Marketing Mondays: You've Been Spammed

Recently I had an unwelcome visitor: several weeks of unrelenting spam (from one, sometimes ten spams in one day. When I replied with a “Take me off your mailing list,” the spammer—a “cybereditor” named “DMK”— responded with, uh, a lesson in etiquette:  “Kindly remove me from your mailing list, is the proper way. Your ignorance is deafening.”

Oxymoronically funny (emphasis on moronic). But annoying.

The javari spams kept coming, and each “Take me off your email list” from me was met with escalating insults.  I’ll spare you the details, but the last one was,  “Stop wasting our valuable time, bitch.”
I stopped emailing them and turned to a higher power (no, not prayer, though I believe I did utter a "Dear God" after the 10th spam of the day). Here’s what I did:

1. I saved the emails. You don’t have a case without them. If you receive more than one offensive email from a spammer, save it. I put mine into a separate folder. If you are not computer literate, print them out, but since they arrive via email, you will resolve the problem more quickly if you are able to forward them via email to the appropriate authorities.

2. I called the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357. I expected to be on the phone for the better part of a day, but after punching a few numbers on my keypad and waiting about a minute, a helpful agent turned up on the other end. Ah, our taxpayer dollars at work. Really at work! The person took down pertinent information about the situation and issued me a confirmation number and an email address. With that number in the subject line of each email, I forwarded the spams to

3. I posted information about my situation on Facebook. Your friends are individual fonts of wisdom, and together they can provide a river of assistance. Franklin, for instance, did a little digging and found that Network Solutions was’s service provider. I have no idea how he knew this, but it allowed me to contact Network Solutions with my problem.

4. I contacted the service provider,, outlining the problem and including a selection of spams, including the messages in which the spammer had been verbally abusive. An agent from Network Solutions emailed me to request that I forward all the abusive emails.  If you can’t find out who the spammer’s service provider is, contact your own.

Don’t be shy about contacting these authorities. Chances are that if you are having problems, others are, too. Critical mass—of many emails to one individual from one entity, or to many individuals from the same entity—constitutes a pattern of abuse. Abusive language from the spammer ups the ante for swift administration by the authorities.The spammers will be warned. If they persist, they will be shut down.

Oh, what's this? I had been free of the Javari emails for about three weeks when one arrived in my inbox. Bracing for another barrage of insults, I emailed back: "Once again, I have to tell you: Take me off your mailing list. I thought this issue has been resolved . . .Should I receive another spam from you, or an insulting response, I will again contact the FTC. And then I will go to the Attorneys General of New York State and Massachusetts. "

To my surprise, I got a very nice response:  " We have tried to scrub you from all lists. This is still in process. Please be patient."  Somebody got the message--and, not just from me.

6. Contacting the Attorney General of your state is your next step. This office is set up do deal with consumer protection, among other issues.

Over to you: Have you had a problem like this? How did you resolve it?

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Jewel In the Crown

I just sent this final painting off to Atlanta, where my solo at the Marcia Wood Gallery opens on April 16. At 45 by 45 inches, it's the largest one I did for the show. It's also the most monochromatic. There's a lot going on underneath that blue skincolor, a lot of itbut you have to get up close to see it. And even up close, there's just a soupรงon of hue that shows through. Mostly I wanted  the diamonds to hold the field--those attenuated rhomboids cheek-by jowl within a square turned on its axis. Below is a detail, which lets you see how I allowed the surface to wrinkle and bulge within its delineated pattern. 

Romb, 2011, encaustic on panel, 45 x 45 inches
Detail below

More on this series herehere and here. And please visit the Marcia Wood Gallery website for additional images.

I'm also showing diamonds in a group exhibition called Conversations at the R&F Gallery in Kingston, New York—about 100 miles up the Hudson from Manhattan. It opens on April 2, and I'll take you on a tour of the show in an upcoming post. For now, I can tell you that I co-curated it with Laura Moriarty, the gallery director, and that we have invited painters and sculptors to show their work on paper along with work in their primary medium. We're interested in the dialog each artist's work has, and with the conversations that ensue between and among the exhibiting artists. There's a reason we included our own work, by the way: The exhibition began from an idea that developed while we were having a conversation on Facebook.


