Didn't write a song about it, but did write this post.
Gaining gallery representation can be tough! (click the link for tips)so we mostly settle for what we can get.
Here are some real life incidents that give artists the Art Gallery Blues!
1. work was lost
2. work came back with the frame damaged
3. painting on canvas came back with a hole in it
4. delivered/requested work was not hung
5. work was taken to another location without artist's knowledge or permission
6. work was damaged and hung that way
7. client did not pay
8. oops, the client did pay but the gallery said they did not
9. participating artist's name is not on the gallery invitation
10. client admits they were steered away from purchasing one artist to purchase the owner's work
11. the gallery does not release names of collectors to the artists
12. gallery artist bios are not on the website
13. gallery owner routinely features their work more prominently than gallery artists
14. exhibition postcards do not say "exhibition", show gallery hours, or end date of show
15. gallery owner hogs all promotion opportunities, only marginally including other artists
16. gallery takes 50% of sales and ADDITIONALLY charges artists for credit card fees
I know. These sound like galleries from hell. There's more!
17. galleries anxious to sell give discounts, then take client discounts out of the artists 50% fee (devalues the work, too.)
18. galleries charge the artists, in addition to 50% commission, fees for food, photography, etc.
19. galleries charge artists for promotional opportunities in art publications
20. gallery takes work to other locations without artists permission
21. gallery uses work to make added income but does not share profits with artists
I have worked with galleries who are very careful with your work, tell you who purchases it, promotes the exhibitions in publications that require fees as well as in free listings and pays for them out of the 50% they get from sales. They make efforts to connect with clients they think will appreciate your work. They are respected in the arts community. I know it's not easy to run a gallery, but neither is it easy for the artists.
What do you think artists can do to protect our rights?
Someone who doesn't seem to settle is Lowell Thompson. I saw Lowell at McCormick Place on Sunday, July 27. He had his Barack Obama painting propped up outside the hall where the CNN Obama interview had just concluded. I was a registered attendee of the Unity Convention, a meeting of journalists of color that convenes every 4 years, along with my husband, journalist Monroe Anderson and my son, the up and coming artist, Kyle Anderson (artwork below).
We, and our good friend, ABC7's Bill Campbell , were leaving McCormick Place discussing the interview, greeting people we knew and heading to the parking lot.
My work had been shown at the Unity Convention by Nicole Gallery. She showed work by three Sapphire and Crystals artists: Dorothy Carter, Candace Hunter and me. Nicole Gallery also showed Allen Stringfellow and others.
Nicole is a class act. I recommend anyone who is interested in African American, African and Haitian art to visit her gallery in Chicago at 230 West Huron. She also has Preston Jackson pieces!!!! He is a sculptor you all should know if you don't already!
But back to Lowell and the theme of this post, the BLUES! I think Lowell hoped Obama would pass by his work, but the Secret Service spirited him out the back way lickity split! Of course we all wondered how Lowell got inside McCormick Place with the large painting! Lowell was circumventing the gallery system and the gallery blues by creating his own exhibition. Hopefully he will write an update on his experience. Click on his name to see the painting. I want artists to stand up to the galleries and for more gallerists to treat artists fairly.
Above: "Survivor Spirit: Seated Woman", Joyce Owens
At bottom: Gallery opening at Nicole Gallery in September 2007. I am in the center talking with Preston Jackson, also in the exhibition. Jackson's sculpture is at right, my painting is on the wall. From left t right: Dr. Bob Derden, collector, Tom Lucas, printmaker, also in exhibition, Preston Jackson. Seated is artist Anna Tyler (back of her head), me, artist Al Tyler, Barlow also in exhibition and guests.