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International artexpo[R]in motion: determined art professionals move forward in a challenging market.

Ask anyone in the art market today, and they'll say they've seen better days, but it's not a fact that's getting everyone down. The more than 300 exhibitors attending the 31st annual International Artexpo New York, Feb. 26-March 2, are stepping up to the plate with fresh ideas, innovative initiatives and top-notch artwork to help galleries and other art dealers weather the storm.



Taking to heart the words of President Obama during a recent interview, Blazing Editions is ready to "give some skin" with its newly launched Charity Event Program. The initiative, which will make "Big City of Dreams" by Michael Flohr its official debut at International Artexpo New York, will provide five free limited-edition prints to all galleries who commit to hosting a charity event in the 2009 calendar year.


The prints, available from some of Blazing Edition's most popular artists-Erica Hopper, Anne Packard, Steve Alpert and new artist Marc Whitney--will be provided for use in a charity auction, the proceeds of which will go to the gallery's organization of choice. What's more, the company will also provide a special charity edition of 20 pieces that will only be available through the gallery's exclusive charity event.

"During these tough times, we knew we had to start thinking outside the box and figure out different ways to help our partner galleries gain business," says CEO Alan Blazar, whose company raises an average of $20,000 for charity annually. "The Charity Event Program is a way to draw new and existing collectors into a gallery during tough economic times without harmful discounting."

Once a gallery has agreed to partake in the program, Blazing Editions will send printed and electronic promotional materials to help galleries market the event. Then, it's up to the galleries and their collectors to "give some skin" by staging an impressive show and stepping up to support the cause.

Blazar recommends galleries pick popular pieces from the line that will sell over and over, such as Packard's "Green Dory" and Hopper's "Mango Diary." He also suggests they donate five percent of the proceeds from any other sale during the event to the given charity, which is likely to boost purchases overall. Finally, participating galleries should check with their accountants to see if there are any tax benefits for claiming the free merchandise, which could further aid in funding the event.

"We truly believe this will be a win-win for everyone involved," Blazar says. "Galleries are saying things are pretty quiet out there, so they've got to find ways to bring clients in. One gallery I work with is having 16 shows, which is even more than they've had in years past--and it's working! Successful, proactive galleries aren't waiting for the door to open; they're getting on the phones, calling new and old collectors and asking, 'Did you hear about the Anne Packard movie or the new Erica Hopper piece? Why don't you come in and take a look?' They're getting collectors excited and giving them a reason to come in. We can't hope and pray that things are going to get better. Action is the key to survival."


Not long after signs of the economic crisis ensued, Crown Thorn Publishing began holding regular sales-training conference calls for its gallery partners. The calls were specifically geared toward overcoming client objections in a down economy.

"We run three galleries, so we understand what they are up against when it comes to running a profitable business," says Crown Thorn President Ruth-Ann Thorn, who co-owns the company with her husband, James.

But Thorn isn't stopping with the conference initiative. She'll be one of five experts to participate in an Art Business News-moderated panel discussion titled "Forecasting the Art Market in the Next 18 Months," to be held live at Artexpo, Sunday, March 1 at 12:30 p.m. Thorn will also be a regular contributor to Art Business News, offering advice on surviving--and staying positive--during the downturn.

The company is currently working on a direct-mail campaign for three new images in smaller sizes, which offer a lower price point for wavering collectors. Touting its continual gallery support through sales materials, updated monthly price lists, co-op advertising, sales training and event support, the company will showcase new works by the "Painter of Chefs" Christopher M. and unveil three limited-edition print packages--in smaller sizes and price points--by artists Henry Asencio and Michael Flohr at the upcoming Artexpo.

Following the show, Thorn plans to increase advertising by 20 percent to offer more exposure for the artists her partner galleries carry. "It seems like the last place to put your money during tough times, but advertising is necessary to keep your name out there so when things change-and they will--your gallery is the first to come to mind when clients think about buying art," she says.



Perhaps now more than ever, Titus Fine Art's museum-quality exhibitions are an intriguing alternative for gallery owners looking for high-end exhibitions and distinguished inventory.

The longtime Artexpo exhibitor has been offering galleries the opportunity to host an exhibition of world-renowned works for more than 20 years under the guidance of the Titus Formula--a methodology that has delivered a 20- to 25-percent spike in annual sales for many galleries. Each year, Titus Fine Art co-hosts more tan 30 gallery exhibitions worldwide. Featuring artwork by universally recognized and historically significant masters, such as Rembrandt, Renoir, Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Chagall and Matisse, the company specializes in fine European prints, drawings and paintings from the 17'h century to the present, many of which will be on view at Artexpo New York.

"We have found that the most successful exhibitions are the Impressionists, Modern Masters, Spanish Masters, Belle Epoque, Rembrandt and 19th Century Barbizon," art specialist James B. Dziak says. "However, we can customize any exhibition to meet a gallery's individual needs."

