31 July 2007

A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous...And Annoying.

Brace yourselves.

I know, I know...I rant on about this more than practically anything else, but it makes me bloody mental.

After 20 plus years in the art business I realize that most people know very little about fine art. I have come to terms with that. I try to educate and move on.

The one thing I can not and will not get over is the misunderstanding, misconceptions, misrepresentations and misgivings about "Giclees".

Yesterday I gave an impromptu lesson about prints. A couple of ladies had asked me the difference between serigraphs, lithographs and giclees. As I am telling them about the three I noticed that I had a group of 15 to 20 listening in on my lesson.

I took this opportunity to ask a question. "How many of you have heard these terms before?

Serigraph: about half.
Lithograph: about half.
Giclee: all.


None of them could tell me where they first heard the term giclee. Is it just floating around in space, seeping into minds through osmosis? Almost all of them though, thought that a giclee was a cheap copy not worth anything. Posters. Most thought that serigraphs and lithographs were more valuable and the better quality prints. About half thought any kind of prints were worthless. I wont even get into the whole "low numbers are worth more than high numbers" thing. Different tirade.

Where in the hell are people getting this information? Why do so many people know the term giclee and not know anything else about the process?

I went on the explain to them that they should not be judgmental. When done correctly prints are valuable, blah blah. Can be museum quality, blah blah. I could tell by their expressions that more than half of them thought I was full of it. They knew better.

The funny thing, is that these same people will stand looking at a giclee and tell me it's nice to see a gallery that shows originals. They can't tell them apart until I tell them. Then they give me attitude. What is with the attitude? Like I'm the stupid one.

This has become my biggest peeve of anything I have ever encountered in the art business. How can someone who only knows one art term, and doesn't even know the full meaning of that term, come into a gallery and proceed to act like they know more about art than the gallery?

Does this kind of stupidity happen in other businesses? Are people this rude and ignorant every where they go, or is there something special about art galleries?

Do galleries in other countries have this problem? Is this just an American thing?

What kind of business are all of you in? What kind of things to people say to you that makes you want to poke them in the eyes?

28 July 2007

BS At It's Finest...And Worst.

An artist just sent over his biography. I had to read it through several times because I just could not believe I was seeing things correctly. I might have to frame this one. It is a much better work of art than any of his paintings. The art of Bullshit that is.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts..word for word...

On a retrospective journey to his work, his first oil paintings were already endowed with a seal that will remain unalterable in its gestural, the referent genesis of such, reclaims the pre-placed intentionality of national impressionist masters of the early 20th century.

The artist, much like an art analyst, does not discriminate against outside activity: he releases a learned and grounded opinion within the diversity of artistic currents, permitting to enter upon art history and thus to the history of man.

Careful selection of subjects is appraised, entering the frame with clarity, preconceived ideas and structuring the composition with rigorous drawing: the methodology is complimented with a brushing of tonal richness that bathes the plane which holds it. When the genre of still life is incorporated, it stirs the represented concept, allowing for the subject to be immortalized with fragrance and flavor, letting the volume of the color be presented as if extracted from nature more than from his palette. Motion emerges as a leading element in the treatment of flowers, a recurrent theme throughout special moments, showing off his precision with a vigorous brush - result of his dilated craft.

There is two full pages of this. At first I thought it might be a joke. It's not. Maybe it was a poor interpretation. No. He and his agent have a firm grasp of English.

This is the elitist, snobbish side of art that I despise, and we see it more and more.

When an uninformed, potential buyer( this is most people when it comes to art) comes into a gallery and reads a bio like this, they think:

a) They are not smart enough to know what any of it means and they are unwilling to admit it.
b) Because they don't want to admit their ignorance, they accept that the artist must be good.
c) In order to prove to a sales person (someone they have never met and will most likely never see again) that they aren't ignorant, they will buy one of the works. Then, when they get it home they will convince themselves and their friends that the bio means something.

Galleries that do things like this are banking on those ignorant few, and it only takes a few of them.

I can not blame the artist in most cases. They just want to sell their work. Bios like this come from managers and agents. Middlemen. These so called art dealers go to places like South America, Russia, China, counties in turmoil where people live on practically nothing. The dealers buy paintings for a few dollars apiece, create some BS biography like the one I quoted, then mark up the works 500 times. A 20 x 30 inch painting they bought in China for $5.00 they can bring to the US and sell for $2500.

This is the kind of crap that ruins the art world. It is the reason that people assume that I am just trying to rip them off, or that art of any kind has no real value.

Most artists and galleries that I have dealt with would never do these things. But unfortunately it only takes a few of them.

Help me put an end to this kind of shady practice. When shopping for art, or anything for that matter, never be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know something or don't understand something, ask questions. Everything can be researched these days. If you can't get a good answer, there may be a problem.

There is nothing wrong with buying a painting from China or Russia or any where else. Just make sure some middleman isn't ripping you off, and making my life more difficult in the process.

24 July 2007

Viva la Revolution...

