If you do not know Bernard Derroitte, you should. Some years ago he took over Armstrong Fine Art when Richard Reed Armstrong decided to retire. Armstrong Fine Art is dedicated to presenting superior works of art on paper of the 19th and 20th centuries including artists such as Belleroche, Bonnard, Chahine, Denis, Helleu, Ibels, Leger, Masson, Picasso, Robbe, Tissot and Vuillard to just name a few. In the days that I was still an art dealer, he was my go to colleague when my clients were more specific in the kind of prints they wanted to collect.
In 2016 when my former website was replaced with the new which indicated the shift in my career, I called Bernard. I let him know that I was no longer dealing but following my original path to be a practicing artist. He indicated at that time that he was preparing to launch a new endeavor to complement Armstrong Fine Art. However, he was still in the process of formulating the plan. We stayed in touch in the interim through our respective newsletters and occasional phone conversations.
In September of 2018 when I was participating in The Other Art Fair Chicago with Pamela Staker, Bernard gave me a call. He said that he would try to pop in if he was not too tired after returning from a Minneapolis print fair. The last day of TOAFCHI, he indeed stopped by the stand. It was the first time he had seen my drawings outside of my website. In our conversation about the work, he suggested we speak further about my joining him in his new endeavor, MESH ART GALLERY which had officially launched in July. I was gobsmacked as I was not expecting this invitation.
We eventually set a date for meeting at my studio. At this rendez-vous Bernard was able to have a more intimate look at my drawings. We had a good dialogue about the concept and the process of my artwork. I found him to have an immediate appreciation and understanding of what I was creating. As well, we discussed why Mesh now exists and the business model. All the ingredients for a good business relationship were there for us, so I gladly accepted the invitation to participate in MESH ART GALLERY.
Representing artists from the US, France, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands and Ukraine, I think it best to have the gallery’s mission described in Bernard’s own words, “MESH is passionately committed to bringing beautiful works of art on paper, created by independent artists, to individuals who wish to live rich artistic experiences. We believe that surrounding oneself with art leads to happier lives. We strive to make buying art a welcoming experience, affordable to all.”
He also expresses observations that brought him to creating MESH ART GALLERY. ”Being an artist is a lonely pursuit. That realization came to me in late 1998. On my first business trip to France, my boss and I were standing in an artist’s studio discussing a collaboration. Our priority at the time was to secure direct access to a number of artist’s work.
As we stepped into artists’ crammed studios I became acutely aware of the sacrifices they were making to live from their passion. Away from the bustle of our busy lives, they toiled quietly and with dedicated fervor, in a daily attempt at making beauty. They evoked in me images of medieval monks illuminating manuscripts. And yet, most of these artists’ ability to create unencumbered were almost completely dependent on the willingness, ability and vigor of art dealers and galleries.
Then came the internet; and with it the promise of self-promotion. Sadly it hasn’t worked out that way. For individual artists to promote their own work successfully in the crowded artistic landscape of today is exceedingly difficult. Very few succeed long-term. What has changed is the number of galleries that represent independent artists, those very artists I admired some twenty years ago. There are just as many, possibly even more phenomenal creative talents today, but the businesses providing them with steady representations has dropped vertiginously.
Mesh was created to promote the work of just such artists, talented creative minds willing to push art to perfection. MESH takes on all logistics of bringing art to market, leaving artists to focus on their passion. We also believe in artistic independence, and leave artists free to work as much or as little with MESH as they wish. We simply attempt to broaden the number of people who get to know, appreciate and acquire their work.”
To sum it up, I respect Bernard’s sense of aesthetic and his business practices. I am flattered and honored to be part of a very talented group of national and international artists. MESH ART GALLERY which is dedicated to contemporary works on paper is in fact a good fit for my drawings and for me.