Caveat Artista!

Since I'm no longer doing Marketing Mondays and have not yet started Marketing Monthly let's just file this under Major Fraud:

"Atlanta police Major Fraud unit raided a well-known midtown gallery after allegations that the owner has not paid artists for their work."
--Atlanta Channel 2 news

I 've written about the problems that artists (and dealers!) have in securing payment or retrieving art from galleries, but a recent news report out of Atlanta brings to light a situation that dozens of artists have been talking about for years: that the Bill Lowe Gallery in that city has not been paying its artists after their work has been sold.

Reporter Rachel Stockman had the story . . .

. . .identifying Bill Lowe as the dealer under investigation, noting that the Major Fraud officers had removed artwork from the gallery. It's important to note that no charges have been filed as this  point, but . . .

Donald Sultan, who has been represented by Lowe, put it plainly, as you can read in this screen grab:

In the vast  information system that consists largely of artists talking with one another--and now, sharing information via Facebook and other social media--Lowe's name has come up again and again as the dealer who didn't pay. Some recent Facebook comments:

. "  I was perpetually puzzled by friends who complained about him but sent work to him anyway. It was a good looking gallery with some well established names like Sultan, and I think some people were willing to put up with him for the resume entry."

. " 
I know three artists very well who are owed many thousands of dollars by Lowe. There must be dozens at least."

I've talked with dozens. Some artists have gotten paid, typically years after their shows. Here's one artist: "I showed with him from 1989-1994. Finally got fully paid in 1999." 

A decade before full payment? That's a disgrace. Some artists did get paid more quickly, others are still waiting.

The majority of art dealers are honest and dedicated, and most are not wealthy. They're in it because they love art. If we are lucky, we get to work with them--and they, with us. We are partners in art. But use the artist information system, contribute to it. It's not libel (written) or slander (spoken) if it's true. There's is nothing libelous or slanderous about relating your personal experience about a gallery that has withheld payment or cheated you. There's nothing libelous about reporting news or investigating allegations.

If you are an artist invited to show at a gallery, ask around, do your due diligence. Talk to other artists from the gallery--or better, artists who have been but are no longer involved. If it sounds bad, even anecdotally, let that be a red flag. Don't get involved with an iffy gallery thinking it won't happen to you. Listen to Donald Sultan.

. There's a written report from Channel 2 Action News, Atlanta, from January 29, 2013, which quotes Sultan and contains a disclaimer from Lowe
. From Marketing Mondays: Gallery Red Flags


Critical Mass.: "Cotton" at Fountain Street Fine Art


FRAMINGHAM-- Late last year I was invited to jury a show at 
Fountain Street Fine Art in Framingham, a city about 30 minutes west of Boston. While much of the art I view and write about is in New York City and at international art fairs, I like being able to look at art in other places. This members' gallery, founded and run by artists Cheryl Clinton and Marie Craig, offered such an opportunity. In this post I'll take you around the gallery in a few installation shots with views of some specific works, followed by my exhibition essay, which considers and shows the work thematically.

Cotton is up through January 27.

Installation view of Cotton. The gallery is on the ground floor of a large former factory building, now largely given over to artists' studios and small businesses. Photo: Marie Craig

Below: Stacey Piwinsky, Object of Labor 2, mixed media with oil and fiber

Cottoning To An Unusual Theme
Anyone who has celebrated a second anniversary knows that cotton in the form of domestic textiles is the sentimental gift of choice. For the second anniversary of Fountain Fine Art, however, the gallery’s founders, Cheryl Clinton and Marie Craig, had a different idea: an exhibition with cotton as a theme, a narrative reference, a material in physical or conceptual form.

The 25 artists whose work was selected for Cotton employ mediums as diverse as acrylic, oil, fiber, photography, steel and wax. Their works—there are 33 in this show— align with five threads I describe in the text that follows (after these images). 

