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Old 12-30-2011, 01:43 AM
RCharleston RCharleston is offline
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Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

I'll keep this on a premise of "theoretical".

Say that an artist has had a year so bad as to render them psychologically punch drunk and incapable of making good decisions (multiple deaths in the family including both parents and complete financial meltdown). An opportunity to show as a featured artist at a fairly large event presents itself and the artist accepts out of a shortsighted need to feel good again after the walloping of the preceding year. The artist has enough pieces to fill the proposed space allotted but these are, with about 3 exceptions out of 20, shopworn no-sales that have been trotted out many times within a 25 mile radius of the proposed show over the past few years. The artist is a basket case presently and is slowly coming to the realization that all the work that's trying to be hurriedly cranked out to give this upcoming (4 months away) exhibit some modicum of spark is turning out horridly. Is the most honorable thing for the artist to do in this case:

(a) Go ahead and do the show, tacking up the 20 or so perennial no sales that locals have seen so often they're sick of?.......or...

(b) Bail out of the whole benzodiazepine-addiction-fueling and self made train wreck with all due and copious apologies and assurances that further gracious and undeserved invites will be neither sought nor expected again in this astral plane?

....and, yes, the artist is well aware that the most honorable option would have been (c) not to have bit off more than could be chewed in the first place....but is now only left with options 'a' and 'b'.
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Old 12-30-2011, 05:53 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Theoretically, the artist should discuss this with the curator/gallery, explaining the circumstances and the options. Probable result will be less pressure, easier working conditions and a gallery who can help decide if the show is viable from both perspectives.
The artist's biggest problem, theoretically, may be that they need to step back from the pressure they are piling on themselves and share the burden with the other party in the contract. So neither a nor b, but d since c is already taken.
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Old 12-30-2011, 08:30 AM
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Amigone Amigone is offline
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Prehaps see if the venue can change it from your solo show to a show featuring another artist? Explain what happend re your personel life and that you can't provide the 20 promised quality peices. But you are prepared to set up for 10. That relieves the pressure on you. And I'm sure some other artist would love to fill the rest of the space. And helps you save some face.
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:20 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

I vote for discuss it too. Explain that it's been a difficult year with personal circumstances and that you accepted in good faith but recovery has been harder than you expected. Explain you have xxx pieces already, that you are working on a few new ones but they aren't all finishing as quickly as planned. You say you have 3 new ones, could you aim for 5?

Perhaps a compromise can be reached? Can you offer any new pieces? Maybe the featured spot could be split between you and another artist? 5 new/5 old and then 10 from another artist as a partnership feature?

This is very late notice so I think you should really talk to your gallery as soon as you can. Giving him some alternatives and choices will show you really do want to take part, but being upfront also shows you're professional.

Good luck!
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:09 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

The artist should handle this in the most honest way possible, as soon as possible, so as not to leave the other involved persons hanging.

This artist most sincerely wishes that theoretical, beleaguered artist a much, much brighter 2012.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:24 PM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Quote:
Originally Posted by EyeSpy
This artist most sincerely wishes that theoretical, beleaguered artist a much, much brighter 2012.

Ditto.
I agree with Tina. Can this artist do 5 quality pieces? What number is realistic? Then go to the gallery and first explain what the problem is. That the artist can not make 20 by the deadline due to deaths in the family. Then make suggestions.
The artist can make 3 or 5 or 7... and show older pieces.
The artist can make 3 or 5 or 7... and asks the gallery to have another artist or two for a group show. Maybe the artist can even mention another artist whose theme would fit well together?
The artist should also ask the gallery if they have any ideas or suggestions.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:31 PM
Gaffette Gaffette is offline
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Perhaps the theoretical artist can refresh the old work, giving it a new spin and that can be the theme of the show? Old work revisited? Resurrections?

Either way the curator and gallery need to be told the situation. If they are expecting new work and the old standbys are brought they will not be happy. Either way, a or b, any future relationship is in danger. At least with transparency the gallery is forewarned and they can decide what is best for them.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:45 PM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

The artist must paint.
I also like Amigone's idea.
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Old 12-31-2011, 07:45 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Ditto Greg and Tina.

Discuss it openly with them. Put it all on the gallery/curator's shoulders. That's where it should be anyway. Your job is to paint well, their job is to decide what hangs or if anything hangs at all. They may make it easy on you and simply cancel the show for everyone's sake.

