POSTED ON MAY 5, 2010:
5 x 5 = 5?
TAC Gallery's annual fundraiser packs in the crowd for artwork at $55
By Fives. Since its inception in 1999, the 5x5 Show and Sale has become the sole fundraiser for the Tulsa Artist Coalition Gallery and a huge success as admission is $5 and art sells for $55.
We have all heard of camping out for tickets to a concert or opening day at a baseball game. In fact, many of us have done this ourselves. The pain of standing for hours amidst a crowded line of moody fans or trying to find the most comfortable way to sit on unforgiving asphalt is always worth the wait once you have your ticket and gain the satisfaction of having procured a better seat than the 500 others who arrived after you.
Often being first in line has its advantages. But standing outside all day to be first in line for an art show? What is the point? It's not as if the art will go flying off the walls, right? This assumption would be accurate for any conventional gallery opening, but the Tulsa Artist Coalition's (TAC) Annual 5x5 Show and Sale is no ordinary art sale.
The 5x5 Show, as one can imagine from its title, is all about fives.
The event opens on Wednesday, May 5 at 5:55pm. Admittance can be gained for $5 a person on opening night and each 5x5 inch canvas hanging on the walls can be purchased for $55.
That is about as reasonably priced as one can ever expect to find in an art gallery. Tulsans think so as well. The TAC Gallery started the show in 1999 and since then the event has soared in popularity.
"The line of people waiting to get in starts getting long at around 3:30pm the day of the show," said chairman of the 5x5 committee, Dean Wyatt. "But every year, we have a group that likes to get there at 8:00am. The art buying public gets really excited because this event it gives them a chance to buy affordable art from artists who do not often sell their work or typically sell it at much higher prices with commercial galleries."
Once inside the gallery on opening night, potential art buyers should first scan the grid of painted canvases lining the walls. Corresponding stickers are placed next to each painting and once someone chooses a piece they would like to purchase they need simply to remove the sticker and make their purchase to claim their new work of art.
"We are anticipating over 300 pieces from around 275 artists this year," Wyatt said.
There was no theme given to the artists; therefore, the artwork can be as diverse as the artists themselves. Anything from portraits to landscapes to abstract work can be expected as well as many completely unexpected uses of the canvas.
"In the past, we have had an artist lay the canvas flat as a base and build a tree," Wyatt said. "We have also had an artist build a miniature volcano and sometimes the pieces even need to be plugged in."
The TAC Gallery began the 5x5 Show to be its principle fundraising event and its popularity has left it today as the only fundraiser that keeps the gallery operating.
"The mission of the Tulsa Artist Coalition is to support artists that are a little outside the mainstream and wouldn't necessarily get into a commercial gallery," Wyatt said.
The TAC is a unique non-profit organization with a volunteer staff who are proud to bring opportunities to emerging local artists. When an artist shows at the TAC, the gallery absorbs nearly 100 percent of the costs of the show on behalf of the artist taking care of necessities such as promotional mailers, food and beverages and gallery sitters.
The size of the gallery provides an intimate environment for both the artists and visitors. At 25 feet by 25 feet in size, Wyatt said the 5x5 Show can feel a little claustrophobic on opening night right when the doors open.
When the show first began more than 10 years ago, it was invitational in selecting artists to supply work. Given the success of the show, it is now open to any artist who wishes to contribute to the event. The show is promoted online and is open to anyone, not just local artists.
In the past, the gallery has accepted submissions from as far away as Georgia and California. The exhibit has now evolved into a self-promoting opportunity for many of the contributing artists. It is a great way for many artists to interact with Tulsa's art community while working to sustain an event that makes art affordable to the art loving public. Many of the artists who contribute would normally sell a painting of this size for hundreds of dollars, but the 5x5 Show marks the one night of the year when prices drop and a good spot in line could earn someone a stunning painting they could not otherwise afford.
When asked how the show might evolve in the future, Wyatt said, "There aren't any plans to make changes right now. We don't want to mess with something that works so well and both the public and artists enjoy." Given the success of this event, it would be simple to increase the costs of the paintings or admission as a way to provide more funding for the gallery. However, Wyatt and the 5x5 committee refuse to make any changes that could compromise the integrity of this unique and affordable event.
The 5x5 Show and Sale will be on display until Saturday, May 22 and after opening night will be open during normal gallery hours, Thursday-Saturday, 6-9pm. For more information regarding this show and upcoming events, visit the Tulsa Artist Coalition online at tacgallery.org.
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