It was with much elation that I read an email sent out by a fairly prominent gallery (which will remain unnamed in this post) in Chelsea, NY last week announcing that they were happy to represent my work. I had entered an art competition sometime back hosted by the same gallery and I guess I must have caught someone’s eye to be ‘noticed’ by the gallery’s director. This was about the same time that we were having our second child (we had a baby boy and all are doing well) and I did not bother to read some of the fine print that the same email carried. Once things settled down a bit over the weekend, I decided to check the attached legalese and found out that the gallery representation came at a cost: 

  • Basic One-Year Representation ~ $3K (10 feet of exhibition space)
  • Standard One-Year Representation ~ $5K (20 feet of space) 
  • Premium One-Year Representation ~ $10K (40 feet of space and review in some NY art publication) 

All of the above options include the following ‘perks’ 

  • Allow use of words “represented by Un-named Gallery” on resume. 
  • Director reserves right to establish prices for work. 
  • Representation on the gallery’s online site (~ 8 images) 

I remember being a little confused. I was under the impression that galleries who decide to represent an individual’s work do it out of two things: 1) An understanding by the gallery that the work would attract buyers and it does make economic sense to exhibit 2) Genuine appreciation for the artwork submitted… 

Maybe I am being too idealistic, but other than the gallery looking out to pay exorbitant Chelsea based rents in this case, I fail to see how ‘fee based tiered representations’ like the one described above would really help artists like me… 

What are your thoughts, experiences and advice? Are all galleries like this? Is this the norm to break into Chelsea (especially in a superheated art environment like the one that we are living in)? For some reason, I do not think so (but I am just an amateur with little experience venturing out into the art exhibition space)…chelseagallerysapce.JPG

Cartoon of an ‘Overheated art district’