My friends came up with a great idea yesterday to start a collection agency for artists, when galleries and curators don’t pay up. Sadly this has been happening more and more, and this is the first time I can remember when I have heard more than one story about bounced checks from galleries. Eep!
Though I worked at a snazzy Melrose Avenue art gallery for a short time, boy did I learn about greed, and the stories, oh the stories. Even artists who were considered well respected and famous; not being paid for a sold out show; having works on loan to museums without payment; gallery owners taking money and losing it in the stock market. In fact I had my own incident with the sculptor John Buck who, as it turns out, hadn’t been paid by my boss in 2 years or more. I of course had no idea, but it was an uncomfortable situation to be in when he stormed into the gallery and my boss was not in — embarrassing and a tad frightening too. Of course there are the galleries that are a delight to work with, who are reliable and pay without you ever having to ask, who actually like art, are fun, and embrace the artistic community. It is the greedy and badly managed ones that ruin it and give the industry a bad reputation; the art world is populated with just as many sleazy people as the music industry ever was. You never want to think this as a young artist starting out, but boy do you learn.
So speaking of which, How’s My Dealing is a great resource for artists about galleries and art fairs. They just finally added a Los Angeles section, but it is still in the works as far as a comprehensive list. I haven’t visited the site in a while, and now they have a death watch for what galleries are going to go under. Though I feel guilty about finding humor and joy in the misfortunes of others….maybe I’ll file it under: Entertainment. There, now I don’t feel as bad.