Arrangement in Gray and Cups

Not your usual window display in the Garment District

The gray would be the artist, Gwyneth Leech, dressed in a fashionable version of sweats. The cups would be her art, painted white to-go cups assembled in a waterfall of vessels. You can see both in the Fashion Center Window Space at 215 West 38th Street through April 1.

The exhibition, called Hypergraphia, is presented by Cheryl McGinnis Projects. Leech spends 90 minutes in the window each weekday (11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) drawing and painting on ever more cups—recycled, by the way—which she stacks as they are completed and then adds to the installation; the window remains illuminated once she has left for the day.

Views from the street, above and below

Hypergraphia is right. Designs flow out of the artist’s pen like the house blend out of a deli spigot at breakfast. Leech is prolific. The results suggest Italian pottery, Greek vases, paisley prints, tattoos, cuneiform script and more—a range of contemporary abstraction.  And, if I may say so, the installation is really fun. It’s interactive in that people on the street stop to look at the cascade of cups, then spying Leech in the corner, painting, call their friends over to come and look.  “She musta drunk $900 worth of coffee,” said one hip-hop homie to another (I’m guessing more), as they paused to take in the range of graphic expression. But others are drawn in by the artist drawing. Those of us “in the life” forget just how fascinating it is to watch someone make something out nothing, or in this instance, a white paper cup. 

Leech at work, above and below; I entered the building for these views

Sometimes the window is crowded with viewers, but I opted for  a shot that focused on the art

 Creating more art supplies

The back story: Leech, a New York artist and coffee connoisseur, had an idea for this show, scouted around and found a location, and then approached McGinnis, who has a gallery nearby on Eighth Avenue at the northern fringe of Chelsea. The result: a pop-up project, which extends the reach of both artist and dealer. Maybe this is an only-in-New-York story, but it’s a good example of what happens when the artist is thinking outside the cup, and the dealer is thinking outside the box. 

Follow Leech’s first-person report of the project on her blog, Gwyneth’s Full Brew. Get more info about the project at the Cheryl McGinnis Gallery website.


Marketing Mondays: Studio Insurance

Let me start out by saying that what I learned about studio insurance I learned through my own experience, which is limited. Is this true for you, too? Perhaps by putting our heads together we can provide one another with the information we need. Consider this a forum on the topic.

An ad for art insurance. I'm not picking on this specific company.--it happened to be the page I clipped from Art News--but what's not covered is instructive, per my highlighting. See any mention of art in the studio? (Detail farther down the post)

I had studios in Manhattan for close to two decades. For the place I was in the longest, an artists' building in Union Square, I had studio insurance to cover art and equipment. At first I paid $1000 a year for $100k worth or coverage. It seemed like a lot, but I had a lot to lose, so I paid the premium. After all there were other artists in the building, and in some of those studios there were solvents, torches, potentially flammable ink or rags and who knows what else. I myself was melting and fusing wax, though I set up a system whereby when the last light was turned out in the studio, all the electricity was off. 

One year, when I got the bill, I was startled to see that while the premium remained the same, the coverage had been cut in half. I called around, but mine seemed to be the only carrier who even offered studio insurance. I paid the premium. When I relocated the studio, I looked for better coverage. Guess what? Not even the carrier I'd had (Firemans, maybe; I forget, because there were several carriers over the years that had handed off the policy) wanted to renew it. Never mind that I'd made no claims in over a decade --and paid well over $10,000 in premiums.

No carrier, it seems, wants to cover art in the studio. Sure, as the Huntington Block ad above illustrates, they're willing to cover art in the galleries, in museums, in collections, in art fairs, even in transit, but no one seems to be concerned about the art in the studio.  In 30 years I have been very lucky: no disasters and only one break in, in which the only things stolen were a boom box and a dust buster, which I probably could have retrieved on St. Marks Place for a couple of bucks.

Insure the eggs, but let the chickens fend for themselves?

