Gallery Will Exhibit Your Work If You Pay Them

- - Gallery

Received an interesting email from a photographer (pasted it below for you to see) where a gallery in Montreal will exhibit your work if you pay them a fee: $2500 for a solo show and $150 per image for a group show. It looks like they just send out this email with all the details clearly explained hoping to snare a couple photographers. They also include all their bank transfer information so you can wire them the money.

I decided to ask a photographer I know who exhibits 4-5 times a year and has a solo show every other year how the whole gallery opening and exhibiting works.

How often do you get an email solicitation to exhibit your work?

I would guess I receive about 3 -5 email invitations a week to various and sundry art-related things and only about 5 over the course of my life have led to anything worth while. It’s always something enticing and they always find me on the internet and it’s almost always bogus. The thing to do is to assume that it’s spam, then research it without downloading or clicking on anything in the email. But if a gallery is really interested in your work, they will call you, on the phone, or send you an email that states specifically what they saw, where and why they like it.

How does it usually work?

The gallery industry in the U.S. and Europe (to the extent of my experience there allows me to state such a thing) has very similar standards, not unlike the magazine world: they vary from place to place, and you get more or less depending on who you are, but there’s a bar that’s pretty even. For gallery show practice it is this: the artist makes and frames (or doesn’t frame) the work, documents and provides documentation to the gallery for promotional purposes, and then the gallery sells the art, and the sales are a split commission 50/50. There should also be a contract signed at the beginning of any relationship.

In all the shows I’ve had, most of the costs that I’ve been asked to share with galleries involve advertising. It’s not uncommon to split the cost of printing the show card, or for buying space in magazines like Artforum, Art News, etc… or to buy an ad in a magazine that targets painting if you’re a painter, or sculpture, etc.. But it’s always split. The artist is never responsible for the entire cost unless he/she chooses to do so, and then the gallery should be concerned that the page is designed correctly.

Some galleries make you split the commission of the frame cost, even if you’ve paid for them in full. Personally, I don’t go for that. It’s my opinion that framing is a raw cost and the work can be sold unframed for the normal commission split. So there are minor ways that galleries work out the money problems of having shows.

Galleries are simply stores. They sell art as opposed to groceries, so it just feels like a bigger deal than it is. You love your dealer like you love the produce guy who knows you like avocados and calls you or sets aside the best ones for when you come in. Maybe that’s not the best analogy but one’s relationship with one’s gallerist should be happy and uncomplicated.

Email from the gallery after the jump.

C O N T E M P O R A R Y A R T &

279 Sherbrooke West, suite 205
Montréal QC Canada H2X 1Y2 tel: (514)
879.9694 fax: (514) 879.9694

ATT: [Redacted]

We have viewed your work and would like to offer you an opportunity for an exhibition of your work in Montreal, for the year 2009/2010. Please find below the “Terms and conditions”. You will receive a confirmation, an exhibition date and other related information (by fax or e-mail) within a week of the gallery’s receipt of the “application form” (see page 3) Visit the gallery website for additional information:

Gallery Gora is in the heart of downtown Montreal. The gallery is adjacent to the “Musée d’Art Contemporain” and other major museums. Gallery Gora has existed since 1994 and represents a number of Canadian and international contemporary artists. As an expanding cultural center in North America, Montreal is increasingly attracting ‘cultural tourism’. It has two official languages (French and English) as well as many other tongues spoken by
its multi-cultural population. This provides the basis of a lively cultural scene that organizes a great array of cultural events, such as the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs Festival, and the International Film Festival.

1. Eligibility and Application Procedure Gallery Gora invites you to exhibit in a solo or in a group exhibition. Selections are made solely on the basis of artists’ portfolios. Please send to the gallery:
– Completed and signed application (see page 4)
– International bank/postal money order or bank transfer (see “deposit” paragraph 3) You will then receive a confirmation, an exhibition date and other related information.

2. Duration of Exhibition The exhibition runs for a minimum of 3 weeks (at least 19 opening days, not including setup and take down time).

