Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Online Art Gallery Snubbed by International Art Fairs


Montreal, Quebec, Canada - July 24, 2006 -- Free Spirit Gallery, a Montreal based online art gallery specializing in Inuit and Northwest Native American Indian art, claims that they were snubbed by the selection committee of the Canadian International Art Fair. This annual art event is scheduled for November in Toronto, Canada and attracts both art galleries as well as art buyers from around the world. Free Spirit Gallery had applied for a booth at the Toronto event but like all other applicants, had to go through a selection committee which decides which galleries will exhibit.

The problem here is that selection committees of art fairs such as the Canadian International Art Fair are usually comprised of owners of traditional retail art galleries which have actual street locations, i.e., bricks and mortar stores. With the evolution of online shopping, internet based art galleries have emerged over the last few years with Free Spirit Gallery being a prime example. Since exclusively online businesses such as Free Spirit have less overhead expenses compared to street retailers, they can offer their products at lower prices. This has caused a lot of animosity towards online galleries from the traditional art gallery community which considers online businesses to be unfair competition. It was no surprise that the selection committee of the Canadian International Art Fair rejected Free Spirit Gallery’s application to exhibit based solely on their online status.

Clint Leung, who created Free Spirit Gallery in 2004 says, “I was told by Linel Rebenchuk who is the managing director of the Canadian International Art Fair, that no art fairs will allow online galleries. He said that selection committees think that we are unfair with our lower prices for artwork and that we don’t do as much work such as putting on gallery shows.”

Leung recalls a similar hostile reception he got when he visited an Inuit art gallery while in Switzerland. “The owner of that street gallery claimed that us online galleries are destroying the market for art by our low prices ... she just wanted us to die off.”

Despite the attitudes of the traditional art galleries, Leung says that he will not raise his prices to levels similar to those of the street galleries. “The savings we have from lower overhead expenses are passed onto our customers via the lower online prices. Prices could be 20% to even 50% lower for some pieces of original art. We like it. Our customers like it. So why should I raise prices just because the street galleries don’t like us. They just have to learn how to work smarter and adjust to changes in the business world like all other industries.”

Incidentally, after calls to the Boston International Art Fair for possible exhibition opportunities there, Leung never received any return calls after that group realized that Free Spirit was an online gallery. Leung is not deterred though as he says, “We offer an alternative method for art buyers to shop, especially those who live far away from sources of Inuit and Northwest Native American Indian art. There’s nothing wrong with this. We will find other ways to promote ourselves to the art buying market. We will not be going away.”

For additional information, see www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca.

About Free Spirit Gallery:

Free Spirit Gallery is an online gallery specializing in Inuit art and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculptures as well as prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Eskimo Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.

Contact Information:

Clint Leung
Free Spirit Gallery


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