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State of the Arts, 2016
State of the Arts, 2014/15
State of the Arts, 2013
State of the Arts, 2012
State of the Arts, 2011
State of the Arts, 2010
State of the Arts, 2009
State of the Arts, 2008
State of the Arts, 2007
State of the Arts, 2006
State of the Arts, 2005

State of the Arts 2016
by Patricia Frischer

Two of the seven ways of learning are inter personal and inner personal*. This blog is my inner personal musing made public. I was pondering that the other day when I read a very interesting article in the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik. He was the magazine’s art critic from 1987-1995 but has written fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and reported pieces from abroad. At the end of this last article, I found myself saying (internally), “Well done, Adam.” I realized that I felt like I had had a conversation with this man and I almost felt I knew him and I certainly would like to consider him a friend. How is that possible with someone you have never met?

I don’t often look at statistics because I am not sure I trust them off the web. Could it be robots that are looking at the site, or maybe people who are clicking on SDVAN thinking they will learn something about South Dakota? And it seems like half of my readers are from Russia so what is up with that? But I have been writing this blog for 10 years now, with over 90 posts and 30,500 page views so that can’t all be me reading my own blog, can it? So are there occasional dialogues going on inter personally with someone out there that I know nothing about. I do hope that someone out there considers me a friend even though I have never met them.

As artists, we are constantly having that internal conversation with ourselves. I ask and answer questions about shape, color, content. Or I can bliss out with into subconscious nirvana when I feel that someone else is guiding my hand and producing the work. But lately, people have become my medium as I get excited about putting together collaborations that I hope enhance our community.

Over the last 20 years, I have seen the visual arts community become stronger and stronger and now the performing arts which seemed to be lagging the last few years is catching up as well. How do we measure this? We do so with the strength of the umbrella organizations that serve entire sections of the arts. I am forecasting that the culmination of those collaborations will be the return of the San Diego County Arts Council. This won’t be because of the administration of that organization, but because individual organizations come together and see the worth of uniting.

*The others are kinesthetic, audio, verbal, mathematical and of course, visual..

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State of the Arts, 2014: Are these the Questions for 2015?
by Patricia Frischer

The State of the Arts series is about a wider vision of what is happening in the art world. At the end of 2014 we look forward to 2015 not so much with answers but with a list of questions which I think may be important to ponder, discuss, and perhaps give us inspiration for action.

1. The San Diego Art Institute SDAI has a new director Ginger Porcella. She has to turn an almost dead organization into a thriving innovative art destination. How is she going to do this?  What are the changes needed. How does she balance old with new? SDAI has the prime location in Balboa Park for contemporary artists and the potential to be amazing. Porcella is a highly motivated and articulate young woman from New York. She came up with the idea of a new job description for a staff member at SDAI: Director of First Experience. So instead of a PR person, a fundraiser, an education director, you would have someone who was responsible for the first impression of the institute; how is the institute branded before you even walk into the building and how do you first get involved as an artists or a visitor. This question of the future of the non-profit arts organizations and how they need to change seem particularly important in the year we almost lost the Opera and where the SD Foundation and the Commission for Arts and Culture both have new leadership and as we struggle to establish a SD County Arts Council.

2. Reading about 10x talent agency in the New Yorker (The Programmer's Price), I was impressed with the idea of Rock Stars of Tech. It is fascinating to see how creativity is so sought after. Musician, producers, actors and now software designers all want to be thought of now as “Artists”. That seems to symbolize that they are innovative. As technology and the arts are tied more and more closely together, what can we expect to see in the future? Besides the development of new ways to make 3-d, video and multi-media fine art, there will probably be algorithms to compute metrics for audience involvement, funding and sales.

3. This leads me to the more specific questions of what are the new trends in commercialization of art on line? SDVAN just joined an online second hand goods fundraising site called WebThriftStore. You can take all those holiday presents that disappointed you and sell them online as a tax donation for SDVAN. They let you upload an image directly from your phone, they even send you a shipping label when the item is sold and the shipping is paid by the buyer. Our very successfully accessory exchange happens only once a year when old favorites are given new homes. Now we hope you will try this out anytime during the year that you clean out your closets. You can sell anything so don’t forget that work of art that may not inspire you any longer but will appeal to someone new. And if you are not the artist selling your own work, you get a nice tax deduction.


4. A question we have been pondering for the last year, is who are the new art patrons? Or maybe we now need a new word for those who support the arts. How do we define the teams that will take the arts into un-chartered waters? Are these Artists as Art Patrons? How do we transitionyoung art attendees into young art supporters? What do the emerging foundations look like and why should they support the arts? Social Networks with Cloud Funding are already fast becoming patrons but they don’t necessarily think of themselves in that role. When we make Cross Collaborative projects aren’t we really patrons of each other? As innovation is seen as a key economic driver, can we expect to see the Politician Patron rising?

Your can read all the past State of the Arts addresses by Patricia Frischer here. But please also go to our A+ Blog State of the Arts, 2015: Are these the Questions for 2015? to blog back and watch for future opportunities through SDVAN to join in the conversation.

 

State of the Arts, 2013: The Rise of the Living Artist
by Patricia Frischer

Buying an art work by an emerging artist is

  • a gamble,
  • a case of love at first sight
  • a genuine commitment

In San Diego, we don’t seem to have too many collectors that collect just to show off their wealth. What we do have is an abundance of artists who make art that is easy to like and which enhances lives. A scattering of the best make work that is full of worthy content, which often challenges the viewer. Collectors like to meet the artists and that can sway their purchasing decisions because of personality and likeability.

