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Why do you think it is difficult to keep art galleries open in Lawrence?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 17, 2006

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Photo of Erika Ochoa

“It’s really difficult to sell art in general. I like the idea of there being a place for artists to display their work, but there are a lot of artists here and not a lot of people in a position to buy art.”

Photo of Dave Courtney

“I really have no idea. It seems like there’s a lot of interest here. They have the Red Balloon To Do and everything. Art’s a tough sell.”

Photo of Justine Kocherov

“Unfortunately, not enough people value original art by living artists. They just prefer to buy famous prints. They should take a chance on real art.”

Photo of Ben Layton

“Too many artists, and not enough buyers.”

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jonas 11 years, 5 months ago

Ben wins the prize. Not to mention, a lot of art really kinda sucks.

imagold 11 years, 5 months ago

The artist from NYC that visited campus several months ago, Steve Keene, or something like that, had the right idea. He thought everyone should be able to afford art. His artwork, while "mass produced", so to speak, is original, colorful, and affordable at less than $20.00. But I doubt you'll find the pieces I purchased selling at auction for millions after I die.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

R_I, when I make it to Lawrence, I'll let you know what I do in Lawrence.

Gootsie, large muscles on your left arms? That must make clothes shopping difficult!

Oh, and be careful about picking on wolverines; I hear they have bad attitudes and react quite fiercely when provoked.

Wait, that's not really an accurate description of Ann Arbor...

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

Yikes. I'm even awake today, Gootsie. Maybe I should go back to bed anyway.

Speaking of Kansas, I started watching Jericho. Is that really what it's like to live (look, I got it right!) in Kansas? Are there really that many good-looking people in one place?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

I think Erika and Ben have it right. Not enough buyers for the artists. Even though I don't like in Lawrence, it makes sense to me.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 5 months ago

Sgt, are you saying you don't like Lawrence? After all we've done for you?


Sadly enough, art has to come after the basic human needs.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 5 months ago

Wow Jonas! What a cool video, except for the bloody stuff. Kind of a Kill Bill feel. Why can't we just love each other?

Stephen Roberts 11 years, 5 months ago

For me the cost of original art is kind of high. I would rather save for my kids education or pay down credit card bills.

I am not what people would call the "creative" or "artsy" type. To me dogs playing poker is art.

Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 5 months ago

I didn't even know Lawrence had an art gallery. Honestly.

jonas 11 years, 5 months ago

I've gotten the impression, from some of the artists that I've run across, that they work harder on their artist statement and what reality they try to push, than they do on their art itself.

I have, however, seen some great stuff on display in Henry's from time to time. Too much for me to spend money on right now, though. In Maslow's hierarchy, I'm still hovering just above the beer level. And that's due entirely to my wife. (i.e. I'd be much lower down without her)

jonas 11 years, 5 months ago

Gootsie: That's why someone should go into art that meets basic human needs. Paintings that double as roofs and walls, sculptures made out of fruit roll-ups and starbursts, etc.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 5 months ago

Beat me to it has been a long held opinion of mine that art has moved from its' craft aspect and many artist no longer have the basic skills nessecary to make art that is appealing to the general populace.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 5 months ago

Yep Sgt. R_I is correct. We are all pretty here. Did you see TOB's picture in the post yesterday? We do, however, have large muscles on our left arms from navigating roundabouts.

What is today? National Pick on a Wolverine day? I'm there!

irnmadn88 11 years, 5 months ago

I saw a painting I liked on display at a restaurant..$250. I am sure it took more than 25 hours to paint it and even that would barely be a living wage for a job here in Lawrence at $10 an hour.

I think art openings are, drink, people...but after the first night?...If a location had an opening every couple days with catered food and drink??? I would rather do that than go to a movie...

beatrice 11 years, 5 months ago

Don't any of you people go to museums? No wonder galleries have a tough go of it -- people don't appreciate art anymore. If you look at the history of mankind, what we see that remains from past cultures is its art. I'm shocked to see anyone, especially someone as enlightened as TOB, to call art "useless." True, it won't make you a cup of coffee, but what about seeing something that is so wonderful that it inspires something in your soul? If you have never seen an image that can do that, then I suspect music is useless, too, right? Owning, or rather being the guardian of art that may live on long after we are gone, is one of the true joys in the world. I love having a home filled with original art, by living and deceased artists. Life without art would be like driving an endless series of roundabouts -- what would be the point?

Your assignment for today -- go spend the afternoon at the Spencer (it is free!). Take time to look, and you might be surprised at what you learn about others and yourself.

Kat Christian 11 years, 5 months ago

Well with the $8-$10 an hour wages paid to workers here in Lawrence who can afford to buy original art? With fuel, utilities, rents and food on a constant rise and wages stagnating I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Duh!!

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

bea, this could get into a fun discussion of individual definitions of art (thanks in part to Justine's "real art" statement).

irnmadn, I see what you're saying, but I think you're doing the painting a disservice by reducing it to an hourly wage.

acg 11 years, 5 months ago

Jonas, that link was awesome!

