Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SOUTHWEST RAMBLINGS - Thoughts on Making and Living Art


Where have all the galleries gone?

Linda Moran

Scottsdale is one of those destinations people go to for golf. Eric Maisel talks about the need for creative tourism in one of his newsletters:

In the tourism industry, the places where some of these questions are beginning to be addressed (or ought to be addressed) are in the areas of “cultural tourism” and “creative tourism.” Cultural tourism is an umbrella idea that includes all of the following: attracting visitors to a place because of “grand” cultural attractions like famous art museums or symphony orchestras; attracting visitors because of a place’s “cultural mosaic” of art galleries or live music venues; or attracting visitors with the lure of experiencing a particular “culture,” whether it’s “natives in native dress” or the “Italian culture” of an old-line Italian neighborhood with its delis and caf├ęs.

I go to Scottsdale for the galleries - Chihully glass, some fiber, lots of Western art, unusual paintings, and absolutely fabulous semi-precious stones. There is one area in particular near the main tourist-y shops, on Marshall Way, that is several streets of galleries - absolute heaven!

Except...


...they're gone...."For Rent" signs on the doors - one whole street that used to have 15 galleries now has 6. What has happened in a major Southwestern tourist destination?

Can you say "it's the economy, stupid?" We are seeing the economic downturn reflected in the absence of art galleries. No more disposable income for big-ticket (or even small-ticket) art purchases. I couldn't believe the empty spaces - in just a year. Is it because many of us just "look" and enjoy the wonderful art? Are artists no longer able to support themselves with their sales? Are we too caught up in making a living without being able to enjoy our living?

It concerns me that the arts are less and less visible, since they are the cornerstone of a civilization. What about artists in smaller communities with a very seasonal tourist business? I know my trips to Scottsdale will not be nearly as exciting without the Gallery District hosting a plethora of new art.

Linda Moran is a fiber artist working with hand-created marbled fabrics. This centuries-old art form originally limited to paper takes on new life when used on fabric. Join her for musings on the fiber field, art in the Southwest, and the challenges of creating fiber art. See her work and contact her at The Art of Fabric, or reading her musings on her blog.

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