Sunday, July 25, 2010

Consultant Speak

So, what IS going on with the Gallery?

If you know me very well, you know I can't stand consultant speak (annoying phrases typically employed by consultants like deliverable, procure, or circle back). Don't get me wrong -- I love consults. I'm just much more direct, some would call that being blunt or critical. So, when people have ask what is going on with the Gallery, I find myself getting that "I just ate too much cotton candy followed by a pound of peanut butter fudge and a 24 ounce Mountain Dew" feeling when I say things like "I've mothballed the Gallery for a bit" or "I put the Gallery on hold while I try to figure out what the market will dictate".

The Truth Will Set You Free

In all honesty, I'm really not sure what I'm doing with the Gallery. I haven't had a show since December. There is no one reason. If you put a gun to my head, I'd say it's because I have had trouble finding the right space, I startied a new job with a terrific law firm and I have been traveling a lot (which is a good thing). But it has just as much to do with my loss of energy/motivation.

I know from talking with people that the Gallery has some meaning in their lives (however minimal that may be). And I take it as a compliment when someone who I didn't even think knew the Gallery existed asks me when I'm having another show. But truth be told, as a breakeven (at best) venture, it just seemed like a lot of work that didn't seem to be going anywhere or going anywhere as fast as I would like it to go (I'm not a very patient person).

Art in Charlotte

I still think there's interest in art in Charlotte and there's plenty of good art being made in and around Charlotte. With the new cultural campus uptown, you would think things would be at an all-time high. (The Bechtler seems to be doing very well.) Despite all of this, I'm not convinced there is a market for art in Charlotte, at least not right now. In the past couple of years the number of galleries has dropped by at least half. Big names have closed their doors and other big names have given up on selling art in Charlotte.

Do I think there is a need for art galleries in Charlotte? Absolutely. Do I think art enriches our lives? You betcha. Are people in Charlotte with the money to buy art? Judging on the cars, houses, etc., yes. (Or maybe those things are just as fictional as the equity in our houses or the money in our 401Ks.) So, why don't more people in Charlotte buy art or consider important enough to support local artists? If I knew the answer to that, I'd probably have an art show coming up. But one thing I do remember from that B+ in Econ is that that no matter how hard those of us that want to see the arts succeed, the suppliers cannot create the market.

My Dream

In a perfect world, I'd have a cool little space with a comfortable couch where people could just come in and hang out, talk about art or whatever is on their minds. A good mix of local art and affordable works by some bigger name artists. And an occasional opening where I could see all of my friends and feel that pain in my cheeks I got from smiling too much at the Gallery last summer. People would buy art, artists would make careers out of doing the things they loved, and I wouldn't have to worry about selling enough art to pay for the brie.

Who knows? Maybe the planets will align. I still believe in the Gallery and I still believe in following your dreams. In the meantime, I'm going to take a 20,000 foot view of the data points looking for a top-down approach to determine whether I have the bandwidth to go to market with value-added services. Translation: I guess you (and I will) just have to wait and see.


  1. Hello, Mark. Your last post (and my first reading of yours) makes me cry crocodile tears for the death of contemporary art in Charlotte (aka bank town) AND the literary arts. Galleries closing left and right (Center of the Earth, Hodges Taylor cutting out openings...) and no $ for libraries or the Novello Festival. What's happening to us? Why can't we be a Portland -Oregon or Maine- both have thriving arts communities with community SUPPORT. Wish I knew the answer. As Mr. Holland said (paraphrasing), "without the arts, there won't be much to read and write about".

  2. Hi, Mark. I'm new to Charlotte and just found your blog. I'm still just feeling out the art scene and a bit saddened to hear I've missed what was. But take heart and a look at Cleveland as an amazing example of what a city can do to develop a really amazingly active arts scene.

    I have an acquaintance who lives there, and has told me about some of the programs they have to develop the arts and artists. I wish I could remember more about it, but the most interesting I found was the conversion of old warehouse spaces into live/work studios customized to each occupant. The "condos" are being offered at low rent, each payment going into an account to build into their down payment. Once they reach a certain dollar amount, the funds are turned over to the backing bank as their down payment, the title is transferred over into their name and the developer helps them to transfer the loan as well. There have been similar projects in NY/NJ as well, one being an artist community which sounded really wonderful, and residence was obtained by application and review.

    Unfortunately, even NYC has been hit by this economic downturn, and galleries there have closed left and right overnight. But overall, art sales are going up and record amounts are being paid at auction.

    I think an educated community is the key, and the willingness for some to take the lead in developing these kinds of resources for artists.

    I can get you more info on the Cleveland development if you're interested. The site is

    And I love your blog. You have really lovely taste. It would be great to see it in person in a gallery.