on the horns of a dilemma
Today an artist friend asked for some advice on the artist-gallery relationship. I didn't have an answer for her because I only seem to be able to see it from the point-of-view of the artist who's struggling both to survive financially and to avoid being exploited (something I've had some experience with). So I told her I'd post about it and see if I could get feedback from (a) other artists, (b) gallerists and (c) potential buyers of art from a gallery.
Here's the scenario: The gallery in question sold one of the artist's framed paintings in the summer. This past week the client returned the painting to the gallery as she'd noticed a small dent in the glass, a manufacturer's glitch, that neither the artist nor the gallery owner had noticed. The frame is not a custom frame but a good quality pre-made frame available at a popular chain store. The gallerist then contacted the artist giving her two options: (a) pay to have the glass replaced at a glass business near the gallery at a cost higher than the original frame or (b) ship a new frame to the gallery. The gallery placed the responsibility on the shoulders of the artist and did not offer to either absorb or split the cost.
Consider the following:
- art galleries take works on consignment at absolutely no cost to them
- the next time the owner delivered art to clients in a nearby city (three hours' drive) they could have exchanged the original frame at another branch of the frame retailer at no cost
- though her art is priced at the low end of the gallery spectrum, her work has been very popular and done well for the gallery since it opened less than a year ago