Covid-19 continues to take a toll on the art scene in New Orleans. And it has taken some casualties, as well.
We have been sad to see several find contemporary galleries close – two of them anchors of the St. Claude Arts District, which features many up-and-coming artists and has helped so many get their starts.
The trouble is that even once the pandemic subsides, it will not be easy to rebuild the gallery scene. Those who have closed thus far have no intention of trying to make a comeback once the pandemic ends.
Yes, this could mean opportunity for new galleries. The trouble is that it takes a critical mass of galleries to create a “scene” that will, for example, attract a crowd to peruse the galleries as they once did on St. Claude on a designated Saturday evening each month. Two or three galleries won’t cut it. And again, the two galleries that have closed were anchors of the “gallery night” that was important to monthly sales for the five or six most frequented galleries in the area.
French Quarter galleries seem to be hanging in a bit better, perhaps because many have out-of-state collectors who continue to buy the work without physical visits to the galleries. We have not seen the widespread gallery closings we would have expected considering how long the pandemic has continued.
New Orleans artists, of course, have been just as hard hit as the galleries. Though much art is sold these days online, on sites such as europeanartunderground.com and neworleansartexchange.com, many like to view art in person if given the chance; and that’s just not possible.