In-Town Gallery’s Insight Into the Business of Selling Art

Chattanooga features a number of places to discover new art and emerging artists. Visitors from nearby cities including Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and Knoxville come to Chattanooga because of the creative culture that permeates the city. Supporting and selling local art is a business, one that helps improve our quality of life and connect our communities. While some art galleries are privately owned, at least one in Chattanooga operates as an artist cooperative: In-Town Gallery on North Shore. Trend recently had the opportunity to speak with the gallery’s president and head of the jury committee, Carol Ott, to learn about the operations of an artist cooperative and explore the business of selling art.

Trend: How can businesses incorporate more art into their culture and what’s the benefit?

Ott: Artwork in an office or commercial environment is a perfect way to identify and set the mood for both staff and clients. Idyllic and calm outdoor scenes to bold and energetic contemporary work are offered by many talented and versatile Chattanooga area artists. Continued support of local artists is important in a city that is becoming known not only for the variety of its music but also for the variety of its art.

Trend: How does a cooperative work?

Ott: An artist cooperative consists of artist members who are considered co-owners, and who are responsible for the overall operation of the gallery. In the case of In-Town Gallery, applicants and their work are juried in, a membership agreement is signed, written bylaws and procedures are followed, and monthly rent is paid. There is a board of directors, members work at the gallery and are also assigned to committees that have been formed to ensure all processes run smoothly.

Trend: How long has In-Town Gallery been in Chattanooga?

Ott: In-Town Gallery has been in existence since 1974, starting at the Reed House with 12 artists who were looking for a venue to showcase their work. Ten years later, expansion caused a move to Cherry Street. The final move in 1994 was to Frazier Avenue on Chattanooga’s “Hip to Historic” North Shore. The Gallery offers a wide variety of award-winning art at affordable prices. With constant freshening of the inventory, repeat visitors are given a fresh perspective every time they stop by.

In-Town has gift cards for customers who wish to buy something for family or friends but can’t decide what to get. Its Online Store offers shopping and shipping from the comfort of home.

Trend: What is the process to become an artist member?

Ott: To become a member of In-Town Gallery, there is a three-step process. First, an application along with digital images of the artist’s work, their biography and an artist’s statement is submitted to the jury committee via email. If the committee feels the work meets the gallery’s standards, the artist will bring them to the gallery and pay a small application fee. If the work is approved by the committee, it then goes to the entire membership for a vote. Should the applicant be accepted, a one-time membership fee is paid. Members pay a monthly fee towards the rent and utilities. The gallery retains a percentage of sales to cover operating costs. In-Town Gallery is a not-for-profit business that exists for the benefit of its members.

Trend: Is there anything that makes a business selling art different or unique from other businesses?

Art is emotional and tangible — it touches something within that pleases the viewer and that they want to have near; or they want to give to someone special, knowing it will also be treasured. Price, of course, can be a consideration but liking what is seen and appreciating its aesthetics is more important.

The images featured in this article are courtesy of Lee Glascock, one of over 30 artists who currently take part in the gallery co-op. These paintings are available for purchase, along with other works of art, in person or online.

In-Town Gallery will host an open house event this Friday, Nov. 5, from 5:00-8 p.m. Learn more about their First Friday Openings events by visiting their website, here.

The gallery is currently accepting applications for artists who are interested in becoming members. Learn more about membership benefits and apply, here.

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