Foreground: Catherine Weber, On the Line, digital print photographs on silk on cotton.
Continuing counterclockwise, three from Karen Rothman's Loop Loom Potholder series (more images in essay); Eugenie Lewalski Berg (shown below); Kathleen Volp (shown below and in essay)

Eugenie Lewalski Berg, Black and White and Shades of Grey, mixed media

Kathleen Volp, Twins

Installation view, continuing counterclockwise. Most works are shown following and in essay. Photo: Marie Craig

Patricia Dusman, Ruffled Feathers, wax and graphite on paper

Clara Bohrer, Wednesday Morning, embossed digital print

Installation view, clockwise: Jeanne Williamson (shown in essay); Stacey Piwinsky; Roy Perkinson, David Hawkins (both shown in essay); Cheryl Clinton; two by Willa Vennema (one shown below, the other in essay). On pedestals: Alicia Forestall-Boehm and Lisa Barthelson  both shown in essay). Photo: Marie Craig

Below: Willa Vennema, Fields and Sky #2, encaustic on panel

View of the gallery with Barthelson and Forestall-Boehm in foreground. Photo: Marie Craig

Textile as Image and Object
When I saw Catherine Weber’s image of five gossamer squares of silk and cotton printed with landscapes and strung like laundry, this exhibition began to take shape in my mind. Weber’s installation, On the Line, strung like prayer flags in the memory of her father, relates formally to Color, Texture and Sunlight, David Hawkins’s photograph of two well-worn towels hanging on a clothesline. They connect conceptually to Roy Perkinson’s arabesque of cord in an oil painting titled Interior Landscape (Rope).

Foreground: Catherine Weber, On the Line

David Hawkins, Color, Texture and Sunlight, digital photograph

Roy Perkinson, Interior Landscape (Rope), oil on canvas

Similarly three photographs have a lovely resonance: Rob Weisman’s Tallit, the detail of a prayer shawl, with Marie Craig’s two intimate views of deconstructed upholstery. Where Weisman captures tradition and order, Craig, in Layers and Re-Upholstered 3, offers a romantic depiction of neglect and entropy. 

Rob Weisman, Tallit,  photograph

Marie Craig, Layers, photograph

In her series of three small paintings of potholders, that classic handmade object from Baby Boomer childhood, Karen Rothman embodies image and object with cheeky directness. Ellen’s Loop Loom Potholder (as well as Karen’s and Julie’s) connect the structure of warp and weft directly to Modernism’s enduring trope, the grid.

 Karen Rothman,  Julie's Loop Loom Potholder and Karen's Loop Loom Potholder, each acrylic on canvas, app 10 x 10 inches each 

The grid is very much in evidence in this grouping of structural works. Stacey Piwinski’s mixed media work, Object of Labor #2 
(shown at the opening of the post), is a rigorous tangle that 
incorporates painting and weaving. Intertwined conceptually and physically, this flat image is also a perceptually dimensional structure. Jeanne Williamson’s The Fence as Lace #5 is the largest work in the show. Well over eight feet long and made of stiffened fabric, it asks us to see the handmade in an entirely different scale. 

Jeanne Williams' The Fence as Lace #5

A second Williamson work wraps around a column, flatness assuming dimension and totemic stature. There’s a symmetry between Williamson’s wrapped column and Joe Carpineto’s seven-foot columnar frame, Piecework, which evokes the New England weaving mills that helped build the economy of New England. Formally, it relates to Eugenie Lewalski Berg’s minimalist sculpture, Black and White and Shades of Grey, which packs a lot of disparity—long and short, hard and soft, dark and light—into a neatly resolved piece.

Jeanne Williamson, Fence as Lace #7. Detail from Marie Craig photo

Joe Carpineto, Piecework, mixed media with metal and woven fabric

The narratives here are both direct and oblique. David Hawkins’s black and white photograph of four young women enjoying a sunny afternoon on the grass, In their Summer Cottons, is the most literal but it shares a thread of tender nostalgia with Kate Gasser’s pencil drawing, My Old Dress. Kathleen Volp’s two mixed-media works, The Twins and the black and white diptych, Two Shirts, have an edgy presence--dark-memory narratives, perhaps--yet there’s a formal connection between the ruffle on the white shirt in the diptych and the gathered folds of Patricia Dusman’s sweetly domestic Ruffled Feathers.

