The Art of a Recession: Gallery Owners Struggling

The Art of a Recession: Gallery Owners Struggling

By AMANDA LEE MYERS (AP) – Jul 25, 2009

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Art gallery owners across the country are finding they have a tough sell these days.

With houses going up for auction, unemployment continuing to rise and the threat of layoffs seemingly ever-present, many gallery owners in art communities such as Scottsdale, Ariz., Santa Fe, N.M., Portland, Ore., and New York City are closing shop, going broke to stay open or drastically changing the way they do business.

“Art is a very discretionary sort of object, and we are in the worst recession arguably in the postwar era,” said Jay Bryson, a global economist with Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C. “Obviously somebody who has lost their job in a factory in Indiana probably is not buying art.”

Even people with plenty of discretionary money aren’t spending much on it.

“You’re a billionaire and you took a 40 percent hit on your portfolio, now you only have $600 million left,” Bryson said. “That’s still pretty deep pockets, but 40 percent is 40 percent.”

In the gallery district of downtown Scottsdale, at least a half dozen galleries have closed in the past year or are in the midst of closing. Others still are wondering how much longer they can make it.

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