Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Note to Gallerist: Keep the Coaster.

Coast•er n
1. a mat placed beneath a glass in order to protect a surface
2. a compact disc rendered useless

Recently I received a return from the Arlington Arts Center, responding to an exhibition submission from earlier in the summer. We all know the kind: submit an exhibition idea to the gallery complete with examples of work and a check for entry fee. Include an SASE.

In decades past this was necessary for the return of the examples in slide form. Slides, as we are all familiar, are expensive. The film is expensive to purchase. They may be expensive to take with a hired hand. They are expensive to develop and they are just as expensive to duplicate.

CDs, however, are at most $1 to produce. And the images stored on them have a specific shelf life of the one CD typically due to a specified number of image entries or due to the related nature of the work for a site-specific installation or exhibition.

However, artists may still include the SASE in the form of a business envelope despite the obvious difference in size and function from an envelope that holds a compact disc. Lenny Campello made this observation in a blog entry a number of months ago and screamed at artists about the idiocy of this phenomenon.

It is not idiocy.

It is a reflex by artists to unscrupulous gallerists who do not have the common courtesy to send a rejection letter. And there are many. In fact, this may also be the reflex of artists who have applied for real jobs with real resumes and real portfolios. Who send them out to dozens of companies (273) in eight markets (Des Moines, Lincoln, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Madison) and not hear one peep from even the lowliest of HR reps… not that I write with such experience.

While I do not suspect this to be an activity specifically of the Arlington Arts Center, why should I take the chance? I’d like to hear back from such centers of art. What makes little sense is the effort spent to return the disc. AAC was kind enough to return the coaster in someone else’s SASE - I assume someone who got a solo exhibition (and his or her penmanship was gorgeous). To balance the cruelty of the even gallerists, the good galleriest will often dig out an envelope and cough up the 78 cents to return the disc.


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