Recently, Edward Winkleman posted his thoughts about the commission rate that galleries take on sales. I, for the record, have never seen it as an obscenity for galleries to take half on sales. I operated a small gallery in Portland OR a gazillion years ago. It was very short-lived. But it wasn't because we were taking a low commission. It was because of buying habits. Gallery sales are driven by trends; the hot artist, the hot gallery. I will be the first to admit that I was the worst person to open a gallery.
But still in all, when gallery sales are low, there is absolutely no difference between 30% and 50%. Nobody is making a living, not the gallery owner and not the artist.
There are a lot of non-commercial spaces that don't rely on gallery sales. And there is something to be said for putting work out there that challenges and ignites dialogue. But here it in a nutshell: you have to be independently funded as an artist to pursue this path. And hey, that is just a different form of marketing, right?
Anyway, after you read the post on Edward Winkleman, take a trip over to detroitarts and check out the open discourse about this subject. Detroit seems to have the same kind of art-buying public that we have in Pittsburgh. I can so sympathize.