Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two DC galleries to close

In the world of art dealers and art galleries, most of them are run through the skin of one's teeth and are usually a labor of love on the part of the dealer. When a gallery "survives" for a few years and then establishes itself as a permanent fixture on a city's art scene, that cultural tapestry gains another member and we all benefit.

Two important and longstanding members of the Washington, DC area art scene will close their physical spaces in the near future. When we lose important galleries, all galleries and the art scene itself suffers.

Kathleen Ewing, considered by many for many years to be the premier photography gallery in the DC region, and whose owner was once dubbed by a national art magazine as one of the top 100 most influential persons in the international world of fine arts photography announces that:

For over 30 years, it has been my privilege to work with a great group of photographers, especially those in the DC area. It has been a community of mutual support and admiration. The aesthetic rewards have been extraordinary, but it has always been a challenge to meet the financial obligations of a public gallery space. For many years, the gallery was supported in part by my important position as Executive Director of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers [AIPAD]. That position ended in December 2007. Since that time, I’ve made every effort to find a new source of income and increase the sales in the gallery. The timing for these efforts could not have been worse.

Tough times unfortunately provoke tough decisions.

After much soul searching and with a serious reality check, I know the best decision for all of us is that the Kathleen Ewing Gallery will give up its public gallery space on P Street in Dupont Circle and move the operation back to my home in Cleveland Park. The Cleveland Park town house is where the gallery began and it will be a positive move to retrench in this location. Back in the mid 70s, Ben Forgey, writing for the Washington Post, reviewed a Mark Power exhibit on view in my private gallery. People came and enjoyed the show. Perhaps, the salon atmosphere of a private gallery will be once again appealing.

The concept in this new location will be to enhance the gallery’s website, work more directly with specific clients and use CD images for clients’ review. The very nature of operating an art gallery, here and everywhere, has changed dramatically in the past few years. From my point of view and from others in the field, the Internet and the proliferation of international art fairs have created a significant decline in gallery attendance. Additionally, maintaining an art gallery in Washington, DC has always been difficult. This move to becoming a gallery “open by appointment” is a reflection of the realities of the current climate.

I sincerely appreciate the support and camaraderie I have received from my photographers/artists, collectors and clients. The spirit of the gallery will continue into the future. Just in a different venue.

Best wishes to all. Kathleen Ewing
Jane Haslem, who has been running a gallery business for 50 years (Chapel Hill NC - Madison WI, & DC) will soon end her gallery operations and concentrate on www.artline.com which is coming up on 15 years old. Haslem was not only a positive fixture of the DC area art scene, but easily one of the first online explorers for the world of art in the new frontiers (back in the early 90s) of the Internet. It was because of her and artline.com that when I first opened our first gallery in Georgetown in 1996 that one of the first things that we did (even before we opened the physical spaces) was to create an online website for the gallery, which back in 1996 was a rather almost unique thing for a DC art gallery.

Back in 1992, when I first re-moved to the DC area, both these giants of art dealers befriended me as I freelanced my way to every newspaper and magazine which would take my gallery reviews (back then as many as 6-7 outlets a month). When four years later I became the co-owner of a tiny Georgetown gallery which eventually became two galleries over the years, it was often through their insight and advice that a novice gallerist moved forward.

We will all miss their physical spaces in the Dupont Circle area, but know that they will continue to do wonders for the DC area art scene in their own ways; Ewing with her private dealer space out of her home and Haslem with her pioneer online site.

Thank you Jane and Kathleen, for the many great years of art.

1 comment:

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