Friday, August 26, 2016

The Demise of the Art Supply Store

I had an interesting visitor in the gallery today - a sales rep who sells frames and artists' materials to stores nationwide. We had a long talk reminiscing about the good old days when art supply stores were plentiful and stocked with real artists' supplies.
When I first began painting (back in the Stone Age), New York City seemed to have art supply stores everywhere you looked, and they were fully stocked with materials for every type of art - fine, commercial and graphic. Arthur Brown, Pearl Paint, Sam Flax and Freidman's had at least one location in the city, but typically many more. It seemed there was a Sam Flax on every corner. These stores were geared more towards commercial art. This was because all the advertising agencies and publishers needed stores close enough to be able to deliver art supplies in a timely manner - sometimes the same day. Archaic items like rubber cement, layout pads, pencils, colored markers and storyboards, which have become obsolete in the age of computers, were all standard fare back then. If an office ran out of something it wasn't a problem because you just went down to the local branch on your lunch hour and charged it to your corporate account. There were specialty stores too, like Joseph Torch, on 14th Street and Eighth Avenue where you could look through shelves loaded with fabulous handmade papers - sumptuous watercolor and pastel papers from France and Italy, drawing pads and watercolor blocks of Fabriano and D'Arches. All of this was standard fare - no special order was required. Imagine that if you can!
For everything else, there was Arthur Brown in midtown. A large, fully stocked art supply store, it was the place to go for the finest quality sable watercolor brushes, oil paints, pens, printing inks and sculpting materials. The prices were a bit steep, but if you needed something that wasn't quite mainstream, this was the place to go. I don't remember when Pearl Paints actually showed up on my radar. I seem to remember they sold house paint or something, and it wasn't the giant art supply warehouse it later became.
When they closed its doors on Canal Street a few years ago, it sounded the death knell for quality art supply stores everywhere. Even though I live within commuting distance of New York City, there is no longer a retail store devoted exclusively to art supplies. With all the mergers and closings, such as Utrecth and Dick Blick, these stores have become mega stores that substitute vast quantities of pseudo-art supplies for quality artists materials. They cater to no one. One size fits all. The only drawing paper you can find is Canson pastel paper in a limited number of colors, and even if you find a suitable color, the sheet will invariably have a dent or crease in it from someone carelessly putting it back into the poorly designed wire display shelf.
I detest the craft stores that have monopolized the market. A. C. Moore (which I consider to be the best of the lot, although by no means a suitable substitute), Michael's and the new kid on the strip mall block, Hobby Lobby, seem to have thousands of items I will never use, and nothing I actually need. There isn't a store in existence in New Jersey where I can just walk in and buy something as simple as a Robert Simmons Filbert bristle brush.
Try getting a roll of primed or unprimed linen canvas, or a bottle of turpentine, let alone a particular kind of brush. Or a stretcher that isn't an even size. It's not that the store is temporarily out of stock; they don't carry odd sized stretchers because there's not enough of a demand for them. A 15" stretcher requires a frame with a 15" measurement somewhere in its configuration, which doesn't exist in their tidy little world of standard sizes. And yet, you'll find row after row of mirrors, candles, furniture, millions of different markers, beads, popsicle sticks, rubber stamps and ready made frames. Heaven help you if you need a frame other than a 8" x 10", 11" x 14" or 16" x 20". At one time you could purchase wood or metal frame sections in any size and assemble it at home. Although they were all very basic, they served in a pinch. Not anymore. They're long gone. Your only option is to order a custom frame. All custom frame orders in these places are horribly overpriced (even after the automatic 50% discount they give on every order), the people aren't very knowledgeable, and it takes many weeks to make just one frame. This is not the type of service any serious artist can or should tolerate. Maybe it's fine if you're framing a print to go over the sofa, but an artist doing an exhibition with upwards of a dozen paintings to frame in a hurry? Never.

