Thursday, January 09, 2014

How I Fell For Another Artist Abusing Auction...

I have participated in the Placer Art's Outside the Box exhibit in the past.  I enjoyed the challenging and the substrate, a box, was provided by the art center the auction raised funding for.  When I received a request to participate again I wasn't sure if I'd return from summer travels in time to pick-up the box but I found I'd be back a couple of days before pickup so I thought "why not."  Also this year the Auction coordinators offered to do something I stated would be one of the few reasons I would participate in an Art Auction...they offered a moderate 20% of the final bid to the participating artists... So when I returned from my travels I picked up the box and started ruminating on what I'd do with the 6 pieces of plywood they gave me.  I decided to do 6 encaustic paintings over the holidays during the winter semester break based on the 6 sketches of printmaking toos I shared in a previous blog and the acrylic paintings I did from them. 

A few days after the semester ended, just as I was prepping the plywood for painting, I received an email from the art center with important dates and other info about the event.  At the end of the email was a paragraph stating:

"This is a ticketed event. *A special ticket price of $25 is offered to participating box show artists who purchase tickets through the office by Jan. 16."

Wow I thought that's interesting and highly insulting to the participant artists...asking us to pay for the privileged of a night marketing to raise money for someone else... But I thought that perhaps I was misinterpreting the message... Maybe they're offering extra discounted tickets to the artist so I emailed the auction coordinator to clarify the paragraph. And I decided to put a hold on painting the panels until I received a reply. 

10 days later, a mere few days before the works are due to be turned in I finally received an answer and yes the event planners decided to charge the participating artists to attend the auction.  

Once again a charity asks artists to donate works of art worth hundreds of dollars; donations we cannot deduct from our taxes.  The 20 percent cut of the final sale might or might not cover the artist's pickup, delivery, materials and presentation costs (framing, bases, etc) but it does make an attempt to honor the artist's contribution.  But charging the artist to attend the event is beyond rude!  

First of all one or two comped entrances for artists to an event they contribute artwork they worked hard on is customary in these events. 

Second waiting a few weeks before deadline to disclose participation fees to artists who have probably been working and spending money on materials -- if not criminal -- should be!  

Third requiring someone to pay to work is unethical...

The collectors who attend an auction attend an event they get to enjoy.  For artists we have to work to market our work to strangers in order to get the most amount of money possible for the organization we contributed our artworks to... It's not a fun evening of drinking, dining and socializing for most of us!!!  It's a long night of standing on our feet, smiling, schmoozing and selling selling selling... IT'S WORK!!!!!

This new example of artist abuse by charity auctions has only driven a big rusty spike into the coffin of charity auctions for me.  I swore that in the future I would no longer contribute artwork to charities unless they offered a portion of the sale to the artists but now I can't even trust that... I'm disgusted that these coordinators failed to disclose that the artists would be required to pay to attend the event in which their donation would be auctioned until months after the artists agreed to participate.  Personally I see that as a breach of agreement and I feel no regret in not contributing the artworks.  Even though I drove 40 miles round trip to pick up the cheap plywood, I'll send the art center $10 and consider us even...

See my previous blog for reasons why charity art auctions are bad for an artist's career:

How Charity Auctions Can Do More Harm Than Good For AnArtist’s Career