How to Grow the Portland, Oregon Art Market

“You can’t make money in the arts.”

“You can be an artist after you become a doctor.”

“If you want to make money in the arts, move away from Portland, Oregon.”

Those statements are pounded into art students heads often from the first day they walk into the classroom until the day their diploma is placed into their hands.  These beliefs cause artists to undercharge–which is the perfect way to destroy an artist’s career.

Let’s face facts: there are more artists working as baristas in Portland, Oregon than almost any town in America. I believe it is time for a change on a revolutionary scale.  There are too many people telling the country that Portland is the place to find bargains in art.  Although this is true, it is not the soul reason to buy art from the artists who reside here.

Portland has given birth to some of the most talented and famous artists in the country.  As some read this last sentence, they may begin to think, “Portland may have been the place they were born and raised, but too many artists moved away to achieve fame, for example, what about Mark Rothko?”

Although it is true that many artists born in Portland, Oregon move away to achieve fame and fortune, some are returning home. Portland is growing yearly.  The question remains, however, what do we need to do to make Portland become recognized as a serious and competitive art market? I believe it begins with the gallery owners, agents, museums, and art critics.

Here is an idea for gallery owners.  Have your staff engage with patrons.  Ask your staff to get up from their desks and turn off their computers during shows, or when patrons walk in the door.

Critics can stop interviewing and writing reviews about the same galleries over and over and actually get out into the community and artist’s studios.  They can also take time to check out portfolio shows of graduates from our art institutions.

The Portland Art Museum can make a change by placing as much energy into supporting local artists as they do promoting the Norton Simon Rule.  Last year many people rushed to see the triptych, “Three Studies of Lucien Freud” by Francis Bacon and appreciated the fact that it was one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased at auction, $142,000,000!  It was on the wall, however, for only a handful of days and disappeared as fast as it had appeared.  We know the painting’s owner, Elaine Wynn, greatly benefited from the Norton Simon tax break, but please Portland Art Museum, what type of break can you provide for local artists?

The world’s most powerful collectors are taking advantage of our tax breaks and lack of sales tax.  I am asking artists in Portland, Oregon to walk away from your barista jobs and raise your prices.  It is time to make a living with your art.

Please join me at PNCA on Thursday, April 23rd  from 5:30 to 8:30 for my workshop,            “7 Steps to a Successful Career in the Arts.”Fine+arts+grad+workshop+flyer-PRINT


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