When I lived in New York City, things were simple and uncomplicated. When I moved out to the suburbs, I became aware of how limited the access was just by virtue of the fact that I was "no longer in Kansas anymore, Toto," but the problem was still manageable. Whenever I couldn't make it to Pearl Paints on Canal Street, I'd drive to the one in Woodbridge, NJ. Not the same company, or so they insisted, but they had the same name, same logo and most, if not all, the same inventory. It was a good alternative to driving into the city. When they closed, I discovered the Utrecht Outlet in Cranbury, NJ. They had a fabulous warehouse sale once a year, where they pretty much gave the stuff away. I bought things like sculpting, woodcutting and etching tools, with the idea of using them someday. (I haven't used any of them to date!) But the deals were so fantastic, I couldn't pass them up. One year I came away with two gigantic rolls of primed Belgium linen canvas, and a carton of four  48" x 60" gallery wrapped canvases for less than the cost of one roll of linen.
It's not the bargains I miss so much as the assortment and variety of the materials available. What do art students, amateurs and even professionals do nowadays? I'm constantly amazed by the lack of knowledge of the sales clerks in these stores, and the tacit acceptance of these stores by the people who frequent them as the go-to place to buy their art supplies. I'm often asked about materials when I'm shopping. My advice is invariably more helpful than the employees'. After all, most have never used any of the supplies they sell. What a difference this is compared to the employees at Pearl Paints, where the employees were sometimes more knowledgeable than college professors about the materials they were selling.
Art has always been on shaky footing when it comes to choosing a career. How many of you were told by your parents, "That's fine dear, but how are you going to make a living?" Or asked, "When are you going to get a real job?" Fortunately, I never got that from my parents. I was encouraged to pursue the career I seemed to want even as a young child.
I was informed by the visitor in the gallery that the last bastion of this old world order, New York Central Supply, down on the lower East Side is also closing its doors forever. What a shame!
So the odds are definitely stacked against young artists these days, as it becomes harder and harder to obtain the basic materials needed to paint and draw. There are many teachers and schools that still teach classical methods, such as Juliette Aristides in Seattle, Washington. She has written two excellent books, "Classical Drawing Atelier" and "Classical Painting Atelier". One must be very determined to become a classically trained fine artist these days. The rewards of an artist's life, however, are definitely worth the effort.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Heights!

Yesterday I got 45 page views! Thanks everybody! Keep coming back.
Being in the gallery all day has given me the opportunity to really study the paintings of the artists I represent - Heather St. Clair Davis, Peter Smith, Booth Malone and Larry Wheeler. I've discovered a few interesting things lately. For instance, the Heather St, Clair Davis landscape has a fox in the foreground that's camouflaged by the rust and brown colors in the brush. I made an even more exciting discovery this week. She signed the painting twice! While studying the way she painted the grassy lane that takes your eye right into the middle of the painting, I noticed some underpainting below her signature that called for a closer examination. Under the surface, there it was - her signature in a light, Naples Yellow hue. It's bigger and lower than the second signature, which is in brown. It's been painted over, but is still faintly visible. Now you might ask yourself why she did this. Someone even asked me if this meant it was a fake. Rest assured; it doesn't mean it's a fake. This is an exciting discovery that only adds to the value of the painting.
Two signatures are visible - one in brown, the other in faint yellow.
For centuries artists have repainted, resized and revised their work. When it's visible, it's called "pentimento." The brush strokes and sometimes even the color, come through the top layer of oil paint, making it visible to the viewer. The significance of pentimenti (plural) is that they offer a unique glimpse into the painting process of the artist. (Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of the term if you don't have access to any books on artists' methods and materials such as Mayer, etc.) John Singer Sargent often repainted areas of his large canvases of aristocratic clients in elegant gowns and luxurious surroundings. The most famous of these is the fallen strap on Madame Gautreau's gown in Portrait of Madame X. It caused quite a stir back then - it symbolized scandal and loose morals! Although Sargent exhibited it at the Salon in Paris in 1884, it was not well-received and the sitter's mother asked that it be withdrawn from the exhibition for fear it would ruin her daughter's reputation. Sargent refused, but later repainted the strap so that it was sitting on her shoulder. It's now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is considered one of Sargent's finest paintings. (Personally, I've never cared for it. The contrived pose with her twisted arm, the minimalist background and sickly complexion of the sitter have always made me uncomfortable. Madame Gautreau was considered a beauty in her day, but this painting hardly flatters her. Parisians must have felt the same way, for it was soundly rejected by the public and the critics, and quashed Sargent's hopes of establishing himself as a portrait painter in France.)
I suspect Heather might have restretched the canvas or changed the size, because the first signature is very close to the edge of the frame. I'm not an expert; I only know from my own painting adventures that a composition can be improved by changing the size. (There's something to be said for doing preliminary sketches. Ahem!) The painting has backing paper on it, and I'm not going to open it up to see if that's the case. A prospective buyer, on the other hand, might actually request it to learn more about the painting.
I have a pair of paintings I did of a fox cub or kit and English foxhound puppy in the gallery. Originally they were 8" x 10". I put them in square 8" x  8" frames which I had lying around in the studio. It only occurred to me to cut down the pictures after trying to find some finished paintings that would fit the frames! They look so much better in the square format and yet, it would never have occurred to me to change the size if I hadn't been scrambling to find finished pictures for this exhibit!
Oopps! Unsigned. Better get the paint and brush out!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Travers Week!

