Literally. We know the “there’s no money for art in Memphis” conversation is tired. But Koala Boom brought up sales and we did a little investigating. Of the individual pieces in Present Tense:
5 are courtesy of corporations
26 are courtesy of individuals (more than a few by James K Patterson - thanks James K Patterson!)
71 are courtesy of a gallery or courtesy of the artist, which we take to mean not sold. In some cases this might mean not for sale, but that’s probably a small number.
These numbers are almost certainly not exactly correct - they come from looking at labels as we walked through the galleries and our tally marks got a little fuzzy as the day wore on. If anyone at the Dixon can correct us, we’d welcome it. But even with a few errors on one side or the other, it’s clear that the bulk of this work, which is purportedly the best art made in Memphis in the last decade, is largely unsold. It’s nothing we didn’t already know - that few people here buy art at this level - but when we put numbers to it, it changes from tired conversation to…we don’t know, just sad? Hopefully this show, by legitimizing the work to a broad (and broadly skeptical) audience, will encourage some sales.