Art is subjective and a lot of it, as far as I'm concerned, is complete crap. I do wish the galleries were more successful, here, but let's be honest. This isn't Manhattan (NY, not KS) and people here spend their money on all of those pesky little things like food, shelter and clothing. Not a lot of people can go blow money on art.

I like watching the antiques roadshow, when someone has a painting that's been in their attic or they got at garage sale for $2.00 and then they find out it's worth a fortune. I was watching the other day, this chick was on, her grandma had died and left her a trailerhouse with all of it's contents and there was a small painting of a sailboat on the wall. She had brought that in for appraisal on the show and come to find out, it was worth $180,000-$200,000. How kickass would that be?

beatrice 11 years, 5 months ago

The "dogs playing poker" series of paintings were created by the American artist Cassius Coolidge. One of those sold at auction recently for more than half a million dollars! Truth is stranger than fiction.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

acg, that's a fine example of the difficulty of defining the value of art. If it's defined by the price it will command, then it's valuable only if people want it; if it's defined personally, then it's valuable only if you like it. So the question is this: which one does Justine mean when she says "real art"?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

Next Saturday (from 9 to 5) is the Bizarre Bazaar at the Lawrence Arts Center. Lot's of affordable art. Lots of weird art. Lots of good art. Lots of utilitarian art. (Just lots of art.) Parking is easy at the garage across the street. I'll be there. I dare you all to come and find me. Kind of like "where's waldo?" only I won't be wearing a red and white striped hat. take note there will be 3 floors of artists...allow for time.

About "fine art:" I have many paintings from various artists. I usually go to at least one art gallery on every vacation. Discounting my own work :), my favorite painting is one that the hubby saw me staring at in a gallery on the Outer Banks and so he surprised me with it for my birthday. (Thank goodness I was staring because I liked it!)

Yes, it is difficult to keep galleries open. Most people simply do not want to shell out money for something they consider to be "not necessary." I, however, could not do w/out it. Priorities. I'd rather have a painting that I never get tired of looking at than a few sweaters that I'm not going to wear next year because they are out of style.

Redzilla 11 years, 5 months ago

As someone who loves art, gotta go with the harsh reality of the money factor. I have frequently gone to galleries and displays in Lawrence, but only to look. Like a lot of average Americans, I live paycheck to paycheck. Everybody's familiar with the phrase "starving artists," but you don't often hear "hungry secretaries."

Bone777 11 years, 5 months ago

Art is in the eye of the beholder and....

I can only behold cheap stuff.

irnmadn88 11 years, 5 months ago


I meant no disservice to the painting or painter...I used towork in restaurants with several artists...heard "I need to sell a couple more pieces to make rent..." more than often. I think they are acutely aware of the economics of their craft.

Again...knowing the artist and their story makes having original art all the more pleasing.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

Bone, a couple years ago, at the Biz Baz, there was a woman there selling these wonderful vagina pillows. They were quite fancy, very beautiful, might be comfy to lay one's head upon (or not), affordable, and from the sound of things, right up your alley. Go check it out. You could insue a discussion as to whether or not it was "real art."
p.s. first clue: Nope, I'm not THAT artist.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 5 months ago

I think a lot of art in the galleries is over-priced. But, frankly, I don't like a lot of what I see. irnmadn88 mentioned seeing a painting in a restaurant for $250. I think that is a reasonable price for a student or unknown artist. Some of the amateurish stuff I've seen in galleries is a lot more.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

RI, get that tooth re-filled? That'll teach you (not) to floss! heh heh.

Happy "Take a Hike Day!"

Bone777 11 years, 5 months ago

Sue - What are these pillows covered with? Slick or fuzz?

I will definitely have to get myself a couple of these.

You perv....

sister 11 years, 5 months ago

I am contemplating putting Waldo hats on R_I's offspring and letting them run loose through Biz Baz.

Sue, I had a disturbing dream last night that involved you, my naked husband, a couch and a drunk therapist.

Tony Kisner 11 years, 5 months ago

One of my favorite lines from a Woody Allen movie. - Hanna and her Sisters. - a Rock star is looking for a picture to hang over his couch. - "I've got a really big couch - so I need a big picture" - the artist replies -"I don't sell my art by the yard!"

Hard to account for taste.

If you are an artist wouldn't you want to keep your best stuff for yourself? "this stinks, I guess I'll just sell it."

Aileen Dingus 11 years, 5 months ago

I'm all for art, I'm all for supporting artists, but like many others, I have to support me and mine first.

However, I do expect art I'd buy to be something I couldn't make myself. I understand that people have deep visions and meanings beyond my ken, but honestly- if it looks like fingerpaint, or if it is a full canvas of red with an orange square in it, I'm not goin' for it.

