The Frog hops as the art world adapts

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, July 01, 2010
BY JOSEY BARTLETT

The gallery that has replaced the high-end Lawrence Gallery in Portland’s Pearl District might be a sign that the art world is adapting to changing economic realities.

The Dapper Frog lifestyle gallery (motto: “Our treasures make you smile.”) will open at the end of July as a new neighbor to such longtime and notable Pearl District galleries as Elizabeth Leach, Froelick and Pulliam Deffenbaugh.

The gallery business has been struggling during the downturn as fewer customers have the big bucks and more and more are looking for affordable art. “We have done a fair amount of tightening our belts,” said Martha Lee, owner of the Laura Russo Gallery.

Celotto
A Frog work by glass master Afro Celotto
But the Dapper Frog is expanding, with four galleries on the Oregon Coast in addition to the new space in the Pearl. Owner John McDonnell sums up the strategy: “Price points! This has been the right strategy with what has happened economically.”

The Frog's glass, jewelry, and sculpture sell for between $4 and $50,000.

In just five years, the Dapper Frog’s customer list has grown to 18,000, mostly in the Portland and Vancouver area. “We have been fortunate,” says McDonnell.  “Every year we have grown in sales.”

McDonnell is a former executive vice president and CFO for American Express Travel related services. He got into the art business when he got antsy during retirement. He has traveled all over the world and many of the original pieces he sells come from his trips.

The Dapper Frog galleries buy art in full from artists. Nothing is on consignment, which allows better prices, more volume, and faster transactions, McDonnell says. The Frog sells glass pieces by Randy Strong, "Frogman" Tim Cotterill and the "woven glass" artists Markow & Norris. Strong makes only one piece a month, and McDonnell owns 16 of his works.

That makes the Frog a rare buyer providing opportunity for glass artists. “A lot of artists have stopped producing,” says Ron Nolz, of Pacific States Marketing a company that represents some top glass artists. “The cost of creating glass is very expensive; it’s a fact of what’s going on in the economy. The artists who are surviving are producing a market niche.”

McDonnell stores the Frog’s undisplayed works at his 60,000 square feet warehouse in Lincoln City. All web purchases, which comprise 20% to 25% of all sales, come from this giant space as well.

Not bad for a company that started out selling door stoppers online.

Josey Bartlett is an associate writer for Oregon Business, and a visual artist.

 

More Articles

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

Downtime with the director of Barley's Angels

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play with Christine Jump.


Read more...

Opening soon: 3 of the coolest new breweries in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, March 19, 2015
brewthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are 278 companies licensed to operate as brewery, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Here are three new beer-making hubs slated to open soon.


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

European Vacation

Guest Blog
Thursday, April 23, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

There are winners and losers with a strengthening U.S. dollar.


Read more...

Much ado about data-driven organizations, for good reason

Contributed Blogs
Monday, April 13, 2015
bigdatathumbBY GRANT KIRBY | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The mega-shift from technology-driven to data-driven organizations raises questions about Oregon’s workforce preparedness.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS