Author: Lois Rule
How do you know if an art venue is an art museum, an art studio, an arts center, or an art gallery?
One distinction is what you can do there. Can you create art, see art, or buy art there?
In an art museum, the main visitor activity is to “see” art. Museums acquire art for their permanent collections, and the art that is on display in the museums is from these collections. The collections are owned by the museums and are not for sale to the public. (You won’t see price tags on the artwork.) Collections vary widely depending upon each museum’s mission. For example, the collections may focus on a particular subject (like portraits), or be by particular artists who have achieved extraordinary recognition in their art careers (like Warhol and Picasso), or be from a specific time in history (like Medieval art).
Typically, a museum is a not-for-profit institution, so admission is charged to help cover costs. Other revenue comes from donors, memberships, grants, gift shop sales and fund-raising events.
Museums may offer educational classes, lectures, art competitions and other arts-related programs if their space allows. They may also show temporary exhibits from other museums’ collections or hold art shows by local artists or arts groups. Examples of museums include the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art in Marietta and the High Museum in Atlanta.
In an art studio, artists “create” art. The studio is the workspace where artists keep their supplies and equipment and produce their artwork. Studio space may be rented by the artist from a landlord, but some artists have studio space in their homes or garages. In some cities, you can find arts districts where several artists have working studios in the same building or on the same street. Atelier is another name for a studio or group of studios. Some artists exhibit their art in their studios, but most artists rely on commercial art galleries to introduce, show and sell their work to the public.
Most artists do not have their studios open to the public. However, some studios you can visit in Marietta are J.King Artworks and Surace Art Studios. A group of artists’ studios can also be visited at the TULA Art Center in Buckhead.
In an arts center, you can “create,” “see,” and sometimes “buy” art. An arts center is a multi-arts facility that offers not only the visual arts, but also other disciplines such as music, theater and dance. Arts centers are cultural centers of activity for the communities where they are located. They typically are not-for-profit and rely on local grants, memberships, donors, class fees and fund-raisers to sustain their programs.
While sizes and programs vary from community to community, art centers typically have classroom facilities for educational purposes, galleries for exhibits, and theaters for concerts, plays and dance performances. Some examples of larger arts centers in Atlanta are the Woodruff Arts Center (the High Museum is part of this Arts Center) and Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Some smaller community examples include the Art Place – Mountain View in Marietta, the Mable House Arts Center in Mabelton and the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody.
In a commercial art gallery, you can “see” and “buy” art. Commercial galleries are retail for-profit businesses. They do not charge admission. In a contemporary art gallery, the gallery typically does not own the art. It exhibits the art as consignment pieces, and takes a commission of sales.
A gallery will have a mission statement or a focus that determines the type of art it shows. The gallery seeks out artists who are creating high quality art that fits the gallery’s mission. The artists may be “emerging” artists that are still in the early part of their careers, or “mid-career” artists who have created a large amount of work over several years and have been published or presented by galleries and museums, or they may be “established” artists based on the market value of their work and widespread recognition of their achievements.
The gallery promotes art and artists through advertising, publicity, social media, newsletters, opening night receptions and other special events like art walks. It displays the art in the gallery showroom as well as online websites. The gallery is the bridge between artists and art buyers. Having artwork in a gallery is an important career step that not only helps artists sell their work so they can produce more, but it also helps artists gain recognition in the art world. Galleries are a great place to see new art, and the art show openings at galleries provide an opportunity for the public to meet artists.
Local contemporary art galleries include 2 Rules Fine Art, dk Gallery, Avisca Fine Art and Avery Gallery in Marietta as well as Gallery 4463 in nearby Acworth.
So, here’s a quick summary. If you want to see historical collections or very famous collections of art, head for an art museum. If you want to take an art class, check out your community arts center. If you want to see artists at work, visit an artist’s studio. If you want to keep up with what’s new in the art world and find art that’s available for purchase, visit galleries.