I recently attended one of our local art galleries in Cambridge for a champagne reception to admire the dynamic art of Canadian artist Danielle Akiyama O’Conner. Although an artist myself, I love to collect and Akiyama is one artist I am truly keen to add my collection. With this in mind, and against all work and domestic adversity we made it to the show with 40 minutes to spare.
As we turned the corner from the dimly lit car park the gallery stood before us like a mirage, unreal and out of place! The over-indulgent bright lights edged out from within the gallery creating a halo around neighbouring buildings, but further complimented by the array of large-format, framed canvases displaying dynamic and bright floral paintings, which hung off every wall. The gallery looked mighty impressive, and I am not ashamed to say that I felt quietly proud of the fact that I was one of the select few invited guests. Yet surprisingly, the gallery was not the usual hustle bustle of previous years. The floor was sparse of trendy, designer shoes, and the hum of verbal interaction was faint!
We slowly walked through the large, open double doors. A painting immediately captured my attention, but after a few moments I became tired of the piece and moved on to the next. I eventually realised that we had been there over 30 minutes and not one person had come up to greet us, nor offer us a glass of juice or bubbly. Eventually, our space was invaded with the intrusion of a very young, camp man! “Can I take your name to check off against the list!’, he said! ‘And bring us a glass of bubbly while you’re at it’, I said with disdain!
During our brief 30 minutes I had selected a possible two available pieces to buy. We stood there watching the four members of staff deal with existing transactions and pending interests. During which time my available pieces became unavailable.
Danielle Akiyama O’Conner’s paintings have become highly desirable and consequently have increased in value. Three years ago a 100 x 100 centimeter painting would have sold for around £1700, now they fetch nearer £4-6,000, this is undoubtedly great for the artists and collectors alike. The galleries who promote and sell the work can undeniably take a bow for their success; for sourcing the talent and through excessive marketing of the artist. But, does this success and ultimate power give them license to be rude?
Art is for the people to admire and enjoy, and is not bank-balance dependent! The galleries have a dire habit of portraying a crass attitude by closing the doors to the masses. Why is there snobbery in this profession? Few artists are wealthy, yet most successful galleries can boast a very comfortable income! They should respect the artist by respecting all those who love and admire their work. Although I am a regular visitor to galleries and a buyer of art, I experienced at first hand, the feeling of insignificance and triviality!
Art is sweet, and galleries must take the bitterness and snobbery out of the process of viewing, admiring, and buying art. Their creators devote precious time and emotion, sometimes frustration and very often tears to create just one piece for us to admire. Art is not just a commodity it is life, peace and emotion and should be treated with respect!