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Talking With Art Galleries: Online Platforms and Lockdown Challenges

Lista Spanos, president and owner of ADC Fine Art gallery with Clara Berta abstract painting

Artists and art galleries have been facing the challenges of working in lockdown over the past weeks. Supporting and promoting our creative community via online platforms has become vital. I’m so grateful to the galleries that make my work visible and accessible. 

The work of the art galleries and art consultants who show my paintings and connect me with art collectors is so important. I recently wrote about how I formed relationships with these amazing art experts. Now, I want to share their perspectives with you. We got their opinions on choosing artworks, the online art world, and facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Art Galleries Share Their Views

The BertaArt team talked to Mary Ann Cohen from MAC Fine Art, Roger Washington from Ronewa Art Projects, Litsa Spanos from ADC Fine Art, Claudia Deutsch from Artspace Warehouse, Georgeana Ireland from Ethos Contemporary Art, and Paul Dahmen from the Fresh Paint Art Advisors gallery, FP Contemporary.

Mary Ann Cohen – MAC Fine Art

What initially caught your interest in Clara Berta’s work?

MAC: When I first saw Clara’s work, it reminded me of the freshness and organic quality of Paul Jenkins’ paintings and watercolors. Clara has a unique way of dealing with her pigments through a combination of control and natural flow that is both modern and timeless.

Do collectors usually have a strong idea of what they’re looking for?

MAC: I think collectors have a feeling or mood that they are looking for but not necessarily an image or style. It’s important as a gallerist not to box the collectors in by showing them exactly what they are comfortable with or what we want to see them collect. I like to push their aesthetic boundaries, expose them to a variety of works, and allow them to find their own way. 

It is important as a gallerist not to box collectors in by showing them exactly what they are comfortable with.

Abstract painting 'Spring Blossom' by Clara Berta installed by MAC Fine Art in a beachside home
‘Spring Blossom’ installed by MAC Fine Art in an Azure Beachside home, Florida.
What advice do you have for emerging artists who are seeking art gallery representation?

MAC: It’s important for new and emerging artists to find art galleries that are showing artists and works that they respect and feel are in line with their own work in terms of aesthetics, quality, execution, and statement. Gallerists like to see continuity as well as variety from emerging artists. In other words, they need to see an artistic commitment but also that the artist is continuing to evolve their curiosity and boundaries with diverse media, subject matter, or concepts.

Mac Fine Art exhibition featuring 'Waves in Blue' by abstract painter Clara Berta
‘Waves in Blue’ featured online at Curated by MAC Fine Art
How are you and your art gallery facing the current challenges of being creative and staying connected in isolation?

MAC: It is a challenging time for galleries. We are doing several things in isolation to get ready for a future that demands fewer physical interactions. This includes further development of our online platform Curated and virtual reality installation simulations. Soon we will run art walks by appointment in Fort Lauderdale, to avoid the crowds that usually come to the monthly MASS District Art Walk.

Roger Washington – Ronewa Art Projects

What initially caught your interest in Clara Berta’s work?

RW: Clara’s work is colorful, exciting, and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  

art galleries talk about online platforms roger washington ronewa art projects
Roger Washington, owner and director of Ronewa Art Projects

There has never been a time in history when art has been so accessible… Now, I have access to artists across the globe.

How have online platforms changed the way you discover and promote artists?

RW: There has never been a time in history when art has been so accessible. Online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have enabled me to promote and market artists in a way that was inconceivable a decade ago. Discovering and promoting new artists used to be very localized. Now, I have access to artists across the globe. I can see their working process in real-time via live video.

Ronew Art projects website featuring Clara Berta paintings
‘Summer’, ‘Lady in Blue’ and ‘Celebration’ featured on the Ronewa Art Projects website
You don’t have a permanent exhibition space, is this becoming more common in a globalized industry?

RW: If someone had told me a few years ago that I could survive and prosper without an exhibition space, I wouldn’t have believed them. The traditional brick-and-mortar gallery space is still relevant today. Galleries will continue to play a significant role for artists and how their works are sold and exhibited. However, the acceptance of digital platforms has accelerated global art distribution. Some art galleries are starting to question the validity of having an exhibition space, as the cost of doing so continues to rise.

How are you and your business facing the current challenges of being creative and staying connected in isolation?

RW: As most of the world is currently unable to participate in exhibitions and art fairs, we remain committed to exposing our artists through our online channels. Our current cross-platform digital series features a new artist every week. We want to ensure that our artists remain relevant in the market when this global crisis is over.

Litsa Spanos – ADC Fine Art

What initially caught your interest in Clara Berta’s work?

LS: I fell in love with her work as soon as I first saw it. The colors are vibrant, and there is a great energy to them. I also love the large scale and her method of pouring paint.

Do you mostly work with local artists and collectors?

LS: I work with artists and clients from all over the country. We offer digital design where we virtually place artwork into their spaces to scale. It’s a great way to sell art. 

