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!