Tourists aren’t art collectors

In Kyle Sherard's Dec. 26 article, "State of the Arts: Atelier Gallery Leaves Asheville,” gallery owner Gabrielle Egan cited oversaturation of the Asheville art market and the lack of “urgency to collect artwork, because it's everywhere,” as reasons for closing. No truer assessment could be made. We concur wholeheartedly.

Asheville has been touted as an "art's center.” This is a misnomer. Asheville has been and always will be a tourist town well known for it's craft and beautiful environs. On the one hand, Egan is saying that the market here is oversaturated, yet she can't find collectors.

Providing work that appeals to tourists is not what a true collector seeks. Critical discourse has always been missing in Asheville It takes critical discourse to create collectors. When you can find work by the same artist in three different venues for three different prices, it becomes less about patronage and more about pandering to tourist trade. Every artist is called upon to maintain their standards and principles when determining where and to whom they choose to sell.

A gallery should be founded on the idea of creating a collectors' network. We have been successful in that endeavor. We know a collector when we meet one and have appreciated their support and friendship over the years.

— Gary Byrd
Tony Bradley
SemiPublic Gallery
Asheville

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One thought on “Tourists aren’t art collectors

  1. Stephen Louis Lange

    Asheville has it all. We have our Versailles across the Swannanoa, great views,crafts,beer,food,fashion,music and the kind of terrain that inspires the people to get outside of themselves for a change. It also rivals cities like Austin, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Chicago and dare I say, New York City for sales generated by the fine art produced here. Asheville is a destination for art collectors in many forms, souvenirs aside, collectors that return every year for a new piece in a new style from the same artist. As a professional artist that has called Asheville home since 99, less than half of the art purchased by collectors of art were tourists. The other part are from people that live or own a business here. Galleries trying to promote local artists DO have it rough as do the artists trying to cater to the tourists only. It is important to have a range of work that appeals to the visitor as well as the newcomer. Flexibility is key. I have seen galleries and artists come and go. Those that stay figure out a careful balance between art and business, sustainability and avant garde, tourist and collector, world class art and the local flavor that makes this town a premier destination for people that want to feel that they are the center of the universe for a change. That is the purpose of the arts. If you can make a living @ it it is usually more about hard work than talent.

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