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Jennifer Davis: Still Rising, Still Affordable

Newcomers to Jennifer Davis’s work usually succumb immediately.

When, in 1873’s The Renaissance, Walter Pater wrote, “all art aspires to the condition of music,” he couldn’t have been more dead-on. But that was then, when the modern gallery system had only just barely started opening up the art market to regular folks and freeing artists from the tyranny that often accompanied salon exhibitions and patronage. In our century, all art (in this post. strictly visual) aspires to the condition of being less neatly pigeonholed than in Pater’s day: less exclusively the fiefdom of a few rich Europeans, and more a global exaltation supported in part by a force far greater than any elite could ever muster: internet commerce.

Hey big spender! Spend a little time with Tanning.

Whether purely digital with zero commodity value or physical artifacts somebody might potentially pay for, today’s art inhabits the condition of music and then some, especially vis-à-vis distribution. Though collecting unique works by dead celebrities (or living ones) demands a load of dead presidents, the digital marketplace makes opportunity ubiquitous.

Kaneko’s prints remain relatively cheap.

Christies? Sotheby’s? All you need is a fast connection. For the patient player, attention to eBay can yield incredible bargains: A few years ago, I saw a big, beautifully framed oil from Dorothea Tanning’s 1940’s naughty surrealist phase go for around 10 percent of what a gallery’s asking price would be. Last summer, an exemplary, Kuniyoshi Kaneko oil languished for weeks in a pro dealer’s eBay store before some perspicacious player finally cobbled together the nine-stack asking price—again, a fraction of the painting’s real value.

One of Davis’s previous Tiny
Showcase prints.

“But I could almost buy a new car with $9,000.00,” you might be thinking. You’re right. You’d also be lucky to get half that a year from now. Conversely, original art by somebody already prominent in both marketplace and critical discourse tends to appreciate over time. That Kaneko could easily fetch $100,000.00 or more before 10 years have passed. Plus, art usually takes up less space than cars, requires less upkeep and zero fuel. (I won’t even mention emissions.)


Let’s say you’re working with a slightly smaller budget—say, fifty bucks or less. No worries—since 2004, online gallery Tiny Showcase has offered collectors weekly opportunities to buy signed. limited edition prints by artists with burgeoning national reputations–usually for 20 to 30 bucks.


Also new from Tiny Showcase, Deth P. Sun’s facsimile sketchbook/print/sticker combo “I See It All” sold out in less time than reading this sentence just took you.

This week’s artist is Jennifer Davis. The Minneapolis-based painter’s gently surreal, relentlessly charming images have recently appeared in First Amendment Arts’ “We Don’t Do Clever” (accompanied by equally meritorious Saint Paul-based Jake Keeler’s intriguing new drawings) and solo exhibition “Wishing Well” at Los Angeles’s Cerasoli Gallery. Another solo show,”Not Too Sweet” at Boston’s Walker Contemporary runs through June.


Another of Davis’s long-gone Tiny Showcase prints.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, we’re talking crazy momentum here. Plus, given that Tiny Showcase’s editions often sell out within a few hours, the print you buy today could easily double in value overnight. Who could ask for more in the way of beginner’s luck? What’s the image? A secret, sillypants, until the prints go on sale tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. CST. Until then, why not just revel in the mystery and think about how impressed friends and family will be upon seeing your new acquisition? Realistically, anybody incapable of falling head-over-heels for Davis’s work at first sight is almost surely either a deceased person or deactivated golem.

To further sweeten the deal, gallery founders Jon Buonaccorsi and Shea’la Finch split the take among themselves, participating artists, and a charity of the artist’s choice. Davis’s–Springboard for the Arts‘ Emergency Relief Fund for Artists–might one day come to the aid of somebody you know, or you–or even me. I can’t think of a worthier set of contingencies.



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