Publisher's Letter 2021
By GINNY VAN ALYEA
My 2020 Publisher’s letter talked about how intimidating it can be to visit a gallery. 2020 was going to be all about in person engagement with art, and people.
Well, what a difference a year makes. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a new year more than I do now. That 2021 is almost (finally) here feels like a miracle, and so does the fact that CGN is still here too.
The prospect of another fresh start – and our 5th annual Arts Guide – has made me reflect on what opportunities and realizations have come out of a scary and exhausting year.
There's no way to make a single statement that sums up 2020's impact on our art world. For some, business has been surprisingly healthy even compared to years past. For others, the pain of closing a business and ending a dream is still raw. I’ve heard from artists who’ve been busier than ever, with more time to work uninterrupted, and with more urgent messages to share. Some dealers are frustrated by limits and circumstances that have eliminated lifelines and opportunities. A few have found inspiration and innovation amidst challenges. I can say that there are so many artists, gallerists, and arts professionals who need your support.
When I told an art colleague last spring that my conversations about the art world used to be so hopeful, he pointed out that something good and needed could come out of all of this. An optimist might see that a reset would be OK. Several months later, I see that the absence of the mad rush that was all around many of us pre–pandemic has at least given me the gift to slow down and re–focus on showing collectors and others the art that’s in our community today and to share artists’ stories.
Someone mentioned to me that out of a bust can come a boom. A stay-at-home can’t lock down creativity or wipe out connection. It’s just the Grinch, and Christmas comes anyway, maybe stripped down to the essence it once was. You can close the museums and cancel the parties, but artists will still have something to say. So while we await the boom, or just the return to some sort of normal, art is still our window to a world that’s changing faster than we can fathom. Art’s powerful, enduring messages may be found on boarded up windows, on streets that can’t really be shut.
CGN’s summer 2020 issue, printed just a few months ago, but during the height of the spring lockdown, felt like a Hail Mary. We didn't really know what we were doing, just that we had to do it. Now that we have reached the end of the year intact, the Arts Guide is intended to be a testament to those who are hanging in there and prayer that we can come out the other side better and even more grateful than before.
You’ve each met your own challenges and upheavals, weathering losses that were not in the plan for 2020. I turned 40 during the collective freak-out of last spring. Instead of celebrating as planned, I worried about my family as well as our art community, and I learned how to sew face masks and home school while supervising hand washing. I know I am one of the lucky ones, and I hope I can help those in the art community who need support throughout 2021.
I’ve said to myself these past months, ‘You can’t worry about what you can’t control’. My favorite singer, the late, great diva Aretha Franklin, said something similar decades ago. Her spontaneous words of wisdom, from a 1971 live performance in San Francisco (look it up), are posted above my desk:
"Don’t put worry on you before worry gets to you. You’d be surprised what big bridges you can meet when you get there.”
While I cannot see what will happen in 2021, it's starting to feel like we are at least getting there. And I will try not to worry.
Top image: Cover artwork: Tony Tasset, Arrow Painting 43, 2016, oil on aluminum panel, 42 x 66 in. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta Gallery
Note: I wrote my Publisher's Letter in mid-November. We chose the cover image by artist Tony Tasset last month because we wanted to look towards a new year of art and keep a positive outlook. Tasset’s arrows point both up, and down, as do most things in life. Now that the Guide is out a month later, we are hopeful about the good news of a vaccine. For 2021 we are definitely looking up!