Meet the Artists and the Future of the Art World

by Kristie L. Smith Nikitin, Freelance writer and art enthusiast

Kris Gebhardt, mixed-media, impressionist painter is adrenalized because he and abstract artist, Angela, Kris’s business partner and wife, are front row spectators as the stale over-sanctioned industry of last century and the vibrating new way to buy and sell art collide, each posturing to take on a new identity in the twenty-first century. Like today’s authors who write and move books without publishers, or tomorrow’s rock icons who are making it without a record label, painters and sculptors are going solo — and saying goodbye to the traditional gallery matrix.

Putting art on display is the future of buying and selling this commodity and international art fairs are the becoming more popular for this purpose. But first, artists have to correspond with collectors, designers and art magazines, post lots of pictures on social media, and fill out countless forms online to add pieces to art websites. You’d think after all that marketing artists and former gallery owners’ work would be done. Au contraire! In this brave new frontier of show, tell and sell, the sweat investment is just the beginning.

As former brick and mortar gallery owners, the Gebhardts were used to doing a lot of the heavy lifting to make sure their art hangs in all the right places. But they traded gallery ownership for a life of entrepreneurship. To perpetuate their brand, they work a lot harder, taking their catalog to international collectors at art shows in Miami, New York and California, rather than hoping a collector from China will happen to walk through their door in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. What they have learned is that people want and need art. To succeed in today’s ever-changing art arena, they must do marketing, social media, wield hammers, string lights and display the pieces in strategically selected areas of exhibit halls all over the country.

Virtual galleries and schlepping pieces alone aren’t enough, artists are turning their talent into lucrative small businesses. Maybe getting noticed happens in their spare time, and many are even successful enough that they can quit their day jobs, but the bottom line is the old business of art is dying. Long live the new art sector! This self-serving cottage industry of sorts is creating jobs and contributing to the economy in a way that dealing with galleries never allowed them to do. More channels for distribution means more art is making its way to the market place and into the hands of collectors to be enjoyed, rather than being cloistered in the bowels of galleries which are existing on life support at best. Creators are breaking the system, providing customers freedom, better service, and more choices. This makes Kris and Angela enthusiastic for what the future of the art world will bring.

“The international art fairs bring collector, artist and the art together, which is a much more meaningful experience for all,” according to Kris Gebhardt. At these events, the Gebhardts meet with tens of thousands of enthusiasts and patrons — would-be buyers — who they never would have had access to in the previous incarnation of the industry. Buyers file through the building’s maze of eclectic, sophisticated, signature and classic pieces. They meet the artists and schmooze all the while starting, or adding to, their collections with a purchase directly from the artist. It’s a little like buying opera tickets from Pavarotti, ballet seats from Baryshnikov or purchasing a Ferrari directly from Enzo.

SPECTRUM Miami — December 6 — 10 2017 — Gebhardt Gallery Booth #614

ArtExpo Las Vegas — January 27 — 31 2018 — Gebhardt Gallery Booth #314/318

ArtExpo New York — April — 2018