Titus Fine Art operates on the belief that top-quality art, personalized service and education are the absolute essentials " for attracting new collectors. Such prestigious exhibitions can also benefit galleries' established clients by allowing them to advance their current level of collecting. The company's experienced curators conduct a comprehensive, in-person training program with participating galleries in the areas of aesthetics, artist technique, quality, demand, importance and value of the art to ensure a successful show.

"My mentor always said, 'An excited client is a buying client,'" Dziak says. "We believe our formula will create that needed excitement and positive energy for galleries, which will assist in generating sales. Dealers must understand that during these challenging times, the way of doing business is much different today than it was even six months ago. It is time to cast a bigger net by incorporating a successful formula that will help the bottom line."


As a fellow gallery owner, Smart Publishing CEO Rami Rotkopf knows the greatest challenge facing dealers today is simply surviving the downturn. When galleries are concentrating on how they'll make the rent, it can be tough to keep up in other areas. That's why Smart Publishing is intensifying its marketing efforts rather than decreasing them.

Rotkopf believes the most important thing for his company and partner galleries to continue is promoting the artists they represent and keeping their names out in the public. In an effort to re-energize its own efforts, as well as those of its partner galleries, Smart Publishing is releasing several new editions--many of which will be displayed for the first time at Artexpo--and producing DVDs and updated brochures to help galleries continue their marketing efforts despite the challenges they're facing.


3he company is also making important advances at Staff members constantly update the site with new works, events and press releases. A full catalog of its limited-edition offerings is also posted to make the site as informational as possible.

The most valuable piece of advice Rotkopf has to offer can be summed up in a single word: events. "You have to do something to bring people in," he says. "You can't just rely on people to walk in the door and buy something. In these times, you have to make it interesting for them to want to buy from you."

What's more, Rotkopfis taking his own advice. Smart Publishing plans to conduct a significant amount of additional shows with its artists in the coming year in the United States and Europe. "We want to expose the art to all kinds of people in all kinds of places," Rotkopf says.



"Mick With Wasp" by Sebastian Kruger, giclee on canvas

SPS Limelight agency continues its decade-long work representing, publishing and distributing celebrity art from the industry's top pop-culture artists. At the upcoming Artexpo, Limelight will feature the original and limited-edition works of Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones; Stephen Holland, a top-selling sports artist worldwide; and German artist Sebastian Kruger, whose celebrity art is collected by the stars themselves and is featured in the National Cultural Heritage Museum of Germany.




With an intense focus on color and originality, Studio Fine Art will present the work of Goli Mahallati, Parviz Payghamy and 20 -year Artexpo veteran Hessam Abrishami. Using acrylic, ink, charcoal, pastel and bronze, Hessam creates joyful images with themes of love and happiness. Golfs acrylic paintings confront themes of compassion and dignity through her complex use of pallet-applied texture and color. Parviz's work, which sold out at last year's Artexpo, features colorful landscapes that are expected to be big sellers yet again at the 2009 show.


"Lovers' Walk" by Adriana Naveh, acrylic on canvas

Veteran exhibitor Jacques Soussana Graphics will bring Argentinean-born artist Adriana Naveh's colorful, romantic paintings to Artexpo. Using acrylic on canvas, Naveh's depictions of still-life subjects and human figures are fresh, new and available at a variety of price points



"Wall Street" by Alexey Alpatov, mixed media

Areana Gallery will present experienced Russian artists Alexey Alpatov and Alexander Zhernokluev at Artexpo New York. Alpatov's traditional paintings have expanded to include collage work in a progressive style that combines graphic art with painting and abstraction with Realism. Zhernokluev's oil-on-canvas paintings focus on the individual qualities of each object and the colors and shadows they create.


"60 KM" by Costa, welded signs

Art Jingle will present several French artists under the direction of Art Jingle founder Stephane Bou, who creates famous album covers from Blue Note records as handmade oil paintings to highlight the jazz era in the United States. Art Jingle Contemporary will present artist Costa, whose mosaics are created from welded street signs.


"Serene" by Lily Marneffe, mixed acrylic

With a flamboyant use of acrylic, Dutch artist Lily Mameffe creates highly textured paintings of Impressionist flowers and plants that bring movement and color to life. Marneffe presents an idea that the audience must consider, leaving room for interpretation by the viewer.


"Lisa in the Garden" by Lee Sun-Don, oil on canvas

X-Power Gallery will present Lee Sun-Don, the creator of "Totemic Energy Oil Painting," a genre characterized by mind-awakening aesthetics. With paintings that focus on Zen wisdom and universal harmony in a contemporary style, Sun-Don has won more than 30 honorable recognitions for his art and has been featured in the National Art Museum of China, Florence Biennale in Italy and the Russian Academy of Arts.


ABN Managing Editor
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Comment:International artexpo[R]in motion: determined art professionals move forward in a challenging market.
Author:Wiley, Jennifer Dulin
Publication:Art Business News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2009
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