The Basement Art Outlet, as it’s called, is literally in SunDust gallery’s basement, a historic, no-frills space built of bricks. Here buyers can find original works by Arizona artists for up to 80 percent off. Prices start at $15, and nothing is priced more than $200.
Chandler artist Howard Scherer has a strict policy on bad work.
“My rejects go in the trash,” says the painter of oils and pastels.
Nevertheless, a surplus of paintings and prints are accumulating in Scherer’s studio, and he’s running out of room to create new work.
To alleviate the buildup, he’s turned to SunDust Gallery, a friendly, laid-back art gallery in downtown Mesa that’s just opened a bargain basement.
The Basement Art Outlet, as it’s called, is literally in SunDust’s basement, a historic, no-frills space built of bricks. Canvas paintings and framed prints hang on the whitewashed, tunnel-like walls, and small sculptures made of wood and metal fill tables and racks.
All of the items are original works by Arizona artists, and they’re all for sale at a discount — some of them up to 80 percent off.
Prices start at $15, and nothing is priced more than $200.
It’s where gallery owner Ron Floyd hopes to solve two problems at once: artists’ need to move work that isn’t selling in a down economy and consumers’ demand for good deals when there’s little extra money to go around.
“Artists are suffering in this economy. Art’s just not selling,” says Floyd. “And so we thought, 'What if we gave artists a place to offer some of their older work or surplus work directly to the public for a lower price?’”
He says the response the gallery received, when they polled artists on the idea, was overwhelming.
“They all had stuff under the bed, behind the sofa, piled up in storage. Most artists are very prolific; they’re working all the time,” says Floyd, a local art professor and president of the East Valley Art Guild.
Scherer is one of those. The painter, whose work sold in galleries in Florida, Maryland and Virginia for up to $2,000 before the recession, says he won’t stop painting despite the fact that art’s not selling.
“You can’t blame people. They’re losing their jobs, and if they still have one, they’re afraid to spend money, and they’re certainly not going to spend it on art. But I love to paint. It keeps me alive. So stuff keeps multiplying and multiplying.”
So far, he’s consigned 10 of his works to the Basement Art Outlet.
“The paintings I have in the basement have been in shows and haven’t sold. They’re not junk; it’s just the economy, they’re not selling at full price.”
Floyd says many of the outlet’s pieces are simply surplus art like Scherer’s. Others have gotten scratched or dinged along the way or didn’t turn out exactly the way the artist envisioned.
Some are the result of experiments in new or different styles, and some are older pieces an artist hasn’t previously wanted or been able to sell.
The space has been open only one week, and Floyd expects to add more than 100 new works in the coming week.
“This room will be full within a month. It’s going to be constantly changing, so people should come back often,” he says.
Scherer plans to offer more work in the outlet as his pieces sell.
“It’s like giving your children away,” he says. “But I don’t have any more room, and I’d like for them to be seen rather than stacked in my studio where no one is enjoying them.”
SunDust shows and sells the work of more than 100 Arizona artists. The gallery also hosts shows by local arts groups, such as the Arizona Plein Air Painters and Tempe Artists Guild, and sponsors classes in digital photography, painting and bonsai. It opened in September 2009 in a historic storefront on West Main Street.
Basement Art Outlet
What: A basement full of widely varied, one-of-a-kind art by local artists, all priced from $15 to $200.
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: SunDust Gallery, 48 W. Main St., No. 100, Mesa
Cost: Free to browse
Information: (480) 464-6077 or www.sundustgallery.com