So now my studio has no insurance, though my situation has changed. I bought a building, a one-time auto-repair shop, outside of Manhattan. I work on the ground floor, have an apartment upstairs. My building's insurance covers everything in the studio but the art. I've resolved this situation by having as little art in the studio as possible at any one time. Each dealer I work with has an inventory of my work--and insurance to cover it. I make sure I have an up-to-date consignment sheet with each dealer, generating my own if the dealer does not. I've also made my studio as theft-proof, fire-proof and flood-proof as possible. A recent small leak--rain seeping through snowpack, with nowhere for the water to go but through the foundation and onto the concrete floor of my studio--reminded me that everything on the concrete floor needs to be raised up several inches.

I’ve thought about attaching a non-discountable "insurance fee" to the sale price of each work, to either pay for a rider to cover work in the studio, which would have to be documented and appraised, or to cover my butt if there's a loss.

I asked Edward Winkleman, the New York City dealer and author of How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery, what he thinks of the idea.  “I understand the impulse but I’m not sure it will fly," he said in an e-mail response. "Dealers already consider insurance what comes out of their 50% (i.e., cost of doing business) and may expect the same to be true for artists. It could open the gate for a wider range of non-discountable costs. (What's next? the dealers may and materials off the top?).” 

Moreover, says Winkleman, there’s getting collectors to understand and accept the surcharge. “ Framing and other such production costs are easy (you can show them the invoices from the framer or give them the option to have it framed themselves) and you note on the price list that the framing is extra, but the more complicated a sale gets, the more they'll balk (buying art for them is meant to be pleasurable, not work).”

Another dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, suggests skipping the surcharge. "It will create confusion, extra paperwork, and too much explaining. Better to just add  seven or eight percent  to your prices if you feel the need."

Over to you:
. Do you have studio separate from your home? Do you have insurance for the studio?
. Do you have a studio in your home? How are you covered?
. Have you ever had a loss? Did your insurance cover it?
. Has anyone had a carrier refuse to cover a documented loss?
. What measures, if any, do you take to ensure that your studio is as safe as it can be?
. If you have insurance, who is your carrier? Please share as much (terms, fee) as you feel comfortable sharing
. Anything else you wish to add to this discussion?


Connecting the Dots: Keys and Squares

Who knew the Greek Key would be a leitmotif during Armory Week?
Image via the Internet

When I'm out of the studio and looking at work, one of my great pleasures is connecting the dots. Armory Week in New York City offers the opportunity to see not only what's at the fairs but in the galleries as well. Here, the "dots" are interlocking squares, a la the key design of Greek architecture. 

Geographically, we start at the terrific Geometric Days exhibition at Exit Art on Tenth Avenue at the very northern tip of Chelsea (up through April 30), loop down to Pulse at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street and the up the West Side Highway to Armory Modern. Temporally, we range from 2011 back to the Thirties.

Rico Gatson: Sojourner Truth,  2011, paint on wood panel, at Exit Art

Charles Koegel: Blueberry Fields, 2009; acrylic, oil, spray paint, grass, matte medium on canvas; at Exit Art

Surface detail below

Freddy Rodriguez: Political Statements, oil on canvas, each 48 x 48 inches, at Praxis International Art, New York and Miami, at Pulse

Beat Zoderer:  Hologramm R1, 2011; Forex, laminated and screwed; 63 x 31.5 inches, at FTC, Pulse

Charles Biederman: #1 Paris, New York, 1937-1938, painted wood, 52 x 41 x 3 inches; Meredith Ward Fine Art at Armory Modern

And just to connect yet another dot, next post we visit Gwyneth Leech's pop-up installation in the Garment District, where she's spending part of each weekday in the Fashion Center Window Space painting coffee cups


Marketing Mondays: “Should I Do an Artists’ Fair?”

A vignette from William Pittman Andrews' room at the Pool Art Fair during Armory Week in New York City last week

A couple of years ago I got an email from a young out-of-town artist: “I’m wondering if it would be worth my while to do the artists’ fair in New York City during Armory week. If I sell two paintings, I’d recoup my investment. What do you think?”