Artists are not making art in San Diego to fill demand. They are passionate about making art even with few sales galleries. They continually find new and non-traditional ways to expose to the public what they do.

However, demand is one of the criteria that influences price. Young artist offer the fun of discovery and even the element of the gamble for very reasonable prices. Contemporary art by well know artists is out of the price range of most collectors and that is a new phenomena as we have seen auction figures for live artists skyrocket in the past few years. The amazingly good news is that all boats are rising on the tide and when the prices for contemporary art rises, it rises in all age groups.

We have updated the 2013 Ten Top Artistand Ten Most Powerful People in the Art World.

You might want to look at our article onSeven Types of Collectorsand also Collecting Secrets Revealed , Collecting Emerging Artistsand Ten Tips for Collectors.  

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State of the Arts, 2012: Holistic Education
Civic Innovation Challenge for the Innovation Incubator
by Patricia Frischer

The US is 26 th in the world in average internet speed. We look out at a powerful ocean but do not harness its energy to be relieved of the need for fossil fuel or convert it to make us fresh water independent. Our infrastructure would be devastated when a large earthquake strikes our region.

The challenge of finding solutions for these problems depends on our creativity and the ability to work as a team and stop political posturing and greed. We do need to develop the ability to really communicate and collaborate.

My civic challenge is how we restructure our educational system in such a way to teach holistically instead of teaching subject by subject. How would the curriculum change, how would the schools physically need to be altered, how would teachers need to communicate in a new way, how would standards need to be responsive to needs instead of an ideal set of criteria?

San Diego is still like the Wild West, fluid in its development and not as set in its ways as any other large city. That is why it is possible for this to happen here. San Diego could finally take pride in a really remarkable achievement which could be a pilot for a new way of educating in our future. We could lose the fun and sun only label and take pride in our community on every level.

It appears that many San Diegan have the idea that if we were to become more advanced, we would lose our small town feel and all the cozy comfort that provides. But I see a future where we still have our small communities but we also have the advantage of a true big city. Sophistication does not need to be “either or”. It can be “and”. We don’t need to choose one or the other, but we can be amongst both. For my challenge local and region wide educational bodies would come together. Schools teachers, advisors, administrator, school boards, advocacy group and students and parent would all be impacted.

A small example of a solution would be to devise a way for art studios and science labs to share the same space. Start teaching these subjects together instead of separately. Stop assuming that some people are artists and some are scientist. Both subjects can be learned and learning them together will aid the creative flow. Working together means solutions to the multitude of large challenges facing us becomes a hopeful activity.

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State of of the Arts 2011: Audience Engagement
by Patricia Frischer

I was glad to see the James Irvine Foundation publication Getting in on the Act as they made a very good case for the value of the policies at SDVAN. They reported that building support for the arts in the future depends on encouraging more participation from our audiences.

The study identifies three main types of involvement; curatorial where the public makes decision about the content or direction of the project; public co-producing with the collaboration of professional artists; and finally when the public is asked to create their own works of art.

We have found that SD audiences want to meet the artists and love to sit down for a meal with them and even share in the process of making the work. We know that art gives people a way to identify their community, take pride in it and thus protect and improve it.

SDVAN continues in its efforts to gain more and more participation from our community. During the Art Meets Fashion 2011 public launch in April of this year, we invited the public to strut their stuff on our catwalk with fashions made by them or their friends. This popular part of the program helped to build the number who attended this event to 1000 and it was one of the most well attended events of the NTC Liberty Station complex.

Hats Off to Life is a project where we will be going into retirement communities and basing hat constructions on the life of some of the residents. We hope to hold a hat making workshop for them as well. We will strive to introduce participatory components into the DNA of Creativity project in the next two years.

However, having spent 6 weeks looking at art in London with very little personal participation, I can testify that this was an immensely satisfying experience. Not all art needs to be displayed with a participation element although a little education is never amiss for those who might want it. The new show at the SDMA, Mexican Modern Painting from The Andrés Blaisten Collection (through Feb 19, 2012), is wonderful to see just for the varied styles and high quality of the work on display. There are two educational rooms within the show space. One has a time line with four ways to listen and interact with the information presented. The other has specially commissioned drawing benches with a chance to create right there.

For SDVAN, not having our own brick and mortar venue has become one of our strongest strategies. We do not consider this a disadvantage or even something to strive for in our future plans. As we work alternatively online, in loaned spaces and even work to get into people homes, we see this as a cost effective and innovative way to go forward.

Today’s artists are collaborating, remixing and repurposing not just with their materials but with their cultural views. At SDVAN we encourage that and try hard to do it internally within the organization. We are a 100% volunteer organization with no salaries or building cost to cover. All our donations go into the funding of projects for the community. This is an alternative way of running a non-profit and one which has grown out of the needs of those we serve.

I was astounded when I first came to SD to see the hundreds of art association that exist here. Although they have not perhaps been very proactive in creating an art market, they have certainly been responsible for supporting the many cultural resources of our neighborhoods. The SD region has this incredibly rich pool of amateur and part time artists and their impact is underestimated, I believe. It is heartening to learn that a total of 33% of all adults create and attend art events. Add to that 17% who attend and 12% who make art but don’t attend and you get a whooping 62% of American engaged in creative processes.

