The Balazs Szabo Artist Discovery Museum of NC recently opened in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Named after its founder, acclaimed Hungarian-American artist Balazs Szabo, the museum will not only house the works of established artists but will be instrumental in launching the careers of promising younger artists.
Part of Szabo’s rationale for this concept is his gratitude to this country for the opportunities that have come his way. This is a man who as a boy escaped his native Hungary in the aftermath of the Soviet crackdown during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Also, as he explained to me in a recent conversation, is the importance of providing the ideal environment in which these younger artists can maintain viability in the art world.
Maintaining viability – and sustainability means a business relationship in which an artist is not being charged a commission fee of 50-60% (plus the cost of framing) by an art gallery for work sold. Szabo insists this arrangement can be devastating if not potentially fatal during the infancy of a young artist’s career. He offers a different approach. It is a formula that worked for him during his 20 year residence in Hawaii. It was there Szabo hosted his own exhibits and sold directly to the art buying public. He said it is essential for an artist to develop a personal relationship with his or her would-be patrons. Having work sold by a middleman (the galleries) not only reduces the artist’s profitability but leaves potential buyers with unanswered questions that only the artist of note can provide.
Szabo plans to hold biannual exhibits for these struggling artists starting in the fall of this year. It will be an exclusive black tie gala event in which serious collectors are invited to view and purchase works of art. All proceeds from the sales are kept by the exhibiting artist. At that time his forthcoming book Rich Artist Poor Artist will be made available. It is geared toward coaching the struggling artist in the means of making a living as artists previously did before the advent of the modern art gallery. This book is on the heels of his recently published children’s book Tweezer Beezer. Rich Artist Poor Artist is also an art history lesson for the rest of us.
Currently the museum is housed in Szabo’s gallery/studio awaiting the move to bigger digs in an eco-friendly 7,000 square foot building containing an art gallery, studio, library, and a botanical garden as funding becomes available. His one of the kind museum will honor the past but look forward to a time in which artists will exert more control of their creations.
Read my brief biography of
the Life and Art of Balazs Szabo
in the September 2011 issue of Scene4.
For more information about the museum: