I write the TokyoBunnie blog because I am passionate about promoting artists and designers that I like. I love art, and I find inspiration in it every day, I’m grateful to be able to share my inspirations with others in this way. I’ve attended several art opening receptions in the last few months, and frankly, I’ve had a couple disappointing experiences that I’d like to talk openly about here.
Los Angeles is a thriving hub of culture, and I am fortunate to live in a city where artists I love are always exhibiting. There are a number of great galleries in Los Angeles. To me, the best galleries balance the delicate task of showcasing art and doing business. Galleries that succeed promote well organized shows, where it's easy for people to attend, and - if they desire - purchase work. Too far in either direction, and a show can flop; bad news for the gallery, and the exhibiting artist.
I generally avoid going to show openings, but I went to Poketo’s Bang! Bang! Draw! event last Friday. Heisuke Kitazawa (PCP) is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve always been a fan of Her Space Holiday. At that show, I wanted to buy a $20 poster that Poketo was selling on behalf of PCP. Unfortunately, they were only accepting cash (which didn’t seem to be posted anywhere). If I wanted to buy Poketo merchandise, they would accept my debit/credit, just not for anything from the PCP show (the show they were promoting!). This was so frustrating! There was no way to get cash, so I was told to order directly from PCP in Japan. If you are exhibiting an artist, then you should make it as simple as possible for people to purchase things. This helps your business, and it benefits the artist. It's a win-win situation! Times are tough, especially for artists; the inability to ring up a small transaction is just bad news.
On the other end of the spectrum was Audrey Kawasaki’s The Drawing Room at Thinkspace last November. Thinkspace was selling a limited number of prints for the show. If you wanted to buy a print, you were told to get in line and fill out your sales receipt- BEFORE having an opportunity to see the prints for sale! When I finally got to the front of the line, I was rudely handed my print and told to exit the gallery. I didn’t even have a chance to see the show! I felt like I was at a used car auction. Now - don't get me wrong - I love Audrey's work and I think her success is extremely well deserved. I know people buy prints to re-sell for profit on the internet, but that isn’t the intent of all people who buy art. I have a lot of art, and I’ve never purchased a piece hoping to make a profit. It’s unlikely that I’ll attend an opening at Thinkspace again, but if I do, I’ll wait until after the opening, so I can actually see the work without being treated poorly. Of course, I won't get to buy prints at their openings, so they’ll miss the opportunity to sell to someone who is a true appreciator. Let the eBay-ers take my print.
I'm not a negative person, the intent of my blog isn’t to tear anyone down. I just feel like it's time for galleries to take a step back, put themselves in the shoes of the people attending their shows, and make sure they are putting in their best effort to give attendees a pleasurable experience. If you do a poor job then it is a bad reflection on the exhibiting artist, who usually has nothing to do with this anyway.
I want people who attend shows, and purchase work to be appreciated, not treated like they are the recipients of a huge favor from the gallery. Owning art is a luxury, and sometimes it's hard to justify when you aren't treated well at a show.