Free market fail: Pay-to-play groups ripping off artists?

Here is an unsolicited email I received this week from someone who “likes” my work and wants me to submit to her art publication. By “submit” she means send images of my artwork for the International Contemporary Masters to consider for inclusion. Upon further research I have found her organization is in the business of charging artists into submission. How much you ask? Try nearly $1000 for a single page. Have plenty of money laying around? You can purchase six pages for almost $3500, or the front cover for $9800!!! Here’s the email:

From: 	 ornella@omma.us
Subject: International Contemporary Masters Volume 6
Date: 	 October 5, 2011 3:09:52 PM EDT

Dear Owen

I visited your portfolio and I liked your work, so I would like
to invite you to submit art for inclusion in Volume VI of
"International Contemporary Masters”, a leading juried annual art
publication presenting noteworthy artists from all over the world.

Please note that this is not a free inclusion and we encourage
artists to seek sponsors. 

If you are interested I will send you more information or you can
visit the link: http://wwab.us/index.php/Masters-Application/
To get an idea of the quality of our publications you can view our
previous books at the link above.

With Best Regards

Ornella Martin - Assistant Curator
World Wide Art Books,INC
1907 State Street
93101 Santa Barbara CA
Tel / fax +1 805 845 3869

www.wwab.us

World Wide Art Books was established in 1997 and has to date pub-
lished and represented over 6,000 artists from all over the world.

Unfortunately this kind of “pay-to-play” scenario is not unusual in the art world. The more my name gets out there the more contacts I receive asking me to pay money to be included in a publication, exhibition, or other so-called opportunity.

The illusion of “making it” as a visual artist today is not unlike the often unrealistic goals shared by young musicians. And, like the music business, the economically disparate art world reflects the failures of free market principles by rewarding only a few lucky or well-connected individuals and ignoring everyone else.

Elizabeth Warren’s critique of corporations and billionaires who believe they shouldn’t pay their fair share of taxes accurately critiques the focus on art stardom that pay-to-play organizations promote. There are thousands of artists, designers, and creators out there who exhibit their work publicly and contribute to the visual dialog. Like the industrialists who use publicly-funded roads to move their goods to market, the 1% of artists who reach international fame do so because they have been inspired by everyone else that came before them. Everyone else that is, who are targeted by rhetoric such as this from the World Wide Art Books website:

An invaluable tool for every artist who wants to help himself or herself to succeed, to get the best value for his or her art, to establish relationships with art galleries, and also as a reference for clients.

Every artist knows how important it is to be included in juried exhibitions, festivals, books and publications. To create an important record that will open a path to success and also to show his or her creations in every possible way and to get one’s art out of the studio and before the public eye.

I like to think that artists are more savvy than to fall prey to this marketing-speak. I also like to think they are inspired to respond to the world for reasons beyond getting “the best value” for their art. Sadly, the truth is there is little support in the United States for the cultural, social, and aesthetic contributions artists make, so many find themselves taking risks like this in order to get their work seen. Other risks include applying to shows that charge entry fees and provide no shipping expenses (to or from) or insurance. See this post with details about entry fees for artists: What it costs to be an artist.

In this post-Jesse Helms era, the echo of his “letting the market decide” tirade has only made matters worse. Artists have reduced themselves to craft production, creating unique, one-off works, with the hope of selling them to collectors. Instead of reflecting and affecting society, the market has given us a numb and spectacle-driven object factory akin more to stamp collecting than a valid mode of cultural production.

In his short book, Behind the Times: The Decline and Fall of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Gardes, Eric Hobsbawm points to the greater problem of a “collectable” art practice—that it suffers from lack of reproducibility, relevance to those outside of the art world, and actually obscures real political realities.

Hobsbawm says that, unlike film or literature, “an ideal work of art is deemed to be completely uncopiable, since its uniqueness is authenticated by signature and provenance.” Citing Benjamin’s famous “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” he says this “spiritualization” of the object conflicts with the ability to reproduce a work for as many patrons as possible and throws art into a technological obsolescence. (Hobsbawm, 16) Put another way, 99% of the public doesn’t encounter art because it is regulated to museums and private collections.

Also, unlike movies or books, due to better technological methods for making images (namely photography) painting and other media have “abandoned the traditional language of representation” making it practically incomprehensible to a general public without an art historical training. (Hobsbawm, 24)

Finally, Hobsbawm argues that art has rendered itself impotent in terms of it’s impact by willfully turned its back on society. Unlike, film which had to communicate with a mass market or face economic failure, art has sought some grander idea that is intentionally exclusive of the masses. It pretends to critique society but rarely does it communicate anything at all to most of them because it has been regulated physically and philosophically to an irrelevant niche.

