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Big Changes Coming to Bentley Gallery

Bentley Gallery will be dramatically changing its 25,000 sq ft facility this summer to allow for a more intimate space to exhibit artwork. Brian Stark of Scottsdale architecture firm STARKJAMES is heading up the design of the gallery and wayfinding.

Rotater2Another major driving force behind the gallery scaling back on physical space is that brick and mortar art sales have increasingly shifted to the Internet over the past few years. According to Bentley Calverley, “Art collectors today expect galleries to have a robust online presence as more and more art sales are moving to the Internet. In fact, online trade is expected to more than double by 2018. As reputable art sites continue to vet the gallery for inclusion, responding to online requests for information and preparing international shipments has altered how we do business.”

A recent article on Artsy noted that in a survey of collectors on Instagram, more than half had purchased works from artists they originally discovered through that platform. Although the respondents were all active on Instagram, these were significant findings. Experienced art collectors and neophytes are both increasingly using websites to find original contemporary works and ordering them for delivery. This is especially true with younger people, who are quite at ease using online resources. They can do their own research and feel they can be involved in a world that even five years ago may have seemed daunting.

Bentley Gallery director John Reyes agrees that the Internet business has taken off. “I think we’ve reached a turning point,” he said. “People feel more comfortable buying expensive things online. There is growing confidence among collectors that digital images can inform enough about works of art to spend comfortably. We have staff whose time is dedicated to our online presence on our website, our social media platforms, and art-specific sites. We are making great art available to a far wider audience.”

Reyes makes it clear that the gallery will continue to be an art destination in Phoenix, and a beautiful exhibition space. “Though the art world has entered a new era, there are certain things the online experience can never deliver,” Reyes clarifies. “Bentley Gallery is not turning its back on traditional exhibitions or showcasing artists’ works in a gallery setting. We know it’s important to keep the traditional gallery intact because often buyers need context, and we’ll continue to offer that. Our exhibitions today and those planned for the future are as strong as ever, and we house all of the artwork here on site.”

The gallery will be closed during the month of July and will reopen on August 1. Construction on the new space will be completed by late summer.

Image courtesy of Clutch Photos.