3. Exhibition Fee

A – Solo Exhibition
– Each artist can have up to 20 pieces of work depending on size
– The fee for a solo exhibition is $2,500.00 to cover gallery expenses.
– The first $2,500.00 of sale are commission free.
– The gallery takes a 20% commission during the 3 week exhibition
– A deposit of $700.00 is paid together with the application. It is payable by International Money Order to “Gallery Gora” or an electronic bank transfer to:
Galerie Gora INC / CIBC bank / Phillips Square / Transit # [Redacted] / Acc # [Redacted] / Swift code : [Redacted] / Routing # or ABA # : [Redacted].
Address: CIBC bank / Phillips Square 600 rue Cathcart , Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3B 1K8
Please email a copy of the transfer to the gallery.
– The balance of the fee is payable 5 weeks prior to the exhibition date. All money is refundable in full if Gallery Gora cancels the exhibition.

B – Group exhibition
– The fee to take part in a group exhibition is $250.00 for first work and $150.00 for each additional work.
– The number of artists in a group show depends on the total number of works. The width of each work should not exceed 3ft or it will be counted as two works. The mode of payment is similar to the solo exhibition, deposit is 20% of total fee.
Exhibition fees cover furthermore: Advertising and public relations
– Mention of the show in all weekly newspaper arts calendars in Montreal (when possible)
– A press release including an invitation to the exhibition e-mailed to a list of contacts (over 60,000) 1 week prior to the opening. Our contacts include the press, curators, critics, dealers, consultants and corporations, as well as a larger body of public members and buyers. If artists supply the gallery with additional e-mail lists, we will forward the invitation to these addresses as well.
– Full colour invitation cards. If we are provided with a postal mailing list of addresses within Canada, these cards will be sent out free of charge.
– Other advertising options are available at extra cost (see application form) Reception
– On the evening of the exhibition’s opening, the gallery will welcome guests with wine and other beverages.
– Gallery staff will be at hand to receive visitors throughout the exhibition and to organize corporate/cultural events and receptions whenever possible, whether the artists choose or not to be present at the show.

4. Commissions
– The Gallery takes a 20% commission on sales during the 3 week exhibition. The first $2,500.00 of sale are commission free. All money due will be sent to you within 10 days of the sale.

5. Shipping
Artists are responsible for all shipping fees and procedures to and from the gallery door. If you need help or an estimate from our shipper please send an e-mail to the gallery with the following information : Number of boxes, size and weight of each box, your full address.
Arrival: Shipped works must arrive in a strong protective and reusable package. All shipments must be delivered to the gallery door.
Pick-up: If the work is not retained for representation, it must be picked up from the gallery within 10 working days following the end of the exhibition. The gallery will assist you with shipping if needed.

6. Installation of Works
– All work must be ready to hang or show. The gallery provides pedestals for sculptures. Installations should come with clear instructions.
-Gallery staff will do the hanging and packing/unpacking of the work.

7. Canvas stretching
If works on canvas arrive at the gallery in a roll (to save on shipping costs), gallery staff will stretch (and un-stretch) the paintings for US $10 per painting. Cost of stretchers is extra ($1.50/linear foot).

8. Framing
All photography and work on paper must be professionally framed. If required Gallery Gora makes archival contemporary wooden frames at very reasonable cost. Please send dimensions of work for a quotation.

9. Liability
Gallery Gora will take every possible care for the safety of all work; however, Gallery Gora or its staff is not responsible for any loss or damage of any work, during shipping, storage, on exhibit, at art fairs or at associate galleries.

10. Beyond the exhibition
– If at the end of the exhibition the work produces significant interest, the artist would be asked to be represented by the gallery in Montreal and on the gallery website .
– A 50% commission rate applies to any work sold following the 3 week exhibition period.
Further general information: Use the most economical shipping procedure
– We suggest the following shipping companies: UPS, PUROLATOR or DHL (FEDEX ground, not recommended)
– Sometimes sending two or three boxes is cheaper then one big crate. You might want to consider bringing the work with you and visiting Montreal (a wonderful city) at the same time.
– Another way to reduce shipping costs is to take canvases off the stretchers and ship them to the gallery in a roll, where we can have them re-stretched (see paragraph 7).
-Framing your work in Montréal could save you the cost of shipping the work framed. Please ask for a quotation to frame your work at the gallery.
– Canadian customs may charge a 5% tax on the declared value of your work. This tax will be refunded to you (on non sold work) when the work returns to you.

