Category "Gallery"

Jonathan Blaustein Acquisitions

APE contributor Jonathan Blaustein told me about acquisitions of his work by the State of New Mexico and Library of Congress. I wanted him to write about it, because like me I’m sure many of you are curious how this whole process works. He was reluctant to write about it and be too self-congratulatory on the blog (he is paid to write for APE), so I asked him a few questions instead.

APE: Tell me what the acquisitions were?

JB: The State of New Mexico recently purchased a unique portfolio of the entire “Value of a Dollar” project for the State’s permanent Public Art collection, at market value. The Library of Congress purchased a portfolio of the project as well, from the 16×20 edition,Β  which will reside in its permanent archive, and be accessible to the public online and in person, I believe.Β  I’ll be delivering the work to them in the next month or so, so it’s not in their database yet.

APE: Can you give me a brief background on how you got into fine art photography? What was your path to get where you are now?

JB: I picked up a camera for no particular reason back in 1996. I was moving back to New Mexico from New York, and bought some black & white film before I took a solo cross country drive through the South. I was hooked immediately, and decided to go back to school to study photography at UNM, since I was a state resident, and it was cheap. The program was fine art based, and I studied with Tom Barrow and Patrick Nagatani, who were both steeped in conceptualism. So from the beginning, I used photography as a means of creative expression. After Albuquerque, I lived in San Francisco and started showing my work in local galleries and art spaces. From there, I moved back to New York to get an MFA at Pratt, which totally rocks, and then came back to New Mexico in 2005. I’ve been fortunate that we have a great collection of talent, resources and photographic institutions out here.

APE: I know nothing about acquisitions, so tell me how important they are to fine art photographers?

JB: I think most artists would like to have their work collected by museums and institutions.Β  It offers credibility, and the opportunity for the public to actually interact with your work.Β  Also, it’s tough to sell work nowadays, so public acquisitions can be a great source of income. In this case, the size of the two acquisitions was equivalent any of the biggest grants or fellowships around, so now I’ll be able to pay the bills, and catch my breath for the first time in a long while.


APE: What is the process like, how do you get on someone’s radar for an acquisition? Walk me through what happened to you in these cases?

JB: Well, as I wrote last year, I attended the Review Santa Fe portfolio review in 2009 and 2010.Β  The first year, people really liked “The Value of a Dollar,” but nothing popped.Β  Last year, there seemed to be a bit more buzz around the project. I had a twenty minute review with Josh Haner, an editor for the New York Times Lens Blog, and he said he’d like to publish the work on the spot. I also had a review with Verna Curtis, a curator from the Library of Congress, who was really taken with the series.Β  She said she’d like to figure out a way to acquire it for the collection, but that it would take a while to sort out the logistics. So I followed her instructions as to how to stay in touch, and it played out over the course of six or seven months.

The State of New Mexico purchase came out of a great program that we have here that’s run by an organization called New Mexico Arts. Each year, they buy work from New Mexico artists through the Art in Public Places acquisition program. They put out an online call for entries, and I submitted some work. A friend who’d been funded before suggested that I email some of the staff directly to introduce myself and get some advice, so I did. As a result, the director of the program ended up on my email list.

Last fall, the New York Times followed through and published “The Value of a Dollar” on the Lens Blog. The story went viral immediately, and I had 500,000 hits to my website within a week. It was unexpected, and totally insane. I sent out an email blast about the Lens Blog publication and the viral mania, and the AIPP program manager responded to my email, saying he’d like to talk about acquiring a portfolio of the work.Β  It took 5 months of patient follow up, and then I got the meeting in February of this year.Β  We negotiated and shook hands on a deal that day, and it was all wrapped up within a couple of months.

APE: What’s next? Obviously, like with commercial and editorial photography, success begets success so how do you capitalize on this?

JB: It’s a good question. I’m hoping the momentum continues, but it’s tough out there. Like everyone else, I’d really like to get the photographs on the wall in New York.Β  It’s the center of the Art world, obviously, as well as the rest of the photo industry.Β  But lately, my primary focus has been on making new work. I’ve been busting it out in the studio since January on a follow up project so I can take advantage of the publicity, and the fact that people will probably pay attention to what comes next.Β  It seemed important to come up with a new idea that would be as good or better than the last, so that I don’t end being the Dollar guy like some early 80’s one hit wonder. I’d also like to establish a solid relationship with a dealer in one of the prime art markets, like New York, LA, London or Berlin.

Really, I think that many art photographers are trying to re-evaluate what success even means in 2011 (See Aline Smithson’s recent post on Lenscratch).Β  This photo series connected with countless people across the planet through the Internet, and the ideas have continued to resonate.Β  So I’m also asking myself if my goals should extend beyond the gallery and museum wall, into a more active role within the politics of food.

How To Present Work To A Gallerist

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Reader Question:

“I am wanting to show some work to a great gallery in [Redacted] to see about doing an exhibit. I don’t know the first thing about how to present this to the gallerist. I have a good relationship with him and have talked about photography and bought works from him. I just want to avoid the pitfalls when I ask him to look at this new body of work.”

I contacted Laura Pressley, Executive Director at Center. They put on Review Santa Fe, which is well attended by gallerists, book publishers and photographers showing them work. Here’s her answer:

I would recommend bringing about 20 images in a portfolio box, same size paper, same process, consistent output, of a fully or nearly resolved cohesive body of work. Work that is tightly edited, intelligently sequenced and grounded by a well written project statement would be ideal.

Also, ask for advice, perhaps regarding next steps for the work, or sequencing and presentation preferences, which then engages and connects the viewer to the work.

Lastly, if you have two or more bodies of work then bring one other portfolio to look at in case the first one isn’t the viewers cup of tea.