Travers Week. When the racing world converges in this small upstate town in anticipation of the summer's final showdown. This is what's known as the "top of the stretch". The homestretch, the final strides to the wire, the finish line! Travers Week is traditionally the week leading up to the most important race of the entire meet. Saratoga is called the "Graveyard of Champions" because so many champions have been beaten here. The Travers is notorious for the favorites getting beaten. Secretariat, Affirmed, American Pharoah all suffered the same fate - a loss in the Travers. Losing to horses who just seem to come out of the woodwork for this one race and then retreat right back into it.
Last Saturday's Alabama was the unofficial start of Travers Week. We were treated to a spectacular win in that race by America's newest sweetheart, Songbird. A filly who looks like her daddy (in horse racing that's a good thing; in people, maybe not so much) and runs like him too. Only faster.
My parking space karma was good, as usual. I left the gallery around 4:30 pm and drove straight down East Avenue to the front door of the track. I did a quick K-turn to snag a spot half a block from Union Avenue, facing in the right direction (away from the track). I got to the paddock in time to see the eight race on the monitors before figuring out my "spot" - the best place to try and get a photo of Songbird. (I took my camera this time.) I looked in my program to see what her post position was, and looked around for tree number 6. No karma here. The "6" was across the paddock, near the saddling enclosure, as far away as it could possibly be. I'd only have two chances to photograph her up close before the race - coming into the paddock and going out. The trend in the past ten years has been to have two grooms accompany the horses in the paddock, so getting a photograph of the horse's head and neck without a person blocking it is now impossible. Undaunted, I pick a spot along the rail near Big Red Spring. It's a shady spot, with long shadows and large patches of sunlight. The  horses for the Fourstardave are now beginning to enter the paddock. King Kreesa and Grand Arch (last year's winner) are being saddled under the trees directly in front of me. I click away. Great light. Great color. I can easily picture what I'm going to paint here.
King Kreesa and Grand Arch (#2)
Then it's, "Riders up!" The horses leave the paddock but I stay put. I don't want to loose my spot. The race goes off and there's an inquiry after the race. It delays the start of the Alabama a few minutes.

"KEEP BACK 4 FEET" is painted in big red letters on all the paddock rails. Used to be a time when there weren't any rails surrounding the paddock. People could just walk among the horses being saddled to get a better look. I know, I know. The world is a different place now. But I think it sends the wrong message to the fans. It certainly isn't a very friendly message. Everybody just ignores the warning.
Entering the paddock
The horses are entering the paddock for the Alabama now. They come into the paddock in consecutive order, one, two, three. I look for number six. Here she comes. Her head's down and there's lots of tack on her - bridle, halter, etc. It's hard to see her face. They walk directly to the saddling shed. They don't take a turn around the tree or anything. I'll only get one more chance for a photo when she comes out. They no longer walk the horses around the paddock one full time. Just put the riders up and walk out to the track. Songbird has a lead pony in the paddock, which further hides her from view.
The pony is in the way as she comes around the corner.
The lead pony blocks my view!
I get wonderful shots of the pony....
It took me three weeks to notice that the saddlecloths are color coded - red and white for number 1, white and black for number 2, etc. It's always the same for every race. I feel rather silly, since I'm supposed to be so observant! They have the name of the race and the horses on them for the Alabama.
I race down to the end of the grandstand to get some photos of the horses warming  up. I finally have a chance to get some full length photos as they warm up. I take some nice shots of Weep No More, Going For Broke, Go Maggie Go, Dark Nile as they circle back towards the starting gate. I finally spot Songbird as she comes around the turn. She looks magnificent. Before they head to the starting gate, Mike Smith crosses himself and looks towards heaven, uttering a silent prayer before the race.
Mike Smith asking for Divine guidance
Then suddenly, he looks confident and ready to go. He smiles as he talks with the outrider.

