I can hardly believe that I haven't written since last Saturday. I've been on an emotional roller-coaster ride, mastered a few "tricks" on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios website, and started a major catalog for the Archeology Project.
The "roller-coaster": Pricing for the show at I. Pinckney Simons. First (before the show), Janet Kozachek wrote an email suggesting the the gallery owners were worried about how low my artwork might be priced. She strongly suggested that I allow the owners to "adjust" my prices. I felt like a "second-class"artist. I felt apprehension due to my inclusion in an elusive gallery. I felt like my "quality" was being questioned because of my affordable prices. I agreed to let Rick Simons suggest higher prices. Yet, when dropping off my work and hanging the show, he didn't seem interested in re-pricing my pieces. In fact, he admitted being unfamiliar with the average costs of artist- and altered-books and installation of any sort.
Immediately after hanging the show and providing additional pricing tags (these tasks should have been the gallery's responsibility), I started getting email messages from Janet about the Archeology Project. She strongly suggested that I break the collection. She implied a level of dissatisfaction from Rick and Irene Simons, the gallery owners. I had priced the entire installation at $9,500. I never wanted to sell the entire unit, but the worries about my low prices prompted the change. Earlier, she had said that Rick and Irene regularly sold artwork at $8000. She reminded me that they would have to sell 10 of her $800 pieces to net the same commission. She implied that they wouldn't want to work selling some 100 pieces for mine at $80. Thus, I let Rick adjust my prices on other work and also priced the Archeology Project as a "high-ticket" item unit.
Yet, Janet's emails were quite insistent. At first, I resisted. I reminded her that we had submitted the Archeology based work for a show at the Sumter Gallery of Art. Thus, I wasn't eager to sell the work anyway. She wrote back with a note that basically said only museums and non-profit spaces could afford to devote valuable floor space to non-collectible art projects. I was stunned. I was being accused (with nice words but still pressure) of WASTING commercial sales area. At this point, I started crying. I cried on and off for two days. I had been so happy to have the piece on view; then I wished I had taken the entire thing home. I wrote back to Janet to remind her that the piece WAS FOR SALE! In fact, with over 300 pieces for $9500, the average cost per item was just over $26. The piece, as priced, was/is a BARGAIN.
Janet finally relented saying, "Fine". I haven't heard from her since. Still, I was upset and wondering if I was in trouble with the Simons. I had just hand addressed over 380 envelops with invitations inside. Each invitation also carried a hand-written note: I hope you can come. I was exhausted and insulted. I didn't know if I were even welcome to my own reception. Finally, I went to the gallery.
Irene was there. Rick was in their gallery in Beaufort. They weren't upset. They didn't carry if I kept the work as a unit or broke it. They knew that breaking it would mean work. They were up to the task. They also said that Janet was just dying to purchase one of the individual pieces! Perhaps, a mystery had been solved.
Since I always planned to sell the pieces individually, I photographed them--over 300 images (most had both a front and back). I've been working on a catalog ever since. Still, I don't care if any of it sells or not. It has been a labor of love--the fantasy dream of a fictional archaeologist (me)! Such a "professional" would naturally have an image and a description of all the "artifacts" uncovered.
I created labels to go with any sold piece. Each says: Artifact #_____Excavated by hand and machine by mixed media artist and fantasy archaeologist Susan Lenz in 2006. Formerly in the I. Pinckney Simons Collection.
I'm assuming that the "unit" will not sell (even if it is a BARGAIN; it is still $9500, a lot of money!). I'm also assuming that only a few, if any, of the individual pieces will sell. I've been working on a catalog with thumbnail images for myself, for the Project, as if I were an archaeologist recording my discoveries.
In the meantime, I've been working on the Gallery 80808/Vista Studios website. I've figured out all sorts of things. I've changed images for David Yaghjian and updated his biography. I added a resume for Sharon Licata under her one-paragraph biography. Then I figured out how to change the Calendar page and also the Featured Show. Successfully altering a website is a most elating experience. For someone who couldn't burn a CD last month, I've made remarkable experience!