Shots from the Scott Miller show

I went on a mini adventure Friday night, attended the Scott Miller exhibition at Convivium 33 Gallery and then my usual shenanigans ensued.

I tried to take my friend to what I called, “the worst bar in Cleveland” but they had cleaned up quite a bit since my last visit. You could actually see the floor. Darn.

By the way all you Cleveland arty farty people and galleries: it seems that “Crash” aka “Dr. Pee-pee” aka “Ben Who Knows” has been making the rounds not only to art openings, but to lectures at the medical museum, law school alumni association events, invite-only charity events and CPAC grant events (which he will promptly leave once realizing no alcohol is available). I tried to get a photo of him at Convivium33 but he ran off. Please please please, don’t put up with his nonsense, and call the police the second you see him. He’s been kicked out of my studio building by security TWICE and yet he still comes back and tries to steal whole bottles of wine. Don’t know who I’m talking about? Hmmm, I think you do, he even has a Facebook “Fan” page: HERE

Looky, It’s My Booky!

For those of you attending the opening reception for “Ephemeral Antidotes” on Saturday, January 7th, there will be copies of my book available!

Taking inspiration from artists of the Renaissance to Rococo periods, contemporary artist Arabella Proffer has re-imagined the mannerist portrait with a pop surrealist twist. After researching fashion history, heraldry, and peerage protocol, she went on to create her own world parallel to that of old world Europe. Concocting a family legacy — ancestors that could belong to anyone – it has become an impulse and a passion the artist continues to explore, adding characters and stories to her ever-growing private empire of punks, goths, and nobility behaving badly.
As a young punk Arabella Proffer observed firsthand how important fashion was to groups that supposedly rejected being labeled. Their uniformed rebellion became commonplace; tattoos, piercings, bizarre hair colors… all have gone on to become high fashion. As a lover of Elizabethan portraiture, she wondered what it would have been like if the aristocracy of centuries past had taken to these fashions, looking rebellious, shocking, regal and grand all at once as a reminder of their legacy.
“To get a tattoo or piercing is expensive even in the modern age,” says Proffer. “These would have been considered status symbols for only the very rich in centuries past, and thus, they’d want to flaunt them in their commissioned portraits. A king or queen would have had the biggest Mohawk and sleeve tattoos, that’s how I imagine it. These are very tribal adornments, but if marketed as a luxury, you can bet the royal courts of Europe would have taken it to an extreme. I wanted to combine the ancestor worship perpetuated by noble families with my love of old portraiture and punk imagery.”
Included are over 40 portraits created between 2000 and 2011, their stories, family trees, map and more, as well as a foreword by Josh Geiser of Creep Machine and Paper Devil.

Apologies to those of you who have pre-ordered and have waiting, they’re coming! You can order from Amazon, but I suggest direct from CooperativePress.com

Gallery Closings

Well, moving with the trend of more art galleries closing, two that have represented me have already closed this year. A third one is shutting the doors, and although they didn’t rep. me, I was a fan of their exhibitions and surprised about the news. It is sad when people can no longer see work in person in larger cities where the rents are so high that it impedes any gains the artists or galleries make in order to continue exhibiting in the future.
In various parts of the country the rents are fabulous, people who run exhibition spaces sometimes own the building or even live in the space and they do it as a labor of love (hence many good Cleveland galleries that have survived the economic downturn), but it might not be an area where there are serious collectors or art lovers. It is a catch 22: high rents that deplete any sales or low rents but low sales to go with it. Chicago dealt with the high rent problem where by people started to have apartment galleries; it might become a further trend if the economy keeps going this way — depending on how people feel about strangers using their bathroom and combing through their medicine cabinet.

Guilty feelings about buying artwork, or collecting objects that might be considered frivolous, is unnecessary. A lot of people earn their living making art, teaching it, writing about it, and selling it, so you should never feel guilty but instead consider yourself a patron, and be proud of that fact. Many galleries are going under because they didn’t play fair, they cheated people, or had no business managing or taking anyone’s money — those I do not feel sorry for. But, despite the art market corruption and prices on some artists becoming ridiculous — or someone like Steve Wynn buying Sly Stallone’s abstracts for $40,000 each — there are plenty of people who are not Damien Hirst or Sadie Coles HQ who need all the help they can get and whose works can cost less than a flat screen TV or even an iPhone. Certainly, their work will last longer than any electronic gadget.

