23 Sandy Gallery

In my last blog post, I commented on the subject of responsible galleries. I communicated with Laura Russell from 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, a fantastic place to do business. A gallery and owner that respect the work and the artist.

Here are Laura’s responses from our exchange on the subject of damaged or stolen work, which continues to extend my last two posts “Amoché” and “The 6 Foot Drop”.

 

Louise — Have you ever had an artists' book damaged or stolen while on display in an exhibition (as an artist yourself or as the owner of the gallery)? 

Laura — Sadly, yes. But, in 10 years only twice, which I think is a pretty good record! One book was stolen during an off-site letterpress printers fair here in Portland. Luckily that one came back a few weeks later in an unmarked package with a very apologetic note. That book is now a favorite in my personal collection as I had already paid the artist for it by the time it arrived back home. Another book was dropped and had a corner of its wooden box broken. Luckily, the customer loved the book and was happy to buy it, anyway. 

 

Louise — Lessons learned through the years have jaded me from exhibiting my artists’ books. One never knows what happens on the premises of a gallery. Can you explain the secret life of a book during the month-long display on the premises at 23 Sandy Gallery?

Laura — All books are treated as fine art, not just books. Every customer who visits the gallery gets a friendly lecture about how to handle books and is asked to clean their hands if they want to handle the books. Not every book can be handled by the general public. If the book is delicate or expensive, we post a “Do Not Touch” sign on the book but are happy to show off the book ourselves if anyone is interested in viewing.
© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

Louise — What is the unpacking/re-packing policy for books at 23 Sandy Gallery?

Laura — All books are inspected for any shipping damage, or existing flaws, or other concerns upon unpacking. Any problems are documented, with photos, and a note is immediately sent to the artist to document condition upon arrival. Upon re-packing, all books are again inspected to make sure no damage was incurred during the exhibition. We keep extensive notes about the condition for documentation purposes. If there is damage, the gallery would automatically pay the artist for the book.

 

Louise — Are the descriptive directions for unpacking and re-packing artwork for shipping, if any included in the box, read by staff.

Laura — Yes. Always, of course.

 

Louise — What’s the gallery’s work ethic for tracking the original packaging for the return of books?

Laura — The gallery does not have time to track every single package that ships out of here. We ship many, many packages every week. We recommend artists activate “shipping notifications” with their respective shipping company to get automatic email notification of shipment, delivery exceptions, and delivery.
© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

 

Louise — Do the gallery/staff have best practices for the proper care and handling of books?

Laura — Yes. Full training is provided to every gallery staff or volunteer on proper book handling.

 

Louise — Does the 23 Sandy Gallery carry insurance for work while in their possession, i.e., is the gallery responsible for the artwork on display? How does 23 Sandy Gallery approach reimbursing artists for a damaged piece?

Laura — All books while in 23 Sandy’s possession are indeed insured. In the case of damage, our insurance policy would reimburse the artist for the “wholesale” cost of the book, which is the amount the artist would have received if the book had sold, which is 60% of the retail value.

 

Louise — What does the 23 Sandy Gallery think of “foreign” stickers adhered to books for any reason, i.e., inventory numbers or tracking numbers? 

Laura — We would never attach any sticker to any book for any reason. 
© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

© 2017 Laura Russell, 23 Sandy Gallery

Louise — Are there any security measures (vitrines, staffing, location, etc.) on the premises for artists who prefer their work to be under glass?

Laura — We have a glass bookcase for any books that the artist requests not be handled. Or, we use a “Do Not Touch” sign as noted above.

 

Louise — How does the gallery deal with maintaining proper environmental conditions for books while on display?

Laura — Gallery conditions are not controlled in the same way museums control environmental conditions. Not possible in a retail storefront environment.

 

As with most of us, change is in the air and if you read the last newsletter of 23 Sandy Gallery you know that Laura has made a big decision. Laura is closing the operation side of the gallery and taking a year sabbatical from exhibitions. She is looking forward to finding studio time for her own books.

I wish Laura good times in her studio at Simply Books. I will miss the opportunities of showing my artists' books at 23 Sandy Gallery, especially working directly with Laura.

Many thanks, Laura and enjoy your new world!

The 6 Foot Drop

“I always assume that the person unpacking/re-packing has never worked in a gallery before, that they are an 18-year-old trainee and it's their first day on the job.” 

An artist’s response to my query on packing and re-packing works of art for an exhibition.

In the recent past, I received an artists' book back from a show. It was in its original box, bravo! for matching the box to the artist’s work. Here, the problem was inside the box. The book sat atop a very thin sheet of bubble pack with no protection for its top or sides. I have no qualms in mentioning that the bottom had no protection either. I phoned the gallery and their response was “The gallery ships the books the same way they arrive! 

