This subject has taken on a life of it's own in the comment department, how nice! I don't think there's disagreement about the value of gallery shows and openings but our differing takes on the subject underscore how many of the options available to us are changing and/or being dealt with.
I've run the gamut... thirty plus years of putting it out there, beating the drum, reaping the benefits by climbing to the next rung from time to time. I support the gallery system because it was all that was available to me (that I was aware of) and I've had a good run. My only complaint is that if I'd tried harder, I probably could have made it to bigger and better galleries with bigger and better shows and openings. (Arg!) I reprimand myself for not marketing more effectively. I'm either too easily satisfied or too intimidated by the system. Probably more the latter than the former. In either case, I'd rather be painting than pushing.
Through this blog, I retrace who I was, how I felt then and search for who I've become now. Therefore contradictions are allowed because growth is all about change. The ambitious, enthused young artist (albeit with a late start and three kids to carpool) found a world of her own, a career she never thought she'd be worthy of (I was a June Cleaver wannabe) soaked it all in and was high on the privilege of making art people actually would pay real money for! Talk about validation! It still boggles my mind that I did it with a late start (mid 30's) and without a formal art degree... I DID IT! And I'm STILL doing it! And, by damn, I'll keep on doing it... without the caps, maybe.
As to the validation thing via the web... I don't know how that will develop. There will have to be some kind of system of hierarchy that I don't see right now. Seems the defining factor is more about fees the artist is willing to pay than about artistic merit. I've not researched it, maybe things are changing. Trouble is, the web reveals vast numbers of artists and works to choose from... visions of swarms of locusts... talk about intimidation! Makes me wonder if I would have bothered if I was starting out now, looks like a very steep mountain to climb. But that sounds like an old lady talking...