Those in the know — about 20,000 annual attendees — know Dallas Art Fair offers your best chance to acquire an artwork by a past, present, or future Whitney Biennial talent, rub shoulders with Texas’ top collectors and museum trustee types, engage in the convivial business of community building (with a side of insider dish) and check out which artists dealers around the world wish to showcase (with big players like Perrotin, Gagosian and Hales Gallery in the mix), alongside a phalanx of notable Texas galleries.
Now Dallas Art Fair adds a vital online component, Culture Place, which is billed as a digital marketplace.
In the era of COVID-19 and “by appointment gallery hours,” not only is a small-batch art-commerce platform needed, but one with a Texas point-of-view (that also extends to the nearby region), is paramount for survival of the stalwart, often heritage Dallas and Houston galleries we count on, and the artists they represent.
Here are the 19 galleries with the cities they hale from, which are now live on Culture Place: 12.26 (Dallas), Bill Arning (Houston), Conduit Gallery (Dallas), Cris Worley Fine Arts (Dallas), David Shelton Gallery (Houston), Dirty Dark Place (Austin), Erin Cluley Gallery (Dallas), Galleri Urbane (Dallas), Holly Johnson Gallery (Dallas), Inman Gallery (Houston), Laura Rathe Fine Art (Dallas/Houston), Liliana Bloch Gallery (Dallas), McClain Gallery (Houston), Moody Gallery (Houston), Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art (Houston), Ruiz-Healy Art (San Antonio), Sean Horton (presents) (Dallas), Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden (Dallas), and William Campbell Contemporary Art (Fort Worth).
Read on for PaperCity’s exclusive Q&A with two of Culture Place’s key players, founder John Sughrue, who’s known for his high-profile role as chairman of the Dallas Art Fair, LLC — and Culture Place director, Kelly Cornell, who concurrently directs the Dallas Art Fair (where she began back in the day as a sharp, hard-working intern).
ia email, John Sughrue answered PaperCity‘s questions:
Before the Dallas Art Fair went digital this past spring, had the DAF team ever thought of doing a totally online platform
Were you surprised at the $3 plus million in sales generated during the first Dallas Art Fair digital edition?
More than surprised — astonished!
Did the works sold online reflect a variety of price points?
Most works sold in the $10,000-$50,000 range but a couple works sold for considerably more including a work by Alice Neel which sold in the $700,000 range.
Were Texas-based galleries strongly represented in the sales?
Our Texas galleries have always done very well the week of the Dallas Art Fair and this success carried over to the digital fair as well.
Is its focus upon Texas (and neighboring) galleries that makes Culture Place unique — versus say other digital arts commerce sites like Artsy and Artnet that are “big box” e-commerce sites?
What’s unique is the breadth and depth of the relationships between Texas gallerists and the Dallas Art Fair team which will accelerate awareness and engagement with collectors of the rich contemporary offerings represented by our participating Texas dealers.
This is not a getting to know you exercise but rather a community of respected colleagues collaborating to pivot online to make a go-of-it in this brave and utmost challenging new world.
Besides profit, is your mission in creating Culture Place focused upon raising awareness, specifically the profile, and resulting sales, for Texas artists and Texas gallerists?
This is about survival not profits. The only game in town to bring collectors, gallerists, and artists together is the digital world.
Traditionally, 80 percent of art sales occur at art fairs or at the gallery. That’s gone in the age of social distancing and we intend to do our damnedest digitally to promote the sale of works by artists represented by Texas gallerists such that we can all make it to the other side of this economic and cultural apocalypse.
All of us need to find a bridge to safety and that includes those of us at the Dallas Art Fair too.
What is your goal with Culture Place in terms of the ideal number of galleries to include?
We think 15 to 25 gallerists really make Culture Place tick and will be constantly tweaking if not overhauling the site to ensure it’s relevancy.
Like Dallas Art Fair, will it be edited/curated to make the experience more intimate for collectors?
Absolutely — count on it. The Dallas Art Fair’s strong curatorial voice is respected by collectors locally and internationally and this voice intends to roar digitally.
Will Culture Place target both types of collectors — the Artnews Top Collector/museum trustee crowd, as well as those just beginning to acquire?
The past 12 years has been all about cultivating established collectors while educating and nurturing aspiring collectors. It’s the right mix for one of the fastest growing contemporary art markets — namely Texas and the Southwest.
At what price point do you see Culture Place as being most successful?
What’s working online as a sweet spot is a price range $50,000 and below; albeit we are seeing more and more six and seven figure digital sales as the digital market accelerates.
Check us out, be safe, and mask-up!
Via email, Kelly Cornell answered PaperCity‘s questions:
Developing out of Dallas Art Fair, do you see Culture Place as mirroring DAF’s mission to provide a platform to Texas gallerists, many of whom represent a significant group of Texas artists?
The Dallas Art Fair LLC’s mission is to promote contemporary arts from a local to global scale. This is the mission that runs through everything we do from the physical Dallas Art Fair to our new expansion into the digital art marketplace.
Our goal is to create a community, a Culture Place.
What are you most excited about in terms of the strengths/possibilities of Culture Place?
From my point of view, there seems to no ceiling to what we can do with Culture Place. We will be in conversation with the community and continue to bring them vetted, exciting content. It is uncharted waters and that is exciting — we can create our own path to success for us and the galleries.
The Dallas Art Fair digital edition included Webinars, online tours, and other unique programming content including artist videos. Can you let readers in on some of the features of Culture Place that bookend its commerce?
We learned so much with regards to digital programming during the Dallas Art Fair Online and we will continue those programming efforts. [For example], David Gilbert (12.26) and Nic Nicosia (Erin Cluley Gallery) will be having a conversation about their work (on Friday, July 17, 11 am Central Time). They are both film majors and use photography to tell a narrative in their work.
How will Culture Place drive traffic to its site?
Via our existing channels and database while organically growing our reach via SEO.
Will Culture Place give visibility or provide content related to nonprofit partners as the Dallas Art Fair has so successfully done?
We are looking at these possibilities and hope to do so!
Your audience in terms of demographics and geography?
We see the audience as very similar to the physical and online Dallas Art Fair. These are collectors of all ranges from seasoned to new. Due to our preexisting relationships, I think a large percentage in the beginning will be based in the region but Culture Place will be accessible across the globe.
How will Culture Place plan to engage, especially during this time when gallery and museum visits are rare and often non-existent.
It will be a largely digital conversation. Long term, we hope to add a physical component/pop up to Culture Place when it is safe to do so.
Buy art now! Living with art brings joy, fosters creativity, and conversation. And we are here to help!
Peruse and shop Culture Place here.