Clark Whittington, Art-o-Mat® installation at Serendipity Gallery (photo credit: Richard Reilly)
Last September, Critical Mass for the Arts invited four local art workers to participate in a panel discussion for the general public on the topic of "Art and Place" in St. Louis. Naturally, topics around money emerged frequently in that conversation. Some on the panel have, happily, found ample funding throughout their experiences creating and curating art in the region. A panelist described pleasure at cultivating new art collectors when introducing gallery visitors to the joy of art ownership. Some expressed gratitude for art jobs that pay a living wage. Other participants voiced an inability to view their art as a commodity because it involves teaching, engaging with a public or creating work that is not a sellable object. These artists asserted the important role their art plays in giving form to our regional identity, in communicating the people's mission statement with their murals, sculptures, one-time-only events and surprise experiences.
their art interest to push them into new venues in new neighborhoods to see the work of artists they'd never heard of. We need more art adventurers to help our art economy grow.
That discussion, held at the University of Missouri Saint Louis’s Gallery 210, highlighted not only the very important role of economic forces on art production in our region, but also that of art venues, installations, events, advocates and practitioners on our local economy. This discourse set our wheels to working on how much happens in the art worlds because of charmed connections. Affiliations between art appraisers and collectors, gallery directors and artists, philanthropic organizations and their grantees prompt all sorts of questions about when these connections are fortuitous and how to make more of them. We decided to focus our Interviews and Community Voices sections of our All the Art, Winter 2015 issue on “Art and Money in our Region.”
To this end, All the Art asks potential contributors looking toward future issues to cover art events that are completely outside of their regular stomping ground. We ask all of our art writers to visit exhibitions showing artists unknown to them, living and working in areas unknown to them. Let’s diversify our regional art investment by reaching out and supporting our diverse creative classes - the abstract painters, the mural creators, the print producers, those pushing the envelope and those decorating it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that questions related to our regional art economy show it to be somewhat fragmented. Everywhere we go, we find small groups of supportive people who rarely venture from the art community in which they participate. There are the exceptions, rare St. Louis art enthusiasts who use
Any investment advisor worth their salt will tell you to diversify your retirement savings into a variety of areas. Our regional art economy requires the same smart planning. We need sculptural installations in neighborhoods not yet known for the artists within their communities. Places like Paul Art Space in Florissant, the Granite City Art And Design District (GCADD) and the Pentimento arts programming event held in an abandoned school building near Cherokee and Jefferson are all crazy exciting ways to collaborate across geography and demography. We need to bridge our gaps with art.
When art funds are low and recognition is hard to come by, it’s easy to feel more competitive than supportive. But the reality is, we ALL need St. Louis to grow as a Midwest art hub and we can only make that happen if we let ourselves get exuberant about what the other guys around the corner are up to.
All the Best from All the Art,
Executive Editor and Co-Founder
Creative Editor and Co-Founder
The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis