I've been through the gallery process numerous times. You get accepted into a show, the gallery offers a drop-off date (the date you bring your work to the gallery) and other information pertinent to the show including specific information such as how to prepare your art for hanging or if it needs to be boxed for storage and when the show is over what date you are to pick up your unsold work. I'm no stranger to this process. Each gallery manages their show differently and so I fully expect differences with each show. I've been through the process over 10 years and counting, after all.
August 2019 would be my first time ever experiencing what, to me, was the most insulting and unprofessional demeanor I'd ever encountered via a gallery--specifically the Grosse Point Artist Association (GPAA) in Southeast Michigan.
I arrived at the gallery with my juried and accepted, unframed 40"x30" canvas-stretched art. I asked where to put it (the room had art scattered around the room).
There were two women in the room. One sitting, one standing. The woman who was standing, Karen, asks me my name and then looks at my artwork and then says "Can you clean this up?" pointing to the edge of my painting. I furrow my brow in question and ask her what she means..."Can you paint the edges?" she replies.
The edges of my painting aren't a solid color. I never paint the edges a solid color. They have the abstract texture and color that occurs during the course of any of my paintings. What she was referring to were edges that contained a series of colors based on the painting. My internal reaction was "What the fuck?" but what I said, sarcastically, was "It's not like I have paints on me." I mean, I'm turning in my painting that very moment - what am I supposed to do, paint the edges in a boring, single color and wait for it to dry?
"I have paints" she says to me.
The anger is really percolating in me at this point but I'm retaining my composure--with angry beams darting out of my eyes at her because I'm taken back by this ridiculous request.
"I'm not painting over my art" I exclaim.
"Oh, no, I'm not asking you to paint over your art" she states.
Yes. Yes she is. That is a deliberate statement to literally paint over my art. The edges are a PART of the painting but you obviously don't realize this.
This piece is my juried and accepted artwork and the edges are exactly how I intended for it to look... imperfect. The edges were deliberately painted the very way that the piece was accepted. This was not only insulting to me, the artist, it was an insult to my work. This is how I paint and express myself and I cannot tell you how angered this made me. If you, the gallery, had explicit instructions to have simple, one-color edges for all paintings on stretched canvas I would have followed the rule. Better, I would have never even submitted my work into this show.
Karen scoffs and says "Well, okay, I'll accept it that way but they'll probably yell at me." How. Fucking. Absurd. Karen. So I tell her to give "them" my number and they can yell at ME.
"Well, you can just put it over there" she points to a place on the floor in the middle of the room (against a covered piece of furniture). I reluctantly put my art down and said "I'd be happy to take my work home if this is an issue," as I continued setting my work down.
I heard her say that the work was "really neat" but it's not going to work, Karen. You have single handedly ruined this entire experience for me. If this is any indication of what is to come of this particular venue and event, then I'm totally unimpressed.
I'm completely appalled. I left my work there for the show because it obviously wasn't this unqualified person that selected my work and I'd like to show my work to a new audience. This sour experience has left me with a promise that I will never, ever again submit my work into any future GPAA shows and I definitely intend on sharing my hurtful experience with all artist communities I am in.
I've had some not-so-great experiences with galleries in the past but to date this is definitely the worst. experience. yet. At the very leat, I should be on the receiving end of an apology from Karen for her heinous request but I guarantee that will never happen.