Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Interview with a Gallery Owner

"Luxor, Cary Street" - acrylic on canvas.
Copyright 2006 Maggie Stiefvater
Available through Chasen Galleries.

I know that I have a lot of both artists and art buyers in my readership, and I know that both those sorts of folks are curious about the artist-gallery relationship so I asked the owner of Chasen Galleries, Andrew Chasen, if he'd do an interview with me. They represent my Richmond streetscapes and a lot of other beautiful work. My sister came with me to their gallery last week while I dropped off new work and she told me after she left, "That was better than going to the art museum." It's true; Andrew has impeccable taste. (Obviously, he represents me.)

So I'd like to post the rather long interview in two parts here for all to peruse and enjoy and please, visit their website or ask Andrew (andrew at - use a @ in place of "at") if you have any questions about the work they have there. Especially mine.

This first half is about Andrew and about the buying process; the next post will be for artists.

ABOUT ANDREW CHASEN, owner of Chasen Galleries:

1. Why did you open a gallery?
I have collected art since I was a child. I have never really studied art, but I have always loved it - my passion. In 1983, I began in the art industry by selling posters out of my car on Saturdays. Eventually, I quit my full-time job and began selling more expensive artwork. In 1994 I decided to open my first retail gallery. I wanted to try retail after having been on the road,selling wholesale for almost 12 years.

2. Tell us about Chasen Galleries -- what sort of work do you represent?

Chasen Galleries represents artists, sculptors and glass artisans from around the world. Our large variety of styles and techniques enables us to appeal to a broad audience. From photorealism to abstract, our goal is to have something for everyone.
We also strive to continue to provide high quality original artwork and to provide unprecedented customer service for our clients.


1. Why go to a gallery?

A gallery is not unlike using a realtor. An established gallery assures consistency and the reputation of the artist. They stand behind what they sell.

2. I've stayed away from galleries because I don't have thousands to spend. Is that an erroneous conclusion?

Not all galleries only sell expensive artwork. At Chasen Galleries we have artwork from $200 to $42,000 in the gallery. Don't feel intimidated, check out the ambiance of the gallery. If the gallery appears stuffy, avoid it until you find one where the client is appreciated and made to feel welcome.

3. I have a very particular sort of piece that I'd like. Could I ask a gallery owner about something like it, even if they don't have anything like it on their walls?

A gallerist with experience has resources to find all types of artwork if they are willing to do the work. I try very hard to please my clients - to match them with the perfect artwork they will fall in love with!!

4. The gallery I visited has a huge painting that I love but I can't afford it all at once. I'm afraid to ask the owner about layaway or financing - do galleries do that sort of thing?
Many galleries do offer payment terms. Just ask! The worst they can say is no!!

5. Can I go to the artist and get their work for a lower price?

If a gallery represents and artist and a buyer tries to go directly to the artist, trying to circumvent the gallery, shame on him (or her)! A gallery has developed (usually)an exclusive relationship with the artist and expends its energy and spends its money to market the artist. Those walls are not free and to try to avoid the gallery is not the right thing to do. On the other hand, if the artist agrees to deal with a buyer after the buyer has seen the work at the gallery, shame on the artist!! That is not reputable and the artist should refer the buyer to the gallery.

6. Why should I buy an original instead of buying a print? If I tell my husband that I'm buying it as an investment, would I be lying?

An original painting by a class A artist will always hold more value than a print by the same artist. Prints can definitely appreciate, especially if they sell out. Again, supply and demand dictate. On the other hand, A print by a class A artist likwely will be worth more than an original by a class C artist. But whether or not an artist is a good investment, largely depends on the breadth of marketing and the public's acceptance. This requires a very delicate balance that most artists are unable to achieve. None of us possesses that crystal ball with all the answers. If I did. . .
I always tell my clients who question artist pricing, that it is a function of supply and demand - a very basic economic principle.

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