Countless people told me that after 3 years in the gallery business I would be moving towards smooth sailing. When I opened Silverman Gallery in 2006, I looked forward to 2009. The past three years have been filled with learning experiences, decision-making and ambitious exhibitions.
By the time 2008 arrived, the gallery had moved to a more prominent location, foot traffic and sales were up, as was our local and national press.In many ways, 2009 should have been that third year everyone talked to me about when I began. However, in the midst of an economic downturn, talks of the recession, and blogs that were headlined by “How to survive the art market crash,” I knew that it was not going to be that easy.
In fact, the new reality was that 2009 and the state of the art market would be choppier than ever before.In the face of all of that, however, knowing that it was my third year as a gallery owner, I was still dedicated to making it one that would make me stand out above the rest.This entailed my most creative programming yet, reaching out to creative people in the Bay Area and beyond.
One of the tactics I employed was to turn our typical “artist dinner” into a more social event that could bring together some of the gallery supporters with a wider audience. I began working with like-minded individuals, such as fellow Dot429 affiliate Michael Purdy who would graciously host a gathering where we would introduce new edition artwork under $500.
These gatherings have proven to be successful in making sales, building databases and creating new collaborations.This strategy and many others seem to be working. It turns out to be a great time to buy, as many collectors are unloading inventory and dealers are willing to negotiate a bit more.
The gallery participated in its first fair during Art Basel Miami this year. Last year’s rendition of this fair left a bad taste in dealers’ mouths, as attendance dropped and sales declined.This year I noticed that the artists, curators and my fellow gallery owners had sun-kissed glows and big smiles. If the large grins are any indication for how the beginning of 2010 will be, then I guess it is true: Art Basel is an indicator for the state of the art market.
Perhaps a young business’ third year isn’t all about financial success but about a pivotal juncture in strategy.