Here are a few examples of visual arts project mentioned in the study that I thought you might enjoy:

  • The Art Gallery of Ontario’s In Your Face was an open-submission art exhibit featuring 17,000 portraits collected from the public
  • The Davis Art Center’s Junk2Genius program celebrates the community’s commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle. This annual competition features 15 teams of community members competing in a timed sculpt-off using recycled materials
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State of the Arts 2010 - The Future of Art Publications
by Patricia Frischer

I believe that Art is the beginning of change. There are always other ways of seeing, thinking, acting, being. There is more than one reality and of course, more than one choice. So I set out to ask my art writing colleagues Seth Combs contributing to San Diego CityBeat, Keli Dailey stirring things up at SignOnSanDiego, Kevin Freitas posting on Art as Authority and resident art critic Robert Pincus writing for Union Tribune about the future of art publications and what they see on the horizon of this industry.

Do people read about art in depth any more?

It seems like we are all being bombarded by words on the internet. We assume that the attention span of the young is limited to 300 words at a time so fundamental to this discussion are the reading habits of the future.

Keli Dailey reminds us that you have “…. to see a lot of good art to recognize the limitations of not-so-good art, and this swallowing and absorption of the good vitamins makes your eyes stronger.”

Robert Pincus has faith that “…people want to read good writing about art. My evidence for the continuing viability of informed and passionate art criticism is anecdotal.” as he gets comments sent to him regularly about his column.

“The writing needs to be succinct with less art jargon, treating the reader with respect and realizing that the audience has a multitude of choices…” is Seth Combs take on this question.

Kevin Freitas takes a contrasting view, “As we become increasingly “plugged in” our capacity to reflect and ponder upon the information received decreases – including how art is viewed and understood.” He thinks that the coffee table book may be replaced by the Kindle, but “artist blogs and pod casts will not be the knock-out punch to the jaw of movable type.”

The overriding sentiment here seems to be as Pincus states “…..nothing can replace the value of keen insights about art, no matter how they are delivered.”  

Are websites the future of publications or do they also have to organize events, curate show, etc?

As the coordinator of a website directory that has morphed into a media publication with calendar, and events promotions, I wondered how traditional publications are using their websites and how some journal websites are surviving.

Combs states that "local publications that are exclusively art oriented have more problems than nationals art periodicals.” CityBeat has a wider remit and covers news, food, nightlife, etc. But size of the editorials at CityBeat are not dependant on advertising generated by the arts as the “publisher recognize that culture adds value to the publication.” Of course, three people with an online blog can survive, but would they be able to progress and reach full potential? Small local online publication, like Latent Print and Sezio are screening movies, supporting poetry readings, combining music with art displays.

Dailey recommends Arts Journal as one of the few profit-turning and highly trafficked online arts publications. I personally get my art daily from Art Daily right now.

Pincus believes “…that print publications will survive, with online dimensions continuing to expand their scope into a range of media. But new publications may opt not to appear in print at all. More importantly, though, it's always the quality of the coverage that will matter most. The liveliness and lucidity of the writing will set one daily, weekly, magazine and site apart from another. For audio or video reporting, it is the perceptiveness of an interview or the excellence of the footage that is vital” 

Freitas applauds the rise of self published volumes, which “give artists the freedom and luxury to get the word out at a minimal cost.” He recommends LA based Coagula Art Journal , now in its 17 th year.

e-Flux which began in 1999 as an exhibition in a hotel has become “state of the art” officially with its recognition of Anton Vidokle/e-flux, Julieta Aranda & Brian Kuan Wood on the top most powerful people list of Art Review Magazine. (See the whole list in our revised Smart Collector article). e-Flux can be described as a collective, a school, an archive, an advocacy source, a journal, a gallery in Manhattan and a gathering place for projects to incubate and mature. e-Flux even auctions and markets artwork.

Frieze is a magazine published 8 times a year, a very successful art fair held in London in October and a non-profit foundation responsible for the curated program at the fair, including artist commissions, talks, films, music and education. The Foundation is funded by the European Commission and Arts Council England. Perhaps our own Beyond the Borders International Art Fair will develop into a publication. SDVAN/SD Art Prize is already the non-profit organization associated with this fair.

Are there still movements and if not how do we define contemporary arts?

Everywhere I look combined, collaged, collaborated and bigger than life art is prevalent. How do you get a handle on that all encompassing media assault? And how can we use geography to define art where the World Wide Web makes us all one?

Robert Pincus says he has, “…never felt it to be any less exciting to be a critic in a post-movement era. Art, whether collaborative or made in isolation, is always rooted in the strength of its vision and convictions. Art that grips us and surprises us will always appear.”

Keli Dailey believes there are movements. “ Lowbrow is a movement and there are many micro-movements, which might become major, but the very nature of contemporary art is to morph, and not be static. It overlaps and borrows and competes and revises and reassembles and destroys and sounds intellectually muscular when it tosses the word “postmodernism” around like an ‘ol pigskin.”

Seth Combs is hopeful that the new Space4Art Barrio Logan/ East Village art complex will provide a local geography for “…more interdisciplinary, interactivities and cross pollination of ideas.” He feels that North Park never reached that maturity before the rents went up and the artists moved on. Today’s artists must speak, write and publish in city centers, which are the main ingredient to making that soup from which great art emerges.