I don't appreciate the art snobbery that surrounds so much of it anymore. Just because YOU painted it, doesn't mean I have to fall all over myself about it. Just because you took the time to sculpt it, doesn't mean I have to love it. Or buy it.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 5 months ago

I like you Dazie. There's still an opening on the Lawrence Arts Commission. I rather see someone like you on it than the people who keep picking out that junk downtown.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

Bone, the pillows weren't MY creation. And I'm not a perv any more than you are frigid. (But, then, I don't really know.) :P The most beautiful pillow was silky and quite bejeweled. It dazzled the eyes! Don't think for a minute that that's all there is to be found at the Biz Baz, just thought that that particular item might peak your interest somehow.

Sister, was the dream good enough to write down for a book? Who was the drunk therapist? I cringe to ask what my part was. Was there a nun in the scene? Now I'm disturbed, too.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Prospector. LJW was right in there with the local news, huh? Congratulations, Dr. Low. It is a really high honor and reflective of the artistic diversity of our city.

beatrice 11 years, 5 months ago

For those who don't like contemporary art, the link is to a story of an auction in New York last night that is likely to drive you crazy (think stuffed animals wrapped together hanging from the ceiling and selling for $2.7 million, or a photograph of a Marlboro advertisment photograph - that's right, a photo of a photo -selling for nearly a million bucks). I love it, although it has nothing to do with art, really, but rather with banking. Enjoy! Or see it as a reason to repeal some of the tax cuts for the wealthy since they obviously don't know what to do with their money.

badger 11 years, 5 months ago

Here in Austin there's more 'art space' than galleries. Every coffeeshop, most of the local restaurants, and a lot of the local retail stores will let an artist hang work in their space with a small price tag and contact information.

It means that I see a lot of really bad art. It also means that art is, here, a pretty consistently present thing. I have no idea where the nearest gallery is, but I can name five places within half a mile of me where I could buy original art if I so chose.

I don't understand a lot of the pricing. There were these pictures in Austin Java that were just horizons in odd colors, literally a canvas maybe 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide of broad horizontal stripes with no detail, and one of them was priced at $1100. All of them were more than 800. The pictures were gone after a couple of weeks, and when I asked if they'd all been sold the proprietor told me that no, none of them had sold and so the artist pulled the show. Several people had offered to pay three or four hundred dollars, but the artist refused and took down the paintings instead.

I don't get that. They weren't particularly brilliant, or complex. I imagine they took perhaps a total of 15-20 hours apiece to paint and frame (seriously, just broad bands of unrelieved color, no detail and no variations). Coffeehouse and restaurant shows are usually artists, just starting out, looking for exposure and a little income, not established names in the local art scene. If you're interested enough in actually selling your art to get it out there and put prices on it, and people are offering you decent money, why pull the show instead of selling it?

Bone777 11 years, 5 months ago

Sue Sister forgot to include the two pillows from BizBaz that were on the therapist couch.

ControlFreak 11 years, 5 months ago


It goes back to the arrogance thing. The artist expected that people would fawn all over those paintings because they meant something to THE ARTIST.

I have felt inspired by art and spent many hours in museums and the such.

Unfortunately for artists and gallaries, art is subjective. One person might think it's brilliant (like the artist) and other people might think it's dog doo doo.

I'm not paying for something that I can view for free. I don't need a painting hanging in my house to enjoy it. If I see something I like, I frequent the place it resides (like a museum).

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

So R_I, she's just doing that out of habit, then?

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

badger, that artist was crazy not to take the $400. But seriously, not all artists have over-inflated egos.

RI, but I like nuns.

Aileen Dingus 11 years, 5 months ago

SpeedRacer- :) Thanks... I don't know that my ideas would go over well though...

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

Well, R_I, if you really need a pummeling, then I'm not going to intercede.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 5 months ago

R_I the subject of nuns would require a whole new thread. - Recovering Catholic

mockingbird 11 years, 5 months ago

I never used to appreciate art until I spent a semester immersed in original works by Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Monet, etc. Now my house is filled with art from my favorite living artist (my father). BTW, this is my first post!

sgtwolverine 11 years, 5 months ago

Welcome, mockingbird. Watch out for anyone with an underscore in their name. :-P

badger 11 years, 5 months ago

Welcome, mockingbird.

Mind the bobs.

beatrice 11 years, 5 months ago

Mockingbird, hopefully it won't be your last -- welcome to a great place for humor, fun, sarcasm in buckets, the occassional hateful rant by a morally and financially bankrupt business owner, and generally good times!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 5 months ago

Everybody have you heard? Can you pole dance?

pelliott 11 years, 5 months ago

I like Roys gallery, good stuff, local. some of the finest. I love the coffee shops, cafes as shows. The B Pig is my favorite, Propst rules.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 5 months ago

Welcome mockingbird! Tomorrow I'll tell you all about how sister is psychic and her dreams actually come true (in a way) scary!

Richard Heckler 11 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence went conventional courtesy of the real estate industry so a few could become very rich and have another home in Florida. I say send the Lawrence real estate industry to Florida and leave Lawrence alone.

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