Dealing

My friends came up with a great idea yesterday to start a collection agency for artists, when galleries and curators don’t pay up. Sadly this has been happening more and more, and this is the first time I can remember when I have heard more than one story about bounced checks from galleries. Eep!

Though I worked at a snazzy Melrose Avenue art gallery for a short time, boy did I learn about greed, and the stories, oh the stories. Even artists who were considered well respected and famous; not being paid for a sold out show; having works on loan to museums without payment; gallery owners taking money and losing it in the stock market. In fact I had my own incident with the sculptor John Buck who, as it turns out, hadn’t been paid by my boss in 2 years or more. I of course had no idea, but it was an uncomfortable situation to be in when he stormed into the gallery and my boss was not in — embarrassing and a tad frightening too. Of course there are the galleries that are a delight to work with, who are reliable and pay without you ever having to ask, who actually like art, are fun, and embrace the artistic community.  It is the greedy and badly managed ones that ruin it and give the industry a bad reputation; the art world is populated with just as many sleazy people as the music industry ever was. You never want to think this as a young artist starting out, but boy do you learn.

So speaking of which, How’s My Dealing is a great resource for artists about galleries and art fairs. They just finally added a Los Angeles section, but it is still in the works as far as a comprehensive list. I haven’t visited the site in a while, and now they have a death watch for what galleries are going to go under. Though I feel guilty about finding humor and joy in the misfortunes of others….maybe I’ll file it under: Entertainment. There, now I don’t feel as bad.

8 Ways to Whore Your Art to Morons

Just finished reading this piece of poo from Phil Desind via Steve Doherty’s blog about 8 ways to sell art. Okay, I do agree with 6 – 8, but come on now, if people want your work they will buy it. Just because one person doesn’t like it, won’t mean another won’t dig it. If they don’t like what you do, then they aren’t the right person for your work and you shouldn’t feel bad about that at all. If you need to follow any of the steps in 1- 5 then you obviously don’t know who your audience is and you are sticking in shiny objects for the mere fact that you are a whore with technical skill. Seriously, the shiny objects bit in number 2 kills me. Oh and number 3 kills me all over again. Heck, 1 – 5 all kill me, go read it, seriously you’ll die laughing! Or if you are an artist, you’ll wonder if it is a joke like an article from The Onion, which most of my friends thought it was at first.

You shouldn’t make work a certain way just for the intention of trying to sell it to some idiot who wants it to match their couch! If you do, you aren’t an artist, you are making a product. A product for someone who doesn’t like to think too hard or is buying art because it makes them feel cultured; these are the people who buy a Thomas Kinkade painting in hopes of being able to sell it on Ebay in 15 years for a profit. Making a piece of art while following a guideline like this is so wrong to me on so many levels. Why constrict yourself like that? That is no different than following a fad or a genre of art that happens to be doing well at the moment, “gee I sure think Tiki themed art is lame, but it is what’s hot right now, so maybe I’ll go paint some tiki themed crap and hope it sells”. Yeah, have fun with that.

I should also point out that number 4 is a big lie as well. I grew up with some really fun heavy subject matter in the art collection of my parents. Angels and devils and surrealist craziness, I used to stare at them and marvel. “People don’t want to hang those kinds of paintings in their homes or offices. The pictures would depress them all day long,” says the article. Um, more like those pictures would freak people out and be full of awesome all day long! You know what depresses me? Pictures of fruit in a shiny bowl!

Again, just because one person doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean all people on the planet will hate it too. I hate Julian Schnabel, I also hate Keith Haring, and I’m pretty sure my dislike of those two artists hasn’t effected their sales. By the way, do you know how many people ask me if I have any work laying around with skulls in the subject matter? A LOT. Here is a painting I made of my fabulous Sabertooth Tiger skull….

