Where Art Lives
Let’s talk shop. Art shops, art galleries, art museums… what options are there for the art lover —the artist? To the casual art admirer and the aspiring artist, the art world may seem like a mystery. Have you ever wondered about the different types of museums and galleries? How an artist gets a show in a museum or gallery? What other avenues there are to sell art? Here’s a quick guide:
Museum: The Mecca of the art world. As a rule, the artwork in a museum is not for sale. Traditionally, museums collect art, either through donation or purchase, which represent major artists and art periods throughout history. Yet, as the art world has changed over the last 50 years, museums have begun to collect lesser-known contemporary artworks and frequently show traveling exhibitions. Museums are often funded by a combination of local government, foundations, and through private donations. Because they do not sell art, museums raise funds through general admission, event ticket sales, membership, educational programs, and donations.
Fine Art Dealers/ Galleries: These galleries sell art purchased from artists, collectors, or at auction. This is called “Secondary Art” or art that has already been sold at least once. Fine Art Galleries often specialize in a certain style or period in art and have a qualified appraiser or restorer on staff. In general, their exhibitions do not change regularly or drastically except for sales or to rotate stock. Curators of Fine Art Galleries purchase art based on projection of an artwork’s perceived cultural value, past monetary value and the predicted future value. Their customers often include private collectors, museums, estates, and corporate interests. These galleries generate funds through the sale of art, restoration and appraisal services.
Contemporary Galleries: Feature temporary, rotating exhibitions from a collection of artists represented by the gallery. Galleries also frequently host visiting artists for group shows. Contemporary galleries primarily focus on new, experimental or “avant garde” art including installation and new media art. Because these works are sometimes difficult to sell (you know, they may not fit over your sofa…), some might say that these types of galleries are less focused on sales, but more on presenting new ideas.
Contemporary Fine Art Gallery: Blends traditional subject matter with contemporary style. Rather than reselling the art, the gallery receives the art on consignment directly from the artist. This is called a “Primary Art Market.” When a work sells, both the gallery and artist are paid. Artists do not pay upfront to show their work. These galleries carefully select art and artists that represent their gallery and will enhance the gallery’s reputation. Gallery owners must be in tune with trendsetters and have a keen sense of what potential clients want. Gallery owners promote and market their artists and cultivate collectors through relationship. Curators often create themed group shows, and frequently give solo shows to top artists. Some Contemporary Fine Art galleries are very specific in style and subject, whereas others are eclectic.
Non-profit Galleries: Are non-profit organizations whose purpose is usually to promote the arts in community. Many non-profit galleries display avant-garde artworks or art with provocative social themes and help promote up and coming artists. Selling artwork is not the primary mode of funding, but funds are generated through grants and other sources. Like museums, non-profit galleries might charge admission, provide education classes, and create other ways of earning revenue.
Example: MINT Gallery
Artist Run Initiatives and Co-Ops: Are galleries run by groups of artists. Artists work together to display their work, promote the gallery, and sometimes offer community classes and workshops. An artist membership fee usually covers the costs of rent, utilities, promotion, and other day-to-day operation expenses. Artists are usually required to work a certain amount of hours per month and often must pay a small commission to the gallery when work is sold.
Example: Red Door Gallery & Studio
Studio Galleries: A gallery attached to an artist’s studio space, which continually exhibits the work of a single resident artist. The artist is solely responsible for costs and promotion.
Vanity Galleries: Similar to an artist co-op. The primary difference is that artists pay an upfront monthly fee to exhibit work in a dedicated room, space, or wall. The gallery takes a smaller percentage on sales than a commercial gallery. In general, vanity galleries generate most of their money from artist fees. These galleries usually handle all promotion and exhibition management. Newer artists looking to gain some exposure, experience, and potential sales benefit most from these galleries.
Example: Marietta Square Artists Attic