Editorial: Carmichael Gallery - Publication: Art Citizen LA Back to Editorials

Restoring LA’s Public Art

Carmichael Gallery

Whether classified as ‘lowbrow, or’ ‘outsider,’ the booming illustrative genre is intrinsically Californian, with a growing stable of successful artists and galleries testament to it’s success and salability.

Having opened in 2006, West Hollywood based Carmichael gallery hopes to tap a niche within the illustrative movement, citing street and installation based art as their area of specialty, a subgenre they’ve approached with a global focus that sets them apart from similar galleries such as Merry Karnowski Kinsey/DesForge, and Cerasoli.

With a background in classical music theory and film respectively, husband and wife team Seth and Elisa Carmichael have a true commitment to fine art and are motivated by more than the fickle machinations of commerce.

"Our creative vision is pretty simple: Show the art we like to as many people as we can. From the very beginning, we have been dedicated to exposing more high-quality national and international art to Los Angeles. We are very proud of the eclectic nature of our lineup.

While a genuine passion is important owner Seth, adds that so too is a clear creative focus, "narrowing our vision is essential in cementing our identity. At the same time, although there are many artists out there whose we work we admire and collect privately, it doesn’t follow that we need to exhibit them ourselves.

An extension to this focus on street art is the Carmichael gallery’s commitment to defying the trap of being overly officious. A down to earth approach sees Carmichael not intent on merely policing a white walled space, but rather offering a welcoming and creative venue for like minded appreciators and creators of art.

Seth elaborates, "there are a lot of galleries that you walk into where the directors and staff insidiously imply that you are unwelcome, whether you are there to purchase a piece or simply partake in the admiration of the artists’ body of work and festivity of the event.

Although we work nearly 24 hours a day, we like to think we cultivate a more laidback atmosphere than other galleries. As well as showcasing the art we love, it is important to us that anybody can walk in and feel comfortable in our space. We want to be as approachable as possible."

In tune with the gallery’s progressive approach to publicity and their global focus, use of the internet and alliances with web based exhibition portals and galleries is a significant part of exploring an maintaining new artists.

We started by doing a lot of research on the internet, digging through Wooster Collective, Photolog and Flickr looking for interesting work, reading magazines like Juxtapoz and looking at books about street art and graffiti.

These days, most new artists come to us through personal relationships and conversations or email with collectors and other galleries but one of the best sources of information about new artists that collectors are interested in is a web forum called wallkandy.net. For the international perspective, that is by far the best source of information we have found out there," Seth reveals By the time a street artist is invited into a gallery like ours they often already have an international base of collectors and a high level of media awareness. They have been showing work for years and usually doing direct sales through Flickr or their own web site. These artists are actually more in control of their own career and their marketing than any other contemporary artist. They are less dependent on the galleries for their initial success. Now booked till 2010, Carmichael has already made an impression on the local scene, attaining impressive sales and a strong portfolio of artists. Of the future, Seth is as optimistic as he is committed.

"Coming up, you will see a lot more focus, fewer artists, larger scale shows with more installation aspects. That's really the two year plan, to build upon and strengthen what we have already begun, that's really the primary goal. Just to enable us to keep at it."

Written by Craig Stephens

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