My most recent installment of Social Studies, my BlogTalkRadio show, was quite interesting. If you are one of its 3.9 regular listeners, you'll know that the topic was the role of brick and mortar galleries in the current climate. I obtained comments from a range of folks, including gallerists, artists, collectors and art patrons ... I also drew from my own experience with galleries and alternative spaces, as well as the anecdotes of friends.
I found surprising the incredible range of interpretation of essentially every aspect of the question I was investigating. The notion of "art" ran the gammut from anything exhibitable (and some things not exhibitable) to Work By Dead Masters. The value of art was identified as monetary, aesthetic, cultural, spiritual. "Galleries" were viewed as "formalized spaces for exhibitions" to "only named and recognized venues in the Major Art Capitols" to "storefronts for the commerce of art."
However, all the commenters referrenced the brick-and-mortar art gallery as a place to be with art. Not a place to buy, not a place to sell, not a place to show, but a place to experience.
My favorite comment on this point came from Laura McConnell, a friend and art patron from Baltimore, MD. "Just as print media and books have their tactile experiences, galleries give a sensory and tactile experience for both the artist and the viewer that other promotional mediums just can’t offer."
So. If we consider the provision or creation of a sensory, tactile shared experience as the real raison d'etre for brick-and-mortar galleries, where does that leave us? How can galleries enhance and capitalize on this idea? What new expectations does this set up for the artist? For the gallerist? For the art-viewing public? I'll try to tackle those questions on a future segment of Social Studies; in the meantime, I welcome your comments here (as long as they are in a language I read, which means ENGLISH or FRENCH, and advance the discussion and aren't "i like ur article" spam--those comments will be rejected, sorry.)