Basing my response on the unimpressive artists’ fairs I’d seen in Miami, where there seemed to have been no system for vetting and every booth was crammed with a more-is-more approach to installation—and more to the point of my young friend's question, there were not many red dots in evidence—I suggested he take the $2500+ he would spend (fair fee, transportation for himself and his work, meals and in-town transportation) and use it to do one or more of these things instead: visit the fairs for pleasure and to familiarize himself with the exhibiting galleries; take the occasional trip to New York City to visit the galleries and familiarize himself with their programs; or produce a brochure or small catalog of his next show.

At the recent Pool Art Fair, held at an East Side hotel during Armory Week in New York City, I took the time to talk with some of the exhibiting artists to see if or how their assessment differed from my own (as you know, I can be opinionated). I went on Sunday afternoon, the fourth and last day of the fair.

My question to a dozen or so artists: “Do you think this fair was worth your time, money and effort?”

“Yes,” said Xanda McCagg, who had a nicely installed selection of colorful abstractions. This was her second fair; she had exhibited at the Pool venue in Miami in December, too. McCagg is based in New York City so expenses for hotel and restaurants were not a part of her budget, and art transportation from her West Side studio to this East Side location was not unreasonably high. For her, the value of the fair was not in sales—“though I have sold a few small works,” she said—but in “the contacts.”  

Xanda McCagg, New York City artist, showing at the Pool Art Fair

“In a word, yes,” said Bernard Klevickas. "I did it without high expectations.  I was happy with being in Pool, but I've heard of others who were not. I had many friends and some collectors visit me, and I sold a piece. Some of the network connections I've made may lead to opportunities. In the sense of time, money and effort, I spent more than I immediately gained but I don't regret it."

Klevickas's advice: "I think it is best to share a room."  He was exhibiting in a two-room suite with six other artists—his is the sculptural installation below—so fees and being-there responsibilities were shared. He also lives in the city, so was spared the additional travel and shipping expenses. Also, he says, "The camaraderie was nice."

Bernard Klevickas's installation, above  
With exhibitors forbidden to make holes in the wall, Klevickas needed to find an alternative way to display a heavy grid without hanging it. He created a freestanding structure on which to suspend his work.  Klevickas exhibited in a two-room suite that he shared with other artists.  . . . 

. . . including Liz-N-Val, above, who organized the artists . . .

. . . and Jeffrey Allen Price, who installed a lively salon-style hanging of his work

“Maybe,” said William Pittman Andrews, also bringing up contacts rather than sales as the value of the fair. Standing in a room gridded with elegant geometric drawings in ink on paper, he mentioned that several curators had stopped in and that one had invited him to participate in a group show in New York City. An artist from out of town, he felt that meeting the curator was a connection he would not otherwise have made. Several critics also stopped in, and a blogger urged him to look into flat-file opportunities in Manhattan and Brooklyn, providing contact information.  As many artists (and dealers) do at the hotel fairs, he’d stashed his bed in the closet and pulled it out at night to sleep, thereby keeping his expenses from escalating. (Another money saver: "All of these drawings fit into my suitcase," said Pittman.)

William Pittman Andrews came up from Mississippi, where he directs an academic gallery, to exhibit his drawings at the Pool Art Fair

“I don’t know. Ask me at the end of the fair,” said an out-of-town painter, dodging the question. “It is the end of the fair,” I responded. There were four hours left. He shrugged.

“No,” said another artist, who asked not to be named. “It’s not always easy to see the immediate benefit, but in terms of cost/benefit analysis, I did not make any sales and was not approached with any serious offers to buy my work or show it in the future. I was not impressed overall. I really tried to have an open mind about everything, but after thinking it over I didn't find it worthwhile.  While I don't have any regrets about it, I certainly won't be a part of the fair again.”

