I cannot take credit for this thought, which came from a C-SPAN caller a few months back on the channel’s morning radio call-in program, but it stopped me in my tracks: “Take all the Chinese goods out of the big box stores and see what you’ve got left.”
Now: take all the Chinese goods out of the thousands of American art galleries and craft shops in the U.S. and Canada, and see then what you’ve got left.
That’s a stunning visual contrast, I’d say, and one that craft gallery retailers would be crazy not to capitalize on in their advertising, marketing and social media efforts. It’s a strong call to shop American-made, to purchase quality work from established American artists, and to facilitate ongoing relationships between gallery artists and craft buyers.
The four galleries featured in the first of three articles about contemporary art jewelry in this edition of NICHE understand all about outreach. Each capitalizes on making, and maintaining, strong connections with its clientele, yet each goes about it in a slightly different way.
At Patina Gallery, in Santa Fe, curating selections of “soul-stirring work” is key. For The Laughing Dog Gallery, in Vero Beach, Fla., it’s creating a relaxed and friendly environment for its target baby boomer audience. Sorrel Sky Gallery, in Durango, Colo., sees lots of tourists coming through, so it has developed proven methods for converting as many of them as possible to long-term, long-distance customers. At Taboo Studio, in San Diego, special exhibitions bring artists and collectors together to meet, mix and mingle, which personalizes the collecting experience and helps to further ongoing sales.
When it comes to excellence in creativity and design, nobody does it better than the winners of the NICHE Awards, celebrated this year in February during the winter Buyers Market of American Craft show in Philadelphia. The work of both professional and student winners are showcased starting on page 57 in this issue, but we encourage you to view each winning entry online at www.nicheawards.com as well.