RE: Pay to show in galleries? When to make that choice if at all....

From: Baird, Darryl ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 02/06/04-09:16:20 AM Z
Message-id: <>

I had a similar decision to make a few years back after I relocated to
the upper midwest. A Chicago gallery's "jury" "selected" my work for
an exhibition. I knew there would be costs involved in hanging, but
when I got the contract from the gallery I realized they were really
in the rental business as a sideline to have a nice space for their
own artists members to show. Still not too odius, but after figuring
the publicity costs -- they required I produce a postcard for a 1200+
mailing, the gallery rental, transportation (I drove eight hours,
round-trip three times), and my own mailing, the cost was around
$1000.00. I asked friends a similar question and got a variety of
responses, mostly that it is a step which can get you noticed (big) IF
you do some important work in support. I was naive and in a
tenure-track position; this put an exhibition in Chi-Town as a very
visable plus in that all important category of "publication." I
commited to a show for the month of March and got 2000 postcards from
Modern Postcard.

The show was mixed -- from horrid ("fund-raising month" crap) to very,
very cool installations,the night of the reception a big snow storm
hit, I got deathly ill, and there was -NO- media coverage. In the same
building was another gallery doing a similar schtick, but with a much
tighter exhibition. It was a really impressive show, with a carefully
curated grouping of women artists... first rate and very professional.
What was the difference? I'd say it was the leadership of the
respective galleries. Which would I choose now... of course the later,
but I didn't know enough about the particular "art landscape" at the
time. That's my main point (finally). Get to know something about
these places, especially since you're there and can do this research,
BEFORE you commit to anything.

Additionally, I'd think any venue with the right kind of groundwork on
your part -- publicity, phone calls, press release, bribery, etc. can
help to fill the gaps in the gallery's activities. As others have
pointed out, $2400 could buy a lot of self-generated publicity,
several nice portfolio boxes, courier fees to delivery all over town,

good luck


-----Original Message-----
From: Gregory W Blank []
Sent: Fri 2/6/2004 9:46 AM
Subject: Re: Pay to show in galleries? When to make that choice if at
  All, good points Eric.

To : Christopher,

 Although I have never shown work in NYC
I have shown in galleries, unless the gallery has a large draw of
there is no advantage, beyond saying you did it. Whether a respected
would then choose you for an exhibit is open to discussion. What I
think is;
they would then ask how much you sold at that show and the experience
label you as a sucker as opposed to someone capiable of selling work.

  Typically galleries take anywhere from 30 to 50% on sales/ do the
galleries in question take any commision in addition to the fee to

  Some galleries charge to hang the show, which I believe is fair if
are using thier materials, frames, mattes and personel to hang the
and there is some assurance you will recoupe at least some money,
given the
right gallery and clientele- one piece selling in NYC could do

  $2,400 is alot of money you could invest in a great e-commerce
website and
an excellent direct mail campaign to buyer's of all types to draw
to the site where you sell the work directly and perhaps make a better
profit to expense ratio.

on 2/6/04 1:28 AM, Eric Nelson at wrote:

> I think it would come down to this. Would you really
> want to show at those specific galleries?
> Yes, getting a show in NYC can get a notch on the belt
> but who else do they show and how well do they curate?
> If it becomes a group show, will they put some gawd
> awful work next to yours? Does anyone go to those
> galleries or show up for their openings besides
> relatives of the artist, or are they well attended and
> respected in the community?
> I won't pretend to know the ins and outs of gallery
> doings but those are some basic questions to ask and
> ask yourself about any gallery before committing since
> they will be representing you and your works.
> The "reality" as it was put in the web page you
> mention, is valid for the gallery owners/operators as
> far as their expenses. But I would make sure the one
> you chose, if you were to go that route, would reflect
> on you in a way you desire, and you not end up being
> part of a hodge podge of works from variying
> aesthetics and mediums incongruent w/the work you want
> to present.
> As the article you mentioned says, investigate.
> Eric
> --- Christopher Lovenguth <>
> wrote:
>> Hi all, I've come to a point that I'm now trying to
>> progress to the next
>> stage on the opportunities I have had of showing my
>> work and I'm wondering
>> if "vanity galleries" are the new reality for
>> emerging artists in New York
>> City. To make matters worse I've been investigating
>> this and found this
>> article:
>> . I
>> know it was
>> written a while back but I'm running in to this
>> phenomenon. I've been
>> researching and finding galleries to send slides to
>> and seem to get instant
>> responses from galleries that end up being pay to
>> show without any
>> indication on their website about this.
>> But more important then this to me is that I'm
>> starting to wonder if this is
>> the new reality of getting first shows, specifically
>> in New York. One
>> gallery even buttered me up with a positive critique
>> that seemed to ring
>> true about my work until I realized that anyone
>> would want to hear it and
>> figured it a generic reply. They then offered me a
>> place in an up coming
>> show in early fall, but in the details I realized it
>> would cost me $2400
>> (basic representation fee) for the four week show.
>> I'm early in to the process of trying to get shown
>> in New York, so I don't
>> feel desperate enough to try this, but I can see a
>> breaking point
>> months/years down the road where someone might be
>> convinced this is the only
>> way to "break in" to the NYC gallery game.
>> Have any of you experienced this or known people to
>> decide on this approach?
>> It just seems too smarmy to me, for people to be
>> feeding off a group that
>> tend to need reinforcement and acceptance for what
>> they do (and tend to
>> barely be making it monetarily as well). But then
>> again, from what I read in
>> that article, I can sort of understand since
>> galleries are not cheap to run
>> and new artist tend to not sell well (and mostly not
>> at all).
>> I don't want this to turn in to the "evil gallery
>> empire" sort of debate
>> please. Either you wish to play the game or you
>> don't. Right now I'm
>> choosing to give it a spin. When it comes down to
>> it, it has nothing to do
>> with making work or art/life pursuits and I realize
>> that. But deep down
>> inside most of us, we do believe our work should be
>> up in the Whitney ;)
>> -Chris

Received on Fri Feb 6 11:26:38 2004

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