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Contemporary Art Gallery
Magazine for Artist and Collector Business

Interview with PETER STRUB of The Marshall Gallery

Contemporary galleries can exhibit a wide range of works but often specialize their representation into one or two of the many genres being successfully produced today.  One gallery that represents several different genres with diverse styles is The Marshall Gallery of Scottsdale, Arizona.

I contacted The Marshall Gallery about some of their artists and was able to interview the gallery principal, Peter Strub.

How did you first become interested in the art field?
“When we were children, we played in the art gallery and museum on rainy days. Since then art has been an aspect of an interesting and stimulating life rather than a passion. Formal trips to London, Paris, Berlin, Basle, Dresden, Madrid, Moscow, Melbourne, Washington, New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and so on, have done much to broaden one’s experience and inform one’s eye.. . Art is everywhere. Art defines emotions, people and places. Great art withstands the test of time. True art experiences leave lasting impressions – art has the power to haunt one and wake one in the middle of the night. True art has power – human beings relate instantly to it, as they do to music and the well-spoken or -written word.”

When did you first become interested in artist representation?
“1998. We knew several marvelous artists who were not represented in this burgeoning town (2006 growth = 750,000!). Many of the local galleries at that time specialized in so-called “western” art. We wanted to help leaven the market and lift its sights with a different, classically-based offering.”

How long has The Marshall Gallery been open?
“Since November, 1999.”

Have you seen any changing trends in the contemporary art market in the last 10 years?
“The market has become more savvy but a great divide persists and there still is much merely decorative art that no doubt provides simple pleasure but little formative value to people’s lives.”

What kind of artists do you prefer to represent?
“Traditional, contemporary, modern, symbolic – but all rooted in “classical discipline.” We seek to represent purists with impeccable standards of excellence, no matter the discipline.”

I see that you represent painters with a variety of styles – is there a direction in your selection of these styles?
“Yes, we are uncompromising in quality. We do not bow to the merely trendy. We cannot accept “art” that may be discarded in a few years for some new fad. The art we seek must have enduring appeal. For that reason we feature work of diverse aesthetic, but linked by classical derivation. We do not subscribe to the popular view that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Rather, we join with the ancient philosophers in the belief that true beauty is a self-evident truth. Individual taste is a question of conditioning, which is a different consideration altogether. One of our pundits mentioned that, “You’re trying to save the world, one painting at a time.” He’s right.”

Are there any common themes in the interests expressed by the art collectors that frequent your gallery?
“Most of our collectors express uncompromising discernment in selecting truly fine art. They obviously want art to which they can relate emotionally as well as intellectually and for a long time.  Affordability takes a back-row seat to enduring quality. Our buyers have an eye for exquisite fine art – many are drawn to our beautiful, contemporary expressions of American tonalism, for example. However, we also offer less-usual schools such as symbolism, and also cater well to the abstract palate.”

What advice can you offer to contemporary art buyers?
“Always invest in the best you can afford – never suffer mediocrity on the basis of affordability. The momentary hurt in the pocketbook will be assuaged by a lifetime of satisfaction… Research the artist and genre in which you plan to invest. Do not rely on the taste of another – only the individual really knows what he or she likes. (“This above all: to thine own self be true.”) Taste in art, as with music, literature, or food, can be acquired and enhanced with familiarity and exposure. Good art is self evident.”

Have you had any notable experiences with any designers, architects or artists you can describe?
“Sadly, many designers dominate their clients’ tastes in favor of nebulous and expedient decorative effects. The client often is left to languish with very expensive consequences long after the designer has faded into the sunset. We recommend that clients work directly with galleries in lieu of designers. Our gallery enjoys a reputation for supporting clients from selection to placement and installation… Our experience with architects and corporate buyers is scant but we feel there is significant, underexploited room to service a discerning clientele via well-grounded specialists in these fields… Artists are a wonderful breed of mankind. They are as diverse in their proclivities as their art, and full of unpredictable whimsy that can be both good and bad for business. At the end of the day, they are our lifeblood. We respect their conceptualizing genius, power of expression and mastery of technique.

What other contemporary galleries do you respect?
“Great galleries are to be found in some unlikely places. However, with the space available, we mention Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ. Udinotti Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ. G2 Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ. Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ. Mitchell Brown, Scottsdale, AZ. Cline Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ. Andrew Bae Gallery, Chicago, IL. David Ericson Fine Art, Salt Lake City, UT. John Pence Fine Art, San Francisco, CA. Ad infinitum.”

Do you believe there are any positive effects in participating in the art fairs or bigger annual expositions?
“We have not yet branched out to try any of these expos. In surveying their scenes, we have not found them to be good sources for the discerning buyer. Of course, serendipity sometimes produces a genuine find.”

Has the internet caused any changes in the art market?
“Yes. It has increased competition among galleries and introduced the phenomenon of clients’ shopping for price, using galleries merely as shop windows. Many enthusiasts find us and our artists via websites. We receive many internet inquiries, from clients and artists. Some buyers seek to circumvent galleries and purchase directly from artists. Most artists are wise and integral enough to eschew such overtures.”

What does the future hold for contemporary artists and contemporary galleries?
“The possibilities are boundless and the future bright as the market becomes more confident in terms of true quality, individual tastes, and is less tolerant of daubs. Rather than “keeping up with the Jones’s,” many collectors assert their independence and display their wonderful collections with pleasure, flair, and savoir faire. Good art always sells.”

Thank you Peter.  CAG appreciates your viewpoints and experiences with The Marshall Gallery.

– Tia Marks