The Dusty Loft — Random Doubts and Thoughts

View inside Honey Space, a makeshift gallery in Chelsea, NYC
note: This post contains a margin of sarcasm. If you know me at all, you know it's inevitable for the sarcasm to leak out.
As I consider the whole Dusty Loft concept, I am coming up against some serious roadblocks, mostly from within my own mind. I am pretty certain that I can get the physical portion of things done. I dread the work because my body rebels anymore when I work really hard, but this isnt my stumbling block because along with age comes wisdom, such as the wisdom needed to enlist the aid of others. The real problem lies with the entire "mission" of the project. I want to share art. That seems rather simple. But after that it gets complex really quick.
Why am I doing this? For Money? For prestige? For friends? Because I can? All the above? What's the purpose of it all?
If the gallery is to work, then it has to generate some income, so to some extent exchanging money has to be involved. The lights, insurance, and the meager rent..>these fees will have to be covered. I cant afford to support this space, it needs to support itself. So money is a consideration. How can a gallery make money? HA! I know >>it seems obvious, by selling art. I have some amount of doubt about sustaining a gallery in upstate NY by selling artworks. I hate to be a buzzkill, esp. since it's my buzz I am killing, but I can't say I have much faith in the value of culture here in the Mohawk Valley. In general, people here are lower income folks, farmers, struggling with very high NY taxes and very little to offer in job selection. Money is tight, gas is expensive and art is frivolous. I will have to come up with additional ideas for gallery income. I will say that I still do have some small trite amount of hope that IN TIME, after being exposed to some minute doses of culture, the area would/should/could support a gallery. But there would have to be some serious community involvement...some insane publicity stunts....something would have to draw attention, cuz it feels like people around here would rather watch NASCAR than attend an art viewing!
I read about this gallery in Artkrush, called the Honey Space, where artists basically commandeered an abandoned building in Chelsea. No Windows, No Heat, No Staff, No Rent. They show their work in a very meager setting. And it's working. How cool is that??? So what was I saying about money? Money sucks, and I hate to make it the center of what I am doing. For that matter, I really am an artist, not a gallery owner (yet), and I would prefer to be making art for money, not shmoozing at a gallery for cash. (So here I go in circles with this! This artist is really tortured and conflicted!) The Honey Space gives me hope, hope that in any context, people may come to buy see art, but this does remain to be proven here in the empty corridors of the Erie Canal.
I have a couple of ideas about how to generate cash besides the selling of artworks. I could rent out artist studio space, it's a huge area I am working with. Certainly there are other people interested in spreading out and having a nice place to create? There is also the idea of holding classes or workshops. I am not too keen on this, because I see this getting me further and further away from my own personal goal, which is creating art and sharing it! I could use the space as a coffeeshop type place, where people go to drink coffee in an arty atmosphere. This also takes me far away from the original idea of showing art in the gallery, but maybe adding a secondary purpose to the space would help it generate the cash it would need to survive.
I am not sure where all this is heading. I am worried about putting all kinds of sweat equity into this project and then getting very little out of it, besides a pretty space. I could produce my Mona Lisa in that amount of time! I work full time (still!) , and I am trying to wean myself away from that idea of the 9 - 5 grind. Maybe the gallery can be where I "work" next, but there's a lot of time and space in between Now and Then. And until I do manage to create more time in my personal life, all this gallery prep stuff is competing with my very very Treasured art time. This REALLY worries me, perhaps the most of all. I don't mind putting some art on hold for a few months to prepare the space, but I already am certain that this is a mode I can't keep up for too long, before the artist in me gets pissed off and quits everything in order to get some Art Done! It's all so uncertain. In life there aren't any guarantees and that's making me crazy.


tgarrett said...

Julie- I wish you luck with all of this- I have some experience in this area- in this tiny town in northern Minnesota about 4 or 5 years ago some of us formed an artist cooperative and opened a gallery- we barely broke even- the challenge of having 15 artist do a business was huge- I learned a lot about people-art- business. The gallery closed a year ago as not enough people stayed with it and it was hard to have a job, make art and work gallery shifts- now i make art and just show sometimes. I deal with those questions you mentioned and even about my own art making- hang in as things will happen as they should- thanks for your open and thoughtful post-

julie said...

I have spent a lot of time thinking and finally I realize this is a longer project than I thought. I am still working to do something interesting up there, but there is not the urgency there was before.
I need to think and stew about it some more!

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