I received an anonymous tip today that Art Gotham, a newish Chelsea gallery established in January of 2005, is requesting submissions from artists for their summer show, and upon informing them of their acceptance revealing that there is a non-refundable fee to show their work. Apparently, the cost to the artist ranges from between $150-$250 dollars to participate and is in addition to the standard 50 percent commission. Explaining that the fee would be used for promotional fees only, and would be put towards a listing on Artnet and postcards, the gallerist added that the gallery had suffered in the past due to artists who sold their work directly out of their studios after their shows came down, thereby cutting her out of the deal completely.
This is a problem most gallerists can relate to but few of them charge their artists for it – primarily because many of the major ones fight to maintain their artist stable (in other words, an artist may leave one gallery for another if more exposure, catalogue, etc are offered). I spoke to Art Gotham today about this policy, and their official position was that they would never charge an artist a fee if they couldn’t afford it, but at times money was requested for promotion. This story contradicts the one provided from my source who says she was not given the option.
Even as this part of the story devolves into a he said she said war, the real issue here is that these fees are not listed on the submission policy website. It suggests that the gallery is aware that the request for such monies is regarded as lacking in class. I suppose the end statement I am about to issue will read as a little anti climatic, but it seems pointless to sling mud at someone simply because they lack savvy. Adding a statement to the submissions page of their website that a fee may be charged for promotion so the gallery isn’t perceived as being underhanded is our suggestion of the day. This way everybody wins: We aren’t reporting on this, and the gallery isn’t dealing with artists who feel duped.