Friday Tips: The Current American Renaissance


When I was growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, our cultural life was much like the Wonder Bread we were served at school: bland, unoriginal, and devoid of passion.  For years I thought this was confined to my part of the country, but as I began to travel in the ‘70s, I learned it was actually a national malaise.  Then when I went on my first book tour in 2006, speaking in 60 cities from New York to LA, I learned that the malaise had existed even in Westchester and Marin County. 

Only in certain pockets in the cities—The Village, Central Chicago, North Beach—had it been any different.  Oh every city had its art movement, no matter how small—like Westport in Kansas City–but the impact this had on the rest of each city was virtually nil.  These movements were centered in isolated enclaves whose participants were generally written off as weird.

Now however this country is going through an artistic renaissance unlike anything in its previous history.  In fact the same can be said of Canada and Australia.  In every region—the Midwest, the South, the Far West—art creation is assuming a life of its own outside New York, and by this I mean all the arts, not just visual.  This movement has been steadily growing since the ’90s, and is far from over.  What does it mean?  For painters and sculptors who for years were told that if they weren’t showing in SoHo, they didn’t count, the story has changed.  

The art world is no longer centered in New York, but as been dispersed nationally.  In Austin, Tampa, Columbus, Sacramento, and hundreds of other provincial cities, work is being created that could easily pass muster in New York.  Further, collectors in each region are beginning to appreciate this evolution, and are participating—though not without encouragement from galleries.  Ditto regional art centers, high schools, junior colleges, universities, arts commissions, and virtually every other entity involved in the game.  

These organizations, and the people who staff them, have worked very hard at bringing about this change for decades.  The beauty of it?  Their efforts are paying off, though history may not recognize the fact for awhile.  With or without that, you can benefit from this renaissance now.  That’s why dealers like me have labored such long hours, and risked so much, in promoting the artists of our region: we were tired of being frozen out by the some of the more closed aspects of the New York art world.  Fine, we created a world of our own.

How you can take advantage of this?  That’s a complex question, to which there is no simple answer, which is why I’m writing a new book on the subject.  But I’ll address some basics in my next couple of Friday columns.

Bonne Chance


12 thoughts on “Friday Tips: The Current American Renaissance

  1. This is so true and very helpful for me as I am considering some new venues of my own. I live in a very traditional city but have noticed a big change in the Arts. People are really getting involved utilizing the artist as great a resource to promote our city.

    Looking forward to your new book!!


  2. Karen: Nice site, nice work. So you live in Charlotte. I believe there’s an active art center there of some sort; several of them attended my signing when I passed through town.

    NC in general is not at all the same state in the arts that it was a mere 25 years ago. Your region, and the U Triangle, have changed dramatically because of corporate expansion–which has a good side to it, and a bad side. Let’s discuss the good side for now.

    Most of these corps have poster art on the walls, but the employees are yearning for something that truly inspires them. Your job, or that of your dealer, is to convince the corps of the value that installations of originals bring–especially if you involve the associates. Succeed at this with a few clients, and private collectors will begin to follow suit.

    Of course it’s a little more complicated than that, but that’s why I’m writing the new book.

  3. hi
    you are right!
    in the uk it is much the same, i think that because communication is so much faster and the general use of the web things move a lot quiker once a idea is there it can happen!
    it so happens i have just had a show here at Havant which is a medium sizes town near Porstmouth(u.k) i am doing a Fine degree as a mature student at portsmouth University, and i would not of done that when ypunger, i am concerned that if things have expanded so fast that they can just as easily contract,,,if we have a recesion for instance, that will effect things, though I did sell a small 6×4 Acrylic painting for £ 40 at last nights Show!

  4. Chris: Sure, in the UK just swap London for NY. I suspect there are some similarities in the art movements in both places, in your case in places like Liverpool, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Congratulations on the sale. 40 seems right enough for a small piece. Trust you’re pricing your work so that you come out all right.

  5. I love this post because it so speaks to my experience in Denver. There’s a great artistic community here, a vibrant art scene that surprises many once they discover it here. It’s a great place to live and create.

  6. Nicole: Good old Denver. Have had many great times there, and a few too many parties. Always loved the area around Wash Park or down by the train station. Yeah, that art scene has exploded from LoDo south. Collector tastes, from what I can tell, still lean toward the conservative, but it’s broadening. And you have the advantage of great tourism.

    Clean site; nice understated work.

  7. Paul, We are so pleased to learn that you are now writing a new book on how artists can take advantage of the new Renaissance in art. We have your book, “Living the Artist’s Life” and have recommended it to numerous people via our e-newsletter and word of mouth and mouse. Since I live in an out-of-the-way location, your new book will be invaluable to me. All the Best, Tommy Thompson,

  8. Tommy: Thanks. Trust you’ll dig the new book. Advance feedback is strong, for which I’m grateful. Alabama? Beautiful state. A couple of immortal writers were from Monroeville–one of them deceased, one of them still lives there. Quite a town.

  9. Hi:

    This is an incredible phenomenon, and I’m sure your book will be wonderful and insightful. I love youtube for at least one reason – some of the interesting and diverse performing talent is so wonderful and would never have been exposed to the world in an old-style media route – there are even many visual artists who record their sessions. Some videos are a bit mundane, but a lot of them are completely amazing.

  10. I really like the layout and colors that you chose for this website! It certainly is incredible! :)

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