02-08-24

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 8-14, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 Five galleries have closed in Carmel, the Central Coast’s mecca for visual arts, in the past two months. Dolores Street, where the 1927-founded Carmel Art Association has its headquarters, seems to be the site of the exodus. Sometimes the story is simple, as in the case of Rieser Fine Art gallery, where James J. Rieser decided to retire in December, after 26 years of business, and moved back to Ohio. The same can be said about Howard Portnoy Gallery. Portnoy retired last fall after 20 years of business. Gallerie Amsterdam’s owner, Anthony Vanderploeg, died in 2023 and the gallery closed after 29 years on Dolores. The space was rented out to Craig Rose, who in August 2023 opened Nematic gallery, the first gallery in Carmel to sell NFTs (non-fungible token, a digital identifier is recorded on a blockchain and used to certify ownership). That gallery has also since closed after its brief tenure. Another artist/gallery owner, Mary Titus, is done with her most recent gallery, Mary Titus Gallery in Carmel. In fact she is done, after 40 years, with the art-selling industry. Titus will continue as an artist, now represented by The American Art Gallery. Titus says Carmel is still not seeing the full economic recovery (read: visiting art collectors and art-buying tourists) needed to bring back the fine arts industry post-Covid. The pandemic dip was preceded by the 2008 economic crisis. “People go to San Francisco or Los Angeles to buy art,” Titus says. “They don’t come here, for whatever reason.” “But it can’t be just the economy,” offers Sally Aberg, the gallery manager at the Carmel Art Association. “CAA is doing great.” Ashley Bennett-Stoddard, who closed the long-time family business, Bennett Sculpture gallery, and moved to full-time sculpting, also says that there’s nothing to be alarmed about. “Gallery owners are old,” she says, pointing to generational changes. And new galleries are coming, bringing new art, such as Gallery MAR, she says. Since 2008, MAR has been representing young American artists (many of them Californians) in a diverse array of consistently changing artwork. Another gainer in the situation is artist/gallery owner Joaquin Turner, who is moving to the former Rieser Fine Art gallery, four times the size he has now, one of the best locations for an art gallery in Carmel, he says. (It’s on Dolores and 6th Avenue.) He praises his landlord who doesn’t raise prices and consciously supports art. “A lot of leases were up at the end of year [2023],” Turner says about various closures and moves. “Also, the cost of living along the coast on the Monterey Peninsula goes up and it’s harder for artists to survive. And the sales are not what they used to be.” William Karges Fine Art gallery is also moving to one of the vacant places, better and bigger than its previous space. “It’s very expensive to run a gallery,” Karges says. “Also, young people prefer minimalism. They don’t buy heavy paintings. It’s all screens now.” Art Show The Carmel art gallery scene gets an update with at least five gallery closures since December. By Agata Pop˛eda A block of Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, is the site of recent closures and changes in Carmel. Don’t be surprised to find your favorite gallery in a different spot. NEWS “It’s harder for artists to survive.” DANIEL DREIFUSS

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