A number of art galleries in Beirut (such as Alice Mogabgab Gallery and Galerie Tanit) recently launched the "Nocturnes des Galeries", or "Galleries by Night", inviting people to visit them every second Tuesday of each month, till 10 pm. The first edition of this initiative took place on April 12. This is an occasion to remember how important art galleries are in Ashrafieh.
For many residents in Ashrafieh, the pastille colored galleries in Saifi Village, the antique boutiques around Sodeco Street and the various contemporary art galleries along Gemmayzeh are the splash of creativity that defines their community.
Some gallery owners in Ashrafieh proudly say that galleries and designer shops in the neighborhood have formed the core of Beirut´s art scene. At least, these many places have awoken a genuine interest among people living here, whether longtime residents or newcomers in the neighborhood, who are interested in buying Art to decorate their home.
The owner of a gallery that opened 16 years ago in Gemmayzeh says he has experienced an “art's transition”, from the days when only a smaller clientele truly appreciated creative artworks, to the modern days when they became conquered by the public.
In the beginning of the new millennium there was a big bang for Beirut´s art scene. People all over Beirut opened up their heart and eyes to the arts. The wealthiest were buying original paintings. For some of them it was just a way to show off their wealth: Art became essential for home decoration as well as symbols of class and status. But to some others, it was a genuine passion. Galleries were sprouting up like spring flowers in and around Ashrafieh
A woman working in a gallery in Saifi even confirmed that, at that time, art had taken over the real estate market, saying that nowadays people invest in an expensive piece of art rather than in housing…
Today, art is as popular as it ever been in Beirut, but the market has changed. The galleries’ owners acknowledge that they witnessed a drop in the business after 2011.
However, whatever happens, the artistic atmosphere will remain in the neighborhood. Art is part of the human soul. And it’s part of Ashrafieh’s lifestyle.