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  • Writer's pictureMichal Halasa

Gallery application and reflection on the NFT space

I have recently received a boost of confidence and have decided to send a few applications to the local galleries. My spirit is high on hope, but reality is slowly creeping in. I did have a look around their portfolios and I just felt overwhelmed. There is a ton of great art, but there are more "famous Instagram artists," and it feels like the infamous gatekeeping is still present.

Image with facebook and instagram likes

Maybe I am deluded, as the commercial art experience for me was within the NFTs and it was accessible for everyone, which of course has had its downfalls as anyone could literally mint anything they wanted and great work could be lost in a sea of mediocrity. However, there was no gatekeeping. Yes, FND (when I joined) and SuperRare are still invite-only clubs, but it is still easier to get there than to a physical gallery - even a small local one.

I am a realist, so I have not been applying to the market players but to the ones in the local towns and cities where I feel like there is a higher chance of getting through. Ironically, there is more gatekeeping than there was on the worldwide accessible platform, with people selling one piece for £5k+. I am struggling to get my head around it.

As an experiment, I went to one of the well-known galleries with a branch in Stratford-upon-Avon and had a look around. I engaged in conversation with the staff there, and at the end of it, I was given a business card with details for the curating team. I have not done anything with it yet, as I feel like that is too high of a calibre for my boots (although, one day I will just say "screw it" and do it), but that's on me. After this, I went to a small local gallery (won't say where as they are the only gallery in town) and was told right away that they were only choosing a specific style - which I later found out were people from Instagram with a high number of followers, being as local to the place as I am to Australia. And that made me think, why? Why, for someone who runs a local independent business, is the thought of having a local independent artist in their store not even remotely interesting as an idea? And it isn't about my work; I have seen on social media and at local craft fairs incredible local artists showcasing huge talent and creating mind-blowing pieces, yet they have to resort to online platforms to sell their work. I mean, how can you expect people to support your local and independent business when your ethos sounds like the opposite?

I understand money-making, marketing, and branding, and kudos to the artists who work hard to get their social media accounts to big numbers. I believe the majority of people do not understand how much work and commitment it takes to grow an online presence. However, I feel like the lack of local support is disappointing. To narrow it down further, support for not well-known, self-taught, non-art school graduates, and older artists is an even bigger issue.

There are a few places in the country where you can get that local support, and off the top of my head, it would be Emsworth and their Art Trail, Countesthorpe Active Arts (although only one event a year). There might be more, but they are like a needle in a haystack to find. The rest are big cities, but having to move to another part of the country to have a bit better support for art without the guarantee that it will pay off is just not feasible for everyone.

And taking all of that into consideration, I am arriving at the conclusion that despite the negative publicity, being called not proper art and general crap in the NFT space, it is revolutionary in the sense of giving everyone a global platform to participate. Yes, you need a wallet, etc., but this is nothing compared to the hoops you need to jump through in the physical art world.

No, I am not going back to NFTs nor am I glorifying it (but I did expect that seeing some of its benefits would hit me), but the non-NFT digital art platforms are run by old-school curators, so the gatekeeping is ever-present and without much support in the traditional art space, there aren't many options. The majority of the groups and exhibitions supporting local artists are run by volunteers and people who spend their own time and quite often money, and there isn't enough funding and grants to make it sustainable, and we need that. We need art, we need people to create works that will inspire others, make them feel, and make the world a better place.

It is a tricky one as it feels overwhelming how much of a challenge it is to try and make it a success, BUT a massive thank you to those who make it possible and to those who keep going despite it all.

We may not change the world, but we can make it more creative,

M x

P.S. AI checked the spelling and grammar, but still unable to get my point.

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