I remember back in the mid '90s when selling a painting for $200 was a hard-fought victory. The idea that somebody would buy local art and wanted to live with it was cause for celebration among local artists. An artist could have an exhibition and if she or he walked away with $600 it was a real success.
I dislike speaking of money where art is concerned, but there is a business side to it all.
A two-month solo exhibition by a local artist opened several weeks ago in a local space. As of yesterday the artist reportedly had already sold $90,000 worth of art from that show. My point is that local art isn’t at all what it used to be. The artists in this town have the ability to sell quality art at higher prices, and they are doing it with more regularity.
Cash-and-carry, one-night shows, with work priced under $200 are important, fun and popular, and can usually work anytime and anywhere. But an exhibition — with large paintings that are expensive and time-consuming to make, which sell in the thousands of dollars — needs a month-long exhibition, or longer. And these pieces need every chance to sell.
This is why I support the controversial move to First Friday exhibitions. The hardship of competing with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in latter-month Final Friday openings (when shopping money is depleted) is not fair to an artist or a gallery. First Fridays will not ruin what has been built in the community. If anything the change will make art buying in Wichita more advantageous for everyone.