Past Comments

October Issue 2002
by Tom Starland

Artists Beware!

Not that there are any naive artists out there or any readers of Carolina Arts who don't have years of experience, but just in case there are a few out there - listen up.

Something is going on in Charlotte, NC, that just doesn't smell right. It's not that this sort of thing doesn't go on everywhere, but Charlotte seems to be the latest hot spot.

I can't remember if the name is "Coco Puff" or "Chubby Tubby," but it was something like that. Anyway it's a clever smoke screen for a bait and switch con to get artists to pay for a booth at an "Art Expo".

The "bait" is a pie-in-the-sky art organization which promises just about everything an artist dreams of - gallery space, exhibits, access to interior designers (just itchin' to buy everything in sight), publications, website, sales agents, and a two-car garage. All you need to do (and here's the "switch") is write out a check for a booth at this "Art Expo" and after the show is over - you'll receive your secret password. It will probably be "fool" or "idiot" or even "sucker", but there won't be any pie-in-the-sky art organization that can offer all it promises. It's hard enough for real art organizations to offer just a few of these things.

Now if you've heard something similar to this and were thinking about taking someone up on this offer - don't you think this sounds a little too good and a little too dependent on you paying to be in a show that is required before you can go to artists' heaven? Think about it, and then think about it again.

All I know is the more questions I asked about this "Expo," the organizer just got more angry and belligerent about my questions. It was obvious they didn't know what they were doing. I mean they knew very well what they were trying to do - use Carolina Arts to add legitimacy to this "Expo". But, they didn't know the usual lingo that goes with these kinds of opportunities. We receive a lot of Call for Entry notices and Artists' Opportunity info, and you get used to there being a certain amount of info included - this one didn't have much that was normal and the more I heard about it - the more it smelled. So watch out!

This kind if thing pops up every once in a while - there is always someone who wants to prey on the inexperienced and unsuspecting artist who just hasn't been around enough to ask the right questions and read the wrong answers the right way.

I'm a natural-born skeptic - a regular doubting Thomas. I ask a lot of questions and sometimes people don't want to answer them. After all my years of experience, I don't take much of anything on the surface these days and it seems I can smell something rotten before most. It's a curse and an asset at the same time. Some people don't like that little character flaw of mine, but some people are glad for it. I guess it depends on which side of the con you stand on. Anyway - artists beware!

A Meeting You Should Go To

The Annual Meeting of the Carolina Art Association, the organization which runs the Gibbes Museum of Art, in Charleston, SC, takes place Oct. 14, 2002, from 6-8pm at the Gibbes' Rotunda. All members of the Gibbes are welcome.

Although the meeting is on a Monday evening, I think if you are a member of the Gibbes and you care about where the Museum will be going in the future, you should show up and see what it's all about. The Gibbes new director, Betsy Fleming, will be there along with the Board of Directors of the Carolina Art Association. Light refreshments will be provided by the CAA Women's Council. That's reason enough to go.

I hope to see you there. I hope to see a lot of people there. It's what being a member of an organization is all about.

A Few Words From Down Under

Judith McGrath serves up some more words of wisdom - all the way from Western Australia - on being a professional and professionalism. It's well worth the read.

I'm always amazed that when she sends me these articles from thousands of miles away - from a different hemisphere - how similar things are right here in the Carolinas. Just days after I received her latest installment, an artist called to tell me a sad tail about a gallery owner who was holding off paying artists for works that had sold in the gallery for three months and longer. The gallery owner was putting the money in interest-bearing accounts and kept the interest after they finally paid off the artist. That's double-dipping isn't it?

Now, we hear that this thing goes on in Australia too. Wait! I don't mean this kind of thing goes on that much. Most people I know who own galleries are hard-working people who are crazy about art, crazy about artists and love selling art to the public. People who do the kind of thing mentioned in McGrath's article and in my conversation don't stay in business very long, but it does happen and it happened to artists who should have known better, but they were fooled. Fooled because this was apparently one of the top galleries in the town it was operating in. You see, this was the kind of gallery top artists wanted to get into - so they tended to let the gallery owner get away with things they normally wouldn't put up with. They wanted to be represented in that gallery. They wanted it badly. And, because other artists wanted that too - the owner was able to take advantage - take liberties.

Of course that routine didn't last for long. Good thing too. That wouldn't be right.

Now, I can't always pay the people I owe money to on time - people who owe me money can't always pay me on time - there's nothing unusual about that, except most people don't try to profit from that situation. Thankfully this is a rare occasion. Again, artists beware.

Using Every Inch

If you're a regular reader of this commentary you know that I tend to use every inch - no matter where it is in the paper. It would be nice to have a lot of white space - look real classy, but I prefer content over image.

I hope you, the readers, forgive me for winding you through the paper - from page to page - for an inch here and two inches there, but I think every inch counts. We're talking about the paper now.

When it comes to commentary, articles, gallery listings, and even the ads - every inch counts and every inch costs. So we try to use them all, use them wisely, and offer them to you. After all, some things don't make the cut.

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