Songbird wins the Alabama easily - as easily as Frosted won the Whitney two weeks ago. Another awesome performance by the best filly in the country. I wonder what NYRA can possibly do to top this. The Travers seems a bit anti-climatic. I've never known a year when the biggest stars weren't the three-year-olds in the Midsummer Derby. It's as if summer's already over. I can't believe it almost is.
Songbird Takes Flight!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Chronicle of the Horse in Art

I am very pleased to announce that my pastel painting of Flatterer has been included in the National Sporting Library and Museum Exhibition: "The Chronicle of the Horse in Art". This show celebrates the best Chronicle covers over the past 70 years!
Dates August 26-March 26
Member preview reception is August 25
The painting appeared on the Steeplechasing Issue, Friday, January 18th, 2002, and is in the collection of Mr. & Mrs. William Pape. Mr. Pape also commissioned me to do ...two exact copies of the painting for Flatterer's co-owners, Mr. Jonathan Sheppard, who trained Flatterer and Mr. George Harris. Flatterer won the Eclipse Championship four times, in 1983,1984, 1985 and 1986. He was retired to Bill Pape's My Way farm in Unionville PA, where he lived to the ripe old age of 35.
Here's the link to the National Sporting Library & Museum:

Monday, August 15, 2016

Marketing Your Work to New and Young Collectors

I had an idea for an exhibition many years ago, to tack 100 of my drawings and sketches onto large mat boards and sell them, unmatted and unframed for $25.00 apiece. I had read about a similar event in a SoHo gallery in New York City and thought it was a marvelous idea. Here was a chance to get an original work of art for less than the cost of a frame. I figured once a person got to hold a real drawing in their hands and realized it wasn't just a fancy-sounding ink-jet print from a copy machine, they'd snap them up like hotcakes! I don't know if it just wasn't advertised well enough or maybe the Stanley Cup Playoffs were on that night or something, but it was a dismal failure. I must have sold some, but I don't remember how many. Baffled and slightly discouraged, I took them home, put them back in the flat files (still attached to the mat boards) and forgot about them.
While going through the paintings I was preparing to take to Saratoga this summer, I came across this forgotten stash of drawings. I decided I had nothing to loose by taking them with me since they took up very little space in the U-Haul. I thought maybe I could put them in plastic sheets in a 3-ring binder and let customers flip through the book. A friend came to the gallery shortly after I had finished setting up and seeing them displayed so abysmally, offered to mat and shrink-wrap them in exchange for a piece of art. I told him he had a deal!
I priced them a bit higher - $35, $45 and $55 according to the size, stuck them in a few print bins and put them in the "New Collector's Corner." I explain to everyone who comes in that these are all originals and I'm doing this to encourage people to experience the thrill of owning an original work of art. For some, it's a chance to get acquainted with an artist's work without spending a lot of money. For others it's a way to cross some Christmas gifts off their list. What a great gift idea!
The drawings run the gamut from small anatomy studies to large, full color pastels. It's fun to discover what people like. Some people like the pen & ink drawings, while others only like racing scenes. There's something for every taste and every budget. It's a win/win situation.
I've sold more than three-quarters of them already and I'm busily at work creating more. The Bryn Mawr Hound Show is still fresh in my mind, so I'm doing pen & ink drawings of the Junior Handler classes. It's a great way to pass the long hours in the gallery when most people are at the track. If it wasn't so hot and humid on Saturday, I might have ventured over to watch the Fourstardave stakes race, but the air conditioning felt too good to leave.
What lesson have I learned from this? I'm not entirely sure I know the answer. I don't know why the drawings are selling now. I'm sure it helps a great deal to put them in mats. One should never underestimate the power of a neat, clean presentation. Being in a nice gallery helps too. It seems more "legit" than a tent at a hound show or an outdoor art fair. Perhaps I'm explaining my goal of getting art into the hands of new collectors more clearly. I want people to discover the pleasure of owning original art. I want to help them appreciate the creative process. What better way to do it than by making it affordable to everyone - whether they're a new collector or veteran connoisseur?
Oh, by the way, terrible thunderstorms rumbled through Saratoga Saturday afternoon, forcing the cancellation of the day's remaining races. Years ago, I learned about the wild unpredictability of the weather at the Spa. I'm glad I didn't get caught in the storm.
Here are some of the drawings. Enjoy!

