by Armand Cabrera
Art shows are hitting new lows these days. The worst offenders are front loaded with fees. They take money for a jury fee, a handling fee for stored shipping materials and even a hanging fee in some instances. I would never pay to hang my work, I don’t care what the venue is. These shows make their money off the fees. Many galleries now keep themselves in existence with these kinds of scams.
If you allow the show to recover all its money before the show opens then there is no incentive for the show to be promoted or to bring in collectors. Which brings me to another little scam where galleries ask for the collector lists of their artists. Never relinquish your client list to a venue. A venue that has no clients, charges you for space and doesn’t promote you in anyway is worthless to your livelihood as an artist and your career.
In my opinion there is nothing professional about these venues and you’re better off renting a public space for a night or weekend and advertising and hanging your own show or a show with a group of like-minded artists.
A lot of artists hold the opinion that it is an honor to show alongside other juried artists. Many times a gallery show will pay a nationally known artist to show at a venue from the upfront fees they collect. It’s sort of like an anchor store at a strip mall; they pull in the other stores. Big name artists are given spots or paid to show to get others to pay for the chance of showing with them. If you are juried into a show you’ve earned your spot no need to feel someone is doing you a favor or you’re lucky.
Art is hard enough, don’t let people take your money or take advantage of you. Shows need good artists; good artists don’t need shows. Participate in shows that support the artists and their work and take a percentage of sales; this way the expense and work is shared by the venue and the artists.
Working in the studio right now on paintings for my Small Works: Still Life and Flower Show. The show will be on my website starting Oct 15.
peppers 8 x 10
I will have 15 small paintings ranging in size from 11×14 to 8×10 oil on linen. The paintings are from life in my studio and outdoor flower paintings from earlier this year in the spring and early summer.
silver vase and rose 9 x 12
The show will be up for two months until December 15 and we are offering free shipping on all purchases.
I have finished up my little small works still life paintings. Prices and sizes with images are posted on my website. Diane has also made a little video of the paintings which you can see there too.
The online show will run through December 15th
Perfume Bottles and Chrysanthemums
8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Artisan Bread and honey 8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Brass Pot and Veggies 8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Dogwood 8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Peppers 8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Pothos and Wildflowers 8 x 10 Oil on Linen
Red Rose 10 x 8 Oil on Linen
Pink Rose 9 x 12 Oil on Linen
Silver Vase and Rose 9 x 12 Oil on Linen
Pink and Gold 9 x 12 Oil on Linen
Something Hot 9 x 12 Oil on Linen
Champagne Glow 11 x 14 Oil on Linen
Farm Fresh 11 x 14 Oil on Linen
Oleander 14 x 11 Oil on Linen
Summer Basket 11 x 14 Oil on Linen
Illuxcon was an interesting mix of new and old for me. It was fun reconnecting with old acquaintances from my brief illustration career and meeting new people who I have only interacted with online before the convention. It was exhilarating to see quality imaginative art but frustrating to see prices for quality finished work set so low compared to the gallery world.
Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire and the other people behind Illuxcon are bringing imaginative art to a broader audience with this convention. They are doing this by spotlighting the best traditional artists and sculptors for collectors and fans in a small intimate setting. Hopefully it will raise standards and prices along with that appeal. I think the time for this may be just right if it happens fast enough. It has been tried many times before but has never caught on completely. I participated in shows at the Delaware Museum in the early 90’s with other artists in the field but the shows while well attended did not produce a large enough collector base needed to sustain itself.
What is different this time around is the way entertainment and media have seeped into every part of our lives. It is literally at our fingertips 24/ 7 now, with tablet computers and smart phones. Much of the content driving the media explosion has its roots in Science Fiction and Fantasy. What was once a marginalized genre by most of society is now the mainstream and of course art plays a large role in the creation of those products.
The industries that drive this kind of art creation are almost completely digital at this point. Prints will never garner the prices of originals. The missing component here is the representation of this kind of art in traditional galleries and show venues alongside more normal subject matter. There are a few of the more successful artists of the genre doing this already but it is a very small number and most haven’t given up illustration to become full time gallery artists. I can only assume because sales haven’t filled the gaps between the two disciplines and while collectors are there, they are too few in number to sustain artists completely like other genres of gallery work can.
To create a sustainable market for original works the genre must move itself away from illustration and production art to stand on its own, freed from being a tool of product enhancement. Patrick Wilshire has again taken the lead on this by helping to establish an imaginative category with the Art Renewal Competition one of the premier representational shows in the country at this time. This should encourage more imaginative works to be created without any ties to merchandise.
In the sixties traditional illustrators from the pulps and paperbacks of the forties and fifties created a market for western and representational art that thrives to this day. Some of the highest paid prices for representational genre art are being paid at the venues that host this work. Look at the Masters of the American West Show, American Masters at the Salmagundi Club or the Prix de West in Oklahoma. Imaginative art can do the same if it can rise above some of its exploitative and juvenile subject matter and hold onto its traditional creation long enough for galleries and venues to establish their viability. Illuxcon is a great start.
All paintings in this article are by Armand Cabrera.
I have written about sir Alfred Munnings before. If you are not familiar with this very talented artist I hope you will take the time to read my previous post here.
The National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg Virginia is hosting an exhibition The Open-Air Works of Alfred Munnings. Over 50 Painting are on display April 21 -August 1 2013, it is free to the public and the show is accompanied by a 136 page softcover catalog. If you are in driving distance of this show it is not to be missed. This is one of the largest displays of the artists work this side of the Atlantic.