Art galleries impact growth of artists

Art galleries are like the Medici Family of Florence, Italy. They are patrons of the artists. Like the Medicis, they impact the growth and direction of the art scene in their immediate locations. Without quality standards, the Medicis could not have encouraged great works from Michaelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and da Vinci, and in turn could not have influenced the Renaissance.

Hence, not all galleries in Vallejo deserve to be called galleries for a number of reasons. First, some galleries don’t exact quality standards for art work that they display. Instead of evaluating the merits of the art works before displaying them, or waiting for the artists to improve their pieces, they play to artists’ vanity or to hopes for donations from the community or from city funds. No amount of fanfare will guarantee the continuity of such model. This must be one of the reasons for the vice-mayor’s observation that many galleries come and go in Vallejo. While Ms. Erin Bakke (June 10, “Partners in art”) counts 20 galleries in the city, only seven are listed with Google, and three are said to be closed.

Welcome to the real art world. There is an obvious trend in the art world today where galleries either operate as traditional galleries that set standards for high quality art work to increase marketability of the pieces they display, or function as fee galleries where they charge artists to display paintings. If some galleries in Vallejo refuse to aspire for either model of operation, then they court atrophy.

These so-called galleries are not doing the local artists a favor.

As patrons of artists, galleries must work toward the marketability of the artists they represent. Space and open doors don’t guarantee exposure or sale of art work. Donations and city funding don’t guarantee continued existence.

Ultimately, galleries must sell. They should set standards for art work higher than what it is now.

Secondly, if some galleries in Vallejo wish to claim promotion of all local artists, then they cannot just be sites for a few artists’ meetings and noise and continue to ignore minority artists. The Census Bureau reports that Vallejo is 26.8 percent white, 25.1 percent Hispanic and 23 percent Asian. Minority artists are under-represented — if not at all — in many local galleries.

Thirdly, some galleries should set their identity and goals instead of existing as a potpourri of various art forms. Some may wish to hone and service performing arts while others may wish to focus on visual arts. That way, these galleries can better serve their artists instead of spreading their resources thin and neglecting to improve the crafts of the artists they represent.

This said, I did not say all galleries in Vallejo don’t merit to be called galleries. She said that some of them don’t qualify to be called galleries. If some galleries in Vallejo cannot display art pieces that can be marketable, appraised and insured as worthy art pieces for insurance then it cannot call itself a gallery. To do so will mislead other artists who seek viable representation.

Contrary to the claims of Erin Bakke that Georgia Galleria pieces are just pretty pictures on white walls, each painting there passed the standards of a New York art insurance company and was determined to be worthy of coverage. We worked hard to obtain that. Except for two, all artists on exhibit are collected worldwide.

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To further aspire for quality, Georgia Galleria has sought membership with the Art Dealer Association of America (ADAA). This five-year process is rigorous and require collaboration with other member-galleries. Yes, Ms. Bakke, the standards are rigid.

To remain true to its goal, Georgia Galleria will provide exposure and promotion to minority artists who are not patronized by mainstream galleries in Vallejo and elsewhere. Such minorities include both ethnic and gender minorities. It is a known fact that women artists are underrepresented by major galleries. The Georgia Galleria will work to address these problems.

Vallejo is far from where Scottsdale, Arizona and Santa Fe, New Mexico, are with regards to art collectors’ destinations. If all galleries in Vallejo aspire to be where those galleries are then we not only have to represent quality art work but must include minority artists’ works as well.

Daisy Villanueva/Georgia Galleria

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