New Column, Carol Fleming

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We recently installed this stoneware column, and another one similar to it, in the gallery.  Both of course are by Carol, one of my favorite St. Louisians. (Is that a word?)  On this piece we’ve already had a serious inquiry. 

The client wanted to know if the work can be installed outdoors?  It can indeed.  This medium’s durability is why archeologists still  unearth stoneware vessels intact from ancient civilzations, while common ceramic is often found in shards.

High School Artists

Pictures of some my students from a couple of the urban high schools.  Most of these are seniors, and are graduating this year.  Very proud of each. 

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Do you know how I can tell our mentoring programs are working?  The way those punks smile every time I walk in the door–despite my silly mug.

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The kids above are from Paseo Academy, those below from Lincoln Prep.  The latter were showing me, not without pride, what they’ve created for their opening here on the 16th, inspired by our Field Trip to Picher.  Should be quite the shindig. Expect 200.

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The Necessity of Archival Process

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(Note: This article first appeared in Art Calendar.  Piece above is an example of carefully using incompatible metals–in this case stainless and Cor-Ten steel.  How?  They never actually touch.  Steve Richardson’s genius.) 

Basic Archival Process How many times have I had an artist enter my gallery who had done a great piece, but didn’t know the basics of archival processes?  Dozens. Maybe it was a framed etching, but backed by acidic cardboard.  Maybe it was an oil painting where the heavy texture, carelessly applied, would begin cracking in two years.  Maybe it was a sculpture composed of various metals that would begin corroding in five years because of metallic incompatibility.  Repeatedly I’ve seen instances of this, and couldn’t carry the works because I can’t sell art that is at risk for deterioration.

What happens if you don’t go pay attention to these details?  You’ll get a reputation for shoddy work.  Galleries will drop you.  Clients will drop you.  Clients may demand refunds.  Career on a downhill slide.

So yes, it’s important to understand archival process, though I realize it’s a little boring.  Is it complicated?  Not once you know the basics.  And very simply, here are a few of them.

–UV Glass for Works on Paper:  It’s your choice whether to use UV glass or not.  Sure it costs more, but you’re protecting the client’s investment, since they may hang it in a bright room (unless they live in England).  Regarding the additional cost, we just always add that into the retail price.  Why?  The client is paying you take care of their investment, which is how we always explain it.  –Works on Paper.  I know this seems obvious, but I often encounter it, so: always make sure that the image doesn’t touch the glass after framing, and that only acid-free materials are used.  If you’re a pastelist, I advise you apply fixative before framing, or flaking may result within a few years.

–Stretchers.  Whether you paint in oil or acrylic, please make sure that you use dried poplar–or some similar wood–for your stretchers.  Why?  I’ve seen painters use pine that they dig out of some bone heap, and it invariably warps as it dries.  Another solution is to buy pre-manufactured stretchers if you like standard sizes; there are many inexpensive resources for these.

–Varnishing Paintings.  Naturally varnish protects oil paintings against moisture and dirt.  If you like working with it, try to make sure it’s applied after the oil has cured.  If this means going to the client’s house, great: that opens the door to renewed contact, and possibly further acquisitions. 

–Metal Sculpture.  When you sculpt or install, please make sure that the metals you choose will not cause galvanic corrosion over time owing to incompatibility.  Hence you cannot mate aluminum to stainless steel, bronze to mild steel, aluminum to mild steel, etc.  Any metallurgist or metal supplier can advise as you.  Me?  I have a tendency to utilize some Missouri rednecks who do my fabricating–flawlessly–and don’t charge for advice, except the odd latte.  Yeah, rednecks drink lattes around here. 

–Warning Labels.  Believe it or not, clients still on occasion hang works in direct sunlight.  To help inform them, I advise you put a label on the back of any piece that can be damaged by UV rays, stating that the work should be hung in an appropriate location.  I realize this seems obvious, but not everyone gives thought to these issues.  Of course the flip side of the coin is tell them to hang everything in direct light; then maybe they’ll come back and buy a new collection in ten years.  But I don’t advise that approach.

As a gallery owner, I’ve never had a client complain about a piece, its assembly, or fragility.  This is because I advise my artists on approaches to take, if they haven’t considered same.  I mean an artist is so consumed with creation, that sometimes these details elude them.  But one reason I keep getting referrals to new clients, is because we pay attention to these details.  If you do this as well, your reputation for professionalism will only broaden.  That’s a fancy way of saying you’ll make more jack, and have more time for pursuing your passion.

Installation in Lawrence, Quantrill’s Raid

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Installed these pieces over the weekend at a client’s loft in Lawrence.  Great space that overlooks the old downtown area, and some of the coarse stone structures that were thrown up after Quantrill’s Raid, when the Rebels burned the place and killed 200.  Tragic loss, but slavery was still abolished in the end.

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Artists in order of appearance:  MJ Rigby (paints on glass; exquisite), Louis Copt, Mike McMullen.  Client very pleased. 

Coffee with good old Steve Dickey after, and a walk along the Kaw.  Talked about pharmaceutical attempts to medicate all of America, and how they’re sadly succeeding.  Then skipped stones and plotted our next brewery crawl.

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Hannah and Her Sisters and the Jewish Renaissance

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Watched Hannah and Her Sisters with Brown Eyes the other night.  Hadn’t seen it since ’87.  Forgot how utterly charming, hilarious, and touching the flick is.  Some of my favorite scenes?  Woody Allen trying to convert to Catholicism.  Woody Allen getting a brain scan.  Woody Allen talking with the Hare Krishnas.  Woody Allen finding salvation in a Marx Brothers movie.  Also Michael Caine in any scene, or the three sisters in any scene.  Lord, such brilliance.  Timeless in a way that Annie Hall will never be.  Allen, when he was at his best, was incomparable. 

As I told my sons, he in a sense represented the tail end of the Jewish Renaissance, that great creative period that was born out of dire necessity shortly after the Holocaust, and brought great wonders in all disciplines.  Is it still going on?  I don’t know.  We’ll need another 50 years to figure that out.

None of this has a thing to do with Allen and the marital scandal.  That’s his business, not mine.

Publish in Japan?

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Here are some friends of mine from Tokyo: ZanPon, an exceptional painter; Miyanara, a visionary businessman; Sachi, a skilled art consultant.  They want to steer my new book into print in Japan, and collaborate on a few projects.  Sounds good to me.  Now maybe I can finally climb Mt. Fuji.

Kim Casebeer’s Opening

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Kim has an opening this Friday.  Already have the inventory in, and I believe her page on the site has been updated somewhat.  Don’t really know, as I’m too dense to do those things.  Damned good paintings anyway–that side of the business I do know.

She’s showing now with galleries in Santa Fe, Scottsdale and Jackson Hole.  A mere 5 years ago she was relatively unknown.  Overnight success–after 20 years of painting. 

Basketball and Book Critics / Jayhawks Win

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What can I say?  I went to KU.  Helluva Game.  That 3-pointer with 2 seconds to go.  Man, basketball doesn’t get any better.

Know a deceased sports writer/book critic who’s yelling his head off somewhere above the clouds about now.  Ted O’Leary was an All American forward under Phog Allen in the early 30s at KU.  Who knew that he would go on to become of the country’s most respected literary critics?  He loved the Jayhawks.  Was also the first big-time critic to encourage me as a writer.  You can’t pay back things like that.