I heard someone whisper my name. I turned and was struck in the side the head. Everything went bright white and fuzzy.

Floating above an arena as if to hold a bull fight I looked down to see the infield of a baseball diamond. The wall was right behind the players. There were two people where the short stop should position would be. The one closest to second base was wearing what looked like a large heavy black apron.

A ball had been hit right to him. He was using a catchers mitt but fielded it cleanly. He ran toward the pitcher mound as if looking for where to throw the ball.

Suddenly I was on the ground, watching this all happen in front of me. Was I an umpire? One of the other players. The ground was hard packed clay. Shiny and smooth except for where cleats had made small holes and bug up small chunks of the ground. The man in the apron still holding the ball was frantic. Looking from side to side, desperate to throw the ball to someone. Anyone. As if his life depended on it.

In a small room there were six of us. All sitting on small squares of white cardboard. They undulated under us as if placed on top of a water bed. The room was dark yet I could see each of us clearly. There was a man I guessed to be in charge, or the leader. A guru type figure I had never seen before. He sat, legs folded in front of him, back straight, eyes closed and softly chanted. What I did not know and could not understand. A girl I knew from high school sat on his left in the same position. It was odd. She had died almost 20 years ago. I was pleased to see her. She was having trouble staying on her square of cardboard as it moved up and down.

I stood and walked away from them. As I turned to face them all and look at the other three figures I feel to ground. Back to the arena. I was the man in the apron, still holding the ball. A runner was going from first to second base when I spun and threw the ball to the second baseman. The runner was tagged out by the other player. The umpire held his arms wide to call him safe. I fell hard to the ground, distraught with grief. In agonizing pain. My face was laying on the hard cool clay of the field. My eyes sprung open a torrent of tears. Like a fire hydrant had oped between my face and the ground. Water was quickly running across the clay covering the surface.

The umpire stood over me looking down, puzzled at my expression of pain and sobbing. The runner who had been called safe was jumping up and down. He ran toward me with a look of utter satisfaction and joy. He knelt down close to my face and screamed "Viva la revolution, viva la revolution. I am sorry for you friend but it is a joyous day for me". He stood and ran away. Jumping and screaming the phrase viva la revolution, over and over.

20 July 2007

Give And Take...

I have always been drawn to live by bodies of water. Rivers, lakes, oceans. Water is healing, calming, cleansing. When I saw the house we now live in, I didn't need to look any further. I wanted to live here. I can sit and look out over the ocean. Watch the waves as the pass by.

Some days I sit on the rocks to stare out to the west. I can listen to the sound of moving water for hours on end. I loose myself in the sound. My world and my troubles drift away. I look out as far as I can see. The world drops off into nothingness. It always looks the same. It's always changing. It's simple and perfect.

When I stand at my table and paint, I try to put myself on the beach. I can hear it, smell it, feel it. I want my paintings to have the same simplicity, the same complexity. I look into the painting to where the world drops off and I listen to it.

I can get lost in my work. Sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes I just get lost. Do I get anything from it or is it taking part of me. Like a photograph stealing your soul. With each brush stroke I lay down, I leave a part of me on the canvas.

I wonder if the ocean is stealing part of me. When I watch it and talk to it, is it really giving back to me. Is it helping me, or is it taking part of me.

17 July 2007

New Arrivals...

This week in the art world we have a couple of new releases.

One of my favorite artists, Markus Pierson has released a new limited edition serigraph on canvas, "Red Sky, Blue Heart". It is approximately 21 x 44 inches.

"My days, like spent rose petals, escape my grasp and fill my sky. Love remains my unknown sanctuary, thus my long journey continues, wandering apace with my 2 constant companions: My red sky and my blue heart."

I absolutely love his work.

Also this week, we have added the work of Victoria Montesinos to the gallery. She paints beautiful florals intertwined with lace and rattan patterns. Painted in oil and most are quite large, they have a soft warm feel and complex subtleness.

16 July 2007

Another Reason Hollywood Sucks...

How many times has Hollywood made movies that were 3 to 4 hours long that totally stunk up the theater? To many to count.

So why, when you have a, money in the bank franchise like Harry Potter, do you try to cram a 900 page book into 2 hours? It's not like they are going to make it so long that fans wont go.

In case you are wondering, I just saw the new Potter movie, "Order of the Phoenix". It was like watching the Cliff notes. They left out entire story lines and when they couldn't cut things out they changed the story. Sure it was a good movie from a movie stand point. From a fan of the books I was a little disappointed.

Did this directer never see the Lord of the Rings trilogy? They filmed three movies at the same time. Kill Bill volumes 1 and 2. One story, two movies. What ever happened to intermissions?

Has our collective attention spans gotten so small that we can't or.......

14 July 2007

Acting Childish...

I heard someone ask their child to stop acting childish. It seemed odd to me at the time. After thinking about it I realized that I have said the same thing to Mr. Man. He does something silly or acts up a bit and I tell him that he is too old for kind of behavior.

Is he really too old to act like a kid?