For Kevin Freitas, “The problem is everyone is talking and no one is listening or even commenting. And while artists might upload their work to the internet in an effort to circumvent dwindling exposure in traditional press sources, it is actually hurting them. The idea that art speaks to everyone has just gotten harder to hear over the din of a thousand invisible voices competing on the same computer platform. In the end, the only cure for the arts and its exposure is to keep a copy of the painting you’re standing in front of, firmly imprinted in your mind’s eye.”

However, e-Flux has just published a collection of blog threads which they see as the natural developing direction of visual art writing. Could it be that blog topics will emerge and self define categories of interest? Some of the chapter heading include: Politics of Installation (Boris Groys), Is a Museum a Factory? (Hito Steyerl), and Art in the Knowledge-Based Polis (Tom Holert).

My advice is to choose a variety of websites and writers to follow and remain loyal so as not to confuse yourself. If you get bored there are obviously plenty of choices so keep your eyes open and your finger on the search button. Finally, remember to keep those comments coming as this is one of your ways to actually affect the future.

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State of the Arts 2009: Art and Politics
by Patricia Frischer

Never before have I had the feeling that the change of government might make that much difference in the arts. But I find myself thinking that President Elect Obama might value the essential qualities that the arts bring to our society and in the future we might see some advantages coming our way.

Two obvious bills that could be passed to help individual artists; one which would enable health insurance for our mainly self employed sector of the population and one enable artists to take fair market value for works donated to worthy causes. Long overdue and much appreciated as these bills would be, I am also interested to see long range changes. Obama will be appointing a new head of the National Endowment for the Arts. He has promised transparency, change through community organizing and strategic investment in the creative economy. We know he is prepared to embrace new technology….just look at his grass roots campaign to win this election using the internet to spread his message and raise funds. He intends to use that same network to canvas his ideas and create stakeholders within the communities throughout the country.

Oboma’s arts platform is music to the ears. Expanding partnerships with schools and art organizations, creating an artist corps, increasing funding for NEA, promoting arts education and cultural diplomacy are all wonderful idea. But we know that the county is in an economic slump and that health care will be the first priority, followed by funding for education and a job creation program. But the amazing thing is to think about the arts not as a separately funded program, but as a way to encourage tourism, as a way to revive downtown areas of a city in crisis, as a part of the healing process and as the most interesting component of the economic stimulus package.

Each of us can play a part in that. We all have a story to tell. We can all become involved in local strategies (like the Affordable Live/Work symposium just held in SD). We contribute to the economy, fill and create jobs, spend money. We can continue to try to influence those that we elected on the local, state, and national levels.

It is true that involvement in the arts; improves kids' overall academic performance, shows that kids actively engaged in arts education are likely to have higher test scores than those with little to no involvement, teaches kids to be more tolerant and open, allow them to express themselves creatively and bolsters their self-confidence and keeps students engaged in school and less likely to drop out.

But the real bonus here is that the next generation will be developing skills needed by the 21st century workforce: critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, teamwork and more. A government leader with an eye to the future can’t help but see that as a core principal in our country’s success.

PS. Did you know that U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus with Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), and that there is a US Conference of Mayors (Manuel A. Diaz, Mayor
Miami, FL is current president) which has a ten point plan for cities? Point number 9 is for Tourism and the Arts and urges the creation of a Cabinet level Secretary of Culture and Tourism charged with forming a national policy for arts, culture and tourism. Americans for the Arts is an enormous source of free information on line. More even that SDVAN!

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State of the Arts, 2008; Changing Power Base
by Patricia Frischer

edited by Lisa Roche  

We are truly seeing a shift in the power base of art marketing now that we near the end of the first decade of the new millennium. Previously, the control of prices was dominated by the art dealers, museum curators and top collectors. We are now seeing the resurgence of the importance of the critic and the continued escalation of the auction houses, which are influencing a new strain of collectors who sell as well as buy. Knowledge continues to mean power and the Internet is the largest source of knowledge in today’s art world.  

Auction Influences
Most of the attention on the art market is because Contemporary Art has, for the first time, outsold Impressionist and Modern Art. That means that works of art by living artists are selling for enormous amounts of money. Damien Hirst’s “Lullaby Spring,” sold in June for $19.5 million but less than five month later Jeff Koons’ “Hanging Heartbroke that record with a whopping $23.6 million sale at Sotheby’s. The combined total of three contemporary fall sales at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Philips de Pury was $948 million in five short days (Nov 12 th through the 16 th). Auctions are also brokering sales before and after their auctions with top end auction houses looking more and more like galleries. Who has all this money to invest in art? The new hedge fund buyers, like Steven Cohen, is the answer. Cohen is said to own more than a billion dollars worth of art financed by his ability to make his investors 40% annual returns since 1992. Collectors used to be intellectuals. They are now the socially elite and business tycoons. The buyers in our current market might be tested as their financial security is challenged and we are all waiting to see what might happen next. There is no better art and no more art than ever before, but, currently, there is high demand. The get rich quick crowd could vaporize if the demand disappears, but luckily, there are still collectors who will hold on to the art they have bought for long periods.

Critical Resources
How does San Diego take advantage of the current changes? Stephen Hepworth , the new director of UCSD Art Gallery , has a direct tie in to the London art scene after his years as a curator there. Watch for his shows to see trends in the market. Watch for hip young writers like Kevin Freitas , who has European backgrounds and well trained eyes. Many artists find curatorial attention and critical acclaim a more important gauge to their success than sales. Galleries and art associations should go for themes and set titles for shows as well as choosing artists of merit. There role is to draw in new buyers and education is key in changing a one time buyer into a collector. We hope to see the rise of the critic/contemporary historian on the Web, and it is worth it to discover sites that will fill the void and help us all navigate the vastness which is the Internet.

