Visual Art Commentaries

No Freebies From Artists
VIRGINIA HOFFMAN, SRQDaily November 26, 2011

Long time Sarasotans remember the flamboyant Julio De Diego, who in the 70’s was Sarasota’s Salvador Dali remedy. The ex-husband of Gypsy Rose Lee had dark Spanish eyes that pierced you behind a philosophers’ balbo, the deliberate flip of his black cape and female entourage never went unnoticed. He scared the hell out of me but I did muster up enough nerve to seek his council on how to survive as artist. His had two rules. First, only work at jobs related to art, even if it’s just painting a sign. Julio said that working a job with no art kills the creative spirit. Second, never give your art away. If one does not value one’s artwork, how can you expect others to? We live in a world where making a living as an artist has always been a challenge. Artists by nature are generous souls whose compulsions to share their vision since the first cave paintings make them perfect targets for the opportunists of the world. Exploitations of artists is built by a social bias that believes in magical closets filled with infinite treasures. What harm is it to pop them out free for the taking? Plenty more where that came from. Gallery systems where generally merchandise is on consignment with the expectation of exclusivity from the manufacture provide a sweet deal that most retailers would embrace. Highlighting this is not intended to belittle the investment made by gallery owners in their infrastructure, but with a standard 50-percent profit margin, it is a system that favors the shop owner. Everyday Sarasota is abundant with “not for profit” events with entry fees that range from $25 up to $1000. One even brags about hundreds of artist working for free while other local businesses benefit. Many feature artwork in live and silent auctions of artists who can’t afford an entry ticket or the wardrobe to attend. Recently, this has been changing as artists become savvier, asking for a small percentage, complementary tickets and publicity. My challenge to Sarasota is this. When will the high net worth glitterati run benefits for artists? After all, aren’t they the backbone of this cultural city?