Sunday, June 7, 2009

Art and Business: Co-op Makes Sense

Viewpoints Gallery on State Street in Los Altos, California.

You don't always think of artists as practical people, but one very practical group of artists in the San Francisco Bay Area has defied that stereotype. They have joined together in a business model that is a delight to art patrons and an affordable platform for artists. Everybody wins.

Viewpoints Gallery in Los Altos, California is an art cooperative that has been around for more than thirty years in the same space. If you love California art, it can be found here. But the artists don't just paint regional scenes. One recent show featured farm scenes and another filled the walls with images of bicycles.

If you can't afford to buy, but simply love to look, the gallery offers a change of art every month. If you're a collector its a real find: the prices are reasonable and the artists are excellent. And for the artists; it is a wonderful place they can show their work by pooling the cost of the gallery's rent and expenses. There are fourteen artists in the group today, thirteen "two dimensional" artists and one potter.

At a recent reception, all of the artists in the cooperative were available to meet and greet their guests. Food and wine in the courtyard behind the gallery brought art patrons outside to see additional panels of art on display that tripled the number of paintings that could be shown inside. The weather smiled and though rain was forecast, it stayed away.

While my friend was queueing at the wine table, I strolled through this mini art fest. And here I had the chance to chat for the second time with one of my favorite artists, Diana Jaye, a accountant turned plein air artist. Plein air artists (the two words mean "open air" in French) take their easels into the out-of-doors to catch the beauty of the changing outdoor light. Jaye waited until she retired from her career crunching numbers to entirely shift over to the other side of her brain and paint. The cooperative has allowed her an affordable way to show her work and to meet other talented artists who want to sell their paintings but who don't want to set a price on them that the average collector can't afford.

Artist Diana Jaye at the Viewpoints Gallery Reception.

As all good marketing projects are, this reception was fun. Whether you were buying or not you had a chance to meet people who were pursuing their dreams and who had the common sense to form a group that helped bring their dreams to the public.

The pursuit of happiness: and making a profit from it. Isn't that what America is all about?

Reception guests study the work of San Francisco Bay Area artist Barbara von Haunalter.

Viewpoints Gallery Link
Artist Diana Jaye Link

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