April 16, 2009

Post-gallery situated practice: Crockett Bodelson and Sandra Wang

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Novella Carpenter reports that Crockett Bodelson and Sandra Wang have become street dealers. "Bodelson, who tends to wear big metal eyewear, attended art school at California College of the Arts, did a residency at The Cooper Union in New York and started a gallery in Philadelphia. He knows only too well how rarified the art world can be, and rails against the notion that artists aren't successful unless they are selling their works in galleries for thousands of dollars.

"'People are programmed -- even my friends -- to think their work has to be in a gallery, but I've never met a cool gallery owner,' he said. 'And look at the crap at a gallery -- there's all this stuff that goes on behind closed doors in order to even get into a gallery!'

"In 2003, after dropping out of art school, Bodelson, who lived in the Mission district at the time, found himself in Hayes Valley buying some liquor at a corner store. He liked the vibe on the street and asked the owner if he could sell paintings in front of the store. The owner agreed, and Bodelson soon had a thriving business. After a few months he had to move the operation several blocks away to the sidewalk in front of a hamburger joint called Flippers. He met Wang a year later, and she joined the enterprise.

"By taking their operation to the street, Bodelson felt like he was making the process of consuming art more transparent. If people liked his work, they would buy it. He didn't have to convince a gallery owner to take him in, or plan a show and hope the media would show up to offer words of praise. What's more, he didn't have to keep just a percentage of the money he earned from sales. Last summer the couple raked it in, at least in terms of their modest expectations. They sold $6,000 worth of art -- enough to buy tickets to Europe -- simply by placing their work on the street, hanging out and talking to friendly, curious people." Read more.

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