This is true of any good photo gallery in the US: walk in, look around to see that what is on the walls varies in quality, size, price and prestige. There is often work by photographers you've never heard of and work by some you have. Prices range, often higher with larger sizes, from perhaps several hundred or so on up to several thousand. If you don't have either the space to hang a work of large size or the money to purchase it, you're out of luck. If you're not a frequent collector and the gallery is in your home town chances are you will about face and walk out of the gallery saying to yourself, "I'm never going in there again."
Susan Nalband, owner of 555 Gallery in South Boston is trying something a little different. With the new show called Launch opening this Saturday (January 23) from 5-8 pm if you see a large expensive piece hanging on the gallery wall, you will have the option to buy the big one or an image smaller and cheaper, from 8.5 x11 inches on up to 22 x 17 inches.
I am a player in this experiment. I have two photographs in the show:
a photograph I made a long time ago on my first artist in residency in Rabun Gap, Georgia at the Hambidge Center. Made with an 8 x 10 camera. I developed the large negative, scanned it and made the archival inkjet print that now hangs on the gallery wall and that sells for, yes, it's true, several thousand dollars. The framed print is 50 x 40 inches.Why does it cost so much? Because I am a career professional with some name recognition, have people that follow my work and purchase it, a proven track record of making very high quality photographs, books published and a gallery that takes a huge percentage of the sale, etc. Finally, the skill level on this image is about as high as it gets. 8 x10? Next to impossible. Big print? Likewise. I believe it is priced where it should be.
Here's the other one:
a photograph I made in the fall of 2009 on a year-long sabbatical from Northeastern University where I taught. From Orvieto, Italy and a reshoot of some I made in 8 x 10 and in black and white in the early 90's. This one is all digital, smaller at 40 x 32 inches, and yes, it's true, sells for several thousand dollars. Same pricing rational as the Rabun Lake picture.
Let's cut back to walking into a gallery. In this case, 555 Gallery in Boston, starting this Saturday night. Like the Orvieto picture because it is a sort of miracle of scenes or tableaux enacted right in front of you? A single tree in a clearing front and center, some sort of fence off to the upper left, a row of trees in the background screaming for attention. This may be Eden. The sort of picture you can get lost in and one of my all time favorites. You really want this picture but can't afford the big one and don't have the wall space for it? Buy a smaller one. 8.5 x 11 inches under $200. Frame it and put it on your desk at work next to your computer. Give it a look when you're stuck at work and work sucks. To me, this is what I want to be looking at sitting in the dentist's chair as he's drilling my teeth. This is one of my "go to" happy places and it could be yours too.
Warning: don't think that after you've seen the show you can delay your purchase. These are limited edition prints, especially at these prices. We have made 4: 8.5 x 11's, 3: 13 x 19's and 2: 17 x 22's of our images. Once they are gone, they will be no more.
This idea, another in a growing list of Susan's efforts to shake up the staid Boston art scene, is an experiment dependent on you to support it. This is too good to miss: the affordable print buying program of 555 Gallery. I will be heading to the gallery Saturday evening (providing we don't get snowed out) with my checkbook in hand, prepared to buy a print. I hope you will too.
Want more info?
List of participating artists I am proud to be showing with:
Bob Avakian, Deb Ehrens, David Mattox, Jim Nickelson, Neal Rantoul, John Rizzo, Gail Samuelson, Heather Evans Smith, Jean Sousa, Mary Ellen Strom, Sarah Szwajkos, Christine Triebert, Jane Yudelman