Respect – Empower – Include – Win
We studied some form of history for most of our educational years. As we moved toward more specialized knowledge our focus began to narrow. It most often wasn’t understood or appreciated until the history began to become more relevant to our specific interest. This leads us to discuss the history of the emergence of the Art Gallery in the world of influence. The war if 1812 is the benchmark for the beginning of the Industrial Revolution which brought to prominence a huge group of international entrepreneurs with American names like Frick, Guggenheim, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Stanford, Crocker and so on and so forth. The 1989 fall of the Berlin wall is the benchmark of the beginning of the Digital/Information Revolution which brought to prominence names like Gates and most recently web 2.0 Social Media mogul Mark Zuckerberg.
The Art Gallery or Art Dealer most often acted as the agent for the Artist and developer / promoter of trends in Art. The Art Gallery prided itself on being able to influence taste and position the Artist as a Brand to be desired and collected. We only have this precedence until the emergence of Social Media where everyone seems to have gained a voice and power as never seen before in history. With the recent news of facebook going public we hear the name of a graffiti Artist David Choe, who traded his art for stock in facebook which is said to be valued at around 200 million dollars. This is clearly a new precedence for the concept of the Artist having their own voice and really not needing to be represented by a Art Gallery. So in light of this new precedence as well as other stories of Artist having success selling their Art, that could never have had the opportunity to be represented by a traditional Art Gallery. How is the Art Gallery to redefine itself as a relevant institution of the 21st Century Digital Social Media Age?
William “Bill” Traylor was born on April 1, 1854 and died on October 23, 1949. He was a self-taught artist born into slavery on a plantation belonging to George Hartwell Traylor near Benton, in Lowndes County, Alabama. After emancipation, his family continued to farm on the plantation until the 1930s.
Bill Traylor in spent the prime of his life working as a sharecropping. Like most blacks of his generation, the first black American citizens, they were expected to farm the land without owning it. Bill Traylor was expected to know his place, stay in it and leave this world with out leaving a foot print. Bill Traylor at the height of the great depression, in his 80s moved to Montgomery, Alabama where he slept in the back room of a funeral home and in a shoemaker’s shop. During the day, he sat on the sidewalk and drew images of the people he saw on the street and remembered scenes from life on the farm. Traylors art gallery was the fence behind him. Charles Shannon, a painter, who, with his friends from the New South, brought Traylor art supplies and bought his drawings for nominal sums. Despite being homeless, jobless and alone, Traylor pursued his passion which was painting, drawing and documenting the local culture in the thriving African American community. There is no evidence of Traylors drawing before moving to Montgomery, however once there, that is all he did. During the next four years, Traylor produced between 1200 and 1500 drawings. In February, 1940, the New South hosted an exhibition of Traylors drawings, and in 1942, the Fieldston School in Riverdale, New York, hosted an exhibition organized by Victor E. D’Amico. The shows produced no sales. During World War II, while Shannon served in the South Pacific, Traylor moved north to live with relatives. Returning to Montgomery in 1945, he lived on the street again until relief workers insisted that he move in with a daughter who lived in Montgomery. A requiem mass was held for Traylor at St. Jude Church after his death October 23, 1949.