Saturday, March 19, 2016

A letter from the new WPA Director

In the past 100 days, I have met with 100 DC-area artists. Not individually, but in groups. We've met in studio buildings, in bars, here at WPA's new gallery. I asked them lots of questions. I listened and took notes. It was a real wake-up call.
One of the things I heard time and again was that artists are fleeing our city. There are two principal reasons for this. First, DC has gotten too expensive, so they are moving to the Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Or they are migrating to Baltimore or Los Angeles. The point is, while the population of DC grows, its artist population shrinks.
The second reason artists are leaving is because there just aren't many opportunities left for them here. The Corcoran and a number of  important galleries have closed. The (e)merge art fair is on hiatus. Where are artists to exhibit? How can they sell?
These conversations underscored for me WPA's great responsibility to this community. It isn't enough for us to simply present exhibitions and events. We need to find ways to retain the existing talent so vividly in evidence in the Auction Gala Exhibition.
"But how?" you ask.
Well, one immediate way is to attend our Auction Gala on April 9  and buy some art. Proceeds from that event are split 50-50 between the artists and WPA. You can buy tickets here.
Beyond that, this is a much longer conversation that I look forward to having with you over the coming year. Stay tuned for more on this subject. In the meantime, let's celebrate and support the artists still in our midsts. I will see you at the Gala.
 Peter Nesbett, Executive Director


Anonymous said...

Curious, that he does not consider the MD and VA suburbs to be part of the WDC metro area. They never told me, when they asked me to pay my annual dues, that as a VA resident I am not really part of the Washington art scene. I will be sure to remember that next time my membership comes up for renewal.

Anonymous said...

Re the auction. There was no call, no way for me as an artist to have my work even considered (given I don't know any of the curators). One thing they could do to expand opportunities is to allow anyone in the area to participate.

Asking the artists to buy art reminds me of a coop gallery I once belonged to, and to a car club. Using the car club as the example, every month we'd have a meeting, at the end of which was the "swap and sell". You'd bring some part that had been lying around your garage for years, sell it and buy another part that would wind up lying around your garage for years. If you are going to have an art auction, how about getting some collectors to show up? Having the artists sell to one another is not a recipe for economic success - or even survival - for anyone!

John said...

You complain DC has gotten expensive??? Loot at the price of your tickets. As a working artist I certainly can't afford $650 for a pair of tickets.