Cafes, bars and Restaurants; unique gallery resources that are rarely utilized effectively.
Far too often I walk into a bar or a coffeehouse and witness a curating abomination. I am sure to most of the customers the work on the walls is a byline, an expectation they don’t even know they have. In many cases the work has been in the same spot for so long it becomes furniture. The fact that this work is often poorly hung, lacks cohesion and is without clear signage is noticed but is not abnormal enough to note.
I consider this a shame primarily because cafes, bars and restaurants undoubtedly get a higher volume of people from a variety ages, races, wealth and tastes than any gallery or exhibition in the City. Although people are not necessarily looking to purchase anything more than a hot, vodka or chai infused beverage- the forced engagement that these places afford is invaluable. When I’m sitting down for coffee, my eyes register every piece of work in the cafe dozens of times. The fact that these pieces might contain wondrous skill is cancelled out by the fact they are hung inexplicably high up, I have no idea how much they would cost me, or they look dusty or awkward.
After I’ve seen the same set of work in a place over ten times, I become blind to it.
Most businesses will not have the time or energy to manage a monthly or bi-monthly rotation of work on the walls of their establishment, but most would not be adverse to it happening. What has to be encouraged is a consummate professionalism on the part of the Artist, as long as the artist takes full responsibility for the installation, take down and pricing of work, trust will be gained.
If we could encourage the artists who hang work in these hang-outs and eateries to really thoroughly consider the demographic of the establishment they have chosen, the level of consideration with which they make and position their price tags, and probably most importantly- the time frame through which their work is hung- then cafes, bars and restaurants could become an accepted destination to view and buy work, providing more and more outlets for local artists to display and sell their work. If artists can maintain a level of professionalism which proves to these businesses that they can be trusted then who knows what kinds of relationships or hype could be built in the long term….