The New York Times looks at some mid-range galleries and what they’re doing to try to survive the economic downturn:
At Schroeder Romero on West 27th Street, for example, Sara Jo Romero said that Compound Editions, a joint venture founded last fall with the neighboring Winkleman Gallery, offers artworks produced in multiples in the $100 to $300 price range. “That’s been a big success for us,” Ms. Romero said. “Also we don’t have any employees, and our space is off the beaten track,” she added, which helps to minimize her gallery’s costs.
Tracy Williams, whose gallery is in the West Village, is also focusing on lower-priced art. Seeing her bottom line plummet in December, Ms. Williams said, she asked a consultant to take a look at her books. After being told, “This is what you did last year, this is what you’re going to do next year, this where you have to cut back,” she said, she let go one of two full-time employees.
She asked her artists to begin covering their own production costs. Then she asked three young curators to recommend emerging artists whose work she could sell — ideally — for less than $2,000. Her goal, she said, was “to show inexpensive work by younger artists” that would sell and draw attention to the gallery. (The exhibition, “Tactical Support: Curator’s Choice,” is open through July 31.)
Cutbacks and bargains on the home front have been accompanied by a vastly reduced presence at foreign art fairs for many dealers.
Referring to her 18-square-foot booth at Art Basel, Ms. Williams said, “It’s $40,000 before anything’s even hanging on the walls.” On top of standard expenses like airplane tickets, hotel rooms and meals for four or five days, “you have to pay for all of the light bulbs,” she said. “You pay for every outlet. And that’s before you even think about framing and transporting the art, or the building of an extra partition.”
Ms. Williams said she has eliminated all plans to attend art fairs for the remainder of this year.
Brent Sikkema, co-owner of the Sikkema Jenkins gallery in Chelsea, said bidding farewell to art fairs has been easy. He participated in five fairs last year. “We’ll never do that again,” he said.
“On the positive side,” he added, “art fairs have contributed enormously to the globalization of art. But on the negative side they spawned a culture of shoppers,” typically newcomers who rarely visit galleries.
“I’ve said for years, the shoppers will be the first to head for the hills when the market softens,” he said. “That has absolutely been the case.”
This Summer Some Galleries are Sweating (New York Times)