Thirsty Hound

Monkton Hall Bassets

In The Ring

Tug Of War

Waiting for the Judge

The Blue Ribbon

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What a Difference a Day (or two) Makes!

I went to the sales Monday night, and went again last night, and the complete transformation of the Fasig-Tipton sales grounds could not have been more dramatic if it was computer-generated on a giant iMax screen.
Where there was tranquility and quiet, there's now a blaring, indecipherable stream of babbling over a loudspeaker that penetrates every inch of the cigar smoke-filled air. It sounds like somebody's imitating a Jew's Harp with their lips and fingers. Except the voice is saying 500, 500-0-0-0-0-0, 525, 525, 550, now it's 550, 550, 600. Thousand. Dollars. The noise is inescapable. I get a call on my cell phone, and even with the speaker on, the volume turned up all the way, my ear to the phone and my finger in my other ear, I can't hear a word of what the caller is saying. I hang up and text - "text me".
I can't help but wonder what these pampered, coddled equine babies think of all this. The inescapable noise, the smells, the sights. It must be a bit unsettling for them, to say the least. Oddly enough, most of them are taking it in stride. I'm more bothered by this than they seem to be.
People are everywhere. They're clustered near the TVs, along the new wooden rails of the walking ring, in small and large groups - everywhere. It's hard not to literally run into someone every few steps. The yearlings are being shuttled back and forth from their stalls, paraded around the walking ring for 10 minutes, led down the chute to the sales ring, sold, led up the chute, back through the walking ring and back to their stalls. For the yearlings, it's all over in just 20 short minutes. Although it's all very organized and controlled, it feels chaotic. Or maybe the word is electric.
I'm supposed to meet some friends for a quick drink at Table 78, but I have no idea where that is. I ask a waitress. She indicates it's all the way down at the other end of the patio. It's hot and I know I won't survive trying to make my way through the overcrowded dining area, so I go back outside and walk along the row of stalls facing the restaurant. As I near the other end of the patio, I see on the TV that the yearling in the ring has passed the million dollar mark, so I stop to watch what happens. I check the sales catalogue - she's a filly by Medaglio D'Oro out of Whisper To Me. She gets all the way up to $1.425 million, so I wait to see her come out, because she's the highest priced yearling of the sale, colt or filly. Perhaps the buyers are dreaming of another Songbird. I take a photo with my phone, but the light is very low and all the shots are blurred.
I wish I just watched her go by instead of trying to get a photo. I've come to realize, I trust my eye more than the camera. It's funny, because one of my recurring dreams is photographing things or events - horses, hounds, people. I've often said that I don't really see things when I'm photographing them. I get so involved in taking the picture, I don't see the action or details until I'm editing the film. When I went to the Whitney on Saturday, I deliberately left my camera in the car. I wanted to experience the race without thinking about getting a good photo to use for a painting. It was great not lugging a camera around for a change. First of all, a camera with a big zoom lens is not exactly a fashion accessory. It's all metal and pretty heavy. And bulky. It always feels like an albatross around my neck. I watched Frosted in the paddock, and for a split second he turns his head and looks up. The light strikes him just the right way. His eye flashes in the late afternoon sun. I feel a pang of regret for an instant. But I have a mental picture. As Frosted leaves the paddock, I walk quickly to the grandstand and head up the track towards the top of the stretch. The horses are still warming up and I make a mental note of who's lathered up, who's a cool cucumber. People with cameras flank me on both sides, and someone else asks if they can squeeze in to get a picture. I'm not the least bit sorry I don't have a camera (I could always use my iPhone in a pinch).
At the top of the stretch, as Frosted rounds the final turn and heads for the wire, I can see his jockey, Joel Rosario with a tight hold on him. It looks to me like he's trying to slow him down. The fractions were so fast the other horses are cooked, and Frosted still has plenty of run left. I've never seen anything like this in all my years of watching horse races. And I've seen three Triple Crown winners before American Pharoah.
But back to the sales.
I finally find my friend, Christina, my new best friend and we talk for what seems to be only a short while. The sales are still going on, but I haven't been paying attention. It's been a long day and it's finally catching up to me, so I say goodnight. A yearling passes me on the way to the ring, Hip 252. I look in my catalogue because it seems like a high number. The last horse. I can't believe sixty-one yearlings have been sold since the sales-topping filly. I need to get some sleep. When I get home, I don't even remember hitting the pillow.
Oh yeah. The Frankel colt I wrote about earlier brought half a million bucks. Not too shabby!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Free Gallery Lecture, Tuesday, August 9th

