ArtLA’s Santa Monica gallery grand opening
On Saturday, April 21, the grand opening of ArtLA's new headquarters at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica presented a medley of vastly different mediums of art. ArtLA.com was founded in order to promote new talent, and help understand and utilize the businesses aspect of art. Since its start, the site has offered a forum for artists, along with tools for building their own business. Currently, they have over 75,000 subscribers, including collectors, interior designers and many others.
Heidi Gray, co-founder and CFO of ArtLA, offered a different marketing approach and education for the artists. “Most of the artists don’t look at this as a business, and my job is to get them to think that it is,” she said.
The organization is currently holding an international contest for art students interested in pursuing their carrier. Gray has designed the contest in order to help artists, (start their careers) by awarding the winner with a $10,000 cash prize, a ‘Presidential Package’ on ArtLA.com, an exhibition at the Bergamot Station gallery, an Apple MacBook Pro, Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, Epson Stylus Photo R2000, and a Blick Art Materials gift certificate worth $500.
Every student that participates in the competition will automatically be added to the ArtLA database. The top five artists will be picked through public voting, and the winner will be chosen by the gallery's owners, since “they are the people that will be buying the art,” explained Gray.
Santa Monica College currently holds second place on the competition’s member list. There are 25 SMC students taking part in the competition, in the categories of photography, painting, sculpture, drawing and a few other miscellaneous. Anyone interested in participating can find more information and submit their work through ArtLA.com, before the June 10 deadline.
“Artists that want to sell their work may get discouraged or make a wrong move while dealing with merchandising, shipping, pricing and promotions. Things like tax benefits, copyrights, and building personality through positive feedback and charity may be challenging for beginners,” explained Gray.
“ArtLA has been an amazing support,” said artist Shinya Muto, who got to showcase his most recent body of work, an LED decorative panel series. His work consisted of carefully and creatively constructed LED lights under Japanese Mochi paper, displaying unique images of nature and plants, specifically Japanese flowers.
Muto, like many other artists, didn’t have a problem with producing very distinctive and creative art, but struggled when it came to making a living from his craft. “I had started from scratch and I had no idea how to market or ship my pieces, nor how to determine pricing for them.”
The gallery opening hosted to an interesting group of collectors, artists, art professors and people who simply enjoy observing art.
Entering the venue, visitors were presented with the works of self-taught painter, Bryten Goss, which included an extraordinary piece that took several years to complete - entitled “Women Riding Pigs.”
Other works included: neon rarities, pop-culture memorabilia from the 1950s and '60s, and pieces by artists such as John Ridings Lee Jr. and Robert Burgman. The opening also featured a new full-time artist, Mike Engle, who abandoned his long-time profession as a real estate developer in order to pursue his passion for the arts.
Engle’s body of work (presented at the show) included different geometrical wooden shapes covered with canvas, creating visually appealing, texturized artwork. Engle has been a member of ArtLA for only a few months, but is very pleased with the organization. “They are very nice people and are always ready to help,” said Engle, as a group of people surrounded him, admiring and congratulating him on his work.