The Universe is Always Right

Here's what greeted me this morning in my email box:

"How is it Michelle, that with so many brilliant beings on your planet, so few recognize that when one's life encounters turbulence, choppy waters, or setbacks, it's always a sign that things are about to get wildly better than they've ever been before? Don't fight it, The Universe"

It's true I've been on a positive roll with my work lately, with the Honorable Mention at last year's Festival in the Park, being approached by a new gallery to have my work in their inaugural collection, my first ever First Place 3-D win at this year's Festival for the Eno, along with better than expected sales at this summer's shows. Not to be fatalistic, (okay, maybe a little) but it seems that when things go so well, it's pretty certain there'll be some 'turbulence, choppy waters or setbacks' to come.

Mine came in the form of a major issue about pricing with the gallery: via email, I was informed they'd decided to lower the prices for my work in the gallery to what I sell it for at shows. Contrary to a discussion on this topic where I specifically asked about the difference between my show prices and theirs, (which would be double, to account for their percentage). The gallery owner stipulated that I could not sell in the same geographical area of the state, but could continue with my normal pricing outside of that area. The new, lowered gallery pricing meant I would receive only half of what I sell my work for: 45% of the sales price would go to the gallery, and 5% would go to my designated charity, which is Camfed. The gallery had also, without informing me until afterward, removed my Ancestress Series shadow boxes from display two weeks before, saying they were "continually bombarded [with customers saying] the prices [were] not market value".

Really? "Market value?" Just what is the market value for
unique, one-of-a-kind work? Does the gallery display any other work which is comparable to mine? No. Are the gallery owners able to speak
knowledgeably about the work, to allay customer fears about not getting value for their money? Or, do they simply agree with the customer's assessment, informed or not, because the "customer is always right"? Apparently so.

About my bamboo wall hangings, the gallery's email continued: "Your bowls had drawn so much interest but here again we were hearing that the prices seemed to be out of line for the work they involved."

Really? Since when is the amount of time an artist spends to produce
a piece the sole determining factor of price? And, once they received this
question from customers, did the gallery ask me how much work is involved in producing my work so they could convey that to potential customers? No. But isn't that a question the gallery owner should be able
to answer to a customer's satisfaction? Yes, I think it is.

The bottom line, from my vantage point: Shouldn't the gallery which
represents my work be able to speak about it almost as well as I
can? Shouldn't they 'have my back' in any discussion with the public
about my work? And shouldn't the gallery, once confronted with questions
they can't answer, ask them of me? Yes, yes, and yes.

The bottom line, from this gallery's point of view: pricing. My work wasn't selling the way they'd decided it should, due to "inflated" prices and perceived value (or lack of same), despite the fact that my work had been in the gallery for less than 3 months, and two pieces had sold in that time: a clock and a mirror.

Solution? I removed my work from the gallery. I'm not willing to have my work represented (or not represented) in this way.

Lesson learned: as this is my fifth unsuccessful foray into the world of art galleries, I've decided I will not pursue another. I know I am the best person to sell my work, and giving up the personal contact with my collectors in favor of the "prestige" and "ease" of having my work sold out of a gallery is not worth it to me.

So, with this 'turbulence' a mere bump in my otherwise smooth flight this year, I'm ready for The Universe's promise that "things are about to get wildly better than they've ever been before".

Stay tuned to see what they are!


Jeanne Rhea said…
This is a great post! I think we all have to determine what is the best way to sell our work. (I must tell you about one thing I have noticed about selling my work.)

I really love the way that you analyxed the situation as it shows that at least you thought the whole thing through.
Chrisy said…
This is such a dilemma isn't it...galleries...commissions...the 'worth' of's very frustrating...
Penny A said…
once again, your eloquence marvels! a serious subject for any 'working artist' -- with the logical, 'human' factor reasonably represented.