Web Presence
London , not New York, has become the art capital of the world. The strong pound and weak dollar contribute to this, but also the rising number of Russian and Middle Eastern collectors who don’t want to struggle with getting a visa to come to America post 911. But it is becoming less necessary for artists and galleriest to be in the art cities if they can afford to go to the art fairs and have a Web site. The Web site is very important for research, and collectors are learning all they can before they make their decisions. The Web site can also set the style and tone of a gallery, as it is often the first entry point for a sale. The Internet must be fully used to spread the word and produce online catalogue documentation of all shows.

San Diego Shines
Hard copy catalogues must be made available as well, and kudos goes to Derrick Cartwright at the SDMA for setting out to compile a series of monographs on local historical SD artists. The San Diego Art Prize is doing this for contemporary artists….creating regional art stars as fast as possible including creating online and hard copy documentation. This is more important than ever now that patrons are no longer able to turn to art history to validate quality. Overheads for running a gallery remain high and we see galleries fold as fast as they open. There are a few like Gagosian who can afford to put on shows that cost even more than those at major museums. We need more advisors and consultants and agents to help artists and collectors. Only then can we hope to support more galleries to show art.

In the meantime, we want our industrialist to showcase art in their alternative spaces and encourage their employees to live with art at home as well as in the workplace. That is why support by Qualcomm (they underwrite free admittance for those under 25 to Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego ) and Leap Wireless (they are showing student art curated by San Diego Art Institute in their corporate offices) is so important in San Diego

We shall have our first boutique Art Fair in 2009 called Beyond the Border which will focus on the overlapping art activities between Mexico and California. The fairs are a way for a gallery to build its reputation. Galleries go to fairs to spread the word about their artists, to meet collectors and colleagues and to learn about the trends themselves. Because of the huge cost of fairs, we are seeing more collaborations between galleries. Hopefully this will promote less competitiveness and more cooperation, but that may only be true in the buoyant market that we are experiencing now.

Collectors will individually decide why they buy. That is their challenge. Are they looking for a way to escape themselves or to know themselves; maybe both? Some artists are no longer simply producing art, they have become the art. But let us never forget that the artist is the center of this world. Artists can make art out of thin air (or millions of dollars worth of diamonds like Damien Hirst), and they create our footprint to the future.

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State of the Arts 2007: Money Talking
by Patricia Frischer

When the spirit moves me, I try to sum up the past and make a few notes about the coming year. It is that time again, and with the high-level buzz in the art world coupled with media attention on recent art sales it seems appropriate to speak of money, trends, sex, and deeply held art beliefs. First, let us focus on the high-end art market.

Historically, many art market observers held the belief that the amount of money spent on art was in relative value to the net income of the art collector. However, those art patrons were, for the most part, industrialists and landowners. At this point, we must add gamblers to the list to account for the steady rise in art prices. Today, buying art in the public market is not about whom you know, as is often the case in private galleries. It is simply about having enough money and desire on auction day. There is also certainly an element of luck involved. We all remember the compelling story of the LA art dealer turning deathly pale as his cell phone battery ran out while taking instructions from a client bidding by phone. Many say that we cannot compare this market with previous cyclical markets like the disastrous 1990 downturn because we have never had a market with this type of money in it or the abundance of new players from around the world. We do know that the artwork hanging over the mantle piece can cost as much, or more, than the mansion that houses it.

Major sales in New York in the fall of 2006 shattered all records. Five hundred million dollars worth of Impressionist and Modern Art sold at a Christie’s auction within a single day. Willem DeKooning’s “ Untitled XXVII” sold for $27,000,000 and is now the most expensive work of art sold in public auction after WWII. According to the New York Times, a private transaction between collectors Steve Cohen and David Geffen resulted in another DeKooning, “ Women III,” reportedly changing hands for $137,000,000. Las Vegas mogul, Steve Wynn, canceled a $139,000,000 sale of Pablo Picasso’s "Le Rêve" when he accidentally damaged the canvas with an animated elbow gesture.

In San Diego, we see burgeoning art venues in Tijuana, new galleries opening throughout all parts of the County, and emerging art markets growinglike mushrooms in the dark, but seeking the light.

Trends are up in prices and in art magazine subscriptions, very good news for Artworks , published in Carmel, and Art Ltd and Look-Look in LA. We are still waiting for a full, glossy art magazine in SD but we do have the SD Art and Gallery Guide published by Jeff Yoemans. Website design firms devoted solely to artists, like www.Zhibit.com and the Virtual Fine Art Gallery , are also on the rise. Applications to the Art Institute of California and Art Departments at SDSU and UCSD are steadily increasing. There is a booming market in products aimed at artists, including art lessons, art supply shops, framers, art promoters and agents.

A trend on the rise is hotels creating space to display art collections and works by local artists. We have seen this at the Gramercy in New York and at One Aldwych in London. In downtown San Diego , we find hotel galleries at the Omni’s L-Street Gallery (venue for the SD Art Prize ), the Solamar , the U.S. Grant Hotel and at Wyndham Emerald Plaza . Corporate collections are growing as well, aided by the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. It is our hope that as these collections increase in size, the selection committees also become increasingly discriminating. Both organizations are understaffed and underfinanced and we all look to The San Diego Foundation’s new Art and Culture division to extend a helping hand.

