Their professional income and livelihood and continued grant support depend upon artists contributing work to the auction. The artists receive appreciation. The gallery receives $250 from each gallery patron who wishes to take part in the draw and are given their selection, according to the whims of chance order, a choice of a donated art work. The gallery is shown to be supported by artists and it's patrons but, the income from the auction is largely symbolic... representing the gallery's effort to support itself.
Is the gallery auction another form of government condoned gambling? The gallery patrons are very enthusiastic making lists of preferences like gamblers at a horse track. Are they attracted by the chance nature of it?
Spring Salons in the past were exhibitions of work for sale purchased by art patrons and attended by newspaper art critics and thought of as the source of new and established talent and the mother lode of cultural objectives - a sampling of the mind of the people with disposable income - the middle class. The gallery received a commission. Spring shows were the primary income for artists. Everyone desired a solo spring exhibition. Spring, when the purse strings loosened after the hardships of winter were left behind us. The gallery staff were, for the most part, volunteers representing both artists and art patrons bringing the two parts of the sustainable economy together for the benefit of artists.
As the anti-professional theories of conceptualism flooded the art communities, government bureaucracies, institutions of higher learning; patrons of art progressively were evolved to, or replaced by, socialite gallery patrons. The "art workers" or bureaucracy of the galleries exploded. The population of Durham Region is around 610,000. It supports four public galleries, that I know of, with paid staff members that might be as many as 36 individuals. There have never been 36 professional artists in the region. The vast majority of government grants are divided amongst the galleries and that grant money comes directly out of the moneys once reserved for artists.
The extremes of grant malpractice and wasted tax dollars siphoned off into private practices and frivolities are gossiped shockingly by the glamour photographers and nude models on the fringes of the sex trade. It is that bad.
This is a simple, very simple model of the evolution of the art industry over the past 50 years. There are many other factors to consider... not the least of which is the power of the art shifted from the art patron and artist to the bureaucracy. As conceptualism entered the galleries the primary subject of art became a contemporary version of fascist and communist socialist realism administered by the state demanding subjects such as feminism, environmentalism, patriation of immigrants, gay, native and other fringe issues leaving the majority out of the algorithm and disinterested in the galleries. Considering that art, compared with mass media is not a good propaganda medium; I can only conclude that grant money for public galleries is money not well spent. Why not spend the money on tedious advertising slots in popular serials which are really evening soap operas staring blood splatter, political, economic, and sexual/moral collapse combined with paranoid fears of alien invasion? Or, as in the States, coerce screen writers and production companies to subliminally place propaganda within storylines? Yeah, like all those ads for computers with the make displayed obviously on the desk of a plain clothes undercover, secret service, policeman woman detective interrogator creature character.
The obvious conclusion is that artists such as myself and a good number of others I know would and do continue doing art without compensation and at our own expense as the cultural cohesion of "Western Civilization" decays. You know - the basic idea of home decoration with a little bit of a punch? Why pay a bureaucracy which does not promote art and artists as anything other than minions and products of the gallery's grant writing proposals?
Gallery installation as, art of the masses.
My ambivalence stems from the fact that I like some members of the art bureaucracy. They are artists as well, sometimes using exhibitions of others to express themselves as conceptualists, sometimes working part time in their own studios as dextral artists. I don't want the power to decide who receives and who loses their income.
I am in an untenable position with the entire body of expert opinion and cultural fashion against me.
I want to get away, to retire from it all, to disappear into the land. Go to ground. Get lost.