Three Smart Projects

(The discussion is still going strong at The Vanity Galleries post.)
What interests me in general, and for this post specifically, is the way creative people tap their typically broad range of talents. Here, those talents are in service to broadening the arts dialog and offering opportunities to artists and an art-supporting public.
1) Sharon Butler of Two Coats of Paint, is the blogger in residence at PBS's Art 21. She'll be at it for a couple of weeks. Check it out here. A strong visual artist (see below), Butler is also a very good writer who covers a lot of interesting territory. She also Twitters.
2) I hate this economic downturn, but I love that artists can come up with something like 246 Editions, a print project run by artist Matthew Langley. Working out of Virginia, Langley is selling limited-edition digital prints of artists' work at truly affordable prices. "It's really about getting people to understand how living with art is a great thing," says Langley, who considers the income "micro grants for the artists."






Left: Sharon Butler, Scanned Sketchbook, 2009, archival pigment print; right: Steven Alexander, Trans, 2009, archival pigment print. Images courtesy of 246 Editions
"We want to connect people with art," says the blogsite--aka Langley. To that end, the project is offering new editions every week in two sizes: 8.5 x 11 for $20 in an edition of 100; and 11 x 14 for $50 in an edition of 50. (I've already ordered prints by Steven Alexander, Sharon Butler, and Matthew himself, and I have my eye on one by Douglas Witmer, too.)
If you're in town: All the 246 Artists will be showing at Pocket Utopia with an opening on the 16th of July. "It is going to be Austin Thomas's last show at Pocket Utopia," says Langley, "so it will be great (I hope) but bittersweet as well.".
3) Not planning to spend your weekends in the Hamptons? Michael Lyons Wier, of Lyons Wier Gallery in Chelsea, has announced an Art Bazaar at his gallery. A limited-run event, it's ingenious and generous (there's a $20 entry fee, but entry is first-come-first served), and looks to be an opportunity for both artists and art collectors. "We are excited about thinking outside of our 'white' box , says Lyons Wier.
Read on (info verbatim from the e-mail message), but get the specifics from the gallery website before schlepping your stuff over:
Art Bazaar
Starting: Saturday, July 4th, 10:00 am
Dates: July 4th thru Aug 16th (Weekends only )
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays 10:00am-8:00 pm
Address: 175 Seventh Ave @ 20th St.

The Art Bazaar is an open call to all artists on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning July 4th thru August 16th, who wish to display and sell their artwork at Lyons Wier Gallery. The gallery doors will open at 8:00 am for artists to install their work and the Art Bazaar will open to the public at 10:00 am. Artists will be admitted on a "first come, first serve" basis, and admittance will cease once the gallery is full. Participating artists will be fully responsible for setting their prices and for hanging and selling their work during this two-day period. Each artist will be allocated an area to exhibit and must be present during the entire time.

There is no price structure, no visual filter for inclusion and no politics for entrance other than a willingness to show up, step-up and sell the work. At the end of the seven-weekend period of the Art Bazaar, the top selling artist will be awarded a solo exhibition at Lyons Wier Gallery in 2010.


Matthew Beall said...

Thanks for all of that great information Joanne.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! But I wonder if people will be lining up outside the door with their artwork for hours...
or sleeping in line the night before.

Stephanie Sachs said...

Love seeing that the art world is starting to look in less obvious perhaps less glamorous directions.
The Art Bazaar sounds like a great idea but they have not thought through the implications of first come first serve.
The artists will need to get there super early and will be exhausted at 10am when the doors open. This is the time when they will need to be at their most vibrant.
If I was in NY it would certainly be an opportunity I would pursue.

Mink said...

hi Joanne, I'm asking you for your opinion on weather or not i should do this, It means driving down from Syracuse, NY and having my husband watch our kids for the weekend. I'm just wondering how successful something like this is, I never heard of it.

my work is at

Joanne Mattera said...


I assume you're talking about the Art Bazaar. I absolutely cannot take on the responsibility of advising you, or anyone for that matter. To be honest it never occured to me that someone from outside the city would think to do it. The logistics are formidable--arriving early with no guarantee of securing a spot, and if you get it, working long hours with no guarantee of sales.

While I think it's a fabulous idea, it does seem to be more fabulous for the local artist, the emerging artist, and anyone who is driven by a sense of fun and adventure. Syracuse seems like a long way for a lark.