SabercatSkullProffer

Artists make what they make; people like what they like. They find each other in an honest way, not by the artist impressing what they think people will like upon them.

And yes, skulls do sell, just like chicks dig scars.

I’m Waiting For You Weekend

On Saturday, May 2nd if you feel like swinging by, stalking, or chatting, I will be at William Rupnik Gallery to meet with a few collectors and take more photos of the show for my archives. It goes down in the afternoon and the City Artists at Work is doing the whole tour shebang the weekend of the 16th & 17th too.

Speaking of photos, I'm so excited I am getting a new camera, I've had the same one for 9 years! Nothing is that wrong with it (okay it is a bit wonky when you have to take the batteries out and put them back in just to get the power to turn on) but it has become clear I need something really ace, especially if I am doing larger work that can't fit on a flatbed scanner.

There's an interview with me here on CoolCleveland.com which is neat; no one in the area ever reviews my shows because I didn't go to Cleveland Institute of Art (I went to the other CIA), so it is nice to get some write-ups here and there. Thank you Cleveland Bachelor and Hello My Name Is Art, again. Most of all thank you to you people who buy art, in Cleveland, in a recession. I'm still amazed!

Other than that, I finished two commissions in record time, I'm transcribing interviews for the Red Hot Chili Peppers book that will be coming out soon, and have barely had time to wipe my butt while my apartment looks like a Whitney & Bobby crack den — again. Truthfully this has been an awful week in different ways and I cannot wait until Friday when hubby and I start our 8th Anniversary celebrations. A girl never needed champagne so bad, but, I'm thinking a Lady in White might do the trick.

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Open Studio Tips

Last night I attended a large open studio event here in Cleveland that included private artist studios, galleries, an auction house and the ever curious Xploited Cinema. It was a strange night and made me and my partner in crime feel as though we were in a David Lynch film. I had been in the building many times on the ground floor, but never saw how developed the rest of the property was — very nice spaces indeed. But, nice space isn’t enough to always look professional and not look completely shifty! It brought up a lot of points about open studios if you are planning on hosting one yourself.

studioeaselProffer

  • Clean your space up! I understand if you want to have your space look like Francis Bacon because it is all “tortured artist” or something, but at least clear off your surfaces where it looks a little bit like you tried. This especially goes if you are a gallery or an auction house! I’m not going to buy something from you if it looks like you are going to lose my paperwork in a mountain of magazines and trash. It says to me that you are a disorganized mess.
  • No one is going to buy an old painting at auction that is cracked all to hell, because I can imagine paint chips eventually falling into my carpet.
  • Dust your artwork, especially if you are trying to sell it for $14,000.
  • Have business cards, hoping I remember your name to google later on isn’t such a practical way of trying to market yourself.
  • Lights, they’re handy, I can see things when lights are put on them.
  • Don’t tell me how you’ve never exhibited, or sold work, because that would then make you a commercialized whore for the dollar and you want no part of that. It isn’t cute, and it doesn’t make me think you are somehow noble.
  • Don’t try to sell damaged prints to people.
  • Don’t have acoustic music or weirdo neo-folk people play art openings. That’s just wrong.
  • I can smell your pot smoke, we all can, you are fooling no one with the Oust air spray.
  • If you have busted frames, throw them out and get new ones. No one wants to buy busted art.
  • Be present, being nowhere to be found when there is a possibility of journalists who might want to photograph or interview you does you no good. This goes for artists and the gallery owners.
  • Not leaving bio information of any sort near art that I actually want to know more about, it is a no-no. Especially if it is an artist not in attendance who can’t be there to promote themselves.
  • Not giving price lists anywhere, but instead saying to people, “make me an offer”. That is vague, and totally unprofessional. I mean dude, come on.

I could go on, but these were instances that came up that I can remember.

Alexia is Back

For almost a year I had this painting marked as "sold", mainly because the gallery told me they sold it. Makes sense right?

What they meant to say, and that I have discovered this afternoon, was in fact this piece with a similar name had sold. So, you know, anyone who had in the past inquired about the purple haired Alexia de Luc can now know she is back on the market if they want to snag her.

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