Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not Payin' for Playin'

A few years ago I mostly stopped doing "pay for play," meaning that I don't cough up jury fees anymore. Of course there are exceptions--sometimes I'll empathize with a start-up gallery's need for cash flow (hey, support the arts!), or I'll want to support a gallery's first venture into showing collage (great that you're taking a risk on this exciting medium! here's my money!). Then I'll write the check. I see these more as charitable contributions than as competitions for wall space and if my work winds up fitting into the mix of the curation, that's great. If not, that's fine, too. 

If I can't view the jurying fee as a charitable contribution for whatever reason, I no longer support the act of paying somebody to judge my work. I find that I react particularly badly to the personalized invitations from gallery owners or curators that lavishly compliment my work and then invite me to submit my work for consideration, accompanied, of course, by jurying fees. I suppose the currency that's being traded here is flattery (and, of course, "exposure," if the work is accepted), but when I get these sorts of communications, I can't help but feel like a cash cow. Moo.

By contrast, I really don't object to reasonable hanging fees. We all run on short margins, and I really do like to support the arts. But when you pay a hanging fee, you are getting value in return for your expenditure--your work is being displayed. It seems win-win all around.

Recently I received an invitation to submit these three pieces for consideration to an exhibition:

"one blue eye" 2014
8x10 on recycled canvas board
Paper collage with mixed media (direct-paper-to-paper gel ink transfers, pencil, pen, acrylics, Lucite viewfinder)
"World Without End" 2014
8x10 on canvas boardPaper collage with mixed media (direct-paper-to-paper gel ink transfers, dye ink, rub-on letters, pencil, glaze, gold paint)

"DUCK" 2014
5 x 7 on canvas board
Paper collage with mixed media (direct-paper-to-paper gel ink transfers, dye ink), beeswax finish
While my typical routine in this situation has been to send back a polite little note expressing my deepest appreciation and promising to consider the kind invitation to write a check (and then promptly sending the "opportunity" into the junk file), this time I decided to respond more frankly.

Here, instead, is what I wrote:

Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support of my work in mixed-media collage. I'm flattered that you'd consider displaying my work in your upcoming show. Feel free to view my work on my website and let me know which pieces would best fit within your curatorial vision. I'm assuming that since you approached me, and obviously know my work, that you'll be waiving your jury fee. If we wind up working together, I'd be happy to discuss an appropriate hanging fee, to support your and the gallery's endeavors, added to the gallery's usual sales commission.

We'll see how this works out.

Just sayin' no to "moo."

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