If you have any further questions about shipping, feel free to contact Lyne at the gallery.
Additional services
Gallery Gora also offers:
– Custom framing
– Publication of artist catalogues and posters.

– Working space and residency program available for artists wanting to produce work in Montreal For a price quote or for more information, please contact the gallery.

Please see application form on the next page

279 Sherbrooke West, espace
205 Montreal, Qc Canada H2X
1Y2 tel:
(514) 879-9694 fax: (514)


Name and
address :..………………………………………………………
Phone………………………………………………..….. Fax……….….

Gallery fee for group show (see paragraph 2-B)
– First piece of
work—————————————————– US$ 250.00
– $150 (for each additional
work)————————————– US$ ______

Gallery fee for solo exhibition
(arround 20 pieces of work)
– Deposit on $2500.00 fee
——————————————— US$ 700.00
(balance of $1800.00 to be paid 5
weeks prior to show date)
(see paragraphs 3 and 4)

Please circle your choice of space:
A or B or C or D
(see floor plan on the gallery web
If your choice is not available the
gallery will assign you a space.


– Advertising in the news paper (Le
Devoir) (5x10cm)————-US$ 450.00
Total exhibition
fee:—————————————————– US$ ______

I am including:
Money Order or a copy of the
electronic bank transfer to:
Galerie Gora / Imperial Bank of
Commerce / 600 rue Cathcart,
Montreal, Quebec H3B 1K8 / Transit #
[Redacted] / Acc # [Redacted] / Swift
code : [Redacted] / Routing # or ABA
# : [Redacted] for the above amount
(Please fax copy of transfer to the

You may also pay by: WESTERN UNION
or credit card (MASTERCARD or VISA).
Please contact the gallery by
telephone if you wish to pay by
credit card.


Please do not hesitate to contact
the gallery for further

Tel: (514) 879-9694 – Fax: (514)879-0164
Address: Gallery GORA , 279
Sherbrooke West, #205

Montreal, QC. CANADA H2X 1Y2

Signature: _______________________

There Are 37 Comments On This Article.

  1. Christian Patterson had a post about this on his blog. Too bad he erased the archives when he chose to stop blogging….

  2. el cinesajista

    “You love your dealer like you love the produce guy”

    I’m so lucky my produce guy is a girl and tend to agree with MOA (modern art obsession) that she is also a hottie. I also like the analogy because now I can tell people to stop by and feel how ripe my melons are. ;)

  3. I make the majority of my income from print sales made thru the galleries that represent me. This being said only to establish a little pedigree in the industry.

    The pay per exhibit model has been around for years. While some may actually be credible, providing good exposure to the artist, I employ a policy never to pay for exhibiting, framing, or shipping. If a gallery is successful they do not require funding from the artist as their patrons and clients will provide the necessary income. These vanity gallery venues are not dissimilar from some publishing models requiring the artist to absorb production costs for their monographs. If the publisher believes in the work they will produce the work and market it at their expense knowing that the return on investment is in the content.

    Public venues ( art centers, small museums, public space ) are not dissimilar to the pay per exhibit model if they require costs for presentation be borne by the artist with out any guarantee of financial return. I also recommend avoiding these. Be assured the curators and directors of these public venues are receiving an income while you provide a free venue for there community. If they see the value they will pay costs.

    I do take issue with the analogy of galleries to art stores. Good gallery representation goes way beyond simply fulfilling the transaction or recommending work. There is a concerted focus, promotional capabilities, relationships, credibility, and most of all trust that a good gallery puts forth on your behalf. Well worth the commissions they receive in exchange for those qualities.

    • @Carl Corey, I think there is a place for exhibiting art in public space (plenty of people might by your work but don’t go to galleries at a regular basis) – but it has to be the right public space and it shouldn’t cost the artist.

      If it isn’t costing anything, and you enjoy participating in your community, I don’t see why you shouldn’t put something in a local community center.