Of course, for security measures, I pack my books with no protection to survive USPS or UPS delivery. SURE!

Who oversees the procedures for return shipping? Anyone?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

I don’t believe my book would have survived the six-foot drop the Saskatchewan Craft Council recommends for shipping artwork. If damage had occurred to my artists’ book, who would have been responsible?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux

“Do you feel a gallery should have insurance for damage, theft, and return shipping conditions”?

In my opinion, the gallery is also responsible for how it takes care of books/work while in their possession.

An experienced binder like Monique Lallier insists on having her bindings and boxes exhibited under glass. Even with her demand one of her gorgeous boxes got a corner banged up. How do we limit these type of accidents or carelessness from happening?

Artists, librarian, curators, and staff should read the article Proper Care and Handling of Books by the Library of Congress.


This brings us to insurances! “Who should pay the insurance costs?

This year I made a conscious decision to no longer exhibit my work in galleries without the artists work insured for the duration of a show. According to a Boise gallery, an invited artist should not refuse to exhibit hundreds of dollars worth of work for lack of insurance on the gallery’s part. Most galleries make sure with their contract that they are not responsible for any stolen/damaged artwork. I realize we always take a chance when exhibiting, but the galleries/curators need to take responsibility. How, would galleries survive without us?

One can’t place all galleries in the “I will never exhibit there again” category. 

A few galleries are superb at taking responsibilities, I have found 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland and the MCBA in Minnesota, both respectful of book artists and their work.

© 23 Sandy Gallery

© 23 Sandy Gallery

Food for thought! Make sure you are content with the understanding between the gallery and the artist. Read the contract carefully; if you don’t like what’s written, say no to the invitation. Better not to exhibit than to be sorry. 

“Don’t forget during your decision-making that there is a tendency for the artist to be the last person considered when people are thinking about money and art”—Cathryn Miller

Be aware and make good decisions... Enjoy your exhibitions without regrets!

 

"Amoché"

Was a book/binding/artwork of yours ever damaged or stolen while on display as part of an exhibition?

As an artist, one has to deal with exciting situations and some not so nice experiences. Lessons learned have jaded me from exhibiting. It is difficult to let go of your prized possessions for a month or more. One never knows what happens on the premises of a gallery.

Are you responsible for your books while alone in the darkness of a gallery?

I had an acrylic painting damaged back in 1984. I won my case in court and the city paid for the damages. If the gallery took serious responsibility for the artwork while dismantling an exhibition, they could save time and money for everyone involved.

I saw the inside of a courtroom for the second time when an owner of a Toronto gallery stole nine of my collages and drawings and shipped them to Korea while in his possession. I don’t know what happened to these pieces. Did he sell them? If you can’t trust the gallery owner, who can you trust? I won my case in Small Claims Court, but retrieving the money was another matter—never did, since jurisdiction did not extend to Korea!

By 2005, I picked up lots of information on how to do business—I thought—till I took part in an ARLIS conference after being invited to display a volume of City Shields in New York City. Several phone calls later and an amazing response to my inquiry, I found the reason for the un-returned book.

"The bad news is someone stole your volume of City Shields from the exhibition hall.
What was the good news, I asked?
It was loved enough to steal."
What the... is this for real?
The organization felt it was a great compliment!!! WOW! For me, it was a financial loss!

Not too long ago on the BookListServ, I read about similar experiences other artists have gone through. I communicated with them to find out their account. Some stories were positive and others were costly. Lucky or sensible?

Preparing for a show demands you ask many questions and more questions!
Who's responsible for the insurance costs?
Are galleries responsible for the art work displayed in the space?
Who should pay for damages during the show?...


Mary Kritz is an artist in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Exhibiting her books were positive experiences until showing a book in a private gallery. This disappointing situation happened when her book was damaged during the exhibit set-up. At the vernissage, the owner, (while in front of the crowd), embarrassed Mary by informing her that the book had “fallen apart”. As if Mary exhibited a book with an already damaged page with a detached corner. Mary mentioned she would repair the book the next day. At her return to the gallery, Mary learned the owner himself repaired the book without permission. Was he a binder? Did he use the proper materials? What right did he have to touch this artists’ book?


“I think the situation has happened to all of us artists at one point or other,” says Cathryn Miller from Saskatchewan.

It took two hours to repair her piece In Winter after being damaged in a touring exhibition. Cathryn was paid for the repair by the Saskatchewan Craft Council who insure all work while in their possession. The work is still salable which is great!

