The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday edition includes a lengthy article by Mark Caro and Lauren Viera on on how Chicago’s art galleries are weathering the recession.Â According to the Trib, many gallery owners in the River North area are reporting that business took a downturn last summer and has stayed that way so far. Yet a number have also seen enough positive economic activity of late to feel glimmers of hope about the future.
“Compared with New York, where The New York Times reported in June that more than 20 galleries had closed, Chicago’s leading art districts have remained relatively stable. River North, the most established gallery area, has seen some businesses move or otherwise constrict their operations, but the bulk are still standing. The West Loop has suffered a few closings, while empty storefronts dot Pilsen‘s developer-designed art district.”
The article notes that Chicago galleries are using various recessionary strategies to stay in business. David Leonardis offered a buy-one-get-one-free sale earlier this summer, while other galleries have also offered special discounts. Still others, like Zolla/Lieberman, are highlighting more modestly-priced works for collectors feeling gun-shy about spending a lot of money during financially anxious times. And in line with what’s happening nationally, dealers who specialize in high-end artists, like Richard Gray, have found the market to be as strong as its ever been for “really rare, really fine, highly exceptional works of art.”
The arts district in Pilsen has not fared nearly so well, with numerous ‘For Rent’ signs on storefronts. Also highly worrisome news: UIC’s non profit I space Gallery may be in trouble. Its private foundation support “dried up,” and director Mary Antonakos is quoted as saying she’s worried the space will close.
It should be noted that although the Trib’s article includes numerous interviews with Chicago dealers in various media and price-points, it’s noticeably thin on accounts from dealers outside the River North area (the piece does include a quote from Carrie Secrist, whose gallery is located in the West Loop, but none from her neighbors Tony Wight, Kavi Gupta, Monique Meloche or Rhona Hoffman–prominent Chicago dealers all).
In the end, however, a gallerist’s actions probably speak louder than his or her words. The fact that all of the above-mentioned dealers are planning strong new shows to inaugurate the new fall season suggests that everything remains on track, for now anyway. Chicago art dealers appear to be hanging in there–holding their breath, to be sure, but hanging in there. Read the Tribune’s full story here.
Here’s what’s got my attention, web-wise, so far this week:
*San Diego Museum of Art director Derrick R. Cartwright appointed director of the Seattle Art Museum.
*Art Institute of Chicago director James Cuno hopes to initiate massive fundraising drive for free Museum admission.
*No Boys Allowed: yearlong exhibition at the Pompidou Center is for women-only.
*Scope Basil is only three weeks ago away, and still ‘aint got no permit.
*”I spent a year asking why the contemporary art bubble was the biggest, bubbliest bubble of them all”:Â Ben Lewis’ The Great Contemporary Art Bubble preview clip on YouTube ( ART21’s Ben Street has a funny post on the film too).
*Speaking of Twitter, it could be coming to a t.v. near you.
*Beautiful/Decay needs YOU to help pick the theme for its next limited-edition publication. Winner gets a copy of the book. For free!
Am I alone in thinking that whole Susan Boyle thing was a setup? Everyone’s “surprise faces” looked sort of fake to me. ANYWAY, here’s an otherwise Boyle-free, purely subjective round-up of art-world events, news stories, blog links and other stuff in Chicago and beyond that got me thinkin’ this week….
* Literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick dies of breast cancer at 58 (New York Times Obit.).
*Ellsworth Kelly to install “White Curve,” his largest wall sculpture to date, in the Art Institute’s new Modern wing next week. The Art Institute will also add Kellys’ “Tableau Vert” (a gift from the artist) and “Red Diagonal” (gift of Chicago collectors Howard and Donna Stone) to its collection (New York Times).
*”Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey” opens at Milwaukee Art Museum.
*Across the board, museums face worsening crises. Artinfo.com has created a handy timeline of Museums and the recession (this last via Art21 blog; but, as blogger Kelly Shindler points out, the stats in the timeline need verification).
*More “free” stuff: Sweepstakes contest for Damien Hirst lithos and “the chance” to win his original album cover painting for The Hours (via Animal). Now point me in the direction of the Ayn Rand compound, please.