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Douglass Freed

Finding a Market for Large-Scale Art, by Ligaya Figueras

Lumiere
A series of five 64” x 42” paintings by Brad Benson hang in a public space at
Pinnacle Entertainment’s Lumière Place Casino & Hotels in St. Louis.
Photo by Kathleen Clark.

The recent downturn has resulted in less private buyers placing gigantic 2D pieces in palatial homes. “The market for large scale is not what it previously was,” states Carolyn Miles, the owner of Atrium Gallery in St. Louis, which specializes in large-scale artwork.

For artists working in bigger formats, the current economic climate means the market for large-scale artwork is limited.

“Few people have the wall-space and eye-space (the ability to move far enough back in the space to see the painting properly) to acquire them,” states Lauren Rabb, owner and director of The Gallery at 6th & 6th in Tucson, Arizona.

To meet these new challenges, artists who work in a larger scale should consider corporate settings as another market for their creations. Larger pieces grace lofty entrance lobbies and other gathering spaces at convention centers, restaurants and casinos. Banks, office buildings, condominium lobbies and upscale hotels are also privately owned properties with massive public spaces in need of adornment.

“They present an opportunity for elegance and scale,” comments Miles.

Acclaimed landscape painter
Douglass Freed of Sedalia, Missouri has always produced large-scale works. His paintings are in the collections of numerous corporations, including Sprint, Hewlett Packard, Pella, McGraw-Hill, Maytag, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Missouri and banks throughout the Midwest. In fact, most of his sales these days are corporate commissions.

“Corporations are the patrons of our time,” says
Freed, who in 2008 completed a massive 108 x 320 in. river landscape for the Emerson Electric Corporation headquarters in St. Louis, and Epoch, a 96 x 120 in. painting that hangs in the new Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Make Me a Match

Rise
Rise/Set by Doug Freed hangs in the Emerson Electric headquarters in St.
Louis, Missouri. The oil on canvas painting is 108 x 320 in.
“Hotels don’t hire artists. Architects and designers do,” states Evelyn Daniel-Putnam, President of Daniel Fine Art Services in Laguna Beach, California. “Design firms create a path for people like me.” Her company is a preeminent art-consulting firm for luxury hotel and casinos, managing projects worldwide for clients such as Hilton, Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt.

“We make decisions about theme, budget, direction. Art consultants are not supposed to be pushing inventory. We are a research team,” explains Daniel-Putnam.

Pinnacle Entertainment, which owns and operates gaming entertainment facilities throughout the U.S, works exclusively with Daniel Fine Art Services to choose artwork for its properties, such as the recently completed $507 million Lumière Place entertainment complex in St. Louis and a $67 million expansion of the L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“The art has to capture the style of the property and blend with the design,” states Pam Gates, Pinnacle’s manager of procurement for design and construction. “The L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort has a Texas Hill Country lodge theme, so we were looking for local Louisiana art.”

According to Freed, private institutions and companies are attracted by the composition of his pieces.
The artist states, “Though I am a landscape painter, I’m truly an abstract artist. My artwork draws you in; it is accessible because the paintings are about time and light. … Meditative paintings work well in big, modern, contemporary concrete spaces, and I have the ability to do large, monumental paintings whereas most landscape painters are easel painters.”

Freed also keeps the titles of his works ambiguous and universal. For example, he titled the Emerson piece Rise/Set to imply an early morning or late evening. “Everyone has had the experience of a lake or ocean in early morning or night,” he says.

Getting a Foot in the Lobby

Art consultants need to find artwork for their clients quickly and efficiently. To reduce the amount of legwork required, they tend to go to trusted sources.

“When I am looking for artwork, I visit galleries and studios, go online, and talk with people in the art community.” states art consultant Mary McElwain, owner of McElwain Fine Arts who also served as the art advisor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City on the commission awarded to Doug Freed. Art advisors tend to work through galleries, so artists who have gallery representation have an advantage against artists who attempt to work independently with art consultants. Freed’s Federal Reserve Bank project, for instance, was handled through Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art Gallery in Kansas City, one of a dozen galleries across the U.S. that shows his paintings.The Web is another channel that enables artists and art consultants to get connected. “It’s all Internet,” says Daniels-Putnam, whose company finds artists from all over the world via the World Wide Web. “It used to be slide registry. Now it’s ‘look at the artist’s Web site.’”

One major artist list that interior designers and art consultants review is ArtistRegistry.com. The site is administered by Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a non-profit regional arts service organization dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts in western states, although any artist who is a U.S. resident can showcase his or her art on the site.

Besides making it easy for consultants and buyers to discover them on the Web, artists can seek out those who make purchasing decisions for corporate facilities. McElwain suggests that artists find out which architecture and design firms in their area specialize in large spaces and that they send a targeted mailing to the head of the design department at these firms. The American Institute of Architects Web site (
www.AIA.org ) posts a directory of AIA members in every city.

Marketing materials can also be sent to art consultants, some of who, like McElwain, are members of the International Association for Professional Art Advisors. The organization provides guidelines and standards for professional art advisors and serves as a network for communication among art advisors, curators and art service professionals. Members are listed on the IAPAA Web site (
www.IAPAA.org ). Another helpful resource for developing a targeted mailing list is the “Corporate Art Market” section of the Artist Help Network Web site (www.ArtistHelpNetwork.com ).
Contributing writer and communications consultant Ligaya Figueras specializes in business writing, marketing and media relations for visual and performance artists, writers, nonprofit organizations and specialty service providers. She can be reached at
figuerasl@sbcglobal.net .

Copyright 2009 Ligaya Figueras. First published by Art Calendar magazine (www.artcalendar.com), the business magazine for visual artists. Used with permission.