Tomorrow, August 9th, I'm doing a free lecture and demonstration in the gallery from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. The title of the lecture is "Inspiration: How to Get It: How to Keep It" which will be followed by a short demonstration.
Right now, I'm wondering how I'm going to get out of here in time for the yearling sales. They're starting in just an hour, and I haven't had lunch yet.
It's been hectic in here to say the least. I had the brilliant idea of matting up some of my drawings from years ago, with the generous help of my friend Ron, who took them all home and delivered them the next day! I'm talking 40 pieces of art! So I decided to price them at $35, $45 and $55 dollars (depending on their size and level of finish) and they're selling like hotcakes!
My idea was to have a young or new "Collector's Corner" where people can purchase a real drawing as opposed to a print or reproduction. I'm hoping they'll be so thrilled they can afford a genuine work of art, they'll be hooked on buying originals forever! Which would you rather have - an overpriced ink jet print with a fancy name or a drawing that has had my hand on it?
I've always maintained that part of my mission in my life has been to educate the public, so that they can enjoy art on their own level. This is by no means a meant as an insult. They've been intimidated for so long by galleries and museums, I feel it's my job to bring art to the public and make it accessible to everyone. I want them to feel comfortable choosing art that will become a part of their lives. I have so many people coming in and telling me they still have a postcard I sent 10 years ago, or a painting that occupies a place of honor in their homes. This is what art is really all about. The Saatchi's of the world have turned art into an investment opportunity, but I never want to loose sight of its vital importance to the human spirit; it's as necessary as the air we breathe. Without art, we are rudderless in an ocean of chaos.
Facebook and this blog are doing a great job of getting the word out about the gallery. I had someone looking for me all day because she heard I was back in Saratoga! How amazing is that?! Not from the advertising I'm doing. From my Facebook page! I guess if you can win an American primary election, you can certainly promote your artwork! Twitter, website, etc., all help.
That reminds me I have to send my web designer new info - tonight. When will I have the time? After the sales? Ugh! This is feeling too much like a real job right now. (That's a joke!)
Well, gotta' run to the sales. Here's one of the paintings in the gallery that is one of my favorites.
"We Want Out!" Oil on Canvas, 20" x 28"
 I did another version of this years ago, titled "Suspicion", which is in a private collection. The owners have upwards of thirty pieces of mine. Their home will become the Cancelli museum when I die!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

First Look

After closing the gallery early (7:00 pm) last night, I went over to the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion to have a look at the Crossgate exhibit, but as I walked through the gate on Nelson Avenue, the sweet smell of timothy hay and horses hit me and I was immediately transported to heaven. How I've missed that wonderful smell! I've always said there are two types of people in the world - the ones who like the smell of horses and the ones who don't. I have no tolerance for the ones who don't.