    • “Be assured the curators and directors of these public venues are receiving an income while you provide a free venue for their community.” CLASSIC! Great advice, Carl, thanks.

  4. What’s worse are the emails from “photo consultants” who want you to pay them large amounts of money on a monthly basis to promote and sell your work and then take a 50% commission on sales on top of that. Not cool.

  5. I love how they graciously agree not to charge you a commission on the first $2,500 worth of sales.

    There are quality retailers and those of dubious integrity in every business. This offering doesn’t surprise me at all. And I suspect they’ll do well with people who have the cash to fund a vanity gallery show.

    But serious buyers will probably figure out how this gallery is doing business and stay away. So it will become a sucker-for-sucker deal — people will pay to have their work exhibited and sell prints to people who don’t know any better. I suppose if the gallery generates enough traffic that you sell more than $2,500 worth of prints, everyone goes away happy.

    I wonder is whether participating in this sort of arrangement would hurt your chances of being shown by legitimate galleries in the future? Even more interesting, I wonder if anyone will be able to short circuit the current system by paying a bunch of galleries to show their work, spend some more money on self promotion and voila, they are being revered as a great photographer.

  6. Interesting article. In Atlanta, I started a photography non-profit for the sole purpose of providing new and upcoming photographers with the ability to exhibit and sell their work.

    Where we vary from the place above is cost to participate. A single photo cost ranges from $27 to $40. Our next upcoming exhibit, there is a flat cost of $27 per photo. I have 40+ photographers participating already.

    We further differ by allowing the photographer to keep 100% of whatever they sell, minus any credit processing fees. Those fees are pass through, not in addition too. What we pay is what the artist pays.

    Our model allows more people at lower cost to get experience and sell.

    If you are interested, check out

  7. How does this differ in spirit from the “Hey Hot Shot” competition?

    Their competition is not quite a pay-to-play scheme like this Montreal gallery. Instead, you pay $60 for the opportunity to have three pictures put in front of a panel and *possibly* chosen for exhibition at the Jen Beckman gallery. There are 5 winners, they are given a group show and they are each given a $500 award (though the photographer incurs the cost of “producing and framing their work, as well as shipping it to/from the gallery”). According to their website, this competition runs 2-4 times a year.

    Does it really cost $60 to handle the online entries? I can’t find how many people enter the contest but the gallery would need at least 42 entrants to cover the winners’ honorarium. I assume more than 42 people enter the contest. Subtract web costs (because you enter online), wine costs (for the gallery opening) and the rest seems like profit (unless they pay the judging panel).

    Am I tempted to enter? Yes, I’d like the exposure. Am I conflicted about it? Yes, because photographers pay $60 apiece for the gallery to scout new talent–which kinda seems like the gallery’s job in the first place. Will I enter? Dunno yet.

    At least with the Montreal gallery, if you pay your $150 you’re *guaranteed* placement in a group show.

    Both situations rub me the wrong way.


    • @Nic,
      They’re 2 different business models and maechanisms, both making money from the art scene. I see paying to enter an award as different to paying to display your work in a gallery, even if winning photo ends up on a gallery wall.
      As a web developer I can dispell the myth that an online process is free. It’s safer not to assume that the web is an ultra cheap or free mechanism for anything beyond the basics. Whereas it doesn’t cost $60 to handle online entries an award show is almost always a business, so the people who organise them need a salary, judges might be paid or have expenses covered, etc… Where the money comes from differs but there’s still money needed from somewhere. Also I expect having an entry fee reduces the number of entries, which can be helpful! If it was free you’d have entered by now, correct?
      Plus profits aren’t explicitly ethically bad things to have. Wouldn’t we’d all like to make a profit from what we do?

    • @Alleh Photography,

      It’s not a “scam” if they deliver all the things promised in their letter for the fee discussed. But the deal they are offering is atypical when compared to most respectable galleries.

      This is basically a vanity publishing deal. For a fee, you get a gallery show. Is that horrible? I suppose it depends on what you want. It probably won’t accelerate your career (and in some instances it might hurt). But it probably will make you feel good (especially if you sell some work).

