Detroit may have a lot of problems, but one thing's for
certain: We have no shortage of artists. But, if you're a collector, finding an artist whose work is for you can be a problem. Perhaps, if you could shop in the privacy of your own home, those walls in your abode wouldn't be so stark.
Jennifer Quigley, Chris Land and Liz Isakson founded Detroit Artist Registry (www.detartreg.com), a new online art service, because they were "sick of being broke." They were also tired of Detroit artists being underexposed and relatively inaccessible. Their Web site is a forum for artists of any kind, including filmmakers, to post a biography or artist's statement and show their work for a nominal annual fee of $15. Currently, about 30 artists are registered on the site.
Isakson, an artist with a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University in printmaking, used to run Cube Gallery with Land, an online database of Detroit artists geared toward clients seeking work to hang in gallery shows, hotels, loft parties or even as part of their own private collection. When Quigley and Isakson met in the summer of 2006, Cube Gallery was experiencing the effects of a slowing economy, so the women decided to combine resources and create something different. Land, who owns a design company called Landmine Designs, joined later as the site's Web developer.
"It's basically like a Yellow Pages for artists," Quigley says. "I don't care if you make finger puppets we want your shit." One such artist is Charles Nowak, a photographer who uses toy cameras.
"It's nothing new," Quigley adds. "I'm certainly not inventing the wheel here. The idea is to have a non-juried space for all artists who are living in a certain area." She points to cities across the country. Nashville, where Quigley lived for a while, offers an official artist registry through a metro arts commission. While metro Detroit-based Web sites do already provide a peek into the scene of artists and galleries in the region, DAR's founders hope to be extremely comprehensive. The group plans to offer assistance documenting artists' work, for an additional fee. They also hope to expand the site to include a section for local musicians, as well as writers.
DAR is a for-profit venture, and the collaborators have no qualms about it. Quigley is weary of the nonprofit sector. While the registry will charge a fee for its services and a commission for sales, 30 percent is a steep discount compared to standard gallery commissions. For artists, it's like having a gallery showing 24 hours a day, every day.
Quigley and Isakson see it as a win-win situation.
Penelope Bowler is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org