Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gallery Hopping in Scottsdale

As an artist I find it inspirational and instructive to visit galleries in communities outside my local area.  So when my husband agreed to work a trade show in Wickenburg, Arizona I hitched a ride so I could explore some Arizona Galleries.  I had one day to explore the galleries in Scottsdale and on my second day I visited the Celebration of Fine Art Festival in Scottsdale. 

So for my artist friends in California and else where that follow this blog and gallery friends Elliott, Cynthia and Michelle, here are my observations of the Scottsdale art gallery scene:

Not one artist painting watercolors on Aquabord....yes!  no direct competition for my latest work.

A lot of oil landscapes that look pretty much all the same, especially when it comes to paintings of the Southwest.   Quality and prices vary but oil landscapes are clearly the most popular here.

This is the Southwest so there have always been an abundance of galleries showing Indian, Western and Cowboy art and artifacts here, and that has not changed.

Not much in the way of abstracts, just a couple of galleries that really specialize in them and one of those galleries was big on acrylics on metal.

I saw a few Photo Realists of very high quality like Jane Jone's still life paintings at the Bonnor David Gallery.

I found one oil painter creating large florals also at Bonnor David but her compositions are different than mine so that's good.

The last time I was here, 2007 I think, I thought the prices in general were higher than in Sacramento.  This time I don't get that feeling, prices vary by artist and size of course, but don't seem to be all that different than prices in Sacramento.

Most galleries were friendly and welcoming.  But one was completely empty: door open, lights on, music playing, no one working there.  I was there too long for them to be taking a bathroom break, weird, good thing I am not a thief!

I enjoyed seeing so much art in one neighborhood but I did not see anything that inspired me to do anything different than I am currently doing in my own work.

As for trying to gage how the art galleries were effected by the economy, I observed the following:

I was there on a beautiful Thursday afternoon and there were plenty of well dressed pairs and groups of ladies and couples strolling in and out of the galleries and eating at the sidewalk cafes. 

I saw an oil landscape sell in one gallery, a bronze sculpture being sold in another and in a gallery showing very commercial "contemporary" art I saw a man hand over a credit card for a big abstract horse painting, that was not very well done. 

I had to look for a street parking place cruising around blocks a few times.   I did not use the parking garage so do not know how full it was. 

I saw some "For Lease" signs on empty buildings, I counted 5 on retail spaces that had obviously housed galleries.

A couple of big well known galleries I visited in the past, the Marshall Gallery and the LeKAE Gallery have combined in one space as the Marshall-LeKAE Gallery.

One of the few galleries specializing in abstract work, the Charoscuro Gallery is  now the Gebert Contemporary Gallery.

I did not see "Sale" signs nor witness any big discounts being offered.  No one tried to hard sell anything to me even when I showed interest in a particular painting, no discount was offered (as happened in Santa Fe last February).  In short I did not get the feeling that the gallery owners were desperate to make sales; perhaps the worst is over economy wise here.


Ken Newman Sculpting on the Road said...

So what did you think of the Celebration of Fine Art?

Sandy Delehanty said...

Good question Ken,

Celebration of Fine Art is well organised, nicely presented, and marketed in the national collector's magazines. The artists there seemed to be selling, seemed to be enjoying themselves and had obviously formed freindships with their fellow exhibiting artists.

For most artists however, it would not be feasable as you litterally have to live there for 10 to 12 weeks. My friend Jennifer has a three month lease on an apartment and says she is at the festival painting, and hopefully selling until midnight everyday. Her husband stays home in Oregon to take care of the kids. I think for that reason most of the artists showing seemed to be local or snowbirds living there for the winter.

I saw lots of art that was quite good and lots that I thought was just average, nothing really bad.

If you are in the area it is definately worth of visit, and if you can commit the time, might be worth pursueing. Hope this answers Ken's questions and helps others too. Sandy