We all grow up. Eventually we all out grow the things we did as a child. It's nature, we can't help it. But why do we, as parents and as a culture, want our kids to grow up so fast? When was the last time any of you thought to yourselves that you wished you had grown up faster? Don't we all grow up way too fast anyway?

Let kids act like kids. In fact, we should all spend more time acting like kids. Without a care in the world. No pressure from a job. No bills to pay. No worries of war, crime or a government bent on ruining things for everyone as long it benefits them.

We should all be kids for as long as we can. We're grown up for way too long as it is.

11 July 2007


Mad William has been here for a year now. I must say it's been a great deal of fun. I have been thinking about this post for about a month now. I thought about giving you all something pithy to commemorate, but that's just not me.

Instead I will give this gem I just heard in the gallery.

"This artist has a great sense of color. It's like getting hit in the head with an anvil."

09 July 2007

Gallery Talk...

This week in the gallery has been one of the most frustrating ever. Town is packed with tourists. They are more than happy to pay too much for a hotel room, too much for mediocre food, too much on the clothing stores and way too much on candy and ice cream. When it comes to the art galleries, we all hear the same things.

Art is only for the rich.

I don't know enough to own art.

Our decorator wont let us buy art.

I only buy art in big cities.

Is this a museum?

Do you ever sell any of this?

That's more than we spent on our house.

Is bronze a metal?
Most people that come into the galleries assume that, we are just shop workers that know nothing about what we sell. That we are the artist that painted everything in the gallery. That all of the work is local.

There are days when I listen to each of these things and try my best to educate the person. To explain to them why everyone should own art. I tell myself that if they just open their mind a smidge, that they will understand and someday they will buy something.

Other days, I look at them like they are speaking Greek and shake my head in disgust. Knowing that this country is doomed to mediocrity and Thomas Kinkade. Both of which are fates worse than death itself.

We have been in this town for a year now. This is the beginning of our second tourist season. People come from all over the world to visit here. Most of them come back year after year. For the life of me I still can not figure out why. Even though we have signed new leases on the gallery and our house, Precious and I have come to the realization that this is not working. Neither of us have a clue as to what it takes to sell art in this state.

The artists we carry have their works sold all over the world. We hear people talk about seeing them, owning them. But here they only want to look.

We will keep trying new things. Trying the old things that worked for us in other places. Hoping that business will turn around and we can make a go of it here. We like it here.
We will also be looking for other place to put a gallery. Looking for other galleries that might need or want our help. Looking for galleries to take on my work as part of their featured work.

I will keep painting, because it's what I need to do in order to keep a hold on what's left of my sanity.

02 July 2007

A Day With Thomas...

It was a fun filled day of play and adventure. Mr. Man was so surprised he could hardly stand it. I have to admit, I was pretty excited too. We love the Thomas The Tank Engine stories. We met Sir Topham Hatt, got to ride on the train behind Thomas, sang songs and played games.

Anytime I go some place like this for the first time, I picture it in my mind the way I would put it together. The problem with this is that I am very often let down by the way it's actually done.

This was true of the Day with Thomas. I had imagined a day in Sodor with Thomas things. In reality it was a couple of inflatable bouncy cages, for kids only. A couple of plastic Little Tyke play sets. The food court was a taco stand and a hot dog and burger stand. All of the souvenir things were for kids only. A couple of tables with Thomas toys that were broken, needed batteries and scattered all over the bloody place. And it was all in the middle of a dirt parking lot.

I realize that Thomas is for kids, but I was not the only adult upset that not one of the Thomas shirts was larger than a kids size 7.

3 out of every 4 bodies attending was an adult. I was a little let down. I had been looking forward to a Day with Thomas tee shirt for myself. I think they missed the merchandising boat with this. At least Mr. Man got one.

The worst part was the other parents. I don't claim to be the best parent on earth, but I could have written a book on how not to parent from this group. I could not believe how many of them paid little to no attention to their kids, who were running amok.

While we were at the play table one woman took a toy away from Mr. Man to give to her kid because she thought I wasn't watching. Twice. Mr. Man was playing nicely and she walked past and just took it. There were toys every where, but her kid wanted the one Mr. Man had so she just took it. No "Pardon me" or "Thank you" or "Can we trade". Then when I called her on it she got ugly with me. All I can say is that she was lucky Mr. Man was there. I try to set an example for him by my behavior. I try not to be a "Do as I say not as I do" type parent. I want him to learn from how I do.

I so wanted to kick that womans ass. That however would not have taught Mr. Man anything and it would have gotten me in trouble. I took his hand and told him, loud enough for the woman to hear, "let's move to another table where we can play nice." She just glared at me. Bitch!

The best part was seeing how happy Mr. Man was with all of it. He didn't care how it was set up. He gave Topham Hatt a big hug and thanked him for bringing Thomas to see us. He thanked Thomas for giving us a ride. On the train he sang and cheered and looked out the window and waved to everyone and everything.

That is what made it great. That is why I would do it again, no matter what I thought about it.