Posted by Milo Divincenzo, a resident of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, on Jun 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm
It was good to read your reflection on Art D'cor. I'm thankful to both you and Tiffany to have been a part of it. During a brief stint at Downtown Danville's Heart Studio in 2010, I faced the same challenges that we had faced at Art D'cor. Although the overhead at Heart Studio was a fraction of what it was at Art D'cor, the seemingly insurmountable challenge was the same (with respect to selling original local art); offering an item that has no utilitarian value, no brand name status attached to it, and will probably not match the drapes.
If I had been given one dollar for every time I was asked to paint something other than what I typically painted, Heart Studio would have made me rich. Accepting all those proposals also would have made me miserable, and not worthy of the title "artist". It was especially difficult to watch visitors carrying $800 purses wince at the price of a beautiful, original, never-to-be-reproduced oil painting with a price tag of $400. In other words, most people don't see the value of original artwork by an unknown artist but never question the value of a Hermes bracelet.
However, there were the few who did have an understanding, and they would quickly snatch the painting from the wall when they leaned in to read it's price. I'm eternally grateful to them.
But still, most of those buyers took my work home simply because they loved looking at the images; they were not concerned about the possibility of later finding the image shrink-wrapped in the poster bin at Cost Plus, or whether I would become a famous artist.
Despite witnessing so many art retailers go down in flames, I have an optimistic view about selling art in this area (to be clear, I'm not talking about tasteless, poorly crafted oil paintings of Italian villas made in Asian art sweatshops). Selling artwork has to be approached in a different way than what we naturally assume is the optimal way (find a high foot traffic location and pay ridiculous rent for it, get attractive lighting and signage, gather a few talented artists, advertise, and wait). Artists must cooperate in mass, and build a living culture, not a store. A culture of art-making not only draws people, but "educates" them. "Open studios" must no longer be treated as an isolated event. A massive group of studios should be open, active, growing, and changing at every hour of the day. Publications should not be quarterly distributions, but active blogs.
The brutal reality is that Northern California is art "backwater" (to quote my friend Dale Lanzoni of New York's Marlboro Galleries). There is brilliant art being made in someone's Pleasant Hill garage as I write this, but there is no infectious culture to promote it. Semi-annual art and wine festivals won't help; in fact, I believe that they make the situation worse for a myriad of reasons.
Selling art in Contra Costa County can be lucrative, but not in the way that it is repeatedly approached. To drudge up a tired expression, it's time to think outside the box (or ArtBin).
Posted by Lisa, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2011 at 8:28 am
To Randy, sorry to hear that the store Art D'Cor didn't last. We never put in a claim to the ammount we made at the location...we showed bank statements. As you know Wells Fargo is a nononsense bank and we had showed what we produced. As for going towards selling mostly originals, it just doesn't work as they customers want something to just decorate. The investors are out there but they also bought the other stuff too. The economy was not as good as you probably thought towards the end of your year. No one person could have seen the economy downturn as it played out. On the outside it probably looked as though it were still ok, but I was running into people who were selling the expensive cars and the favourite home in Carmel, (the one they were always at)because they never went there. The bubble burst, more tiny bubbles on the was as this is not over yet. As for the art of the asians. There are some out there selling the art from asia with their signatures on them, selling as thier own stuff. I have actually heard how wonderful that artists work is, not knowing it is from China with a forged name on it. I have bought great original stuff from locals and also have original stuff from the asians as they have good stuff too. They are highly educated artists and when someone puts them down because of where they come from as though we have a corner on classy art, then that shows thier classlessness and little mind. I got out of California because of its phoney nature. The facade that Danville was doing good was just a facade. The crash came long before it showed. I remembering someone joking about riding the wave before it crashed. How true.