After three-and-a-half years in the East Austin’s Flatbed building, Camiba Art is relocating, and refiguring its art business practice in the process.
Gallery owner Troy Camp announced today that he will open in a new space in March, in the La Costa Corporate Park, a landscaped complex of one-story buildings in Central Northeast Austin not far from where IH-35 intersects with Highway 290.
Campa said he chose the new location after coming to the realization that the traditional “white-box gallery model isn’t the most efficient and effective way to represent our artists and their work.”
Instead, Campa said, the new space will feature with open areas for exhibiting artwork and a dedicated viewing area for impromptu presentations to clients.
The new Camiba Art will be open for drop-in visiting only two days a week, Fridays and Saturdays from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Beyond that, it’ll be available by appointment.
And rather than stage a formal program of changing exhibitions, the gallery will instead host bi-monthly events to showcase new work by its artists — happenings that will have an artist-involved component such as a talk or a related performance. The majority of the events will be invitation-only, but anybody wanting to be on the invite list can sign up for the Camiba email list.
Sightlines broke the news in February 2018 that the owners of the 18,400-square-foot Flatbed building on E. Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., had decided to re-develop the property. For 20 years it has been home to galleries and artist studios anchored by Flatbed Press, who held the master lease. Later this spring Flatbed Press will open in a new location, as will the Austin Book Arts Center, also a current tenant of the complex.
The new gallery will also be the site for dinner events to raise money for important causes. Campa has long been long-time supporters of Austin’s Art From the Streets, an organization which brings art-making to people experiencing homelessness.
Camiba Art will remain open at its Flatbed building location through January. Campa has also supported a small project space gallery for four years on East Sixth Street but said he will close that to direct attention and resources to the new gallery. Camiba Art also has an active international art tour business, organizing collector-focused trips to Latin America.
Campa says he took the inevitably of change as an opportunity and to re-imagine his gallery’s role in Austin’s art community. If a crowd inevitably showed up for an exhibition opening, that didn’t necessarily translate into return visits during weekday hours, nor in the necessary sales needed to keep an art business going.
“The new gallery will be designed to be a flexible working consultation and exhibition space that is hyper-focused on presenting our artists directly to collectors, art consultants, and designers,” said Campa.
Camiba’s change in its operations reflect a trend as many galleries face the realities that a business model built along the lines of a storefront retail operation doesn’t fit in art landscape — and market — of splashy art fairs, and increasing online art sales.
In 2017, Houston gallerist Arturo Palacios shuttered his brick-and-mortar Art Palace Gallery after 12 years. Now, Palacios and business partner Hilary Hunt operate as Deasil, an itinerant business that combines art consulting, direct art sales to collectors, and curated pop-up exhibits.
Even in an art world market mecca such as New York, galleries that aren’t in the blue-chip big leagues struggle, and close.
For Campa, it was time to prioritize “functionality over fashion,” he said. “We are doubling down on our commitment to the Austin art community and our dedication to serving it in the best way we can.”