Marketing Mondays: Update after the Storm

"We're all very emotionally attached to the paintings. It's been a big loss to the art community."
--Stephen Haller, in an Artinfo video tour of his damaged gallery

Screengrab from the Artinfo video at the Stephen Haller Gallery

If you're living outside the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, you may be unaware of just how bad things still are for the art community as a result of superstorm Sandy.  Last week I posted Hell and High Water, a long aggregated piece about the situation in Chelsea--with an additional report from Loren Munk, aka James Kalm, about the artist studio enclaves in Brooklyn.

Today's post is shorter, with some links and information for artists and dealers. How does this affect you? If you are lucky, it doesn't--at least not immediately. But with artists always looking for galleries, and with many ground-floor galleries closed for two months or more as renovations take place--which means that current shows have been postponed--you can see the bottleneck that will occur over the next year, possibly for years to come. Pulling back for a longer view, you realize the interconnectedness of the art community. Someone sneezes, you catch cold. 

Here are some updates. On Wednesday I'll continue with Viva Chelsea, a look at some recent shows in the neighborhood.

More on the Situation
. The New York Times on November 7, published After Floods, Galleries Face Uncertainty. The story, by Allan Kozinn, is less about the art, more about the business of recouping and rebuilding.

. Also on November 7, the blog Art Fag City published a short piece by Corinna Kirsch on the 27th Street galleries--Jeff Bailey, Derek Eller, Foxy Productions,Winkleman Gallery--in the block between Eleventh Avenue and the West Side Highway, where flood damage was severe, the landlord was unresponsive, and insurance claims were being filed. Here the art that was not damaged was drying out in the galleries. Kirsch reports that many of the galleries may not remain in that building, and that "It could take up to a year for the insurance claims to come through."

. A WABC video report takes you to the Derek Eller and Pavel Zoubok Galleries. Zoubok (who spoke to me last week) encourages people to buy art: "If you have a favorite gallery and are blessed enough to have a discretionary income and the timing is right, go out and buy a wonderful work of art. iI will support the gallery you're buying from and it will support the artist."
Eller notes, "My already difficult job as a small business owner has just become more difficult.".And reporter Lauren Glassberg states the unthinkable, "It isn't clear whether insurance  will cover any or even some of the claims on the artwork."
. will cover
. Stephen Haller, owner of the 26th Street gallery that bears his name, is the subject of a short video interview by Artinfo. The camera pans past gallery staffers moving paintings; in some frames you can see a water line at about the 18-inch mark. Haller shows the interviewer the office, where water-logged files were still in their folders, and remarks on the gallery's timetable for reopening its doors: "The earliest I would expect we could be back functioning after the restoration of the gallery, after the paintings are returned from storage, would be at least two months," said Haller. 

Financial Help for Dealers
The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) announced the first recipients of $10,000 emergency grants from its relief fund: three commercial galleries (Bortolami, Derek Eller Gallery, and Wallspace) as well as the not-for-profit Printed Matter, which sells artist's books. This is a fund that is supported by its members, and it is expected that more grants will be made. Gallerists affected by Sandy are eligible for emergency funds. The ADAA defines emergency need this way:

"The funds are being distributed to aid in restoration for galleries in dire need of financial assistance. Recipient galleries in the process of being identified and prioritized by need and must meet criteria which include: catastrophic damage prohibiting gallery business, drastically impaired cash flow, and demonstrated risk of a business’ permanent closure. It is our hope that this injection of resources will speed recovery and assist the entire gallery community in restoring this vital component of cultural life in New York City."

Read more about this funding in Paddy Johnson's post on the Art Fag City blog.

Cleaning up on 24th Street. Image from the ADAA website

Resources for Artists and Dealers
. The ADAA also provides a Resource List, which includes links for Federal and City business resources, as well as those for conservation and restoration

 . New York Foundation for the Arts, known as NYFA, has aggregated and posted a long list of art-specific resources--for emergency grants, hardship assistance, and arts recovery--followed by those resources which are more general. It's the best of a lot of very good aggregated information for artists and dealers, and I won't attempt to duplicate their effort. Click here for the info 

The Takeaway for You
Since I try to keep Marketing Mondays useful for a wide readership, the flooding experienced in such a widespread way leads me to a few thoughts for you.

. We all need to think about the possibility of water damage, and flooding is only one scenario. A burst pipe or an errant sprinkler can affect otherwise dry studios. (Indeed, an unexpected winter rainstorm last year led to some very minor flooding in my studio, a former auto repair shop built on a slab. The ground was too snowpacked to absorb the rain, so water leaked in through the concrete foundation. There was nowhere for the water to go but on the concrete floor. Since everything was raised a few inches off the floor, and I was around, a quick mopping was all that was needed. I was lucky.) 
If you are on a ground floor, raise your flat files, art storage, and all supplies at least four to six inches off the floor

. Look into studio insurance. It's expensive though, and ask about what actually gets covered. If you work at home, make sure your homeowner's policy will cover professional supplies. Artwork itself is another issue, another policy.

. Look into waterproof plastic bags for work on paper and water-tight storage bins for small works. Places like Talas and Light Impressions have archival storage materials

. Back up your computer files, An external hard drive is good if your computer crashes, but it won't help you if it gets flooded along with your computer. Consider online backup, such as Carbonite

. Going away? If you live in a dwelling that is not managed by an on-site superintendent, turn the water off at the source. That way, if a pipe joint breaks or a hot-water heater leaks, the water damage will be limited to what's in the line. There are also water sensors for leaks and a variety of surveillance equipment than can be monitored even from a smart phone

. As for damage to artwork, you have to act fast. With water it's not just the moisture damage but the mold that sets in almost immediately if work is not brought to a dry and low-humidity place. Generously, and quite amazingly, the Museum of Modern Art has made available a 13-page PDF of its own protocols for dealing with damaged artwork, MoMA's Immediate Response for Collections. Save the URL; better still, print out a copy in case the info is taken offline. Just put it in a nice dry place. 


