review as dialogue:fog design+art // panel discussion // "The Changing Face of San Francisco's Art Scene"
Glossary is pleased to present the first in our series Review as Dialogue. There is very little (if any) media coverage on panel discussions or artist talks that often accompany exhibitions, be it at galleries or at museums. Glossary is tending to this need.
On Sunday January 17th at 1pm, Glossary feverishly took notes during a panel discussion at FOG Design+Art Fair. The topic was "The Changing Face of San Francisco's Art Scene." Notes were taken in-situ, and are not literal transcriptions of audio, but rather points that were touched upon.
Alison Gass, associate director for collections, exhibitions, and curatorial affairs, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Jonn Herschend, co-founder, The Thing Quarterly
Deborah Rappaport, co-founder, Minnesota Street Project
Claudia Altman Siegel, Altman Siegel Gallery
FOG Design+Art Fair
January 14–17, 2016
Fort Mason Festival Pavilion
It is small here, exposure to other art worlds is hard. Repeated shows give an overview over time of an artist's trajectory - here there are less shows so it is more difficult to get a sense of what artists are doing. Fairs offer exposure to more audiences that SF cannot provide.
I came to SF for the Bohemian and punk rock/DIY ethos, to make work and to make our own history. In a way SF still provides that, you can take risks here and you can be protected. The isolation is real - there is a ceiling.
SF provides the ability to take risks. The rent we provide is below market rate so that galleries can take risks too. We operate in triage mode - moving quickly to provide a much needed solution. "For profit not planning on making a profit" [is crazy] We need a new term for something that is not the traditional for-profit model, other than crazy."
Is SF changing? What is the change?
"The change is real. Artists have left." The ones that stay are being dynamic and looking for unique ways to make money and talk about their work.
Is there something that galleries and museums could do?
What do you love?
SF has grown up and relating to the art world as an international center, a center of art business. We have six tech companies and other corporations such as Chevron and Wells Fargo - gentrification is a problem, but there is also "new formed wealth. Fairs offer educational platforms for local people to see more of the art world. Culture can be a product of all of this."
"We couldn't make the fuss we are making if we didn't feel that art was something that the city should support." I have been thinking about philanthropy differently - and am divorcing myself from the IRS categorization of profit. For profit allows us to do what we need to do, even though we are not making a profit. Everything we earn will be folded right back into the projects. Our mission is to increase the likelihood of success for everyone involved.
Audience member Natasha Boas
We are missing a stepping stone, which is the artists' space. The Lab and SOEX offer a space for practice and career making. How can we have more of that - is it being addressed enough?
I agree we need more of that. Artists, and students of art programs need to take initiative to participate in these spaces - including acquiring student memberships to spaces - artists need to support these things too.
We are appealing to others who have the means to offer more alternative models such as those. I feel that we [people with monetary means to invest in the arts] sometimes fall into 2 categories: Benefactors or Investors. Instead we should say to ourselves: "This is a problem I want to solve." [and then do it].
Audiences are also important.
New York and LA have communities that create hype around them. We need more of that here - we need more criticism and writing.
SMALL PORTION OF AUDIENCE CLAPS
1% of the population cares about art. . .
Can there be more integration between different mediums? But we don't want to water it down.
People say things like, "The tech industry doesn't buy art." We keep talking about how these people don't show up to things, ask why they aren't buying art, and then we wonder why they don't or why they don't want to talk to us - So can we blame them? Why not present this as, "You are brilliant (tech person) - How can you add to this conversation?"
Audience member asks how we can build a better SF art "scene" and to nurture and educate collectors.
The art world is becoming more and more global, more multi-faceted.
We spoke to a lot of collectors when we were envisioning our space. The ways art is viewed and engaged with is changing - with fairs and online exposure. What was preventing us then of just creating an app? Things change, and we are trying to work with those anticipated changes and fill needs. It's that people, particularly artists need a brick and mortar space - they need to show their art.
Viewing art can be a daily thing - people need places to go - to get out and engage with the world, with art.
I was talking to the Director of Art Basel Miami - he asked me about my collectors. More than half of my collectors are local. Fairs are getting more interested in curating galleries into the fairs that exhibit local work and are building their own communities rather than relying on fairs.
Artist in audience states that more critical dialogue is needed - that art writing is the lasting word of the show after it is over.
It is getting better but more is needed.
We encourage writers to come to our spaces and to also talk to us about what we are doing.
Audience member asks about school involvement.
We are thrilled to be working with SFArtsEd. Arts education is crucial because it introduces children to something potentially fulfilling, especially if they are struggling in other areas such as math or science and potentially helps them improve in other areas as well.
Greater funding is needed to support museums that want to integrate education more fully into their programming and get students to their locations.
Time ran out, and the talk concluded with generalized thanks.
Other conversations while wandering the fair:
Better leadership is needed to create a cohesive art scene.
We need more writers, there is a publication crisis - not enough covering several SF shows per issue.
Artists provide a fruitful voice for art criticism because they understand how art is made.
The fair is a success; exposure to a lot of new audiences, opportunity to showcase design-based artists.
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