 

WEB_2: Final Project Results

Movement Detector
by Heidi Zito and Jose Valdes Bartroli

Sounds from adult films are audible from behind a closed curtain. Peering through the opening to the room, one can barely make out bodies on the monitors. When someone enters the room, however, the video feed switches from porn to political commentary.

Volunteer at 621 Gallery

The 621 Gallery is a non-profit contemporary art exhibition and gathering space offering diverse experiences in Tallahassee, providing access to quality art and interactive opportunities. The 621 Gallery will be a unique leader and innovator in contemporary progressive art for all.

Why Volunteer at 621?
With the help and support of our community through volunteerism, we are able to bring unique cultural opportunities to Tallahassee. By volunteering to assist the gallery in various areas of arts management you help us maintain low operating costs so that we may keep our exhibitions and sculpture garden free to the public and ensure cultural access to all. Also, as a 621 volunteer you gain “real world” experience with Tallahassee’s space for cutting-edge contemporary art since 1981.

Volunteer Opportunities

    1. Gallery Monitor
    2. Office Assistant
    3. Graphic Design and Marketing
    4. Exhibition Installation
    5. Special Events
    6. Facility Upgrades (Painting, Landscaping, etc)
    7. Other Activities as Needed

Calendar
621 Gallery recruits volunteers throughout the year. Volunteer orientation meetings are held once in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Volunteers are required to attend one orientation meeting during their volunteer position at the 621 Gallery.

Required commitment
1 hour/week or one special event/year minimum

Eligibility
The 621 Gallery welcomes volunteers with any level of experience, but prefers those with an interest in contemporary art. Primarily we seek volunteers who have a passion for enhancing the quality of life in Tallahassee by bringing contemporary art experiences to Florida’s Capital City.

Application Instructions
Submit a completed volunteer application

Mail or hand-deliver to:
Denise Drury, Executive Director
621 Gallery
621 Industrial Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Hours of Operation
Wednesday – Friday: 11am – 6pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1pm – 5pm
Email documents as PDF attachments to:
executivedirector@621gallery.org

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for a Volunteer without regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, martial status, citizenship, or any other protected status.

The 621 Gallery
621 Industrial Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32310
Email: info@621gallery.org
Fax: (850) 222-6163
Phone: (850) 224-6163

MADE

This FRIDAY, after the SCAPE/formLab Open House from 3-6 pm, check out the
MADE exhibition at the BFA Warehouse from 7-9 pm. Details below…

madefinal1

 

“MADE”: FSU’s New BFA Design Program to Host it’s First Exhibition

The students of the BFA/BA design seminar at Florida State University are pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition “Made.” FSU has maintained it’s reputation of producing high quality Arts. Recently, the Arts education at FSU has expanded its curriculum further with its introduction of its new BFA Design program. This spring marks the conclusion of many months of design students’ work. The exhibition will open Friday, April 24th at 7:00 pm and close the same night at 9:00 pm. The location of the exhibition will be held at the BFA Warehouse in Railroad Square; 644 McDonnell Dr. This event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be provided.

“Made” will include works by ten students from the College of Visual Arts at Florida State University. This year’s show will exhibit animations, paintings, mixed media, photography, installations, etc.

Exhibiting artists include: Rachel “The Punisher” Wood, Tochi “Star Child” Dike, Eric “Little Margin” Garcia, Tony “Big Tuna” Johnson, Della “No Jokes” Johnson, Sarah “The Whip” Kemlage, Beth “Crazy Legs” Lee, Alison “Babyface” Levy, Tina “Sweet T” Meyer, and Bryant “The Ringer” Villasana.

Railroad Square
644 McDonnell Dr.
April 24th, 2009
7:00-9:00 pm

For further information contact Sarah Kemlage at sek05@fsu.edu or Rachel Wood, rew05d@fsu.edu.

Exhibitions for April

Please attend one or more and respond to this post. You can respond with exhibitions that aren’t listed too.

Graduating BFA/MFA Spring Exhibition
Opening Reception 7-9pm April 10, 2009

Graduating MFA presentations
7 pm, April 16th
7 pm, April 23rd
Room 249 FAB
The Museum of Fine Arts hosting the Thesis exhibitions will be open immediately following the presentations.

Made
Exhibition for Spring Design Seminar
BFA Warehouse Gallery
7-9 pm, April 24