple task for all of the above to enter an art gallery and look at the price tags. The artists grumble because bricks-and-mortar gallerists take a whopping 50% commission so must be making a killing. The neighbouring business owners compare the price tags on original art to their own product and figure the dealer is making a killing. Lessors and landlords see a large original painting going for several thousand and figure the dealer is making a killing. Other art dealers see the competition cornering a part of the market they’d like and figure the dealer is making a killing.

Granted, some do make a killing. But for every successful gallerist there are dozens who fail. It’s a tough, volatile business and the overhead is considerable. I hate to see the good ones falter. I am fortunate that the two who currently represent me have become friends and they are able to roll with the market. Denise Bezanson had the vision to see what direction the market was going many years ago and functions very successfully as an independent art consultant whose physical presence amounts to several weeks a year mounting displays in the lobbies of downtown Vancouver office buildings. She clocks endless kilometres on her van, working directly with clients in their homes and using her online gallery as just a starting point. But even taking a different approach is taxing, and recently she had to take time off due to exhaustion.

I did an overnighter last week to visit my Whistler art dealer, Penny Eder, who has also become a good friend. She has continued to carry and even sell my work during this lengthy fallow period when I have needed to concentrate on healing and attempting to rebuild my life. She understands the value of the relationship, each part of it. Recently she lost the lease on her gallery space at Nita Lake Lodge, and is still looking for somewhere new to set up. She’s faced endless challenges building her business into ‘Whistler’s Best Gallery’ but she hasn’t lost her positive attitude. I am pulling for her because she’s one of the good ones in a business where the peanut gallery usually wears down all but the toughest and most unethical.

Check out White Dog Studio Gallery’s upcoming lease termination sale and hug your art dealer today!

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