A reader sent this in – anyone else with feedback / experience?
Bruce Lurie Gallery in Los Angeles — To make a long story short, Bruce and his twin brother expressed interest in my work. A few months later, Bruce called me to say he’d like to present my work in his booth at the Southampton Art Fair on Long Island. However, I’d have to ship my work to the fair, be responsible for shipping it back to me if it didn’t sell AND pay him a $1,000 “booth fee.” And the commission on work sold would still be 50%. This sounded irregular to me, so I contacted a successful gallery owner friend who does a lot of business at art fairs around the country and asked her what she thought. She was adamant that it was one thing for me to ship the work to him, but transporting it to and from the fair should be the gallery’s responsibility and that she’d never, ever, charge an artist a “booth fee.” “It’s our job to cover the overhead,” she said. She added that she didn’t have a high opinion of the Southampton Art Fair anyway — there was another one on Long Island that was better funded and organized and had a better clientele. When I called Bruce and politely told him I’d be willing to participate but not if I had to pay for shipping to and from the fair or a portion of the booth fee, he suddenly transformed from the friendly, ingratiating guy he’d been toward me to curt irritation. Suffice to say, I felt glad that I had not gotten further involved with him.
There are pay to play galleries everywhere. In LA there are a host of them, and Gallery Godo is surely one. It is important to understand that there are implications beyond the mere handing over of your hard earned cash when it comes to signing with these galleries. Often, having an exhibition in a pay to play is a stain on your artist CV. These venues have grown to have reputations throughout the art world that precede any artist who has dealt with them.