The same frenzy of buying at art auctions is apparent at Art Basel Miami Beach and the Frieze Art Fair in London. This interest is a direct result of the general public’s desire to join the art establishment. Everyone loves the energetic social atmosphere at art events and the novice collector delights in being a part of the “art buzz.” We heard that Dino and Jake Chapmen were ensconced in the White Cube booth painting portraits to order, a high-priced version of street portrait painters.

As far as subject matter, “sex sells” has been a truism since time immemorial and continues unabated. It is interesting to look at how couples buy art from this angle. Tobias Meyer of Sotheby’s has observed that men purchase art in a “desirous state.” Before agreeing on the purchase, however, he seeks his mate’s validation through her approval of his choice. As described by Meyer, this results in a “pseudo-orgasmic experience,” which helps to explain those seductive looks back and forth between husband and wife during charity auctions. We hope the payoff at home is well worth the price paid to that worthy cause! San Diego’s art market is not in a position to sustain its own auction house, but charity auctions featuring fine art are doing extremely well.

It is a general belief that the American art market center is on the East Coast but that artistic creativity is concentrated in the west. It is not simply a dream on our part that the market will also move to the West Coast. We have remarkable art schools, studio spaces, the international lure of Hollywood for the media, and direct access to Asia. If Michael Goven has his way as the new Director at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art , we will soon have a financially powerful core group of collectors willing to support a thriving California art scene. Michael Goven has the connections and glamour to induce collectors like the Speilbergs and the Geffens to buy art on this coast. LACMA lured Michael to Los Angeles by offering him a $600,000 annual salary, thought to be one of the largest in the country, and its recent $150,000,000 renovation, including the 70,000 square foot [Eli] Broad Contemporary Art Museum, helped finalize his decision. Formerly Director of the DIA Art Foundation and responsible for Dia: Beacon , the museum that houses their collection, Michael received his degree at Williams College in Massachusetts. Interestingly, Williams is also the alma mater of Earl Powell, Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Glenn Lowry, Director of MoMA, and Thomas Krens, Director of the Guggenheim, both located in New York City. Goven’s stated intention is to make LACMA a museum for all cultures and we are watching “his” Museum’s development with great eagerness.

The museums in San Diego are expanding as well. The Oceanside Museum of Art will soon triple in size. Derrick Cartwright is hitting his stride at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Its Personal Views Exhibition shows the real depth and excellence of private collections in our county. The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, has expanded into a new building across from its original location on Kettner. We have a new director at the Museum of Photographic Arts , Deborah Klochko, who contends, “With world-class collections, dynamic exhibitions and innovative programming, MoPA is ready to explore new ideas, create new partnerships, and to expand its influence on local, national and international audiences.” The Lux Art Institute is making progress with its artist-in-residence programs, and the California Center for the Arts in Poway is coming back to life. These are indeed exciting times!

The gatekeepers of the art world are still the galleries, the museums, and, most importantly, the new collectors who can and do act fast when important pieces of art become available. Note: Younger-than-ever gallery owners are also making an impact, especially in San Diego on Kettner Boulevard, in the Hillcrest/University Heights area, and on Ray Street. Artists are wary of becoming flash-in-the-pan celebrities and prefer to maintain their position as art superstars by controlling who buys their work and how it is to be exhibited. One artist chooses to release artwork for sale only after the potential collector agrees to purchase a second work for donation to a museum. How about that mastermind of manipulation!

With all this talk of money, it is not surprising that we have a set of artists who are embracing the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie is responding. We are also keeping a close eye on the developing art scenes in San Diego’s East Village and Mexico’s Baja Norte. I believe that good art is priceless and its essential essence will be strong enough to fend off being considered as mere merchandise. I am not religious, but I do have one blind belief. It is in art.

PATRICIA FRISCHER, the coordinator of the San Diego Visual Arts Network, writes these occasional notes. This article was edited with help by Julia Gill and Joan Seifried.

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State of the Art, 2006: What's Hot
by Patricia Frischer

In my State of the Arts lecture and article in 2005, I gave an overview of the art world and how it functions at the high end of the market. In the 2006 edition, I want to tackle a few fears and give some hot tips. This lecture was given at the San Diego Art Intstitute Museum of the Living Artist.

Why do people collect Art? I love this simple answer by Gilles Deleuze: “Civilization is defined by three things: science, philosophy and art. Of these, visual art is the only one that you can own or acquire.”

What is good Art? “Art Criticism” are two words when put together strikes terror at the heart of a novice art buyer and/or artist. How can you know what is good art? Collectors don’t want to appear foolish. Artists do not want to be put in a position where they have to defend their own work. My very short art criticism comments: In the past, art criticism was about judgment compared against a set of criteria. In the last 20 years, we entered the “anything goes” period. The best of both worlds means training your eye as well as obtaining knowledge through historical research. The phenomena of today’s art is the demand for the viewer to be a participant in the art. What this means is that the more you bring to the art work, the more you will get out of it.

Why is Art worth the money? The track record of an artist determines price on the world market. This is the resume recording of where the artist has shown, what major collectors and museums own their work and even where they were educated. The collector decides what to pay depending on her/his net value combined with how much s/he wants to spend on art. The artist should price art low enough to build audience and raise prices over the years as their resume expands. Hubert Neumann says it best, “ If the art work is profound, then the art market is irrelevant. That’s what makes it magical.”

