By Norman Kolpas
Gallery owners across the nation share their insights on the coming year’s art scene
Mark Tarrant at Mountain Trails Gallery
MOUNTAIN TRAILS GALLERY JACKSON, WY
What’s happening in 2008 at Mountain Trails?
We’re going to work with fewer artists so that we can put more attention and energy into each one. Summer is our top season, and we’ll feature New West artists Duke Beardsley and Gordon McConnell, who portray traditional subject matter in engaging, contemporary styles, plus Amy Ringholz, a sensational local artist who depicts animals in a style somewhere between Van Gogh and that of contemporary western artist Carrie Fell. Speaking of whom, probably in August we’ll have our first Carrie Fell show in three years.
What big plans do your artists have for the year?
Painter and installation artist Thom Ross, who does contemporary works based on western historical themes, is planning a major summer outdoor installation in San Francisco: 120 life-size figures painted on cardboard, re-enacting the appearance of Buffalo Bill and his Indian show on Ocean Beach in 1902. We’ll have a show in conjunction with that, probably in July.
What trends do you see in your market?
I don’t really look for trends. The best art always sells. That said, [Jackson] always has been and always will be a traditional western market. But in the last five years, we’ve seen nonrepresentational urban contemporary art being established here, like you would see in San Francisco or New York. We’re also doing well with contemporary western art, like the more expressionist works of John Nieto, Tom Gilleon, or Rocky Hawkins.
What impact is the Internet having on your business?
We put a lot of time and energy into our website, and it’s a very important marketing tool. Maybe 10 or 15 percent of our business is direct contacts from the Internet.
Do you see any effect on your business from the economy?
I don’t worry about the economy. We’re up year-to-date from last year, and last year was a big year. We just keep putting up good art and it seems to take care of itself.
Kim Roseman at Karin Newby Gallery
KARIN NEWBY GALLERY, TUBAC, AZ
What’s happening at Karin Newby Gallery in 2008?
It’s our 20th anniversary, a year of really spectacular shows and events. During the Tubac Festival of the Arts, February 6th through 10th, we have four artists doing four shows in four days: palette-knife landscape painter Louisa McElwain; animal sculptor Rebecca Tobey; bronze sculptor Bill Worrell; and kinetic sculptor Mark White. And then sculptor Star Liana York will have a one-woman show here during the Tubac Art Walk on March 22nd and 23rd.
Any major happenings outside the gallery for your artists?
During her show here, Rebecca Tobey will sign the new coffee-table book that shows every bronze she and her late husband, Gene, created together. Both she and Louisa McElwain have works on view through April 13 at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA.
What trends do you see among collectors in your market?
Outdoor sculpture is getting more and more popular. Maybe the walls of people’s homes are full! We’ve also seen a shift away from plein-air painting, maybe because the beautiful weather here means the market is saturated with plein-air painters. Landscapes are still popular, but with a twist, like McElwain’s expressionistic landscapes, or the serene tonalist works of Andrzej Skorut, a Polish artist now living in Utah.
What impact does the Internet have on your business?
The Web is like a 24-hour storefront. When we get a new piece from an artist, [an image of it] automatically uploads, and it’s removed when it’s sold. So you can look at our website and know exactly what’s in our gallery. Even though we don’t do online sales, we get a huge response.
How is the economy influencing your business?
I think the price points in our gallery probably speak to a certain income level that isn’t affected by swings in the economy.
Jack Morris at Morris & Whiteside Galleries
MORRIS & WHITESIDE GALLERIES, HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC
What’s the big news in 2008 for Morris & Whiteside?
It’s all about consolidation. In 2002, we acquired The Red Piano Art Gallery in Hilton Head, the oldest continually functioning gallery in South Carolina, which we recently moved to the same building as Morris & Whiteside. It features nationally recognized artists who portray subject matter in tune with the Carolina Low Country. Then at our new Gallery at Palmetto Bluffs, an upscale planned community 25 miles from Hilton Head, we’re blending the works from our other two galleries.
What’s happening with the galleries’ artists?
Impressionist Dan McCaw, who is constantly exploring and experimenting, will have a major show of his works in September. One of Stephen Scott Young’s dry-brush watercolors sold last May 23 at Sotheby’s for $348,000, an auction record for his work. In early spring we’ll begin receiving a new suite of his paintings set in Charleston, and we plan a major show in November or December.
What trends are you seeing among collectors in your region?
In the past year, I’ve been noticing a shift from figurative paintings back to landscapes. During periods of stress in the world, I think collectors look for something that gives them a certain sense of peace.
What impact does the Internet have on your business?
It plays an increasing role. Last year, we held auctions in which people for the first time were actually able to bid in real time on the Internet. Also, it has expanded our client base, especially as the dollar has changed in value, with a dramatic increase in business from Canadian and English clients.
How is the current economic instability helping or hurting your business?
When people have cash, they run to hard assets, especially during inflationary times or when they are on the stock market’s sidelines. People here tend to buy to keep, so I don’t see much speculation in purchases.
Featured in January 2008
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