Let me start by saying that the first thing that I usually read when I open my copy of the City Paper is Chris Shott's most excellent "Show & Tell" column. It is usually witty and interesting, and in fact I have contributed to some of them in the past.
But at the risk of pissing off Chris, I think that this week's Directory Assistance (scroll down) piece in "Show & Tell" is much ado about nothing.
Taking one artist's complaint about the WPA/C's Artist's Directory creating a "tiered membership", with more "services going to those who pay for them," is giving an audience to a complaint that is simply economically ridiculous!
It costs $70 to get into the Artist's Directory. In my opinion, that is an excellent adverstising and marketing opportunity for the buck. To expect that your $45 annual WPA/C membership will also cover the cost of printing and distributing the book is immensely naive.
And those directories move!
We sell them (they also get stolen quite often) at our galleries (we turn all proceeds over to the WPA/C) and they sell well, and in the past visiting Sotheby's personnel have acquired them as reference materials. And I know of several artists who have had their exposure in the book create further opportunities (including myself).
Chris writes that "members who failed to come up with the extra cash for the forthcoming 2006 edition of the WPA\C artist directory are missing out on more than just seeing their names, contact info, and sample works in print," referencing the fact that the WPA/C’s latest exhibition, titled "Turning the Page: Artists Selected From the 2006 WPA\C Artist Directory," only looked at those artists who had purchased a page in the book.
The WPA/C also maintains a slide registry. Many of the WPA/C past exhibitions have have their birth in this registry. And yet a lot of member artists do not have any slides in it.
My point is that inclusion in the slide registry and inclusion in the Artist's Directory is open to all artist members; it costs an additional $70 to get into the directory, but that's an economic non-debatable issue.
The alternative would be to raise the annual fee to $115 a year and open the directory to everyone. Were this to happen I suspect that a wail of complaints (more than one solitary voice) would be raised, from artists who do not wish to add the additional expense just to be in the book.
And on a final point, Chris writes:
Yet paying for a page in the directory doesn’t exactly grant you a great shot at showing your work at "Turning the Page." The series, presently curated by WPA\C Project Manager Ingrid Nuss and summer intern Ding Ren, will showcase only nine artists out of about 375 who paid for a listing, or 2.4 percent.Well, that's what happens when one has a curated show - it is after all a "selection process."
All inclusive shows abound in our area, such as Wall Mountables and Artomatic.
And guess what? A lonely artist voice here and there also routinely complain about those shows, usually the small financial cost associated with them, or requirement to help with gallery sitting, etc.
The WPA/C has had some valid hiccups in the past, but in this case though, this squeaky wheel shouldn't have received any WCP grease.