Several artists mentioned anecdotally the dejection of a European artist who had come to the fair with high hopes only to see no sales. International shipping can easily exceed the cost of the exhibition fee, here $1650, as can airfare and travel expenses, so figure a net loss somewhere south of $6000. (In fairness, this is not a situation unique to artists’ fairs. I spoke with a Korean dealer who had incurred tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to participate at one of the smaller, less esteemed dealer fairs. He had sold only one sculpture—which the buyer decided to return the next day.)

An emerging collector with a small budget and a good eye could have walked away with three or four good works for $1000, and an ambitious curator could have put together a cohesive small show of small works.

Some Pros and Cons
Several artists were disappointed with the extras they found they needed to get when they arrived. “Lighting!” exclaimed one exhibitor. “You’d think we would have been told ahead of time that we needed to provide our own, but when I got here the director made it sound as if I should have known. How would I have known that?”  A different artist was not pleased with the condition of the room, which he cleaned himself before installing his work. (Veterans of the art fair circuit come with all kinds of extras: bowl reflectors and bulbs, extension cords, tools, a carpet, furniture. "A prep list would have been nice," said the artist who had to go out to buy lighting.)

One plus, noted a number of artists, was that the fair’s hours (3:00-10:00 pm) allowed them viewing time at the other fairs. The hours also allowed die-hard fairgoers to stop in after the other fairs had closed for the night. At least one well-known critic stopped by—and posted about it on Facebook —“though he never made it into my room,” said one disappointed artist.

My personal observation is that while the artists were gracious and welcoming, many of the offerings in general did not fare well in comparison to the work I’d seen at the other fairs. Still, an emerging collector with a small budget and a good eye could have walked away with three or four good works for $1000, and an ambitious curator could have put together a cohesive small show of small works.  Attendance was slow when I was there, a few other visitors per floor, and many of the artists I spoke with reported no sales. I wish it had been otherwise.

If you are thinking about participating in an artists’ fair in Miami, New York City or elsewhere:
. Read the application prospectus, paying attention to issues like insurance. (The Pool Art Fair for instance, absolved both the organizer and the hotel for any damage or loss, putting the insurance burden squarely on the shoulders of the artists, who were also paying a $1650 participation fee) and required each exhibitor to remain liable for “space rental and any additional charges” even if the fair needed to be shortened, postponed or relocated
. Ask the producers for a list of participants from previous years. Most artists have a website, and most websites have an email address
. Ask the participants about their experience, most pointedly: “Was it worth your time, effort and money?”
. Better still, visit one such fair before you make the decision to participate. Chat with participating artists about sales, contacts and attendance. (A dealer friend, preparing to participate in a hotel fair in Miami a several years ago, flew down a few months in advance to stay in the room in which she would be exhibiting. She measured the walls, located outlets, took photos and observed the light so that she would have no unwelcome surprises. Her subsequent installation was rated by one art publication as "the best" at at fair.)
. If attendance is good, observe: How long does it take visitors to get an elevator? Is there stairway access between floors so that they can start at the top and walk down? Is there a bottleneck at the entrance? If so, you’ll see people leaving before they get in; if they get in and feel claustrophobic, they;ll leave as quickly as possible
. If attendance is low, ask exhibitors if the lack of visitors reflects a lull in traffic or if the numbers have been low throughout the fair
. Less tangibly, what’s the energy level? Are visitors enthusiastic? Are the producers available if they're needed? Are exhibiting artists engaging with their visitors or are their eyes clued to their laptop monitors?
. How well is the fair organized? How was it promoted in print and on line? Is the signage good? Are names spelled correctly? Were the promoters ready on time? I’ve been to art fairs where the dealers have complained that the paint in their booths was not yet dry!
. See for yourself if the quality of work on display is equal to your own. In a group show at a gallery, the best work can raise the level of the entire exhibition, but I’ve seen that in small art fairs—including dealer-participating fairs—marginal work can drag the whole display down, and enough marginal work in a fair can sink the entire event
. "Be proactive," says Bernard Klevickas, if you decide to participate. "Pool provided the location and some draw of people, but each artist needs to do their own outreach. You get out what you put into it."  That's true whether you're doing an artists' fair, a dealer fair, or even an open studio
. Present professionally. Don't cram everything onto the walls—but if you do, make it a fabulous salon hanging. Use a laptop to show additional work. Have takeaway materials available: business cards, postcards, a statement with contact info. Offer a brochure or catalog to the visitors who show interest in your work. 
. Pay attention to the online comments during and after the fair. If enough people are saying good things and posting pictures on Facebook, for instance, their comments could drive traffic to the venue. On the othe hand, if they're saying negative things—and your FB friends can be quite candid about their experiences—don’t think you and your work can change that. You’ll go down with the ship.

