by cheri sabraw
On our travels, we visited a number of art galleries in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. While my husband studies the art, I usually interview the salesperson, who these days, often happens to be the gallery owner.
Long after husband leaves the gallery in search of either another one or an ice cream, I am still questioning and listening to the answers to my queries.
“Is it just me or does much of the plein air art painted today look the same?” I ask a gallery owner in Wyoming.
“You are right,” he laments. “Many scenes beautifully rendered but how many barns, hay fields, vineyards, ocean ledges, forests, rivers, and greying skies can I sell?”
I wade into one of those dicey rivers and continue.
“I would think you would be forced to look for art that is different in some way. Is that true? After all, you are ARE in the business of selling art.”
“Yes,” he says, stimulated by the authenticity of the conversation. He leads me to four paintings that are not impressionistic, not abstract, not plein air, but instead, are figures of animals done in simplistic strokes on board, not canvas.
“What do you think?” he asks me.
“They are different,” I observe.
“We haven’t sold one, ” and with that answer, shakes his head.
At a gallery in Vail, Colorado, one full of large-scale pieces of realistic art that demonstrates an understanding of all the important qualities of a fine piece of art, the owner confesses that most people are not buying this type of art. They want modern, contemporary pieces that match their lima-bean colored sofa.
I reflected on my own attempt to paint well, one that I continue to this day.
“Sort of discouraging for those of us who can see the skill and talent in this paintings hanging in your gallery, ” I comment while trying to avoid stepping on a plump old Labrador lying by the door.