Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

This & That

By F. Lennox Campello

Someone once said that the difference between good artists and great artists is that great artists learn how to use their mistakes. If you’re a watercolorist, then you know well the angst of separation lines, or when two colors dry at different speeds, or when your “wet on wet” fails to find a wet spot.

A while back I was alone at home and enjoying some precious art creation time in my studio – a rather generous term for the laundry room in the basement that I use as my art studio. Both my hands were very dirty from charcoal, as I had been rubbing a drawing for the longest time… and I was hungry.

Upstairs, the smell of freshly cooked steak wafted down to the basement – as I had a nice steak in the oven. I went up, and soon there was a nice plate of steak, onions and mushrooms all ready to be eaten.

I was alone, and so I took the plate down, intending to eat while I continued to work in the studio.

Downstairs I realized that I had left the utensils upstairs… but the steak had been already sliced into somewhat manageable portions.

I was too tempted and decided that I would iguana-eat a piece, so that I could eat it while I went back upstairs… and so I iguana’d the chunk of steak, but I was so hungry that I ate it too quickly…

What to do?

Master iguana-eaters perfect their eating craft while carrying one of those giant buckets of popcorn (at the movies) in one hand, and a giant soft drink in the other. No one can resist waiting to be seated to start on the popcorn, and so many of us iguana the popcorn enroute to our seat… the head dips, the mouth opens and popcorn is iguana into the gullet.

As a master iguana-style-eater, I decided to grab another piece of steak, and then head upstairs for the utensils…. my head dipped down into the plate… black charcoaly hands spread out for balance.

I iguana’d the steak bite, raised my neck, and a smaller piece of meat, which had been barely attached to the larger piece in my mouth, went flying… and landed squarely on the middle of the drawing.

Now… steak grease on paper – that’s a MISTAKE!

It would also be a mistake, especially if you’re one of those artists who live around the DMV, and is always complaining about lack of exhibition opportunities, if you don’t look into the 2017 iteration of Artomatic – coming to Crystal City later this year. Visit for details.

Talking about the term “DMV” to refer to the District/Maryland/Virginia: Who invented that term? Does anyone know?

Since I’m meandering all over the place this month:

Bad things galleries do to artists

Unethical galleries will take in a piece of artwork by an artist, and when the price is discussed, the gallery says: “What’s the price?” and the artist says: “$1000” The gallery nods OK and the artist leaves, knowing that if sold, he’ll get $500 (most commercial galleries charge 50% commission — in NYC some are as high as 70%). The gallery then sells the piece, but for $2,000, sends the artist a check for $500 and pockets the extra $1,000. That is why artists should insist on having a contract with a gallery, and the contract must specifically address that the artist will get 50% of the actual sale price.

Bad things artists to do galleries

A reputable gallery gives an artist a show, and goes through all the various expenses associated with doing so (rent, electricity, staff salaries, publicity, ads, post cards, opening reception catering, etc.). So far the gallery has put forth a considerable investment in presenting the artist’s works. An interested novice collector meets the artist at the opening and expresses interest (to the artist) in buying some of his artwork. The artist, wishing to stiff the gallery for their commission says: “See me after the show and I’ll sell it to you directly and save myself the gallery commission.” This is not only unethical, but it’s also guaranteed to ruin the artist’s reputation in the city, as these things always come out in the wash, and soon no gallery will exhibit any work by this artist.

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