I participated in a group show in Soho last month called, A Book About Death. A democratic show, the first 500 artists submitted 500 postcards depicting...DEATH. Right up my alley. The exhibit paid homage to Ray Johnson (founder of mail art) & Emily Harvey (whose foundation and gallery hosted the exhibit). I liked the show's concept--sharing art with the public. Each visitor could make their own 'book about death'. Free Art for All. It never hurts to have another NYC gallery line on the resume and I relish any excuse to go to NYC.
The organizer did a fabulous job promoting the exhibit on the blog. By official opening time, there were lines around the block waiting to get into the gallery. Most of my family/friends didn't get in the door. There was a videographer, who was streaming live footage directly to the blog. I was told people were logging in from China, Australia and all over Europe.
Art & Death aficionados madly scooped up the postcards. The fact that the cards were cheap reproductions did not deter the enthusiastic crowd. No art snobs here. Even in Manhattan, people love anything that is FREE. After a couple of hours, the gallery looked ravaged.
The scene would have been comical if it wasn't so darn HOT. People pushed and nudged, vying for the best 'cards'. The truly funny part happened later. I was waiting for a friend, who happened to be dining with the Royal Dutch family that evening. By the time he arrived at the gallery, I was alone with the organizer and one other guy.
After brief introductions, the organizer begins grilling my friend about his job. I happened to mention that he worked on Wall Street, which piqued the organizer's interest. He bluntly asked my friend whether he was a low-level manager, or did he have any real power a.k.a. buying power. Don't you need art for your corporate offices? My friend graciously laughed and responded that he was a senior partner. Drooling, the organizer aggressively proceeded to try to sell him A MILLION DOLLAR artwork. I am so NOT kidding. I was mortified. The man had no SHAME. He even tried to tempt me with a $50,000 commission, if I convinced my friend to buy his million dollar work. The man had balls, I'll give him that. He didn't even try to start with a smaller work, let's say for a couple of grand. He went right for the big pay out.
So much for Free Art for All. When it comes right down to it, it's all about the MONEY.