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter damaged during exhibition

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter damaged during exhibition

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter with smudge marks

© 2017, Cathryn Miller, In Winter with smudge marks

The Saskatchewan Craft Council ships touring exhibitions by commercial transport, the Council recommends that all works be packed so that the container can be dropped upside-down from a height of six feet without damaging the contents. What a risk factor!

Cathryn insisted on being paid for books damaged when a commercial gallery returned books with non-removable price stickers that adhered to the back. Who thought of that one, I wonder?

“I have exhibited at galleries who do not provide insurance but in those cases, I exhibit work I can afford to lose, comments Cathryn”.
“Very few galleries cover stolen work, so one has to think about what security measures are provided (vitrines, staffing, location, etc.) and we need to make a case-by-case decision.”

Cathryn writes long and descriptive directions for unpacking and re-packing art work for shipping. How difficult can it be to re-pack a book with its original box and filling? But, wait can they find the same box? What is the gallery’s best practices for keeping boxes and fillers connected to the book?

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and re-packing In Winter

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and re-packing In Winter

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 2

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 2

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 3. These instructions are fantastic, every artist should be this dedicated to their work!

© Cathryn Miller, instructions for unpacking and repacking In Winter, part 3.

These instructions are fantastic, every artist should be this dedicated to their work!


Alice Simpson who brings her ability of drawing and brush skills to paper talks about her experience with a damaged book. Alice’s books are hand-painted and mostly unique books, they are colourful and whimsical, and are of interest to international dance collectors.

BALLROOM, (a one-of-a-kind hand painted book Alice created in 1994), was damaged somewhere along the recent past. The gallery’s signage description had been carelessly Scotch-taped on the back cover, attached to the delicate paper used to bind the book.

When I attempted to remove the tape, it pulled the paper off. Unfortunately, I have no memory or record of where the book was damaged. It was returned a while ago, and I never opened the wrapping. If I had, I would have immediately notified the curator, and complained. What would they have offered to do? I have no idea. The book, the basis for my novel of the same name, is not for sale but now is damaged forever.

Forever is a long time! This subject matter is too important not to write more.

To be continued...

Boxed In

Feeling boxed in by the lack of sun and being in two different places at once. The distance between home and home seem further apart.

Searching the internet for inspiration, for a get-up and go, I stopped by Randi Parkhurst’s website. Randi is an artist of fine paper and book artist.

Paper—a simple medium, ubiquitous, mundane—we hardly notice it… but in the hands of Randi one embarks on an odyssey of discovery.

Explore Randi's studio in the Pacific Northwest and observe her at work. Listen as Randi describes her process, her inspiration, and her exceptional body of work at https://vimeo.com/128898915

View the artistry, the mystery, and the whimsy in Randi's meticulous, sculptural creation entitled PATIENCE: the Inception of Artist Books. Follow as some twenty self-contained handmade books, each smaller than the one before, open and reveal this exquisite piece.

Tansu Gothic, another wonderful piece took three months to draw the idea, one month to make a full-scale model, and eight months to build the final piece. Tansu Gothic features six boxes with pyramid lids and spires, eleven drawers, two compartments with piano-hinge doors. Inside these spaces are books about tansu cabinetry, a tiny abacus, stories and other tansu artifacts.

Let the rain form rainbows, journey to your studio, play with materials at hand and enjoy the week.

 

The Sound of Snow

I wonder as I wander the land. Am I in a dream? It’s difficult to live in two different homes. Being in one place, I’m always thinking of the other.

While I’m busy with my own thoughts and the weather, my good friend, and artist James Jenkins from the Chicago area is busy with a dream of his own.

Jim is the latest artist to become the Artist-in-Residence at Fermilab, in Batavia, Illinois. He is working on several pieces for a show opening next December.

As artists, we keep and collect thoughts of the past to use as the foundation for new works in the future. One of Jim’s pieces started 44 years ago in 1973 on a trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to visit a dear friend. It was the 5th of December as he traveled through Grand Forks, North Dakota to cross the border at Pembina, North Dakota to Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. 

I remember the landscape being flat, featureless and covered in snow. My thought was it would be interesting to stretch a wire or wires across the landscape. I even made two drawings that still exist one titled... "A North Dakota Landscape in a Word" and "The Four Directions of a North Dakota Landscape.” Both were minimal and sparse. There was lettering used in both though I've continued to play with up till today. Later on, perhaps two years later, I thought it would also be interesting to record the sound of snowflakes hitting the wire/wires. I kept the idea going and now I can execute the project. I was also missing an important feature of the project until 3 years ago..."Bone Jazz"! 

