Hello Mr Gallery Owner?
This morning, I was bumbling around the internet and came across details of a local gallery that I’d somehow missed. It specialized in our specialty - fine art photography – and the space looked terrific. It isn’t in the best of areas, our exhibition last month was in a much more prestigious spot – but who am I to make rash judgments like that?
It’s located in a strip mall and I’m not convinced that people visiting the supermarket next door are art buyers but I know not to pre-judge. My dad drilled that into me from an early age. His is a typical rags to riches story and he’d made his money in the motor trade. Born in a gypsy caravan himself, he told me that he’d seen salesmen in his showrooms ignoring scruffy gypsies who were browsing the vehicles. Then, he said, those salesmen would get a surprise when a more experienced sales person sold them top-of-the-range cars for hard cash. I never forgot that. The star of artwork marketing, Jack White, says exactly the same – don’t pre-judge.
The gallery I’d discovered on the internet was a fantastic space as far as I could tell from their website. Could this be a place for us? Reading further, they were asking for applications from artists who wanted to be represented. I read their agreement on the website. They wanted exclusive rights for the whole county. I can live with that if a gallery sells. There was also a fee for representation which I didn’t like. My thinking is that if they genuinely can sell artwork, why the fee? Surely they can make enough in commissions – if they are on the ball and can sell.
But, because it was a great space, I suggested to Andy that he call in just to check the place out. Not call in with a portfolio or anything like that, just stop by for a recce. We saw on the site that the gallery opened at noon, so off he went.
When he arrived at about 12.45, the place wasn’t open. He called the phone number on the door. No reply. He left a message. There’s a terrific British food store nearby so Andy went and stocked up while he was waiting for the gallery to open. Whilst he was there, he called the gallery again. The owner answered but was quite dismissive, saying that he had another call waiting. Eventually, Andy got to the gallery.
He said hello to the gallery owner who, more or less ignored him. The owner was on the phone. When he’d finished, Andy said “I called a few minutes ago and…” The man replied that he didn’t have time as he had two back-to-back appointments. Remember that at this stage, he didn’t know that Andy wasn’t a multi-millionaire desperately wanting to buy art. Of course, Andy was wearing jeans and t-shirt but this is South Florida. That’s how the multi-millionaires dress too. After another few minutes of being ignored, Andy left.
When he arrived home (with lots of British food goodies) we agreed that the gallery, fantastic space though it may be, was not the place for us.
I don’t know why, but I keep thinking about Allan Williams – the guy who gave away the Beatles …