Philip Koch said...

The scenes throughout the NY-NJ region are pretty devastating. It's a couple of weeks now since the storm and still there are lots of people without power. It's shades of a "Katrina North." Lots of the relief effort seems to be springing from area residents themselves stepping forward to help.

Being an artist or running a gallery is challenging in the best of times, and since the current recession hit in late 2008 we've lost too many artists who just got discouraged. And lots of galleries either closed or retreated to on-line-only status.

I've followed the gallery devastation in Chelsea as I have a solo show scheduled to open on Dec. 11 in a ground level Chelsea gallery. Figured we'd have to reschedule it for sure, but then heard last week the dealer had miraculously just missed being ravaged by the storm. Naturally I'm delighted, but my enthusiasm is dampened by the all the flooding out of neighboring galleries and their artists.

annell said...

Another wonderful post! You do a wonderful job with your blog site. When I think of storms, I don't always think about the damage to art. And yet this happens.... I will never think again of a storm without thinking about the people and the art that stand in the way.

Susan Schwalb said...

These have been great posts on the flooding in New York. However I wanted to mention a few non-profit art spaces that were hit hard-
The Kitchen:

Printed Matter:

Primary Information:

Also The Kentler International Drawing Space

All these groups need help to recover and the Kentler which manages on a shoe string had major damage to their basement- boiler, equipment etc but luckily no art work was damaged. I do not think these groups will be covered by the Art Dealers Association funds to galleries etc. So if you can donate please do.

Anonymous said...

Two pieces of info from Maggie Boys:

. Here's a site for emergency handling of flooded artwork:

. In the 1997 Fort Collins flood, I quickly made big, cheap wooden frames, covered them with plastic screening, elevated them on cinder blocks, and dried my manuscripts, slides and photos in the fresh air.

Joanne Mattera said...

This from Jari Chevalier (I'm posting it here and in last week's post as well):


FEMA Assistance:
•President Obama issued a Major Disaster Declaration that may allow Private Non-Profits ("PNPs") to be eligible for FEMA Hurricane Sandy assistance. Details can be found on the Public Assistance website
•Eligible PNP’s should complete and submit the RPA form and email to John Grubsick by December 2, 2012.
•Information briefings will be held at 49-51 Chambers Street on Friday, November 16
and Monday, November 19 (at 10am or 2pm).  

•The Con Edison steam system has been fully restored, any persisting outages stem from damage in individual buildings.
•Verizon estimates that its Broad Street office will reopen later today.

Gas Rationing:
The City is restricting gas sales to cars with even-numbered license plates on even days, and odd-numbered on odd days. Plates ending with a letter will be treated as odd-numbered. People filling up gas cans will not be affected. has been tracking prices and availability throughout the City.

Recycling and Garbage Collection:
The City expects reductions in refuse collection services. If your garbage is not collected from the curb, you may leave it out and, you will not get a violation. Recycling collection has been suspended. For more information, please see the DSNY press release.

•Battery Tunnel is expected to allow bus traffic next weekend. There is currently no timeframe for a full reopening.
•The Midtown Tunnel reopened to private vehicles on Friday, but trucks are still not be permitted.

Need for Temporary Apartments/ Vacant Lots:
As a result of Hurricane Sandy, the City expects that up to 40,000 people have been displaced and will need some form of temporary housing.
•If you have any housing stock available, please submit your inventory of available furnished and unfurnished apartments where people can be placed immediately, i.e. without Board approval.
•We are also looking for areas of vacant land (including vacant lots, parking areas, and open space) where modular housing could be placed.

At this time we are only trying to get a sense of available housing stock for those affected by the hurricane, we do not have specifcs on potential rental terms. Please submit all information to Ryan Baxter.

If your organization has an available generator to lend to the City of New York, please send information to Rachel Squire at

Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund:
The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City set up a donation page for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts contributions. Checks can be made out to:

Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City
253 Broadway, 8th Floor
NYC NY 10007

For any further information please call 212-788-7794 and thank you in advance for your generosity in our city's time of need.

Anonymous said...

These art dealers had several days to take action. They could have transported artwork from their galleries or at least allowed artists to pick up their work if desired. It was not like Sandy came out of nowhere. It has been noted that Gagosian did nothing to prepare. I guess we have not learned anything from Katrina. But hey, those insurance policies rock, don't they? Cha-ching.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact Sandy will have on insurance policies in the area hit hard. Or if Sandy will push the art community away from Chelsea.

Joanne Mattera said...

Anonymous 9:25 and 9:25--

Why assume the dealers did nothing? Most dealers moved paintings up out of the way, or moved them to storage (if they had storage outside of the gallery). Why assume that artists can quickly rent a truck to pick up work--or that they have plenty of space to store work? We are talking about New York City, where space is at a premium, where truck rental is hugely expensive, where a hurricane has never in recent memory hit with such force. Everyone put work and equipment up--but no one could imagine that a 10-foot storm surge would hit Chelsea as it did.

Identify yourself. Take ownership of your gloat and schadenfreud. Then we can talk some more.

Karen Schifano said...

Thanks for the wonderful service you're providing here these days (and actually you always have!). I just passed on some of the info to an artiist friend, not a dealer, who lost all his work in a storage facility in Jersey City. He has no insurance, of course, but must dry out paintings, clean up mold, get a space to move work to, hire truckers, etc. Your MoMA link is especially good for all of us, artists and dealers to know about for now and the future. Better to be safe than sorry!!