After consulting with an attorney, I have decided to reinstate the name of the venue, Ico Gallery, now located in Chelsea.]
You know nothing of the gallery business. What you teach your students and have posted online is fantasy. It is slander, and if you do not remove our information immediately, we will contact the university and the server of your blog and initiate a lawsuit.
It is unfortunate that so many people are subject to the delusions and propaganda concerning the gallery business, vilifying the very people who are making a difference in the art world today. Do your homework rather than spewing lies. Do you claim to know how prominent gallery's are doing business? You are guessing; shame on you!
Why the letter? Because I posted, on a blog I created for my students, a caveat about vanity galleries, including their letter soliciting business.
Here's how I responded to the gallery: It's not slander if it's true.
As we discussed in class, a "vanity gallery"— so called because you pay to show—typically solicits the artist. There is always a financial charge to the artist, typically to be paid up front to the gallery. This financial arrangement distinguishes the vanity gallery from a commercial gallery, which does not charge the artist to show. Below is an example of a vanity gallery's offering to an artist. It was sent unsolicited to a friend of mine.
I have never heard of this gallery, nor ever received an e-mail from them (and as an art blogger I get A LOT of e-mails from galleries). Their "press" page consists of images of the gallery's advertising in various publications. Normally "press" constitutes reviews of the exhibitions. Note particularly the items in red.
We recently reviewed your work online and would like to consider you for an upcoming group exhibition at X Gallery. In exchange for your assistance in paying some of your promotional costs, we will feature you in a show here at X Gallery as well as promote your work in print and online for up to 1 year. If you are interested in discussing this opportunity further, I can put you in touch with the gallery Director or the head curator. Details regarding specific exhibitions and marketing plans should be discussed directly with them. Also, we are not negotiable regarding marketing expense or our commission.
Opportunities for solo or small group shows can also be discussed with the director on an individual basis. This letter is not an opportunity to exhibit; it is to express our general interest in working with you.
Gallery Compensation: 50% commission on all sales
Gallery Advertising cost due up front: $2,500
Another gallery I know of that solicits artists in a pay-to-show arrangement: Agora Gallery.
Others advertise regularly in the classifieds of the monthly art magazines. The websites of these galleries may not post the financial arrangements, but you you can confirm for yourself the financial nature of the arrangement by letting them know you are "interested" in showing with them. They will lay out their terms.
And check out my blog post, An Offer I CAN Refuse, about a solicitation I received from Gallery Gora in Montreal.