A word about what continues to be in fashion. Again this year, we see works that are thought provoking but accessible and intriguing but comfortable at the same time.

International Market

Modern and ContemporaryArt Works are still up (and Impressionist down) in the auction markets. Why? These works are still available to buy and younger artists are turning to these 50’s masters who did it all. Expect to see 50’s and 60’s prices go sky high.

Chinese Art prices for top contemporary art will continue to rise, fueled by the growing Chinese economy, the scarcity of good available works, and because of the many western and Chinese collectors (both new and existing) that are entering the market. There is also the lure of a hedge against a possible bubble in western contemporary art.

Installation Art and Video Art is still strong in the art magazines and museums. Collaboration is the “in” description for art projects. We even hear of collaborative groups made up of fictional artists in shows organized by made-up curators.

Art Fairs are making big headlines. Latin American Art has once again made a strong showing in Basel Miami, but will this trend last forever? Not unless we see the Latin market strong at all the art fairs.

Russian Art may be in trouble. Vast numbers of fake Russian art has been discovered. This rocked that world. Some works thought to be valued at $100,000 to $700,000 were actually European works worth only $2000 to $50, 000.

Female Buyers continue to increase in numbers. Notice all the art articles regularly seen in magazines aimed at women.

Hedge Funds are starting up again reminiscent of the 70’s but none are trading openly yet.

San Diego and Southern California

Digital Art and Photography is very strong in San Diego as in many other major art capitols. Digital multiples are being valued now in the same way as prints multiples are valued. Look for low, limited edition numbers. San Diego has a nationally respected Museum of Photographic Art of which not all cities can boast and this museum gives a major Photography art prize. We also have the new, soon to be annual, Art of Photography Show which had 9000 entries this year. Watch for the SDVAN promotion Digital Arts Booms, which will list numerous digital art shows in April and May of this year right here in SD.

Mexican/Latin American (including Graffiti) Art is still a major market here and the rest of the world is watching

Abstract Expressionism is popular with the 25 –35 year old set. Called a mid century revival, they are buying new work by artists their age. AE is not radical to them but is instead, a very non-threatening style that seems safe, familiar and very decorative.

Strong 70’s Art Revival is in full bloom. This includes: Healing Arts (art that heals the world), Political Art (art that targets pop culture as opposed to political activism) and Psychedelic Art (art composed with wild colors and embellishments).

Second Use Art makes found objects and turns them into art works of all sorts. Collage, montage, sculpture are being made from recycled objects.

Art Glass continues to grow with a strong support from their local art association and wall glass pieces making the leap from craft to art.

Look for Collections at:

Condos which are filling up their hallways with art and more Corporate Art Supporters means seeing more art in building lobbies and board rooms. The one percent requirement stated in the Public Art Ordinance Requirement means a required art showing in new spaces since June 2004.

The SDMA is holding a large Local Art Collector show in October through January 2007.

LA Art Fair had some SD Galleries participating and there was a good showing of Southern California artists in international show like the LA-Paris at Pompidou Center and Frieze in London. Blogs are the hip way to keep track of what is happening. Try http://art.blogging.la/

Food and Sex continue to be themes for exhibitions.


Way Out There Predictions

Art Thievery is a $5 billion alternative art market with only 11 percent of stolen art found.

Outsider Art may become hip because as the general public become more aware of art value, they will want to find their own artworks. There is a major Outsider Art Fair in NY.

Sound Art might be a development out of video art but now that everyone can have their own mini-recording studio, we can look forward to mix of ambient noise and pre-produced music; everything from squeaking brakes to sonatas. Cell phone videos will combine video art with sound art to become art of the people.

Niche Market Items include anything that baby boomers love: muscle cars, surfing collectable, bar interiors, rock concert documents etc.

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State of the Arts, 2005: San Diego and the High End Markets
by Patricia Frischer

By Patricia Frischer with Interview by Alexandra Rosa and Phillip Swenson on ArtRocks! www.wsradio.com Hear it by clicking here

This article will take you though the general outline of marketing of art on an international level. It will then explain how San Diego, although not perceived as successful cultural visual arts center, has an opportunity to make a mark on the visual arts world. There are then suggestions of how to change this perception and create a vital and supportive arts community.

TYPICAL ROUTE OF ARTIST Many, although not all, artists start after their art education hopefully on the route to success. There first showing experience will probably be their graduate show at a university/college. For further exposure they enter competitions - local, national, international . When they have a body of work they open their studio and invite everyone they know to support them and spread the word. At this point, they may consider joining and showing with an art associations. Most artist want a permanent place in an art gallery and will be lucky to be included in a group shows and then work toward the enviable one person exhibition. Finally, the crown on the art career is the cherished museum show/retrospective.

THE MARKET - How the Art Market functions

Because there are a limited number of big spenders in the art world, it is vital for the high end market “powers that be” to control the market as much as possible. Limiting numbers of artist who can command high figures for their works s essential to keeping prices high. This is controlled by 1. art dealers 2. major collectors 3.museum directors. This trio has vested interested and consult and help each other. Art dealerssell to collectors and museums. works gain status by being displayed in museum and galleries there by going up in value. Collectors and art galleries help fund raising for museums. Collectorsgive their collection to museums (and get tax advantages). Until recently, often gallery dealers gave a percentage of works sold during a museum show to the museum. Conflict of interest stopped this process. This process is aided by art critics/magazines , universities exhibitions, and auctions all of which help to build the reputations of certain artists.