As to trotting out old work, you'd be surprised how LITTLE focus or memory people have of your older works. All artists think people have seen their work before and are tired of it because we're self-absorbed with it, naturally. I have some pieces that have been around for a decade and yet when I show them, people ask if they're new. I wouldn't worry about how old something is. If it's solid work, show it. Besides, in my neck of the woods, people need to see something 5 times before they finally decide they can't live without it.
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Old 12-31-2011, 10:57 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Definitely communicate with the gallery. Invite the director to your studio to view both the current and older work and help you select the pieces for the show. Artists are often poor judges of their own work and your assessments may likely be colored by recent tragic events.

Express to the gallery director that --
- You desire to make the best show you possibly can.
- You want the show to be successful for both you and the gallery and you want the patrons to feel it was worth the effort they made to come see it.
- You want to keep your commitments.

Even if you feel you are failing at these things, it is true that you do want them!

Expressing these things let the gallery know that you both have the same goals -- puts you on the same team.

If you decide that you are short on pieces, be prepared to offer some possible solutions. For example, can you suggest an artist to share the show with who has a body of work ready to go?

Also, you still have time to make some wonderful paintings. Don't give up.

Think about the times you have created your favorite works. Try to recreate those circumstances. For example, I noticed that whenever I painted with a certain friend, I got a painting I liked, so I kept asking her to paint together. :^)

Paint big. If you get a good one, it will take up a lot of wall. ;^)

Wishing you all the best.
Trisha
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Old 01-02-2012, 01:19 PM
RCharleston RCharleston is offline
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

The artist in this theoretical scenario said to tell you all thanks a million for your advice! :-)

There is a pre-exhibit consultation with the curator taking place this month which had been in the schedule from the get go and the curator had hinted that older work would be fine but, as Richard Pryor used to say, We will see what we will see...............
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:09 PM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Theoretically it is well known that artists may well be their own worst enemies when appraising their own work. Sometimes thinking it's the best thing since sliced bread, but more often they can be over critical. Take the curators view on board, not every work can be a masterpiece, but it doesn't mean it's not worthy.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:42 PM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Quote:
Originally Posted by it'sALLart
As to trotting out old work, you'd be surprised how LITTLE focus or memory people have of your older works. All artists think people have seen their work before and are tired of it because we're self-absorbed with it, naturally. I have some pieces that have been around for a decade and yet when I show them, people ask if they're new. I wouldn't worry about how old something is. If it's solid work, show it. Besides, in my neck of the woods, people need to see something 5 times before they finally decide they can't live without it.

Last year, I focused on my workshops and websites, and most of my painting was done in methods that I teach, but don't necessarily show, and am not known for. So, at Open Studios, I had some small new landscape pieces that people know me for, but the remainder were older (but I like them!).

One of my collectors, who's been following my work, said to me,"It looks as though these are all older pieces. You don't have anything new?" Gulp.

Some people really DO remember.

I also wish much good luck to this theoretical artist!

Sending best wishes,
Karen
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:47 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azure Wings
Last year, I focused on my workshops and websites, and most of my painting was done in methods that I teach, but don't necessarily show, and am not known for. So, at Open Studios, I had some small new landscape pieces that people know me for, but the remainder were older (but I like them!).

One of my collectors, who's been following my work, said to me,"It looks as though these are all older pieces. You don't have anything new?" Gulp.

Some people really DO remember.

I also wish much good luck to this theoretical artist!

Sending best wishes,
Karen

My experiences have been different, some pieces I've shown (after having shown them years prior) have caused some of my own past buyers asking "Is that new? I have not seen that one before."

Of course, I don't know if that's good (meaning they looked fresh)

or bad (meaning they were not memorable!)
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:52 AM
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Re: Bailing Out of a Verbal Agreement

Quote:
Originally Posted by it'sALLart
My experiences have been different, some pieces I've shown (after having shown them years prior) have caused some of my own past buyers asking "Is that new? I have not seen that one before."

Of course, I don't know if that's good (meaning they looked fresh)

or bad (meaning they were not memorable!)

I don't think it means the pictures weren't memorable. You know yourself that sometimes you are attracted to something in an exhibition and that's what you concentrate on. I think a lot has to do with where the painting is exhibited and the arrangment. But I do think we miss a lot if we don't give a painting a couple of chances in exhibition. One of my best paintings of 1986 is still in the studio. I haven't shown it to anybody in years. I might put it in a 'second room' at some exhibit. At least that's what I've been considering.
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