By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Barbara Lewis
ZURICH (Reuters) – The hubbub that descends each summer on a sleek exhibition hall in Basel, where collectors snap up art and hunt for hot-ticket new talent, is likely to be replaced this year by lines of socially distanced Swiss waiting for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Herzog & de Meuron building usually hosts one of the world’s biggest art fairs in June, but last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic and this year’s has been moved to September. The adjoining congress centre, meanwhile, has been turned into a vaccination hub.
The art world is reeling from the impact of lockdowns, travel bans and social distancing, and fairs like Art Basel suffered more than most. The business of buying and selling art is having to adapt to limit the damage.
Global art sales fell 22% in 2020 to $50.1 billion, UBS and Art Basel’s Art Market Report published on Tuesday showed, the steepest market drop since the financial crisis.
But the picture was uneven, as buying by the ultra-wealthy, notably from Asia, held up.
In contrast to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when many of the world’s rich lost money, the super-rich have become richer during the pandemic as financial stimulus and volatile markets served to increase their fortunes.
Big auctions houses, led by Sotheby’s and Christie’s, were already used to telephone bidding and online sales, and so could pivot relatively easily to appeal to cash-rich clients.
Both reported an overall dip but saw record online activity and resilience among Asian buyers, while pre-pandemic trends of interest in Black, female and living artists were reinforced.
This year, they hope to build on that, capitalising on an influx of young collectors who have found the online world more accessible than old-style auction rooms, and as more traditional buyers yearn to return to the real world.
“There is enormous pent-up demand for experiences and even spending, once there’s a bit more stability and predictability,” Sotheby’s Chief Executive Charles Stewart told Reuters.
“We have the potential for just the biggest boom for a period of time, assuming that we get to a place where people are comfortable leaving their house.”
For Christie’s, 2021 has seen spectacular confirmation of the potential to create wealth from the virtual world as it hosted a record-breaking $70 million digital artwork sale this month.
In an online auction held over 14 days, bids on the work by U.S. artist Beeple started at $100 and accelerated dramatically, with 22 million visitors tuning in for the final minutes of bidding.
Christie’s plans to follow up on the success with further sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or artworks that exist only in digital form.
More people appear to be willing to purchase artworks online without seeing the real thing first.
“What we have observed is the simple behavioural truth that collectors are more willing than ever before to buy from an image,” said Rachel Lehmann, co-founder of New York gallery Lehmann Maupin.
But she added that the digital space presented a challenge for artists and artworks that don’t translate well into an online image.
WINNER TAKES ALL
For German artist ANTOINETTE, lockdown was not all bad: the cancellation of public events allowed her an extended stay in the east German castle of Merseburg where she was working.
Using only pencils, she is creating intricate drawings on 5-metre high panels that form part of a multi-year project on European cultural identity entitled “ALTAR of Europe”.
Socially-distanced locals can watch her work through the windows and ANTOINETTE said they had become her network.
“I’ve come to feel like a part of the community,” the artist told Reuters.
But if she is fulfilled artistically, financially her situation is perilous, as commissions such as portraits have dried up during the pandemic.
Smaller galleries are also struggling, experts say, because the pandemic has accelerated the concentration of the art world into fewer hands – very wealthy buyers and high-profile and established sellers. https://reut.rs/2LNUmNW
“Compared to the last recession, when everybody’s wealth went down, in this one billionaire wealth has really risen,” art economist Clare McAndrew, who authored the Art Market report, said.
“These things are good for art sales … But it does bring us back to our old problem of the infrastructure being very top heavy and kind of winner-takes-all.”
The UBS and Art Basel report found fairs accounted for 43% of art dealer sales in 2019 but only 22% in 2020, just under half of which were generated by digital events.
“The digital world is concentrating buying on what is fashionable (on social media) and through the big galleries that employ more than 100 people,” said James Mayor, who has run the Mayor Gallery in London since taking it over from his father in 1973.
Although he always attended Art Basel, he has avoided its digital offerings, which he says are no substitute for the real-life event. Some others agree.
“So far, digital formats have not replaced this as we benefit from face-to-face interaction and the atmosphere of a physical fair,” Stefan von Bartha, director at Basel-based gallery von Bartha, told Reuters.
It is not just galleries that suffer.
