Friday, August 27, 2010

Wounded in Action

I was checking an old call to see if it had been replaced by a new one. It hadn't, but then I started to look at the images submitted to the old call, which was for art created by orthopedic patients wounded in war or their families or care givers. I started with this image, then went on to the next
and eventually though them all. They are arranged alphabetically by the artist's last name.

In general, the work by the professional artists is not as good as the "primitive" work by amateurs. At least it is not as poignant. I think there is a lesson here but I don't know what
it is yet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Call for photos of unmade beds

A request from Leah in NY

In preparation for my next exhibition of the 101 Beds, I am creating Unmade Beds: A Photo Collection ( comprised of photographs of unmade beds . . . taken BY YOU of YOUR BED the moment after your feet hit the ground!

If you want, you can do even do it with your cell phone camera . . . To participate, just follow this link:

Just take a snapshot of your unmade bed and email as a jpeg to artallianceny@gmail.com_ with your name and the city/state, of your image. It's easy and with your help I will have at least 1000 images this month.

Pass it on to all your friends, your Facebook community. . . everyone is welcome to participate.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Vanity Book to Suck Money from Needy Artists

Yet another vanity book has appeared on the playing field, ready to take the money of naive, needy and usually mediocre artists. It is being "published" by two women who claim to be curators and collectors. They call themselves and the proposed book, "International Contemporary Artists".

Their business plan is nothing new: put out a call for artists, claim to charge nothing to enter, but require a prepublication purchase of the book to qualify for inclusion, in this case about $220 for two full-color copies. (Or about $90 for one black and white edition, but who would?) They of course hope each artist buys more than two books. And anyone who is already going to spend that kind of money for a 150-page paperback book, will probably buy several.

The judges of who gets in are the publishers themselves. If you look at the samples of who has been accepted, you can see the standards aren't quite those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Distribution, they claim, "is made internationally through large wholesalers and e-shops, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and more." Which means nothing. It means they are going to make the book available through those places, which virtually anyone can do. And they say nothing about shipping it to galleries, collectors and such (which never accomplishes anything of value, anyway). The odds of the book selling more than 100 copies to people who are not connected with an artist in the book are extremely slim. The organizers say nothing about the retail cost of the book. If it is the same as the cost to the participating artist, I lower my estimate of total copies sold to outsiders to four. No one but a drunk or a fool would shell out that kind of money for a paperback book of ordinary art.

All of the above assumes the book actually gets published. If it doesn't get published it's a scam. If it does get published . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Starting Out with AOM

Hey Benny,

I did not use the first AOM at all. I am resubscribing because Caroll Michels recommends it and I know it has value. How do I use it, what do I look for? I see it as a great marketing tool.

Can you explain or give examples of how other artists use it?

C. S.

Hey, C. S.,

As with all good tools, there are many things you can do with AOM; the more you learn about it, the more you can do with it. But there is plenty you can do right out of the box.

Perhaps the best way to start is to skim the whole issue first, to get an idea of what is in it. You'll see a lot of abbreviations that will be meaningless to you at first but will start to make sense after a while. To speed things up, look at the abbreviation keys in the boxes. Many of the abbreviations for media are fairly self evident. For instance, PA is PAinting, PH is PHotography and PR is PRintmaking. 2D is two-dimensional work, which would include everything for drawing to painting to photography.

And of course things have been placed in categories, each with a heading. So look at the category that deals with your particular medium, then at the categories that would also contain it. If you are a photographer, you can look at Photography, All and Various Media. If you are looking for a residency or want your work in a registry, etc., look in those sections.

There is also a key to the general layout of entries. Each entry has its contents in essentially the same order as each other, so after a while, you'll be able to read them quickly and make sense of them.

A good place to learn more is in the FAQ, at

And if you can't find what you need to know there, just drop me a line. AOM is really a service, not simply a product.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Charlatan Ink Prize?

Dear Benny,

Have you heard of the Charlatan Ink Prize? (What a name!)

I received an invitation to this in my email and because I get so many invitations to "vanity" shows, I was immediately skeptical.

This may be perfectly wonderful and all, and maybe it's just my general nature to be suspicious, but who is Charlatan Ink? My Googling efforts turn up nothing but entry after entry of this particular promotion itself. I can't find anything on their site about their plans for exhibition other than a vague reference to "the exhibiting Gallery/Exhibition Space".

The prize is evidently in its "inaugural year." Has anyone ever heard of these jurors? $50 per entry is a lot of money.
-- E. D.

Dear E. D.,

I did quite a bit of checking. This sounds at best like a conceptual piece from which the organizers hope to make some money. The jurors are simply friends of the two artists running it it. None of them has any "weight" in the art world. Normally, these big entrance fee competitions have a very prestigious list of judges -- which is one of the ways they can draw entrants.

The "sponsors" are not really sponsors; they are companies which are providing some services in exchange for having their names mentioned. One of them is even an outfit run by one of the organizers. None of them are real art world or business world "names."

The main question for any artist is bigger than, "Is this legit?" The main question is: "Is this worthwhile?"

There are too many red flags, here, one of which you mentioned: there are no Google references not prompted by the organizers themselves. The have no history.

At $50, it's not worthwhile, legit or not. If the judges were more prominent, if the sponsors were connected with the real art world or the real big business world and the production were more professional, it might be worthwhile. If the entry fee were $10, it might be worthwhile. As it is: too many negative points and not enough positive ones.

The only positive point is the $25,000 first prize, but we have no way of knowing whether it will really be awarded and, if it is, will go to a real entrant or to an organizers' spouse, relative or friend. They say the names of the artists will not be know to the judges, but that means little. I have served on a number of juries and quickly recognized the work of people whom I knew personally or whose work I knew. (I tried to not let that influence me.) And even if everything is on the up-and-up, there is no telling if they'll get enough entries to even cover their costs. These sorts of things seems simple to people who have no experience doing them, but the pitfalls are many and they always take a lot more work than imagined.

Actually, the size of the prize is one of the things that puts me into the doubting column. No other prizes for individual artists are this huge in the first run of a contest, with the possible exception of those offered by large non-profit foundations or by foundations set up by the survivors of an artist who has established the prize in his/her will.

Bottom line: no compelling evidence it's a scam but no compelling evidence it is worthwhile to enter.