Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Fine Art of Gentrification makes an interesting case in idea of gentrification. She makes the argument that it is more about the art market moving in than artists themselves. Too often it is the artists that get blamed for gentrifying an area when in fact, it is more the gatekeepers (gallery owners, writers and critics) that bring capital in and displace people. Yes, the writers were looking a the Lower East Side in a very different time when it seemed like bringing artists into an area to develop it was crazy, however, so much of the blame continues to be put on artists who move into lower income neighborhoods.
So much conversation happens about gentrification in Station North amongst it’s residents, but when you look at it as The Fine Art of Gentrification describes the process, gentrification in Station North is not much of a threat. This is mostly because there is very little capital invested into the arts in Baltimore. There are no galleries that are selling work in Station North, There is very little press regarding the art being made in Station North. Furthermore, the area continues to be virtually untouched by the art market.
That being said, we live in a time where the art market may not have to be the first investor of capital and interest in an area populated by artists. With all of the recent interest in Arts Economic Development, larger institutions like developers are catching on to the fact that artists can be good for an area’s economy. This begs the question: are they right? Is it right to assume that artists, without the support of the capital invested by the commercial art market are still economically good for an area? It seems that they are in some ways, but not in the ways that we have seen in cases like the Lower East Side. If artists are not making tons of money off of their work and being lauded in the art press, then there will not be the same influx of capital that there was in the Lower East Side. It seems that this initial push of capital made by the art market is what allows gentrification to happen because if artists in an area are making working class wages and no one injects some capital into the area to make it appealing to the upper classes, then none of the upper class people will move there.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps in Baltimore a bigger step, at least for the time being, is the cultural gentrification - the mark of artists that are not from Baltimore or from Station North. The array of artists working and being put on posters around around the area that are not familiar to others living in the area might themselves represent not a financial impact as much as a cultural one. This in addition to attention from DIY and less wealth-connected critics still holds large cultural capital that has an impact on the area. Whether that is positive or not is less clear.