During a normal year, Art Basel’s nearly 100,000 visitors to the city help boost hotel room occupancy to almost full capacity during the first four days of the fair, or by some 35%–60% over average levels over the week, Basel’s tourism office said.
Galleries and advisers interviewed by Reuters anticipated a recovery in demand for fairs and art tourism post-pandemic.
Art Basel has scheduled a fair in Hong Kong for late May. Other major fairs, including TEFAF and Frieze, have said they expect to proceed with live fairs in some format later this year, complemented by digital participation.
But even before the COVID-19 crisis, some said there were too many fairs, and galleries and collectors say they will be more selective, sticking to the more local focus they have experienced over the last year.
In Hong Kong, galleries report strong business as China made an early recovery from the pandemic and the appetite for contemporary Chinese art grows.
“People have become very used to the extravagance of big fairs and big biennales celebrated in so many major cities,” Leo Xu, senior director at David Zwirner Hong Kong, said. “Honestly, I don’t miss that.”
The gallery, one of Zwirner’s six international locations, managed to increase sales in 2020, Xu said, primarily through outreach to wealthy, tech-savvy Chinese.
Also in Hong Kong, the Villepin gallery, run by former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin and his son Arthur, opened in March last year at the height of pandemic lockdown and said it had done “very well”.
In New York, gallery owners said there were positives, including a much-needed reassessment that might mean peripheral art fairs disappear, while Art Basel will almost certainly bounce back.
Sean Kelly, who runs a contemporary art gallery in New York, said the loss of art fair revenues has been offset by cost savings from not attending.
“We have to start thinking about the cost of the art fairs and I don’t mean the financial cost. I mean the physical and environmental cost,” he said.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Barbara Lewis in London and Joachim Herrmann in Merseburg, Germany; Editing by Mike Collett-White)
Visit the city's tiniest art gallery: Five things to do in Saskatoon this weekend – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E.
Whether you’re interested in art, a virtual party, some outdoor activities or cleaning up around the house, there’s a little bit of something for everyone this weekend in Saskatoon.
1. Visit the Free Little Art Gallery
In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E. Designed in the style of community libraries and kitchen boxes, visitors to the gallery can take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or do both. You can check out some of the artwork on Instagram @Freelittleartgalleryyxe.
2. Hit up The Bassment’s virtual party
Featuring the music and talents of eight Saskatoon bands, The Bassment presents InTune 2021 — a free online party playing from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows will be streamed live through the Bassment’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
3. Check out local performers
Watch as some of Saskatoon’s performing artists share their work in Episode 1 of Persephone Theatre’s Open Stage, which was published earlier this month. The episode is available to watch whenever you want at persephonetheatre.org and features Peace Akintade, Kathie Cram, Amanda Trapp, Sketchy Bandits, Carla Orosz and Ellen Froese.
4. Have some family fun
The Fuddruckers Family Fun Centre (2910 8th St. E) is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. Families can practice their skills on the 18-hole Putt N’ Bounce miniature golf course, reach new heights on The Rock climbing wall or take a swing at the Grand Slam batting cages. More information is available at fudds.ca or by calling 306-477-0808.
5. Drop off your hazardous waste
The City of Saskatoon is holding its first Hazardous Household Waste Drop Off of the year on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civic Operations Centre (57 Valley Rd.). The drop off is open to Saskatoon residents from residential properties only. Products eligible for drop off include aerosols, automotive fluids, batteries, cleaners, light bulbs, yard chemicals and more. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/hazardouswaste.
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.
YK ARCC celebrates 10 years by pushing for NWT art gallery – Cabin Radio
Its trailer doubles as one of the NWT’s only art galleries. Now, the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre is turning 10 years old.
The group, YK ARCC for short, formed in 2011 in a downtown Yellowknife church scheduled for demolition. “There was always something going on,” recalled Métis artist Rosalind Mercredi, owner of the city’s Down to Earth Gallery, who was YK ARCC’s first president.
“I think it was so good to be able to have a space where people wanted to work on stuff and, if they had bigger projects they wanted to do, there was a space to do it. It was pretty vibrant times, I would say, for art.”
Though the organization stayed in the church for less than a year, it has brought art and shows to Yellowknife since. Temporary homes have included an apartment above a Vietnamese restaurant and empty spaces in the Centre Square Mall.
