Open Art Collection

March 13, 2011 at 11:44 am (Uncategorized)

You might have noticed that there’s suddenly a slew of new art internet-startups popping up all over the place. I’ve definitely noticed, because ever since I posted my article on the VIP Art Fair, I’ve gotten tons of invites to check out the different sites (no complaints! it’s exciting to see all this happen!).

By far the most intriguing of the sites I’ve checked out is The Open Art Collection:

That image is a screen shot of part of my profile on OAC. In an ideal world, there would be a million dots circulating my name and the various categories available (kinda like a Mark Lombardi drawing); sadly, I’m not that popular, so there aren’t that many dots. Yet.

OAC is a tad confusing to meander around. For me, that’s actually part of its appeal. So many websites designed for the art crowd are so terribly basic and geared at an elementary school level that it’s sort of fun to encounter a site that takes some picking apart to understand. Basically, it’s set up to be social networking specifically for art people, and operates in a way that is closer to Linkedin than say, Facebook. Which is to say, the networking that it’s set up for seems to be of more of a “professional” quality rather than a “here are my vacation photos, won’t you be my friend?” quality.

That’s both good and bad. One of the things that’s really cool about how art people have embraced Facebook is that a lot of the pretension gets dropped in that forum. You might “friend” someone who is an art dealer or collector who is totally intimidating in your day-to-day life, but on Facebook you get this other side of them. You can see them be wacky, or more human, and that’s a relief. One collector that I’m friends with on Facebook also runs a family charity — I had no idea that she did such a thing, and I was so touched by her charitable work that I’ve donated money to her cause. When I “friended” her, that’s not really the connection I had expected. But it’s a real connection; I might not sell any drawings from it, but I’m frankly happier to have learned  about this amazing person out there than I am to have a few extra bucks in my pocket.

So OAC isn’t “Facebook for the art crowd,” mostly because Facebook already is. What it seems to want to do well (and it’s just starting up, so it’s unfair to expect it to be totally rocking at this point) is connect galleries to collectors, collectors to artists, and artists to galleries. Meaning, its strength seems to lay in connecting people between categories, and to do so in a business-like manner. (There is a link to something called the Safe Trade Escrow Center that doesn’t work yet, but that certainly sounds very professional and implies to me that the creators expect there to be money exchanging hands and deals made on OAC.)

Right now, most of the people signed up for OAC seem to be European, and of that, mostly Dutch. There’s a smattering of Americans here and there — mostly artists, not too many US-based galleries or collectors from what I can see. The Dutch members seem to be a relatively diverse group of people from all parts of the art community there. It’s hard for me to tell how serious those members are, as I know next to nothing about the Dutch art world. When you sign up, you get to self-define what you are in terms of your relation to art, and it will be interesting to see who chooses “collector” over “art enthusiast.” Is someone who calls himself an “art collector” someone who owns one or two paintings? Or someone who attends all the art fairs and regularly collects? I have no idea.

In fact, the self-defining factor of online social networking is a tricky one for art-related sites to deal with. I am writing this now… so am I a member of the press? I have a collection of artworks that I’ve gotten over the years — am I a collector? An artist? An art educator? So many people in the art world wear so many hats, it’s hard to pigeonhole yourself into one category, and hard also to prove your legitimate stake. But just like you have to apply to be a member of the press to get a press pass to the Armory show, I wonder if the same sort of tactic would be helpful for an art social-networking site. Are you a collector? Ok, prove it.

This is just a thought. But for now, OAC has a lot of potential, and I’m interested to see how it grows.

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1 Comment

  1. Eduardo Rodriguez said,

    Check my online gallery from Monterrey, Mexico., as a follow up of your remarks on post VIP Art Fair startups all over the place.

    Best regards,

    Eduardo Rodriguez

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