The place was completely deserted. There weren't any prospective buyers, grooms or stable hands anywhere in sight. It was very strange - I got the feeling I wasn't supposed to be there. In those quiet, dark stalls there are millions of dollars worth of sleeping yearlings, representing countless hours of work, money and planning to get them to this moment.
The sales office was closed. The doors to the pavilion were also locked. I looked around and saw a TV replaying the day's races to an empty paddock. It was quite eerie - like I was the only one left on the planet. Some major changes have been made to the walking ring and paddock area. Lots of new boulders and a forest of giant red Cannas, planted along the paths leading to the sales ring, to make it look more upscale. Someone's idea of landscaping to impress, I guess.
I walked around to the other side of the pavilion and found that door open. I took the stairs up to the second floor and found what I was looking for - the walls of the upper galley covered top to bottom with paintings. The gallery looks like a work in progress. They obviously haven't finished hanging the show, since there were lots of paintings stacked against the walls and in corners. As an artist, I always want to see what other artists are doing, especially successful ones. Of course, perception is everything. As a gallery owner, I want to see what my competition is doing.
For example, I have a large Heather St. Clair Davis painting in the gallery - probably the only one on the market today - but I wanted to make sure there weren't any others for sale before I advertise it as such. I soon discovered Greg has one too - a study rather than a finished painting. It was interesting to look at from an artist's perspective. I could see how Heather started a painting, building up the sky and layers of trees and brush. I only wish she were still alive. She was truly an incredible talent.
The painting I have is a large canvas, one of the last she painted. It's a little atypical of her work - a landscape with a panoramic view of the English countryside, a row of cottages and some horses grazing nearby. There's also a fox in the lower half of the painting, just right of the center, looking at the horses. A nice touch.
"Upper Farmcote" by Heather St. Clair Davis, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 30"
A lovely British pastoral scene. Notice the fox in the brush, just to the right of the path.
What surprised me instantly were the prices. They've come way down since I was here last (2008). It's a bit of a shock. I've known for a while that the equine art market has suffered in recent years, but it's worse than I thought. As with everything else, it's a buyer's market right now.
Frost & Reed saw the writing on the wall back in 2005. They pulled up stakes after 25 years in Saratoga Springs. That was even before the 2008 market crash and recession. They've been in business for over a hundred years, publishing prints and eventually selling million dollar Munnings and Herrings to old money in Europe and America. They're not in the sporting art business any more. Now I know why. Still, hope springs eternal.
After taking two turns around the gallery, I feel I've seen enough and leave. As I pass the rows of quiet stalls, I notice a yearling has been taken out of his stall and is being ministered to by a couple of grooms, so I head down the shed row to have a look. The groom immediately tells me I'm looking at a million dollar colt. He isn't just talkin' the talk; he's right. I happened to have stumbled onto a colt by Frankel, out of She Be Wild. His half brother, Brooklyn Bobby is running today in the first race, a mile and a 1/16th maiden special weight for 2-year-olds on the inner turf course. He's the favorite. His sire, Frankel, raced in Britain and is considered to be one of the greatest racehorse in the world, being undefeated in 14 starts. I don't have the yearling sales catalogue, so I don't know how many Frankel yearlings are in the sale, but this is definitely on of its stars! Imagine my luck, just happening upon this stellar baby on a quiet Friday night!
They put him back in the stall after about 20 minutes, so I head towards the gate. I can't resist going down one last shed row when I see a night groom walking down the aisle, flicking the stall lights on and off, checking the occupants inside, and moving on to the next stall. All is well. Good night.

Friday, August 5, 2016

My Saratoga Gallery

Well, I finally made it! After a week of hammering, painting, and other labor-intensive activities, I'm open for business in Saratoga Springs! Photos of the gallery give you some idea of what's involved. This was an empty room when I started!

The exhibition is at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 25 Lake Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY, and runs from August 1st - August 30th. Featuring the work of: Christine Cancelli, Heather St. Clare Davis, Kathleen Friedenberg, Booth Malone, Peter Smith, Andrea Steiner, Roman Szolkowski and Larry Wheeler. Open Daily 9:00 am - 7:00 pm.

Please stop by and visit if you're in Saratoga this summer. It's a great show with some very fine paintings. There's also a "New Collector's Corner" where you can snag an original Cancelli drawing for as little as $35!