But what about organizing something up your way?

Inspirational Container said...

Thanks for info, I absolutely follow your great blog.

Check out mine:

Kind regards

Marc said...

Thanks for this info Joanne! I think I will head down to Lyons Weir in the coming weeks to try and get in.


Oriane Stender said...

Hey Shazam,

I have not seen any mention of the Art Bazaar anywhere except here on Joanne's blog, which to me suggests that there is not much in the way of advertising or pr about it. Which means there may not be many people there buying. Summer weekends in the city? During a recession? I wouldn't count on it. I think you'd be better off organizing an open studio event with several other artists and be sure to publicize it. Many galleries are closed all weekend in the summer precisely because no one comes in.

Mink said...

Hey thanks for the responses, I was thinking about how the summer/nyc thing can kind of suck for shows and sales, etc. i actually used to live there and if i did it I would come down the day before. I probably will not do it, i had a show in brooklyn in the summer in 2007 and even some good friends that wanted to come were on vacations.

Larry said...

246 Editions seems like a near-clone of Jen Bekman's project, where originally an edition of 200 small prints sold for $20 each, 20 mid-size sold for $200 each, and 2 large sold for $2000 each. All prints were accompanied by a signature card. I suspect 246, like 20x200, is selling giclée copies and so they're not truly originals, but so far the choices of artists and images look very promising.

Joanne Mattera said...

I'm guessing we'll see more of these innovative print projects. There's no shortage of good artwork; it's up to an entrepreneur, an artist or dealer, to organize and administer the project. There's still an interest in art. With reasonable prices, which these projects offer, there should continue to be a collector base. Indeed, this is an opportunity even for artists to collect. The issue of "copies" is a good topic for discussion.

9:03 AM

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Art Bazaar:

The entry fee, admittedly, is minimal only $20. But charging a commission on top of the entry fee seems gratuitous. Yes, the commission is a lower 20% and not the usual 50% . . . but the Bazaar guidelines state that the artist is then responsible for installing (bring your own tools and materials!) and selling the work (you need to be there from 8am to 8pm--you can't leave or ask someone to fill in for you!) Lyons Wier has little to lose from this approach since they're shoving most of the gallery's normal responsibilities/duties right back on the artist.

Two things bother me most about this plan: 1.) The artist takes on the role of gallerist/dealer and pays for the privilege of doing so. This smacks of the vanity gallery approach. 2.) Lyons Wier is essentially abdicating responsibility for anything that could be considered studied, coherent gallery program. First come, first serve, the highest selling artist gets a solo exhibition regardless of whether or not the work is suitable for whatever vision they (Lyons Wier and whoever) might have possessed for the gallery. (I understand that the art business is, at bottom, a business but this move essentially pisses on the traditional role of gallerist.)

The Art Bazaar is a bad move. It is raw and rapacious without even the slightest effort to pretend otherwise. It is a tacky maneuver intended to cash in on the inherent hard-working nature of artists, not to mention our inherent career desperation. Ostensibly, it could be argued that it offers some exposure to the artists and perhaps it could foster a sense of community amongst the participants. (Boy, I'm really reaching here, aren't I?) But the benefits to this approach are minimal at best. Avoid it, I say.

matthew langley said...

Thanks for the nice words about 246 editions.

Quick comment on Larry's post - you are correct - I see 246 as a cross of 20x200 (Jen Bekman) and printed matter - that part is frankly yet to be seen. You are right that these are digital prints - does that make them Giclee? I think of them as digital archival prints - I could bore you with details but that not the purpose of this forum.

All that being said - thanks again.

Matthew langley

Joanne Mattera said...

I have no financial interest in Art Bazaar, no personal relationship with the dealer, so my enthusiasm for this idea comes from an interest in what's going on with artists and dealers who are trying to stay active and viable in a difficult economic time.

This is a short-term project, one that seems ideally suited for summer. Like a green market. Not everyone goes away on weekends. This project appears to provide an opportunity for artists to come together to show and sell. A $20 entry fee is not remotely like a $2500 vanity gallery fee, so the comparison there is specious.

Yes, it's a lot of work for the artists. So are open studios, so are do-it-yourself shows... so is being an artist. As I said in a previous comment, my guess is that emerging artists will jump at this opportunity to see and be seen, and maybe sell. If the prices are low--and this seems like a project for affordable work--artists and collectors could come away happy.

