Long-Sharp Gallery grows Art Patronage in Indy

Artwork by Jason Myers

Long-Sharp Gallery located on the ground floor of the Indianapolis Conrad hotel, is a rare find in Indianapolis – an award-winning, blue chip art gallery specializing in works by modern masters including: Picasso, Miro, Warhol, Basquiat, Haring,  Indiana, and Lichtenstein. The gallery is also dedicated to Indiana-based artists, representing works by Amy Kirchner, Jason Myers, Constance Edwards Scopelitis, Dale Enochs, and David Michael Slonim, among others. Gallery owner, Rhonda Long-Sharp is committed to elevating Midwestern art, and helping educate the community about the importance of art through exhibits like the one opening this First Friday – Back to Basics: Art 101. Additionally, 5% of the proceeds of sales from the exhibit will be donated to The Gifted Gown; 10% of the opening night!

We chatted with Long-Sharp about the exhibit and the importance of art patronage.

Polina Osherov: Being a high-end gallery in Indianapolis can’t be easy. Why keep open the Indianapolis space when you already have a space in NYC?

Rhonda Long-Sharp: That’s a good question. I am asked it often. Indianapolis is my home and the gallery here came first. I hope that our stature as a respected blue chip art gallery helps to strengthen the city’s reputation as a growing fine art community. The art in this town is amazing (music, film, fine art, museums, and more) but does not always seem to be recognized as such. So, we proudly exhibit our gallery as being in “Indianapolis/New York” whether we are exhibiting in the US or abroad.

However, art sales in Indiana account for less than 2% of our business but take up approximately 25% of our staff time. For that reason, the Indianapolis location doesn’t make fiscal sense. We are able to bring top tier masterworks alongside younger and more established Indiana artists. I believe this is important to Indiana-based artists. That roster includes: Dale Enochs, Amy Kirchner, Jason Myers, Mary Pat Wallen, David Michael Slonim, Constance Edwards Scopelitis, among others. At the end of the day, feedback on the gallery here has left me with the impression that what we do contributes to the community. However fiscally illogical, we will keep it open for as long as we are able to do so and so long as we continue to have a large number of people visit the gallery.

PO: What can our community do better to cultivate more art patrons and supporters?

RLS: I believe three types of education are required. First, we need to debunk the concept that great art is available only in New York. Second, we need to make plain the importance of art in our schools, in our museums, in our corporate boardrooms, and to our city. Third, we need to help people envision a world without art — with artist debt as one of the biggest problems facing the art world today — art patrons are literally the primary defense to a world full of unpainted canvases, undeveloped dance and music, and more.

PO: What can people attending this First Friday event expect to experience? What type of audience are you hoping to attract? What do you hope the audience will get out of the exhibit?

RLS: The purpose of this exhibit is to educate and debunk the myth that fine art is only to be understood by a select few. It is directed to the young or inexperienced but burgeoning collector who needs to know the basics and see examples before heading out to purchase works.

PO: You are featuring a number of world famous as well as local artists in the show. Mixing and matching – what was the thought behind that?

RLS: We do this as often as we can. — in New York, in London, wherever we are exhibiting. This is part of our ongoing education initiative. It speaks to both the great artists who have studios in our state and how the gallery views the work of these artists. In addition, it helps to influence the artist’s pedigree. We also do this “mixing and matching” at times in New York. For example, there are some who say that a painting by Amy Kirchner in our New York Project Space is worth more than an Amy Kirchner painting hanging in a n Indianapolis gallery– because NYC is NYC. This is because of the respect New York has earned as one of the art capitals of the world.

There is another reason for mixing and matching in this exhibit — that is to illustrate that all works by major names like Picasso and Warhol, for example, are not millions of dollars, and that art lovers may acquire important signed limited edition works by these artists in the 4-figure range.

If someone is thinking about starting an art collection and is a bit intimidated by both cost and having the right expertise to buy art in general, what advice would you give them?

RLS: 1. Only buy art that rocks your world. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. Visit galleries and fine art fairs (such as Expo Chicago in September, Art Miami and Art Basel in December) to learn what you like. 2. Look for a gallery or auction house that can assist you. Vet them for their reputation, ethics, and clientele. For works by top tier artists such as Picasso, Warhol, etc., vet the gallery and the work carefully, examine the catalogue raisonne pertinent to the artist, look at the front and back of each work, and generally do your homework. Most auction houses warrant authenticity for only 5 years after purchase. 3. Understand that condition is important to value and that the “best price” is often not the price that you want. That is, two works from the same limited edition may be vastly different in price because of the condition of the works. Simply doing price comparisons is not the way to buy art. Price should be the third criteria on the list.

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