THE NEW MARKET - The PBB - POST BABY BOOMER MARKET

This is new money made from tech stocks and biochemical. It is young money. It is an audience ready to use the internet to make purchases. We are experiencing a change from an agricultural society to an information society. We used to be tribal and we are now individually oriented. Those aged over 40 are generally linear thinkers but those under 20 are visual and associative thinkers. They congregate on the web world wide and not just at the local level. But socializing is still important. Meeting places such as art openings are still a important part of their lives.

Although San Diego has an inferiority complex when it comes to Fine Art and we are not known as a cultural Mecca :

SAN DIEGO HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY – Richard Florida says we are one of the top three most creative cities in the USA because of the 3 T’s – technology, talent, tolerance. What sets San Diego apart:

  • The high end traditional market does not have a strangle hold so our the biggest disadvantage could be our biggest advantage. Instead of top down marketing system, we can be bottom (grass roots) up.
  • San Diego has a vast wealth of art talent that compares well on quality levels with the best in the world.
  • We have tech company and biochemical companies
  • We attract young money because our environment is so attractive.
  • We have more and more support from the County to push the arts as a valuable way to promote San Diego. The push is to show how art is valuable not just aesthetically but as an attractor of people and an income producer.
  • Although we do not have a large number of successful galleries, we do have many museums and community and educational galleries, over 60 art associations and SDVAN which is a free listing directory and calendar. This site is one of the best of it’s kind in the world. Also many new projects including Envision, which is trying to get the arts projects to cluster for promotional and mutual support. Envision is important because it is media based as opposed to non-profit, for profit or government supported. We also have dynamic cheerleaders for the Arts like Art Girls (art consultants who help to make the arts accessible, fun and financially viable.

WHAT STEPS CAN WE TAKE TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY

  1. Stay a living room community. Intimate groups of real people with real ideas and goals. Think about small, manageable, do-able projects. Helps each other by cooperating. Let these real goals lead to larger projects and changes. Be patience. CHANGE TAKES TIME for example 4 years to establish new organizations and 7 years to establish a viable sales gallery.
  2. Create a synergy between all the arts organizations including especially sales galleries - meet with an attitude of co-operation not competition . Be transparent in all dealings and not secretive. Share all sources and contacts.
  3. Embrace all high tech opportunities - web sites, web marketing, web linking, computer administration, digital documentation etc.
  4. Award the Artists and art supporters of excellence in all areas and create ART STARS.
  5. Develop a strong arts media with documentation of all activities, support of critics, archiving of interviews. Encourage art writers for TV, radio, internet (ART ROCKS!), and all newspapers, magazines.
  6. Take art to the people and respect our large geographical area. For example take art: to the beaches (painted art canvas for deck chairs – matching picnic cups and napkin), to the sport arena (art on the digital screen), to the corporations (art in the parking lots from a mobile van). Let’s have art classes with a wine bar and Affordable Art Fairs in the park. Brochure about all the galleries in our Art Colleges (where to park, opening hours) Be flexible and open to all creative ideas.
  7. Create a facility for the artists with a wealth of amenities such as a restaurant/club with a bar with installation videos (loud and noisy) , a lecture room/library for tea (quiet conversation and small events) and  a dining room which is also a gallery space. Art people need a meeting room available for cross pollination of the arts.

Find the new market -

  1. Individual Benefactors, buyers, collectors – this means one hand shake at a time!
  2. Corporations – not just giving money to the arts but bring art to the office space. Use art as reward for job well done. Encourage art to be seen as a status acquisition.
  3. Future art supporters – introducing children to art by inventing new projects like Art back packs to be portable for supplies for the classrooms or everywhere art can happen. Take children to all events. Recognize teachers of excellence and give teachers free admission to exhibitions
  4. Encourage and Use Artist Agents. The missing link and one of the grass root solutions

ARTIST AGENTS - what can they do for our market

  • Contact this new market PBB, go to them at work and through their hobbies and reading material
  • Educate the new market - send them to museums, suggest books, use collector articles and website tools
  • Get exposure to artist to this new market - works have to be seen a number of times and work brought to the collectors not the collectors to the work
  • Sell work to the new market.
  • Help the new market to embark on collecting - send them to galleries which will expand and make a healthier environment for all.
  • Connect artist to existing galleries and the internet.

Patricia Frischer has been an art professor at California State College in Humboldt, head of the Art Department at an international school in Nottinghill Gate, London, Director of a sales gallery in London, England and for three exhibition spaces at Cal State Humboldt. She has written the book, "The Artist and the Art of Marketing" and has lectured extensively on marketing for artists. As a dynamic part of the arts community in San Diego, Frischer was board member for the (COVA) and Coordinator for the COVA Art Collectors Round Tables. Patricia is currently Coordinator of the San Diego Visual Arts Network. She holds a master degree from California College of Arts and has exhibited her own paintings internationally.

Artist Agent Training Course are starting by arrangement. Four 2-hours sessions which helps a agent to form a agency or helps a gallery to network locally for improved marketing and make a business plan for success. Full details are found at www.DrawsCrowd.com by looking at Education/Artist Agent/ Short Course.

Lectures are also given on many topics for Artists, Galleriest and Collectors. Look at the full list at www.ArtProCA.com

Look for other topics in the SmART Collector
For more information contact us

 

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Look for other topics in the SmART Collector
For more information contact us