David Hawkins, In their Summer Cottons, photograph

Kate Volp, Two Shirts, mixed media diptych

Patricia Dusman, Ruffled Feathers

The thread continues with Through the Curtains, April 1, 2011, Peggy McClure’s photographic evocation of a particular view on a particular day through the folds of a gauzy cloth. The sense of time and place is echoed in two mixed-media prints by Clara Bohrer, Sunday Afternoon 1 and Wednesday Morning 1. With their embossed surfaces of lace and cloth, they evoke a tactile memory of domestic life through a scrim of time past.

Peggy McClure, Through the Curtains, photograph

Both Linda Dunn and Kay Hartung employ mixed media—collage and image transfer, respectively—to tell their stories. Dunn’s Unfolded Time depicts a life from childhood to old age; poignantly, there are letters and domestic textiles embedded in layers. Hartung tells a heroic story: the picking of cotton. I welcomed her work for the connection it makes to that part of the theme which is not all fluffy and light, and this would also include Carpineto’s Piecework, which hints at the long hours of life in the mills. Jane Coder’s collaged painting, Jerome’s Robe, references textiles as it hints at a narrative. There’s a private story in those layers and markings.

This is a small grouping of three small sculptures: Vessel 26 by Alicia Forestall-Boehm; Tween Nest, Family Debris Series by Lisa Barthelson; and Migration, Within and Without by Amy Hannum. The works share not only modest proportions but fiber as a primary medium. Yet Barthelson’s nest is as intentionally unkempt as Forestall-Boehm’s basket is meticulously shaped, while Hannum’s lidded sculpture falls between the two, embodying organic form in formal order.
Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Vessel, woven cotton and encaustic

Lisa Barthelson, Tween Nest, mixed media, app 12 inches diameter

The four paintings in this last group are sophisticated in their evocation of landscape. In Willa Vennema’s two almost-abstractions in encaustic, Fields and Sky #2 and #5, white dots are dispersed throughout. I am enamored of her loose brushwork. Pamela DeJong’s Cropland, also encaustic, depicts a more “cottony” view but with an effective economy of means. This is true, too, of Cheryl Clinton’s Cotton Sky, a small acrylic painting that captures the essence of her subject.

Willa Vennema, Field and Sky #5

Cheryl Clinton, Cotton Sky, acrylic on canvas

The joy (and peril) of jurying an exhibition is that you have no idea what you will be asked to view. I feel fortunate in having been able to consider and select a number of very good works. Moreover, these are works that hew to the theme while offering welcome surprises.     

Read more:
. More artists images on gallery blog   
. Feature and videos at Metro West Daily News


Critical Mass.: Nancy White at Steven Zevitas

Gallery in Boston's South End

Nancy White, #40, 2012, acrylic on paper, 10 x 8 inches

BOSTON--Less than a mile south of Newbury Street is the South End, a once thriving, then down-and-out, and now thriving-again area that holds the majority of the city's galleries. If Newbury Street is the 57th Street of Boston, then the South End is its Chelsea, SoHo and Lower East Side all rolled into one.
Nancy White's first solo show in Boston is up now at the Steven Zevitas Gallery in the South End, through January 26.  White, an accomplished and much-exhibited painter who lives and works in San Francisco, makes the kind of quiet painting that would get swallowed up at an art fair. But in a modestly sized gallery such as Steven Zevitas’s, and with an installation such as the one he gave her—enough space between the works for the contemplation of each one—the setting was perfect.

The spare installation

White’s work—small unframed paintings which appear almost monochromatic from a distance—reward a patient viewer with a richness of composition and hue. Once you get close enough, the paintings pull you in as if by chromatic magnetism. Those "monochromes"  hold a value-constant spectrum of one hue, along with grays that appear to have a complementary tinge. It's hard to tell about those complements, because they might be doing what the eye wants the color to do--or what White is directing the color to do.  I thought their creamy flatness was gouache, but it's acrylic. There's a lot of mastery in those little paintings.

Nancy White at the opening of her show, New Work. The painting at her left shoulder is the one that opens this post; the one behind her is shown below

Compositionally, White fills the plane with hard-edge geometric shapes. Allow your eyes to wander and you'll find that those flat shapes in flat colors do something unexpected: They begin to suggest pictorial space. Indeed it seems that the closer you are to the work, the deeper the space becomes. This is definitely what White is directing the composition to do. Personally I waver between wanting to see them as pure abstraction and allowing my eye to wander into their depths.

