We're gallerists so it's tempting to make our New Year's Resolutions as long as the Artists' Statements we're forced to edit with every passing exhibition. That would be a counter productive move, however. If the Arts are supposed to represent the sensitivities of the culture in which they find themselves, and as this epoch is especially and perpetually outraged, then not being able to keep the list of the resolutions we have set ourselves might simply accentuate our outrage, and where's the Resolution in that? No, brothers and sisters. The New Year was never meant to represent change for the sake of change. As gallerists, we reflect on last year's behaviour and respond with tweaks and positive business changes accordingly.
Firstly, we don't stay shut 55% of the time. 2019 was a year in which we travelled the UK and sourced new artists in such style it actually became a lifestyle. Whilst being very entertaining, our absence from York left a gallery unopened and clients and collectors, who may have come to peruse (or perhaps - who knows? - purchase) the paintings we have here on our neon lit walls were met with a 'Closed' sign on the door, unless they came on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. It was a system that did not work and we felt it. As such, to paraphrase Craig David, we chill only on Sunday, and even then our gallery manager Adrian is at the helm.
So come over any day of the week. We're open.
Secondly, we can't help but flinch like everyone else from the heat of the political debate out there. One of the dilemmas of a curator or gallerist is to decide on how much an exhibition should serve as a litmus test of the specifics of political debate, whether it should transcend such tribal proclivities, or whether it should soak up the cultural circumstances and relay them back, filtered through the visions of the represented artists. We fall very much in the camp of the latter, with one of feet firmly planted, we hope, in the 'wow factor' of our displayed art. Contemporary, collectible Art is obliged above all else to make the viewer gasp with the thrill of witnessing it. Identity politics have not done anyone any good, and have served to make even more inflexible disparate opinions. The last thing the political climate needs at this point is hectoring, sanctimonious art exhibitions lecturing the public on how they should think and vote. That time has passed. Art can perhaps help heal the wounds.
Thirdly, it is a truth universally acknowledged that an art dealer in 2020 is in need of a good coffee. Luckily, York is fairly bristling with Cafés that serve some of the best Americanos in Northern Europe. If we're on the East, we slide over to Fossgate Social or Kiosk. If we're in the North, well, you can't WHACK Perky Peacock or Brew & Brownie. The West has Teajuanas, owned by Joe Ferraoli, my fellow judge from BBC's finest hour in 2019, 'The Best House in Town' (more of that in my next blog). And the city centre has Spring Espresso, The Drawing Board, and the jewel in the crown, Café Harlequin. So what I'm trying to say without naming names is that never again will we settle for the massive mainstream coffee providers: we have unique, magical, idiosyncratic Cafés and, mild addicts as we are, there is no excuse not to patronise and purchase their wares. It's the ONLY thing you need to kickstart your day.
And, seeing as though we are set in 2020 to open ev-er-y day of 2020, it looks like we're going to need it.
Ails & Greg McGee, 01/01/20