People love the ease of being able to select artwork online.

Lista Spanos, president and owner of ADC Fine Art gallery with Clara Berta abstract painting
Lista Spanos from ADC Fine Arts with ‘Spring Awakening’
Have online platforms changed the way the art market works?

LS: Yes, we do a lot of digital design. Now more than ever, even to local clients. People love the ease of being able to select artwork online.

How are you and your business facing the current challenges of being creative and staying connected in isolation?

LS: It’s all about connecting with our clients through email, texts, social media, and picking up the phone to say hello! I urge artists to continue going to their studios and making art for the future. This situation will not last forever. We all have to be optimistic, look forward to our future, and stay true to what we are passionate about.

Claudia Deutsch – Artspace Warehouse

What initially caught your interest in Clara’s work?

CD: The ethereal combination and use of blue paint and texture initially caught my eye.

How do you choose a piece of art for a particular space?

CD: It is all about the emotional connection to an artwork. We help with suggestions in style, color, size, and placement. The client decides what they like best within their budget. 

Artworks on show at Artspace Warehouse - Clara Berta
Artworks on exhibit at Artspace Warehouse

It is all about the emotional connection to an artwork.

How have online platforms changed the way you discover and promote artists?

CD: Every three to four years, the popularity of online platforms shifts. We focus on whichever sites are trending.

How are you and your art gallery facing the current challenges of being creative and staying connected in isolation?

CD: It’s been challenging financially and emotionally. None of the government promises have come through, and support has been inaccessible from the very beginning. We have had to cut our staff drastically. We know of two longtime Los Angeles art galleries that have already closed down permanently. It will be difficult to predict how small businesses will be able to weather the lockdown and the recession that’s ahead of us. The drastic changes have affected our artists all around the globe. Support varies significantly from country to county. We hope that everyone can stay healthy and keep a roof over their heads. We continue to stay connected via email, phone, and google hangout meetings.

Artspace Warehouse exhibition, featuring 'Dreams Come True' by abstract painter Clara Berta
Artspace Warehouse exhibition, featuring ‘Dreams Come True’

Georgeana Ireland – Ethos Contemporary Art

What initially caught your interest in Clara’s work?

GI: Clara’s work is masterful with an incredible organic balance of negative space. She creates beautiful veils of color.

How do you choose a piece of art for a particular space?

GI: I go with my gut on this one. I walk into a room, and it clicks – “I know the perfect piece for this room.” It has to do with color or a feeling from the environment.

I walk into a room, and it clicks – “I know the perfect piece for this room.”

How have online platforms changed the way you discover and promote artists?

GI: ​I have found artists online on Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram and Facebook have been very beneficial for art galleries promoting artists. Our gallery has transitioned to making at least 50% of our sales online.

'Into the Deep' abstract painting by Clara Berta at ethos Contemporary Art
‘Into the Deep,’ featured on the Ethos Contemporary Art website
How are you and your art gallery facing the current challenges of being creative and staying connected in isolation?

GI: We are busy creating virtual shows and refreshing our website. I’m talking with artists about new projects. We are trying to stay positive and to refine and grow during this tough time.

Paul Dahmen – FP Contemporary

What initially caught your interest in Clara Berta’s work?

PD: I was first drawn to Clara’s work when I saw her paintings in her booth at Saachi’s “The Other Art Fair” several years ago. I loved her bold colors. After learning she also does large scale paintings, we knew we wanted to bring her on board. So we arranged a studio visit and it was a good fit.

How have online platforms changed the way the art market works?

I have done well with online platforms like 1stdibs.com and artsy.net over the past four years. Now, with the world-wide pandemic and galleries being closed, they are more important than ever. Approximately 75% of my sales in the past few months were through these two platforms. I think this will transform how collectors buy art and online sales will increase greatly moving forward.

Paul Dahmen from Fresh Paint Art Advisors and his private collection featuring painting by Clara Berta
Paul Dahmen and a small resin painting by Clara Berta (top right) in his private collection.

My advice to emerging artists right now is to keep creating and experimenting.

What advice do you have for emerging artists who are seeking gallery
representation?

This may be a tough period for emerging artists looking for gallery representation. While I hope I am wrong, I feel many galleries will close permanently as a result of the lengthy Covid shutdown. However, the team at Fresh Paint Art Advisors are always looking for the “new, now, next” artists. My advice to emerging artists right now is to keep creating and experimenting. Continue to hone your skills and your artistic voice. Be prepared so whenever you have an opportunity to present to galleries, you have a strong body of work to show. 

How are you and your business facing the current challenges of being
creative and staying connected in isolation?

At Fresh Paint we adapted quickly to working from home. We attend weekly staff meetings on Zoom. We have always reached our clientele through email marketing and, like the online sales platforms, these emails have become even more essential. On the personal side, we are all staying connected via Zoom parties with friends and family across the country.

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