Rather than cut off the feet of this project before it starts to walk, why don't we see where it goes?

I'm interested in hearing from folks who attend the event, who participant in the event. Keep us posted.

Larry said...


I think of "giclée" (from the French word for "to spray") as a term that can encompass any high-quality ink-jet digital print. I've bought quite a few of these from Jen Bekman's site (she also produces photographs), and many have been extremely good.

My point is that, even with an artist's signature card, I have to question whether any of these limited-edition prints can be considered an "original" in the sense that an editioned traditional lithograph or etching would be. With some of Jen Bekman's prints, I've seen originals by the artists that are far superior in color and (obviously) texture, and in one odd reversal, I have seen an original that I thought considerably less appealing than the giclée. I'm inclined to call these prints "semi-originals": i.e., authorized by the artists and with a signature card, but still a reproduction.

Anonymous said...

Am wondering about the 246 editions too.

How is the work selected? On the site, it says not to send submissions - but contact them first, so do artists send their URL?

If 246 editions is screening the work, will an artist who sends a link to their website be acknowledged if they aren't selected for publishing?

Joanne Mattera said...

I suggest you contact 246 Editions directly.

ectopud said...

i will be visiting chelsea this summer and will definitely now add lyons weir to the list of galleries to visit, because of curiousity about this project.

i am not a collector though.

Larry said...

Anon: "The Art Bazaar is a bad move. It is raw and rapacious without even the slightest effort to pretend otherwise. It is a tacky maneuver intended to cash in on the inherent hard-working nature of artists, not to mention our inherent career desperation. Ostensibly, it could be argued that it offers some exposure to the artists and perhaps it could foster a sense of community amongst the participants. (Boy, I'm really reaching here, aren't I?) But the benefits to this approach are minimal at best. Avoid it, I say."

The benefits are 1) that it could get an artist exposure and sales, and 2) that the top seller gets a gallery. Not bad for $20 plus 20%. My fear is that they're going to be overwhelmed by artists lining up to get in, in whatever weather, and hauling a lot of heavy work from who knows where that they may not get a chance to show if the gallery fills up. I think a more humane way to handle this would be to let the artists register in advance; if someone doesn't arrive by 8 AM they bump their place to the first person on the waiting list.

Joanne Mattera said...

I'd add a few more benefits:
. The community that often springs up when artists work on a project together
. The interaction of dealer and artists in a new way
. The interaction of the public with artists and dealer when work is being presented in a new way
. The newsworthiness of the project, which could bring attention to all involved

Do I think there are some inherent logistical faults in the setup? Yes. But I think it's an inventive way to engage artists and the art-going public. And I'm guessing that the logistical issues will be smoothed out after the first couple of weekends.

Stephanie Sachs said...

Like to add a few more benefits to the Art Bazaar idea.(BTW I hate the name Art Bazaar it makes it sound trashy and with a little thought could be made to sound more upscale.)
+ Artists getting comfortable about talking to the public about their art.
+ Artists getting comfortable selling themselves. Whether we like it or not to be exhibited we either need to sell ourselves to collectors or to gallery owners.
+Artists enjoying the thrill of watching people have a connection with your work.

Anon sorry but 20% seems like a fair deal. The gallery has rent, electric, taxes, staff, advertising etc. The 30% extra should cover the other gallery responsibilities the hard working artist takes on.
Agree entirely that there are more humane ways to deal with the set up and like Joanne believe it will be a process that can change.

Whether it is for you as an artist is always your choice it is nice to see a wider variety of ideas being explored.

Larry said...

Has anybody been checking out this Art Bazaar? How well is it working for artists and collectors so far?

Joanne Mattera said...

I spoke to a happy artist, David Lyle, who is both an art Bazaar participant and the curator of the show that's up through today (July 17). It's a good show; I saw it yesterday.

Re Art Bazaar: I'm away on these Bazaar weekends, but I understand there's a range of artists and artwork that makes it into the gallery (it's first-come). Sales are being made. The artists who have good sales experiences or who like the camaderie return repeatedly.

Michael Lyons Wier, the dealer, is pleased with the ongoing results of Art Bazaar, but he acknowledged that it's a ton of work to strike the gallery show after five days, repair the walls, and they open for the weekend Art Bazaar. And then repaint the walls and rehang the show that will be during the week.

I'll do an interview with him in August.

Larry said...

Thanks. I'll have to check it out next weekend.