Casey Koyczan, a Tłı̨chǫ artist from Yellowknife pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba, held some of his first shows with YK ARCC’s help.
“It really helped to be able to show work within an environment that was conducive to more of a fine arts aesthetic as opposed to … a coffee shop, or a pub, or something like that,” said Koyczan, who was on YK ARCC’s board.
“YK ARCC felt like it was getting to more of a formal-exhibit kind of feel.”
‘We need a territorial gallery’
The group made headlines shortly after opening a mobile art gallery in a trailer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the team took art to residents by accepting reservations through Facebook then driving the gallery to make house calls in different neighbourhoods.
“Because it’s so small, we might be the only gallery in Canada that didn’t have to close,” said longtime board member Sarah Swan. “It has a limited capacity. We knew we could still operate it safely.”
Yet the trailer’s success simultaneously illuminated what YK ARCC’s members believe is a glaring deficiency in the NWT: the absence of a territorial gallery.
The cost of rent makes it difficult for the non-profit to hold on to one space for any length of time. Many of the spaces that are available in Yellowknife don’t work well for art shows.
“We need a territorial gallery,” former board member Dan Korver said.
That doesn’t mean a commercial gallery geared toward profit, he clarified. Instead, Korver wants a space where artists can show their work and engage with an audience “for art’s sake.”
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is the only large-scale, non-commercial, gallery fitting that bill in the NWT. It hosts two fine art exhibits a year.
“It’s just simply not enough,” said Swan. “There are so many more artists and so much more work out there to show, so many more ideas.”
“We created the mobile gallery in the first place to feel that exhibition gap, but also, we created it to be a piece of agitation in itself. That’s why we called it the Art Gallery of the Northwest Territories.
“It’s really pathetic that our territorial gallery is a trailer. We all joke that if there ever is a real gallery of the Northwest Territories that’s not in a trailer, we’ll happily give the name back.”
Koyczan described obstacles in establishing his career that stemmed directly from the lack of a territorial art gallery.
“Back when I was showing at YK ARCC, it wasn’t recognized by the Canada Arts Council,” he said. “Therefore, when you go to apply for grants and funding … and you provide your CV saying that you showed work at YK ARCC, they check their records and say the show basically didn’t exist because they don’t recognize it as a legitimate gallery.
“I’ve had to work really hard on exporting myself and making artwork that is impactful so that, regardless of where I was located, it would be recognized by people in the south, or around North America, or internationally.
“The NWT needs a contemporary gallery. It’s just holding us back, not having that space.”
‘No GNWT mandate’ for a gallery
In a written statement to Cabin Radio, the territorial Department of Education, Culture, and Employment said it has no plan to create a territorial gallery.
The department said it “does not have a mandate to create physical infrastructure for the arts.”
“However,” the response continued, “the GNWT would be happy to work with regional organizations to see how the GNWT can support their plans.”
Korver believes government involvement in creating an artist-run centre or non-commercial gallery should be limited to provision of funding, so any gallery can remain community-driven and independent.
“We need that physical space, but how do you run it?” he wondered. “Is it better to just provide a grassroots organization – or organizations, maybe there shouldn’t just be one – with stable funding so they can provide those spaces and run those spaces?”
More spaces that can host art are on the way.
Makerspace YK moved into the old After 8 pub this January and is planning workshops and exhibits. The City of Yellowknife expects to open a visitor centre in the Centre Square Mall that would include art displays.
Meanwhile, the territorial government is set to release its updated NWT Arts Strategy this June. The previous territorial arts strategy, released in 2004, had identified a need for more arts spaces.
As a gallery owner, Mercredi said she is curious to see how the strategy is implemented.
“You can make a strategy but if the plan doesn’t have an implementation idea behind it, then really just sits,” she said. “How do you implement it when most of the arts organizations don’t have enough infrastructure or people to put those things together?”
Swan said YK ARCC will continue to run its mobile gallery while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Members have applied for funding to run a series of “emerging curator workshops.”
“Art is our passion,” Swan said. “I think there’s just this drive to share.
“Because we know how good art can be, or how amazing and fully developed it can be, we want to fight for that. We want to try to grow the art community in Yellowknife.”
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat
Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.
“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.
Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.
“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”
The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.
Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.
“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”
Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.
April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.
Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.
Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune
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