Sponsored by Energy Trust

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

I Know How You Feel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


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