Some thoughts from Farmboy Fine Arts President & CEO Todd Towers.
Is the hotel the new art gallery?
For 13 years, we at Farmboy Fine Arts have been doing our best to promote the development of art collections—and collecting in general—inside hospitality, corporate and healthcare environments.
At first, some inside the white-walled art world were resistant to Farmboy placing fine art inside hotels. They felt art wasn’t a priority to hoteliers—not a baseless assumption—and hotels’ focus was simply to fill walls with decoration, devoid of intent, story or connection to a larger visual context.
And for many hotel properties, they were right. But there were also others; others that demanded intent, craved purpose to their art. The struggle would often be their budgets wouldn’t allow for a truly world-class collection. But our focus has always been on the art narrative first—creating something purposeful, something inspiring. Then we’ll figure out a way to execute that narrative at whatever the budget capacity of the client, and do our best to build them a collection that inspires guests and staff.
But, I am happy to say we’re seeing a change. Over the last few years, there’s been a great up-swing in our client’s interest to invest in not only the physical art pieces but the process of developing unique stories that support the collections, despite the time and capital investment. Budgets are increasing. Many clients see the value a collection can create beyond simple decoration; how it can drive engagement and ROI.
This up-swing also seems to coincide with increased online art sales, and at the same time, the closing of many private commercial galleries.
Despite losing these brick-and-mortar galleries, what has not been lost is people’s engagement in artwork. In fact, the audience is growing. With people’s acceptance of seeing artwork in public and corporate spaces, in retail environments and homes, more and more people are seeking out great artwork; they’re just seeking it out on their terms, and not necessarily through a gallery. You can buy fine art on Amazon for heaven sakes!
So, are commercial brick-and-mortar galleries becoming obsolete? The answer is, no. But our reliance on galleries to be the curators, purveyors and part time homes of fine art is changing. So much research can be developed for clients through outside consulting support, online resources and simply connecting to other collectors through social media, that the primary art world has and will only continue to change.
As for art collections in hotels, I see them as being an extension of this new paradigm shift. Art is for people and hotels are people conduits; what better place to engage people with inspiring art and potentially offer it for sale than a hotel…? Pop-up hotel art galleries, developed in partnership with traditional bricks-and-mortar galleries and online agents… Why not…? Keep loving art and keep collecting.