Wall Space Gallery’s Life Support Japan

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Wall Space Gallery has created a wonderful project selling photographs @ $50 as a benefit for the people of Japan (go here). The money raised will go to Direct Relief and Habitat for Humanity Japan. Please visit the site and purchase a piece of art and help those in need.

All limited editions photographs are 8.5 x 11 inches, signed editions of 10 only.

This is the first of many auctions the photo community has pulled together asap, powered by Aline Smithson of lenscratch and Crista Dix of wall space gallery. Many more photographers are donating their work and more images are being uploaded every hour, so check back often!


Gallery Will Exhibit Your Work If You Pay Them

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I wrote a post on this practice over a year ago with a gallery in Montreal (here):

That one looked like a steal compared to the terms on this pay-to-play group show: Β£2200 for a group show. Times must be tough…

Dear [redacted],

Artspace-Galleries would like to invite you to take part in our upcoming group exhibitions in the hearts of Mayfair London and Paris. This presents a fantastic opportunity for you to move into the international market and to exhibit your artwork in two of the most significant art centers of the world.

The group exhibition includes all of the following:

  • One week exhibition in London
  • Two week exhibition in Paris
  • One art opening in both London and Paris
  • On-going promotion to our client list
  • PR & Marketing of the exhibition
  • Five yearΒ presence in the Events section of our website
  • One year presence in the Buy/Sell section of our website
  • Eligibility to be selected into the New & Emerging Artist Reward Program
  • No gallery commission on artwork sales

Group exhibition guidelines:

  • We are currently accepting registrations for group exhibitions in 2011 and 2012. We have a limited number of spaces available, so we urge you to register as soon as possible to ensure you will be able to exhibit.
  • After you register your profile and submit five samples of your artwork online, Artspace-Galleries will determine if you would be suitable for a group exhibition.
  • Once selected, we will organize and promote your group exhibition with direct mail & online marketing and targeted public relations. The total fee for these services is Β£2200, and we take no commission on the sale of your artwork.
  • When you have registered and have been selected, you will be asked to pay a Β£500 deposit, which will be applied towards your total fee. This will reserve your space in the group exhibition, and we will start promoting your work on our website and to our client base. The remaining balance of your payment should be paid in full 8 weeks before your mutually agreed-upon exhibition date.
  • Your group exhibition will bring together the works of six different artists, with each artistΒ having the chance to exhibit up to six canvases or ten sculpture/installation pieces.
  • We offer shipping of artwork from the artist to London, from London to Paris, and from Paris back to the artist for the following fees:

Β£600 to/from Africa, North & South America, Asia, Australia, or Oceania

Β£200 to/from Europe

(These rates are based on a maximum of 20 kg and no wider than 1.5m. You may provide your own shipping, however your artwork will have to be shipped from one city to another within two days.)

New & Emerging Artist Reward Program:

  • At the end of the year, the jury of Artspace-Galleries consisting of art professionals, highly qualified art directors and curators will identify the six most outstanding group exhibition artists of the year.
  • If chosen, you will be rewarded with one year of online promotion and a two week group exhibition in both London and Paris, free of charge, based on sales commissions of 50/50.

Submission and additional information:

We look forward to hearing from you,

Elina Steinhauer
Group Exhibition Consultant
PrestigiousΒ  international art galleries In London Mayfair and Paris

Here’s the contract if you’re interested (here)

Scion/VIce Magazine Photo Annual opening for 2010

Photographer John Eder files this report from the field:

Scion, the car company, sponsors a gallery space here in L.A. They are slavishly trendy in their curating, and there is nothing trendier than Vice Magazine. The magazine is actually very well written and very funny, and I look forward to each issue, for real – for the writing. Their photography aesthetic, though, is squarely in the Terry Richardson/Ryan McGinley camp.

The show was curated by Jonnie Craig, a 20 something UK skateboard guy who has become majorly successful by more or less aping Ryan McGinley. In fact, Ryan McGinley is a champion of his work. So, this whole show was very homogeneous in the look, even tho it was 20 or so photographers, it ALL looked like it could have been shot by Ryan McGinley. It’s kind of like a math equation, where Johnnie Craig=Ryan McGlinley=Wolfgang Tillmans+Terry Richardson minus sex plus skateboards, kittens, cats, horses, tourist attractions, cigars and scabs (from skateboarding – there were two or three gnarly closeups of abscessed wounds, from different photographers), all of whose root number is Wm. Eggleston. More math in this equation is if you take 1000 pictures with your point and shoot of your friends or your cat, eventually you will get a few compelling frames.livingproofmag

It was good for people watching – loads of 19 year old girls tottering around in stripper shoes and the androgynous L.A. man-children who love them. The guys were actually far more the fashion show here, with a weird, femmy hipster vibe in full, uh, flower – lots of eyeliner, formal shoes with knee-socks and culottes or capri pants, old man glasses and silly mustaches, ironic t-shirts, wallet chains and plaid jackets that are two sizes too small.

Despite all this fashion rebellion on the part of the youth, virtually every conversation I blundered into was about branding and marketing. What was really funny was having this conversation in a group where one kid was so lit on acid and his pupils so dilated that I thought they were going to blow right out of his head. He said he was “tripping balls.” And yet, still, we were talking about branding and how genius Scion is at trend monitoring and appealing to the youth.

Anyway, that’s the report from the front lines of culture and photography here in Los Angeles.

Forward Thinking Museum

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forwardthinkingelevatorThe Forward Thinking Museum is an entertaining little online museum with good photography (here). No, it doesn’t replace real museums with real prints, but some of us drive desks all day and a little side entertainment is needed once in awhile.

It was created by Joy of Giving Something, Inc. a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to encouraging aesthetic reflection about present realities and future possibilities and contains material from their collection.


Gallery Will Exhibit Your Work If You Pay Them

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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.

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