Monday, August 25, 2014

Space to Succeed : Open Thread

Affordable space. So much of success in the art world comes down to affordable space.

If you ask anyone why there seems to be an artist migration to Los Angeles (and it's a bit early yet to conclude it will last any longer than the migration to Berlin did), many will tell you it's affordable space. It's big-enough studios (at affordable prices) to make the work they'd rather make, as opposed to the work the New York spaces they could afford could accommodate. Indeed, nearly every emerging artist I know comments on how space influences their decisions in what they can/should make in New York.

A few of the folks interviewed in the article linked to above cited "anonymity" as the reason for artists moving to Los Angeles:

In L.A., artists can test things out without the glare of the spotlight,” says Ali Subotnik, a curator at the Hammer Museum, who moved from New York in 2006.
On one hand, I think that anonymity is only an issue once you're no longer all but entirely anonymous anyway, as so many artists in New York or any large city continue to be. On the other hand, though, it's obvious that it's LA's vast scale that aids folks in "disappearing."

The article continues to explore the "anonymity" appeal:

“The proximity to the entertainment industry guarantees that the art world will never be the main industry in this town, so artists are able to work on the sidelines.” 
But the art world will never be the main industry in New York either. Finance and Real Estate will always outshine (and influence, if not crush) the art world here. So, again, I conclude it's mostly the affordable space that explains the appeal. Part of my opinion here, of course, is influenced quite subjectively by how the price-per-square-foot you hear of for gallery spaces in Culver City (for example) can make a grown dealer in Chelsea cry (and then get back on the phone to plead again for that next sale...).

Indeed, the migration or expansion of several New York galleries to LA recently would often seem to involve decisions about more space to succeed, but that overall picture there strikes me as based
a bit more on complex art market strategies than on more-direct artist production needs strategies. Essentially, space in LA is so affordable that New York galleries can open a satellite there as a way (as a dealer friend of mine put it) "to cockblock any LA gallery" who might have designs on their top-selling artists. Not that any New York-based galleries have come out and cited that as their primary motivation (that I know of), but Emmanuel Perrotin did note a while back that this was one of his primary reasons for opening a space in New York:
There are other, practical reasons for the Manhattan opening. New York dealers poach other galleries’ artists so aggressively it may as well be a blood sport, and Perrotin feels the pressure. “My dream is to be able to keep my artists and to not feel so much the shadows of someone who wants to take what you have. It’s not an egomaniac situation. I don’t want to be the biggest; I just don’t want to lose. So I need to make a move.”
I'm bringing all this up in response to a recent quote by Shepard Fairey (on Page Six, no less):
“You can’t be in New York and not have ­either a trust fund or a good enough job to live,” Fairey explained at a Hennessy V.S luncheon at Soho House New York celebrating his label design for a limited-edition bottle. “Artists are screwed in New York right now,” he said.
Not all artists, obviously---some are enjoying Hennessy V.S luncheons at Soho House, but I digress...
Asked about LA’s growing popularity as a center for emerging artists, Fairey noted, “The reason why LA is becoming a hub is because LA still has affordable spaces for artists to have studios.”
Meanwhile, back in New York, just stick a fork in Brooklyn, and, as one recent headline for an article on the fever pitch for space on the Bowery put it, "There are no bargains left on the once-seedy strip." Which isn't to say dealers in New York are out of ideas. They're not. These are determined and often quite creative types, we're talking about here. But just that it's getting harder any way you look at it.

That which doesn't kill us....

Consider this an open thread on what space means to your goals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahh,, Southern California . Paradise lost.

I remember barhopping Hollywood on foot in the early 1980s . The strangest place I have ever been the greatest collection of dive bars you could imagine .

I would call them Time Machine Bars the cast of characters in these establishments was mind boggling.

8/26/2014 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Barbara Rachko said...

Agreed. So much of the likelihood of surviving in this city depends on real estate. Personally I would have had a tough time staying in NYC if I didn't own my apartment. It was crazy expensive in 2001 and even crazier now! Young artists nowadays have my admiration when they manage to stay and thrive here, but it's no surprise so many are forced to leave.

8/28/2014 02:21:00 PM  

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