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The Rise of Tim Tate: Subjective Advice on Buying Artwork

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A Lesson on an Artist’s Growth

For years and years now I have been advising art collectors to buy Tim Tate. How does one know when to acquire work by an emerging artist, anyway? The obvious first clear part of that puzzle is: Do you like the work? If the answer is yes, then read on.

This advice to buy work from this then-emerging artist came from a place that’s a mixture of savvy art dealer (I was one of Tate’s art dealers until mid 2006), prognosticator, and experience in digging out the details of what makes an artist “tick,” coupled in most cases with that artist’s work ethic, talent, and luck. Hopefully those hard to quantify details are what balance my resulting objectivity vacuum with regard to Tate.

When Washington, DC’s Fraser Gallery gave Tate his first ever solo show in 2003, collectors could have picked up an original Tate piece for as little as $300. Many did, as that show sold out, and those prices are already a distant fact of the past.

Positive Progression by Tim Tate

I myself acquired the work titled “Positive Progression,” a piece discussed in the Washington Post review of that first solo show. At that seminal show I also broke another piece while packing it, and thus bought that one as well, and over the years have accumulated the world’s largest collection of broken Tim Tates.

Over the years Tate worked very hard in his own peculiar marriage of biography, social commentary, and need to drag glass away from the crafts world and towards the fine arts arena. “The Hirshhorn,” a Hirshhorn curator once emailed me, years ago, “does not collect glass.”

He worked at a pace that was amazing to behold and brought new things into the fragile glass world that were amazing to witness: cement, found objects, AIDS and HIV imagery, ceramics, terracotta, and most recently, videos and a dizzying array of technology (motion detectors, and voice recordings).

He also worked very hard to make sure people noticed what he was doing. No need to wait for a curator or art critic to come to you. As every museum curator and art writer in the Greater DC area knows, Tate has no issue in picking up the phone and cajoling you into visiting his studio or his latest solo show. The coverage has been spectacular, especially for the Greater DC area. Only the Washington Post‘s Jessica Dawson has resisted the art landslide and managed to avoid all four Washington, DC area solo shows.

Tate also worked very hard in public art projects that brought a new, refreshing look to public art. He was the winner for the International Competition to design the New Orleans AIDS Monument. Also, Tate public works are at Liberty Park at Liberty Center, Arlington, VA; The Adele, Silver Spring, Maryland; at the US Environmental Agency, Ariel Rios Building Courtyard, Washington, DC; at the National Institute of Health, Hatfield Clinic, Bethesda, Maryland; at the Upper Marlboro Courthouse, Prince Georges County, Maryland; at the American Physical Society, Baltimore Science Center, Baltimore, Maryland; at The Residences at Rosedae, Bethesda, Maryland; Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Maryland; The Carmen Group, Washington DC, and many others in process.

Hard work.

Now the payoff is taking place. In the last year alone, in addition to being represented by the Fraser Gallery in the Greater DC area, Tate has picked up additional representation by the Maurine Littleton Gallery (outside of Greater DC area), the Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri, the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he’s also in the process of completing negotiations three other major galleries in California, Idaho, and Philadelphia. In 2008 his European debut will take place with a solo show at Gallery 24, in Berlin, Germany, and talks with a British gallery should start soon.

Acquisitions by several museums (including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick in the DC area) have also all contributed to the development, and growth of this talented and groundbreaking artist.

Call for Redemption by Tim TateThe art fairs have also played an important part. SOFA New York was the start a couple of years ago, followed more recently by SOFA Chicago and AAF New York and artDC. Tate is now heading to Art Basel Miami Beach where his work will be at FLOW.

At the last fair in Chicago, Tate sold 14 sculptures (including a museum acquisition), and I am told his newest video pieces were the buzz of the fair. In “Call for Redemption,” a motion detector triggers a video while a small speaker wails the Moslem call to prayers recorded by Tate at Istanbul earlier this year (where he was with Michael Janis, teaching glass techniques at a workshop in Turkey).

The results from all these aggregate points and events yield an artist with a trail of many years of hard work now beginning to reap what he has sown, and because art is a commodity, prices are an indicator as well, and Tate’s now start around $2,500 and up. Look for the “up” part to continue to rise.

In the rarified upper artmosphere of the art world, $2,500 is nothing. Tate’s prices will continue to rise.

Disclaimer: Zip Objectivity. Buy Tim Tate now.

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About Lenny Campello