Art Galleries Adapt To Evolving Second Saturday

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 7, 2008

­­­­­­­­­Jim Ferry owns the 20th Street Art Gallery in midtown Sacramento. It’s a large, warmly-lit space, inside an historic brick building. On this day, Ferry is showing a collection of serene landscape paintings titled “Scenes of the Delta.” 

"We stay away from the edgy stuff. We try to sell pleasant stuff that’s easy to look at." 

Ferry opened his gallery about eight years ago when Second Saturday was still relatively quiet. The original idea behind the event was to promote the local art scene. Gallery owners agreed to keep their doors open a little later…pulled out the wine and cheese…and the art lovers came. But Ferry says Second Saturday has evolved into something different.   

"It’s more of a party. It’s more food and bands and people meeting people. It gets so crowded that it’s hard to see the art."

And that’s okay with the people I talked to at last month’s event, outside the MARRS Building at 20th and J Streets…Ground Zero for Second Saturday. 
"I’ve never been around in Sacramento when they’ve shut off the streets and had people walk around and music on the streets and stuff. It’s nice." 

"Well, it just depends on how many cute guys per girl. That adds to the excitement." 

"This is really like a festive street fair. It’s classy it’s casual it’s interactive. And then you have the art galleries if you want the art." 

Art galleries tend to be an afterthought with people on the streets during Second Saturday. Just ask Abundio Montez. He owns the Phoenix Gallery a few blocks away from the MARRS Building. 

"It’s now just a street scene circus. In one sense it’s a great thing because people are coming out. But in another way it’s bad because the galleries are losing out." 

“Losing” because Montez says more people are interested in what’s happening outside his gallery than inside. 

"Like right outside right now. There’s a band playing and there’s hot dogs, people are selling hot dogs out there. They have fire dancers and God knows what else going on. I don’t have that in my gallery. I have art. It’s an art walk." 

Back at the MARRS Building….police have shut down 20th Street so that people can mill around as a deejay spins records and live bands play outside. The building is home to a coffee shop, newsstand, restaurants and the Solomon Dubnick Gallery. Alejandro Rubio is the gallery’s assistant director. He says Second Saturday is good for business…but not for his. 

"Of all the people we get in this gallery every Second Saturday, I would say 95% of them are not collectors or art buyers. It’s just random people that start getting interested in it because they see fun stuff." 

That’s why, to reconnect with serious art collectors, Solomon Dubnick now holds opening receptions on Thursdays instead of Second Saturdays. It’s an idea that’s catching on with other gallery owners….like Phoenix Gallery’s Abundio Montez.

"I’m thinking about doing that soon. For the artist’s sake, the artist that we’re featuring and just for the whole gallery scene – to bring out the actual collectors, people that actually like collecting art. A lot of these people I don’t see anymore, they just don’t want to bother with the crowds. And make it for them." 

That’s for another night. As for the monthly street party that has become Second Saturday – Montez has no plans to abandon it. 

"And on Saturdays we’ll just open the doors and pump up some loud music and have fun."