Mostly, as was the original concept, its citizens create Second Life. To the extent it’s an attractive place to be, muggles like me must thank creative fellow-SL’ers, past and present. For me, Second Life’s artists make it special. I began to collect art there to support and encourage them. When my collection outgrew my SL home, I opened the original gallery to share the collection with tenants in my rentals. It took on a life of its own over time. My SL business is long gone but the Limoncello Art Gallery lives on. It now simply exists to help more people find and enjoy the work of its artists.
When, after a bereavement, I left SL for a while, I missed the gallery. My collection called out to me from the dusty recesses of inventory. I came back largely to see it again so Linden Labs owes SL’s artists for my premium membership and tier fees.
I pay my own tier. I don’t make a single $L. There are no tip jars in the gallery and we sell nothing. So if you want to show your appreciation, look up “our” artists, contact them directly or track down their work at commercial galleries and start your own collection. Don’t let it fester in inventory though. Art needs to be seen. If you’ve no room to hang it, donate it to a gallery or open one yourself.
Once, when buying a painting at a London Art School’s graduation exhibition, the young artist sought me out. She literally danced for joy because she’d sold her first piece. It was one of my best moments. It wasn’t just about the money for her. It never is, though goodness knows there’s nothing wrong with earning. There’s a connection between an artist and a collector just as there is between an author and a reader — even if they never meet.
So, while I accept an occasional gift to the gallery in the spirit in which it’s offered, mostly I actively prefer to buy the art you see there. It’s my small way of contributing. Buying art is “click and go” in SL; far less personal than real life, but some artists will message their thanks or come to see their works in place. Those moments make me smile. Having such a large collection (and now having other people’s collections on loan at my gallery) means I also still get those sweet moments of discovery; a fresh appreciation of what the artist did. Of course, I could get much the same experience without the expense by visiting the many other excellent galleries in SL, but for me it wouldn’t be the same.
Economists distinguish between “stated preferences” (very often, the lies people tell to impress or appease others) and “revealed preferences” (the things people actually spend their time and money on). Don’t flatter an artist with your stated preference. Reveal your preference for their work by buying it. Virtual art isn’t expensive, so leave that pair of shoes you know you’ll lose in inventory on the virtual shelf and support an artist today.
The original version of this post appeared in the weekly newsletter of the Limoncello Art Gallery in Second Life. You can subscribe to that newsletter at the kiosks in the gallery.