      As long as you understand the benefits/risks it boils down to a judgment call. It’s not beyond belief that doing a show like this could give you the visibility that might lead to better things. Most galleries are basically commodity brokers — they invite artists who’s work they think will sell. They aren’t always right.

      The sad part in this case is there are probably uninformed artists who might be swayed by this offer and wind up spending money for a gallery show that probably won’t yield positive results.

  8. Gora in Montreal and Agora in New York have been making these offers for years. They are the kiss of death for an artist, as curators that count for anything in the art world, know how they operate and therefore discount anyone who has shown in their spaces.

    If you have exhibited with them in the past, delete them from your resume.

    There may be some catchet to being able to say to your local audience “I exhibited in NY/Montreal”, but make sure your not talking to someone who knows the backstory.

    I was tempted by offers from both over 5 years ago. Once I controlled the ego boost and investigated, it was a simple walk away from this tree of false knowledge.


    • @Raymod St Arnaud,

      This is exactly right.

      I’ve advised a few artists this same thing, and they always come back with ‘but it gets exposure.’ Exactly the kind of exposure you don’t want.

      Furthermore, a gallery is first and foremost a business. Once they have your money up front, they have NO INCENTIVE to sell your work afterwards, as the cost/benefit ratio doesn’t add up for their effort. And the icing on the cake, once they have your money, their profits are maximized by spending the least amount possible on promotion. Basically, they’ll promote as little as they can get away with.

  9. Never heard of ‘Gora Gallery’ and I’m considered a respectably successful ‘mid-career artist’ in the ‘art scene’ in ‘Canada. I’d say they are more ‘entrepeneurial’ then ‘legit’. On the other hand, ‘art fairs’ are very common as a means for displaying one’s work. But, again, ‘Gora’s’ fees sound VERY HIGH and I’d never send anyone a cheque, site unseen. If interested in exhibiting in Canada contact reputable and known galleries, check via

    Also, it is my experience that a 50/50 split is not the norm. Dealers and galleries usually split 60/40 to the artist. And THEY are responsible for promo, opening, media coverage. However, it behooves the artist to tie in with all those things as much as possible. Again, in my experience, THEY pay for these things, not the artist. I have noticed a change in this lately though. Galleries are TRYING to foist more of the expense onto the artist AND retain their cut. Negotiate, and yes, get a contract that clearly states respective ‘responsibilities’.

    The higher up the food chain the more the dealers/galleries will cover YOUR costs cuz they believe in you and can see their market … Publically funded galleries in Canada offer an exhbition fee in keeping with CARFAC guidelines, and do all promo, including an ‘exhbiition catalogue’. … It’s generally a long haul to get to this stage. Publically funded exhibitions only come after a good 10-15 years of exhbition history.

    In my experience …

  10. In Japan, an artist can rent out a gallery, for the equivalent of USD$1,000 and up, and will be wholely responsible for promotion of the show as well as all the costs — but doesn’t have to pay a commission.

    For the high-end galleries that exhibit the big names, the arrangement is similar to that in the US, although I believe the commission may be higher, but I’ll have to do some research to be sure.

  11. p.s. An ‘exhibiton catalogue’ is generally written by a ‘peer’ associate or the ‘hosting’ gallery curator, not the artist … Otherwise, it IS considered ‘vanity press’ and is not respected or acknowledged by the broader ‘arts community’.

    That said, this form of self promotion might work with potential patrons, if they don’t know what they are doing, or buying …

    • @Patrick Cormier, Did you drop by the gallery?
      Please email comments and or feedback.
      Thank you

  12. Hey people. I am one of the suckers that got fooled by this. I’m a Dutch painter and had never exhibited abroad before. I know it was incredibly stupid to sign up for something not knowing that it was. I have my opening on the 29th this month. Feel free to stop by and take a look. You’ll be shocked. I saw the previous opening and it was horrible. About 20 people, mostly friends of the artists, and bad sangria. I’m going to do my best to make the most of this but I am telling you it is a nightmare. If anyone has more information on this or experience with this place, please feel free to contact me because I really think it’s time for this type of galleries to make way.

    • @Titania, I’m truly sorry to hear about your experience!