Jim’s piece entitled Ring Around the Ring is an art experiment in recording the delicate impact of a snowflake onto a wire or wires stretched across the landscape above the decommissioned ring at Fermilab. 

© 2017 Nate Strayve, Jim Jenkins working on "Ring Around the Ring"

© 2017 Nate Strayve, Jim Jenkins working on "Ring Around the Ring"

Jim speaks in more detail of Ring Around the Ring

The distance of the stretched wire/wires is based upon the function of the relationship between a Lightfoot and the Δt of a distressed fetal heart rate of homo-sapiens. 
The recording instrument and sound pickup system will provide evidence of the impact/sound/ring. The disparate materials will be combined within the extended metaphor of the art experiment: an OB/GYN fetal stethoscope, a fabricated record lathe, x-ray film, an historical reference to the Cold War smuggling of jazz music into the Soviet Union disguised as Bone Jazz and our environmental impact upon Mother Earth. Our impact upon the Earth should be as minimal as a snowflake striking a wire. It is a dream.
© 2017 Nate Strayve, Jim Jenkins working on "Ring Around the Ring"

© 2017 Nate Strayve, Jim Jenkins working on "Ring Around the Ring"

Brian O’Keefe from SoundCloud visited Jim Jenkins to learn a little more about his art, and what it means to be ‘artist in residence’ at Fermilab.

Being in his element, Jim is enthusiastic about his work. I hope his dream continues into a successful exhibition. Good luck Jim!

Somewhere it's 3 O'clock

1/2 Measure Studio is on a few weeks hiatus.

Life often impedes on art. While life is taking over, I thought I would pass on the link to a video entitled Pixel - extraits to inspire this quiet time.

A fitting video for this period, it's a show at the crossroads of arts and the crossroads of the universes of Adrien M, Claire B, and Mourad Merzouki.

Pixel - extraits, a dance with eleven dancers in a virtual and living visual environment. A work on illusion combining energy and poetry, fiction and technical achievement, hip hop, and circus. 

Tell me about your universe and what it's like these days?

See you soon!

Incessant Journey Opening Night

I can breathe now with the opening over, or can I?

I took photos for those of you who could not make it to the show.

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, a panorama of the show

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, a panorama of the show

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, the introduction to the show

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, the introduction to the show

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Traverse and A Day Filled with Onomatopoeias

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Traverse and A Day Filled with Onomatopoeias

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, a peep of City Shields, A Day Filled with Onomatopeias, Perception (middle), Equinox (top right), Parade (far right), and Ambivalence (bottom right)

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, a peep of City Shields, A Day Filled with Onomatopeias, Perception (middle), Equinox (top right), Parade (far right), and Ambivalence (bottom right)

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Parade (left), Ambivalence (back), Perception (front) and City Shields (final display was different)

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Parade (left), Ambivalence (back), Perception (front) and City Shields (final display was different)

The setting and presentation of my work made this exhibition successful. Equinox projected on the wall was effective in showing my obsession as an artist with the banality of every day for 9 years. Projected images lower to the floor made it possible for the viewer to relate to the daily archiving of my life and environment—thanks Michael for helping to set this up. 

An artists’ books exhibition in Boise created a different experience for most people. Once, a common experience was established with each book, the viewer related interesting comments on their life and the relationship with my books.

However, I had hoped to display City Shields in a more cohesive manner. A wonderful shelf built for the show was not wide enough to fit the whole project. This created a side dish display of the volumes. The volumes should have been on the same shelf or a shelf below the manhole covers to help the observer in relating to the whole project. People asked—Why weren’t the manhole cover images on the floor?

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, City Shields (not the final display)

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, City Shields (not the final display)

I enjoyed sharing my obsession with collecting and archiving the mundane in a unique, creative, and dynamic way for the viewer to experience. A great show reacquainting people with activities that link us together and introducing artists’ books to Boise.


Note received on Saturday about Incessant Journey:

I think your show looks magnificent. It is well presented and engaging. your work stimulates my interest in how your approach to your subject matter embellishes our perception of the ordinary made extraordinary. great job!
Lawrence Manning, hill street studios, Nampa, Idaho

Incessant Journey

Pedestals painted, and white felt affixed atop.

Floors swept.

Windows washed.

Most of the installation is in place.

© 2017 Louise Leergneux, Ming Studios almost ready

© 2017 Louise Leergneux, Ming Studios almost ready

City Shields is awaiting its sixteen feet floating shelf.

Vinyl lettering still to come.

Tired and antsy.

Thursday night is the big event you are all invited to my exhibition!

Please come, bring your smiles and celebrate this event with me!