"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
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.
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.