      I received an email from Gora Gallery last week..and as usual when I get these I do a search on the internet with the gallery name and ‘scam’. I also check out their website, which I have to say is pretty good..clean layout, well thought out. But what you’ve said above and everything else I’ve come across on the internet pretty much seals Gora’s fate for me.

      My first thought when I get an email like the one printed above, is great! Someone’s seen my work and thinks it’s worthy. My 2nd thought is…hmm how much do they want for this ‘opportunity’?

      Last year I paid Artbelow £800 to ‘exhibit’ two posters of paintings on the London Underground for 2 weeks..great..I knew what I was getting into. But I had to push really hard to get the promised ‘complimentary copy’ of the posters. They initially sent me 2 very badly printed A3 copies..the colours were like mud and looked like they’d been done on the office printer. After a lot of outrage & indignation on my part, they gave me full-sized copies (1m x 1.5m) as promised in the original application material.

      The offer from Gallery Gora? It looked really good, up until I got down to the $2700 fee, so I know more than likely its not. Dodgy sangria and friends of the artist won’t get paintings sold, but then they’ve already been paid, where’s their incentive, why should they care?

      I think I’m in agreement with what a few people on here and elsewhere have said. If a gallery believes the work will sell, they won’t want vast quantities of money up front before they’ll touch it.

      Also, I’ve learned to ask questions…lots of questions.

      Thank you for posting, it really helps. I can only hope despite what you said you saw at the previous openings, they provided great wine, music and clients and you sold loads of work!

  13. I just received an email from them today – like 10 minutes ago.
    Went online for reviews and here I am.

    Good thing there’s internet!

  14. Does anyone know of Brick Lane gallery in London? One of my friends got an invite to exibit from that gallery.Appreciate any information about that gallery.

  15. Your article appears, including the previous post on Gora, and my web site gets hits through photoeditor links from Montreal and London. Wonder who that would be?

  16. Gallery Gora is known in the Montreal art scene, as the place you want to avoid. Apparently though, it was once a decent gallery.

    • @Hans Ning,

      It hasn’t been good for a long time. The place is just downright scary. They avoid giving refunds at all costs even when they get caught lying and their is always a different person I have to speak with (turnover?).

      The ones I have heard lots of stories about…not good ones…are:

      Mr. Joseph Gora, owner/ scammer

      Lyne Duble – partner in crime to Mr. Gora

      Tanya Whittall (I believe that is her name) who plays dumb but seems to be part of the scam at the gallery.


  17. Galerie Gora/ Gora Gallery is a SCAM. Stay away from this ponzi scheme. The “employ” a multitude of unpaid “interns” whose sole job is to spam artists for money. I know, my friend was an “art intern” and she did nothing related to art at all. She told me the interns seem to turnover every week (!) because they find out it is a scam and they are being used by the owner, Mr. Gora. Also, she said the owner is a scumbag because he continuously sexually harasses young female interns (the only interns he hires!!!) and threatens them if they tell anyone. Seriously, I would have gone to the police to support my friend but she was strong and smart, and just go the hell out of there.

    Do not send your money to the po9nzi scheme known as Galerie Gora in Montreal. Report any problems immediately the the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.

    • Wanda!
      I am from Brazil. I sent an email with my resume last week and I just have been called to do an intership at Gallery Gora….
      But, Looking for news on google, I found it and I am scared!!!! Oo
      Can you contact me by e-mail????

  18. Wow, I heard things in the art community here in Montreal about Lyne Dube and Joseph Gora, but this takes the cake. Neither are respected in the art world here and from what I here just scam as much as they can. I guess others have had the same experience.

    Sad there are such dirty people in this world.

  19. Hi all,

    I’ve been asked to expose my illustrations in an art gallery.

    The idea is that people from barcelona expose in berlin and people from berlin in barcelona. They’ve asked 390 euros (includes: framing, hanging, shipping from barcelona to berlin and the international promotion of the event).

    Then the art gallery in berlin asks for 25% comission on every sold print. Is this normal. I’m honoured they’ve asked me and it would be perfect to promote my work as i’ve just started as a freelance illustrator but it seems like a lot of money to me. Please help!