Sarah Schmerler SELFIE AT FEATURE, INC.; HUDSON, TODD CHILTON, UNKNOWN PERSON
Digital photograph, 5 x 7 inches, 2012
Valuation: $30 Starting bid: $25
Did you ever stop to think about how interconnected we all are—how much faith we’ve put in each other’s talents, work ethics, and attitudes over the years? Earlier this month, Williamsburg-based curator and art advisor John Silvis gave a lecture at a local college, explaining to ambitious undergrads how the art market works. (Having worked for Max Protetch Gallery and the Dia Foundation, among others, he had garnered some first-hand views.)
Surprisingly, his presentation wasn’t simply full of esoteric details; it had an overarching theme: faith. “The whole structure of the art world, and the way that business is really conducted, isn’t based on paper contracts and consignments, and isn’t forged by a team of lawyers—though they may eventually get involved,” Silvis explained. “Rather, it’s full of relationships that I have come to call a ‘trust economy.’ Deals are made over lunch, in conversation. A dealer trusts that the artist will give his or her best work, will be professional; the artist trusts that his or her work will be handled carefully, displayed properly, and that he will be paid promptly. The collectors I advise trust that I’m showing them an artist who’s not just going to have two shows and move back to Indiana, and the advisor trusts that the work that collector is buying isn’t just going to get flipped to make a profit. Everyone in this business has to open their heart when they make a deal, if, in the long run, they want their business to be successful.”
Here we are, at the last print issue of the WG News + Arts, a paper of integrity and fun, exploratory attitudes, and true grit. Every artwork represented in these (30lb groundwood) pages was made by a local Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick artist who is highly professional and has donated work to the cause of honest local reporting; all the proceeds from the sale of these artworks at auction will go toward paying back the paper’s outstanding receipts. And if there’s any money left over? It will be divided among the artists themselves. The WG gets no profit out of this, except what it put in: faith, in we, the creatives who haunt this neighborhood. Photographers, painters, sculptors—we have solid exhibition histories in galleries and museums, decades-long studio practices, and devoted followings among our peers and with collectors; we are, without doubt, a good investment. We’ve invested our time and energy in The WG, and it has given us high-power meetings in coffee shops on Bedford Avenue, and on rooftops while watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July; prompt payment for services rendered in traffic circles in Greenpoint in the dead of winter (when we needed it most); and lots of phone conversations in which we were given an amazing amount of creative license to do, say, depict, portray, and explore this neighborhood in the ways our professional experience saw fit.
Back in 2007, the WG News + Arts began as a monthly broadsheet, when the neighborhood was a whole lot smaller in feel. As it grew, it took on stories of human interest, small business profiles, comprehensive maps of trends and scenes and comestibles (a decade of underground music, the lowdown on more than a dozen yoga studios—how’d they all get here?, furniture shops, ice cream parlors, and more…), and, issues of political import (the Domino Sugar Factory, buildings torn down and new ones built, zoning, bike lanes). The WG’s human, on-the-ground approach hopefully won’t ever go away; it’ll just transition to a new phase, for which we’re laying the groundwork now.
This is a collector’s item. Or to look at it another way, it’s a treatise—only told with artwork, not words. In academic circles, when a scholar reaches an important life milestone, other prominent scholars around him or her publish their writings in what’s called a ”festschrift,” a celebratory tribute. In a non-verbal, stream-of-consciousness way, this is ours. Herein, we celebrate the WG, a paper that never served to have the last word, but that always gave ours a lot of room to breathe, and that printed, in paper form, our trust economy’s closest thing to true currency—a real gift.
—Sarah Schmerler, Arts Editor
Come visit the artworks: 188 Broadway (near Peter Luger’s) through December 13th Noon-5pm. Or call for an appointment at (917) 304-6213.