About the galleries

March 25, 2011

Dear Rodney,

I'm wandering around the galleries of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Scottsdale, 
Arizona. While a few are papered over from the recent recession, plenty still 
exist, though traffic seems to be down. As usual, when the electronic doorbells 
chime, cute gallerinas jump to their feet, walk toward me and say something like, 
"This is the new Joe Bloggs we just got in. It's the first one where he's included 
buffaloes. Wonderful, isn't it?" Others, unable to tune into my sophistication, 
open up with a cheerful "Welcome," and "Have you ever been in an art gallery 

Subtle changes have taken place in these two markets since the last time I visited. 
Sculpture is bigger. Giclées are hardly mentioned. Landscapes are holding their 
own. Cowboys are a bit down and abstracts are a bit up. Pueblos are still in. Like 
natural gas, it looks like figurative is about to uptick and explode. But it's 
subjective from gallery to gallery. One young woman tells me "Nobody wants florals 
these days," while the girl next door tells me, "We do very well with these 

As usual there are dealers with good eyes and others with poor ones. A fellow with 
garish and uninformed work on his walls was too busy to say hello. He flipped a 
"Back in ten minutes" sign on his door and screamed away in his yellow Ferrari.

The rise of the one-artist gallery continues. The artist, when alive, can often be 
found sitting behind a computer with his wife or current girlfriend. The dead 
soloists are often in the hands of capitalist descendants with ideals and a bit 
to learn.

The Russian connection is still strong. The main reason is that many of these 
hard-working painters have arisen from a vast talent pool and have had excellent 
training. Further, the Southwest has a tradition of Russian émigrés: Nicolai 
Fechin, Sergei Bongart and others have paved the way. The current work of many 
younger Russians and Russian-trained Americans just knocks your socks off. FYI, 
we've put a selection of some remarkable American-sold Russian painters at the 
top of the current clickback.

There's not a lot of evidence of an imminent Chinese invasion, but I can feel it 
coming. Perhaps the Chinese themselves have done themselves in for the time being 
by having their work over at Wal-Mart. 

Best regards,


PS: "American collectorship of Russian painters is maturing. Big collectors from 
Russia and China are buying here as well." (Russian art dealer in Scottsdale, 

Esoterica: Generally speaking, the Southwest is a "pure" art market. That is, it's 
largely uninfluenced by gaga media, obscene prices, the museum bandwagon and 
investment pressure. People actually buy art here because they want beautiful 
things in their homes. Further, many of the dealers exude an innocent and beguiling 
love, manifested in their enthusiasm for genuine quality. In good times and bad, 
they love their jobs. While the best job of all may be making the magic, the 
second best job may be the effective sharing of it.