Exhibition A Breeds New Collectors

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Published December 9, 2010

THE HOMEPAGE AT WWW.EXHIBITIONA.COM.

Art-loving commitment-phobes, Internet shopping fanatics, and un(der)paid workers, rejoice. Exhibition A, a newly-launched contemporary art web site created by designer Cynthia Rowley and gallery owner Bill Powers, wants to make your collecting dreams a reality. Every Monday, the site will feature a new limited-time open edition print—the first of which are currently on display in the Gagosian Gallery shop—by artists like Nate Lowman and Jim Drain. Pricing everything at $500 or less, the Exhibition A makes collecting art a more economically feasible, and less terrifyingly intimidating process.

The pair came up with the concept this summer as part of a larger attempt to bring contemporary art to the masses. “Just having worked at a bunch of different magazines over the years, and with having Half Gallery, and then doing the art T.V. show [Work of Art on Bravo], I feel like I’ve come into contact with so many artists,” Powers says, “And then on the flip side, I’ve always been interested in trying to grow an art audience, so I feel like this is a great point of entry for people who might be new to collecting.”

 

ART LOVER CYNTHIA ROWLEY (SECOND FROM LEFT), WITH RYAN MCGINLEY, DIANE BROWN, AND NATE LOWMAN AT THE RXART BENEFIT LAST MONTH. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLY FARRELL AGENCY

In some ways, Exhibition A, with its rookie-friendly prices and relatively quick turnaround, is a reflection of Powers’ and Rowley’s own collecting histories. Rowley’s first purchase, a small Louise Bourgeois sculpture, was admittedly an “impulse buy” at an auction, and Powers was first introduced to collecting in the nineties, at Aaron Rose’s Alleged Gallery, where many pieces cost less than $1,000. “That was the first exposure I had to art where you didn’t have to have a ton of money to participate,” he says.

Though purists may eschew the mere notion of purchasing art online, Powers insists that it’s really not much different from a more traditional experience. For one, Exhibition A features artists that Powers himself collects, shows at his own gallery, or knows personally. “Our website is kind of an evolving group show online, where there are only going to be four pieces that are active at a time,” he explains. And because the site includes information about both the pieces and the artists, browsing Exhibition A is more an educational opportunity than a Gilt Groupe-esque shopping experience. Rowley advises new collectors, starting on Exhibition A or elsewhere, to do their research. “Take the time to learn about the pieces you are buying, including the artist and the work itself,” she says.

The first piece for sale is a stamp-signed print by photographer Hanna Liden of black candles on a dark background, the smoke above them like fog floating over a skyline. The piece, aptly titled Blown-Out Candles, is on sale for just $200, but possesses the kind of eerie beauty that characterizes Liden’s other work. The artists included on the site are generally excited about the project, Powers says. But if they had concerns, they were not about the quality of the prints, or the idea of selling their work remotely. “I think sometimes people were worried because they thought it [the print] looked too much like an original work,” Powers says, “but that’s a good problem to have.”

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EXHIBITION A, VISIT ITS WEBSITE.