Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Go On, Buy Some Art

     Before he died in 2011, Lucien Freud, a British artist, could sell his paintings for up to an insane fifty million dollars. This is certainly a ridiculous example, yet proves the point that an artist doesn’t have to be dead to have their work valued. And although artists would love to make a living in town they understand the reality that Thunder Bay simply isn’t quite big enough. Some artists do well, like Luke Nicol and Greg Zelinski, who also sell their works in Grand Marais and Duluth.
     Although there are a limited number of people in the world who can afford a Freud painting, it’s been said that Thunder Bay has a high percentage of millionaires for its population so there is no reason for local artists to undervalue themselves, as they often do. It’s also said that wealthier residents here, who could be purchasing art from local artists don’t because they prefer buying art when travelling to remind them of places they’ve been.
     Fortunately for us artists, and Thunder Bay culture in general, there are a few collectors in town who not only purchase great art from across the country, and around the world, but also work by local artists. Dr. Bob Chaudhuri is one example. He even shows off his collection occasionally at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. Jaro Kotalik, another collector, has his walls covered with beautiful works by Ruth Tye Mckenzie. And there are others. So, on behalf of local artists, thanks so much!
     Thunder Bay certainly has a good share of great artists and the number increase every year with graduates from Lakehead University and Confederation College who decide to stay or return. A great benefit in the last few years has been the support of the Ontario Art’s Council’s Northern Arts Fund, allowing artists the time to create their works and explore new methods to find their métier. As a result Thunder Bay has become a miniature cosmos of all that is available in Toronto or Vancouver.
     However, for the good number of people who appreciate art, there are still people who think art is silly, all frou-frou and excess, a waste of public money. Popular culture, which for the most part is beamed to us electronically, is certainly greatly supported by the same critics so why don’t they see value in local art?
     By comparison, an original work of art seems expensive. But people will pay over a thousand dollars a year to get the TV channels they desire. And pay for video games, players, and all sorts of technological fixes, which all employ thousands of artists to entertain them.
     You can express your belief structure, social standing, desires, and decorate with all sorts of stuff that isn’t original art, and cheap. So, why should people buy original art? What value does it have for a community like Thunder Bay? Why collect it?  After all, you can get all the basic functions of art from a poster and basic interior decoration.
     If you really are passionate about life, a public person, expressing your beliefs and desires, there is no better way than by having a great art collection.
     “The person who owns the work has the pleasure of living with it,” says artist, Linda Dell. “When they pass away, the art becomes a testament to their taste and values to be enjoyed and appreciated by their heirs. Europeans have known about this about original art for generations. Many are well acquainted with their regional art history and attend art exhibitions and galleries as part of their personal edification.”
      Often collectors and artists become friends. Social interactions are easier in cities that are designed where rich and poor mingle together as they once did in town squares, so even here artists have that ability to create bridges that people can cross.
     “An original piece of art or a quality print is a passionate creation reflecting the soul of the artist and in turn your soul, as a buyer in choosing the art piece,” says artist, Vesa Peltonen.  “An artwork can provide inspiration, escape, and beauty and encourage conversation. Buying art from an artist begins a unique and personal relationship that will last for a long time.”

     Which is why it is important for artists not to undervalue themselves and sell their work at cut rates. If you believe in your work and your community, charging a fair price respects not only the work you do, but also the relationship you have with the person who purchases the work. The work is more than the time and years of experience the artist has put into it. It is also inhibits the relationship with others. For all you know, every day, someone somewhere might be looking at your work.

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