My friend Paul likes to say how there are something like seventeen different art worlds within Montreal, I tend to disagree with him, not only because I am by nature contrarian, but because I tend to think that there are something like a gazillion and a half different art worlds in Montreal (and by extension elsewhere, but some are specific to Montreal)
One of the ones that I get a big kick out of is the single artist gallery. You know, the wife of the business magnate likes to paint, so the husband rents a space for her, and voila! Just add champagne and you have a gallery! Off the top of my head I can think of Nicolin & Gublin, David Farsi, Musee Marc-Aurele Fortin, and Espace PEpin in town. Now, those in the academic art world, you know the types that hang around UQAM and Concordia most definitely look down their nose at these spaces. Those in the hoity-toity art world like thos folk on the fifth floor of the Belgo Building also look down their noses. Maybe all of those folk will end up with crossed eyes.
Now, I personally am not a big fan of any of the art presented in any of the four galleries that I mentioned – you can decide for yourself,
Oreilles longues by Nicolin or maybe Gublin, on the website, they don’t make it clear who the artist is, available in a variety of sizes, media, and frames.
OA0078a by David Farsi, I have no idea about the size, medium, price framing or anything else.
Autumn Landscape in Sun Valley by Marc-Aurele Fortin, oil on canvas, 73.4 x 53.8 cm.
Discret, by Lysanne Pepin, 45″ x 32″, originally acrylic on canvas, now available in a variety of sizes and formats.
But the thing that I do get a kick out of from them, is that they are working a similar concept to what I am trying to do here. And that is make Art integral in everybody’s life. One of my push button rants, is that most people would prefer to pay $15 to see a movie that they know is going to be bad, while they never think to walk into an art gallery, which is free, and can frequently change your life.
The difficulty arises in that they (the single artist places) is that they tend to commodify art. Not in the way that Sotheby’s or Christie’s does which involves a lot of hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors, and houses built out of cards, but in a slightly more pedestrian way, more like toilet paper. Or in slightly more words, you know you’re going to need a bunch of thank you cards, so why don’t you get those pretty ones over there? And if you can’t afford that size, then why not the slightly smaller ones in this corner?
The same sort of thing happens at framing stores, and places that offer giclees. They cater to the lowest common denominator. Which is why, I guess, Star Academie is such a damn popular show. Offering a variety of sizes, at various price points, attempting to please (or at least offer something) to everyone, ends up not accomplishing a whole hell of a lot, except gathering dust in the homes of the people that do end up buying things.
One of the reasons, according to me, is that people like the academics and fifth floor folk, have bought into the Sotheby’s and Christie’s idea of getting fabulously wealthy by buying and selling art. Which then trickles down to the public at large, who in their simplistic and locust-like way end up translating it into five syllables: “Art is expensive.” Or maybe seven, “art is really expensive.” This isn’t helped by the hush-hush behavior at museums, nor by the headlines in any number of magazines.
So, just to stay aware and keep myself honest, I truck down to Old Montreal just to take a gander at the stuff that David Farsi has.