Present professionally. This is another installation view from William Pittman Andrews's  room. The artist made good use of a laptop to show installations of his work

Comments? Artists and fairgoers, please join the discussion.

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Tara Donovan and Alyson Schotz are pinheads. And I mean that in the best possible way. Both are showing new work in solo exhibitions in Chelsea—Donovan at Pace and Schotz at Derek Eller, both through the 19th—in which straight pins are integral elements of their work.

The details: Tara Donovan, above, and Alyson Schotz, below

Entry view to the exhibition

At Pace Gallery in Chelsea, Donovan has produced enormous circular compositons or central-point images using nothing but stainless steel straight pins tapped into gatorboard. In the past Donovan has compressed pins like these into solid cubes. Here she works two dimensionally—well in low relief—to create works that catch the light in such a way that they range tonally from white to black. Their monumental size and physical mass should register as weighty, but the shimmery opticality does the opposite, making them appear almost to float.

This is the view once you walk into the gallery

A different perspective of the right-side wall shown in the previous image, with a detail of the foreground work below:


The left-side wall glimpsed in the opening installation image, with a detail of the far work below:

Two drawings in the smaller back gallery. The image at the top of this post is a detail of the farther work; the detail below is of the work closer to you . . .

. . . and the detail below is a side view so that you can see the pin placement up close. Very close. (I used the macro detail to shoot it)


Over at Derek Eller Gallery, Alyson Schotz has created a complex sine curve on the two of the gallery’s walls using pins as anchors for the hand-dyed yarn that creates a dimensional drawing. The plane of the work is about an inch and a half off the wall, so yarn shadows make a doppelganger drawing on it. The geometry is computer generated and projected onto the wall, but the work is done by hand—many hands, all tapping and threading. Schotz has created several such works but this is the most complex (and fabulous) I’ve seen.

Alyson Schotz: Sine, 2011, hand-dyed yarn and pins on wall, 115x377x1.75 inches
Details below:

Below: side view of the construction, with a glimpse of the shadow drawing

Meanwhile, over at the fairs, nails were in evidence. At the Armory Modern, Galerie Thomas, Munich, offered a prominent display of the work of Gunther Uecker, whose paintings are created by studding a surface with nails in a pattern at an angle. I like this work. The gallery must, too, because they'd shown it Basel Miami just three months earlier. (I included it in my Color and Geometry post).  At Pulse, Zidoun Gallery, Luxembourg, showed a representational image graphically rendered with an economy of nails.

Gunther Uecker: White Spiral/Bright Spiral, 1970, nails on canvas on wood, sprayed white; 59 x 59 inches
Detail below:

Alexis Peskine, Aunted, 2007, nail with gold leaf, enamel on wood, 39x26 inches
Detail below


Our Political Culture at a Glance

In the wake of Wisconsin's repugnicans voting to abolish collective bargaining to "save money," the chart below puts that action, and many others, into perspective. I got this via Facebook, which tracked it to the Daily Kos , which tracked it to its source: Center for American Progress and an article written by Donna Cooper on February 22, 2011. Please share this information.

Addendum: "Just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined." --Michael Moore, via Politifact Wisconsin


Yayoi Kusama at Robert Miller

Officially this Yayoi Kusama installation is called Heaven and Earth, but I'm thinking Can-Can and Calamari. Either way it's equal parts creepy and beautiful.

 Heaven and Earth, 1991, 40 fabric-covered wooden boxes with 285 sewn and stuffed fabric forms
Price: $1,000,000
Detail below