#35, 2012, acrylic on paper, 10 x 8 inches

 #42, 2-12m acrylic on paper, 10.5 x 8.75 inches

As I was wandering pictorially, I found myself thinking of the Cave of the Sibyl of Cumae, near Naples. I'm not sure that's what White had in mind, but that's the thing about opening up ambiguous space. You never know where it will lead.

Entrance to the cave. Image from Wikipedia

Another view. Image from Philip Coppens blog
#44, 2012, acrylic on paper, 10.5 x 8.5 inches
See more of Nancy White's work on the gallery website
Read The Boston Globe review here


Critical Mass.: Newbury Street

Nancy Natale and Marybeth Rothman
Nancy Natale in the window at Arden Gallery
BOSTON--There are two gallery neighborhoods in Boston: Newbury Street in the Back Bay, which we're visiting today, and the South End, about a mile south, which we'll visit this weekend. Newbury Street is  the 57th Street of Boston, full of tony shops and galleries. Some galleries, like Arden and Lanoue Fine Art, have windows that face the street. It's a uniquely Back Bay experience to walk up Newbury Street and see art displayed so beautifully in the windows and then to ascend the stairs to the parlor floor--I think most of the lovely brownstones used to be residential--into a refined white-walled space. (Disclaimer: I am represented by Arden Gallery.)
Nancy Natale, an artist due for some serious attention, has the window at Arden Gallery this month. Her show, The Resonance of Time, is up through January 28. Metaphorically and physically, Natale pieces together disparate elements--cultural and industrial remnants: book spines, metal snippets, painting strips--into a mashup of memory and emotion. The work is from her Running Stitch series, but it's not stitched. Everything is held together with tacks in a kind of polyrhythmic syncopation to the horizontally placed elements. You might think of quilts or stained glass, or maybe the organization of information when your computer is in the process of defragmenting. It's all there visually. Natale invites you to make sense of it on your own terms.

In the window: Singing the Blues, 2013, mixed media with tacks and encaustic on panel, 48 x 30 inches

Believing Destiny, 2012, found and invented elements with tacks and encaustic on panel, 24 x 36 inches

The artist, left, in spirited conversation with gallery owner, Hope Turner
. . . . . .

Next door at Lanoue Fine Art, Marybeth Rothman, who has been showing in New York at Tria Gallery, is here represented by several large photo paintings in a three artist exhibition with Hung Liu and Eric Zener, also up through January 28. Rothman has the window.

Marybeth Rothman in the window at Lanoue Fine Art: Eugene, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 40 x 40 inches
Interior view of the gallery, with Hama on the far wall
Below: Hama, encaustic and mixed media on panel, 40 x 40 inches
Rothman selects what she calls "orphaned photographs"--snapshots and portraits that have been discarded by their origial owners--and lives with them in her studio until she develops affinities for some of them. The affinities lead her to imagined biographies, which she expresses by scanning and digitally manipulating the images in size and color to create a visual memoir with layers of words and a painted scrim in nearly transparent wax. Some of the newest paintings, like Eugene  and Hama, are almost Fauvist in coloration; others have the evocative soft hues and patterns that befit fading over time. The works' inventive formal issues aside, anyone who has glimpsed a stray photograph and wondered about the life it represents will respond to the tenderness and mystery of the personnages in Rothman's oeuvre. 
More info: 
. Lanoue Fine Art 


It's Monday. Where's a Post?!

I'll be back
Photo: Marie Craig

SALEM, MASS.--No, I'm not turning my back on you. That's me pondering the placement of work for Cotton, a show I was invited to jury at Fountain Street Fine Arts in Framingham, Mass. I'll have more on it soon. 

My friend Tamar Zinn, whose splendidly cerebral paintings are in a solo exhibition at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea, noted on Facebook that I've been missing in action. Don't I know it. All that writing about Miami, while fighting the flu, slowed me down. And now, the return of sciatica is grinding me down. But I'm working on a few posts with Massachusetts datelines, and as soon as I can drive back to Manhattan--that is, when I can sit comfortably long enough to make the return drive (I'm blogging standing up)--I'll make a beeline to several exhibitions I want to report on.

I'll have more in a day or two. Stay tuned.