Artist Michael Benton, owner of The Gallery on Sixth, 2207 E. 6th St., had no intention of opening his own gallery. He was merely looking for a bigger space to house and create his work.
And so when his house had reached maximum capacity, overflowing with his hand-crafted wood inlay pieces, he was forced to seek out a new studio space. The building he chose was much larger than he needed to produce his own work, so his original plan was to use the front portion of the building as a gallery to showcase his craft. It was not long before Benton realized he was likely not the only craftsman struggling to find gallery representation. This was the spark of an idea. "There are not many outlets for artists to show their craft," he said.
Since opening its doors in December, The Gallery on Sixth consistently showcases the work of some 20 independent artists whose media ranges from ceramics and woven baskets to wood carvings and blown glass. The artists pay a minimum of $25 a month as rental space for their work in the gallery and keep 100 percent of the profit from sales of their work in the gallery. In addition, each artist can show up to 100 works online on the gallery's website. All Internet sales go directly to the artist's PayPal account, and each artist has access to make changes to their potion of the website at anytime.
Recently opened and located directly next door is Savage Art Gallery. Doc Savage, owner of the property for The Gallery on Sixth was extremely impressed with the renovations and cosmetic changes Benton made to his gallery. The changes inspired Savage to work with Benton in creating a complementary fine art gallery next door that would specialize in two-dimensional fine art.
It's recent grand opening featured the work of long-time Tulsa art organization, Alpha Rho Tau.
Savage Art is a consignment gallery, differing from Gallery on Sixth, and the larger space (1,500 square feet of open rooms with ample wall space and a fantastic view of downtown Tulsa) makes for a comfortable reception area.
The co-op hybrid concept of his own room, however, suits Benton just fine. Traditionally, galleries want to be very involved in the interactions that take place between clients and artists work. But "We don't want to be in the loop," Benton said.
The Gallery on Sixth provides a space for artists to meet with clients directly that is separate from their home or studio. As a result, prices are lower and art buyers enjoy a more personal experience of purchasing art directly from the artist.
Many of the gallery's represented artists show their work at art events such as the Jenks Riverwalk, the Blue Dome Arts Festival and Mayfest. While these events are excellent opportunities for sale and exposure, the artists appreciate a venue to keep their work exposed on a consistent basis.
Benton's autonomy over the co-op is his final say in day-to-day decisions and future plans for the gallery. There are no committees or meetings in which the artists come together to make decisions regarding the gallery.
The uniqueness, however, of each gallery is testament to the growing development and maturity of the artist community in Tulsa and the market for its wares.
In addition, art groups such as Alpha Rho Tau or independent artists can rent the space and conduct an exhibit in any manner they see fit without succumbing to the conditions or demands of the gallery.
The galleries also plan to organize some of their own events for the space that could include a miniature show, a 12x12 show, or a show of featured artists chosen by the gallery.
Share this article: