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May 2004, 60 posts, 1609 lines


I got this email from the Reader.

Let me know any thoughts (asap), and I'll collect them and respond.

Take care all, Kathryn


On Wed, 5 May 2004, Kathryn Born wrote:

(1) The Reader's listings were based on what the Trib and Sun had done for years: that is, list galleries by districts. I chided them for that years ago, but the practice (I think) continues.

My thinking, from years ago, was that probably the 'real' galleries had demanded the use of 'districts' because it segregates 'real' galleries from all those 'not real' outfits.

That is the *first* confusion in trying to use their info. Although it might be handy for people who only browse a certain area of the city because there is only so much you can do on a Friday evening, and you dont wanna pay for parking twice.

I certainly dont need it. In fact, I generally cant figure out where those 'districts' are located. So it dont help.

(2) The second thing we can do without is the weekly listing of on-going show. Nobody, unless there is a bang-up review, visits a gallery after the opening night. At least, I dont. Dealers will argue.

I can imagine what the Reader is after: they need the newsprint space for ads. Listing *only* openings, and lectures would save a dozen pages.

The point is, the information is always on line anyway, so you do not need weekly reminders that a show is still up. If you want to visit after the opening, just look up the gallery information up on-line.

Years ago I got agrevated at looking through the listings pages to find the checkmarks (openings), so in 98 I wrote a Perl script to check if the Reader art listings had been updated, and if so to grab the file(s), extract just the openings and receptions, alphabethize the information and write it to a webpage. That has been automatically accomplished and on-line for 7 years at Spaces or elsewhere.

(3) Specific artists: Are you kidding? It is almost always the trust in a curator/dealer that brings you to an exhibit. Names of artists you are familiar with might be a second reason to go someplace specific.

But it would be a very interesting concept to list the shows by artists rather than galleries. I disagree that 'artists are not known', afterall, everyone has a mother. But I am sure the 'real' galleries would howl, for to them "change is bad."

I count about 350 - 400 artist names in the Reader listings of last year or the year before (another Perl.. no wait, it is a sed script). So 'on average' the Reader would have only some 70 - 80 entries for artists. Much better than the current (today's) listing of 216 galleries. Although better yet: I count only 54 openings.

What I have appreciated about the Reader is that _all the information_ is always there.



I would have to disagree with eliminating listings for ongoing shows. The Reader is not just for us residents, but also for folks who pop into town and need to find out where things are at. And some of us residents prefer to avoid opening night, esp. if it involves a cramped gallery space.

Districts do help me out, and it would be nice to list artist names in small print (with locations) somewhere. The San Diego Reader would do this with band names near the end of the music section.

It would be nice if the online Reader pages included more miniscule thumbnails for shows, and lots of links to galleries and exhibition sites. It's hard to get a sense of the visual art going on any given week by staring at a wall of print.



When the editor for New City asked me a similar question about a year ago I suggested listing openings only. It was a format that would work with the much reduced space constraints of the New City and in my eyes could function much like support chicago does online, also they had the benefit of a new writer that was going to write a weekly best of round up with some criticism thrown in to make it spicey. Overall my suggestions to that editor were made with the understanding that the Reader was "the" guide to everything in the city and therefore they should not try and compete. They instead needed a different format to locate themselves within the demographihic that they already had and this is young people looking for shit to do on the weekend while reading Chris Ware. Since then Chris has left the New City.

For the Reader to change, that is their business. It don't seem to be broken though so why fix it. Outside of the odd neighborhood designations that keep Dogmatic listed with Donald Young, the Reader seems a pretty democratic listing as long as you have hours an address and some contact info, you're in. I've had sporatic problems since Jake has left but whatever, they are only shows. Its not as though I'm deciding foriegn policy down here.

As for listing by artist. Who is capable of judging that designation, Clement Greenberg even shied away from any true pronouncements about how that can be decided. Essentially such listings would have to wait fifty years for the compost of history to settle enough that they might be usefull only to institutional retropectives.

How does such a list rotate? Is this list reduced to only locals? If Van Gogh should drop by at the Art Institute does he get ignored in favor of Andy Moore or Julia Hechtman? Or does some poor painter of worth with a cafe show get dropped from the listing everytime an impressionist has a come back tour?

Do we run a continous list of local Artists with checks by their names if they happen to be showing that week and a corresponding list of galleries under that which can be cross referenced?

Yes I speak of these things as a person that runs an "established" space, nonetheless when I started it I called the Reader and asked what the criteria for being listed was and I met it. I guess my point is that I'd rather subject mysely to the nonesensical generalities of the Reader and its definitions of what a gallery is, rather than have them muck about in deciding what art is.

Beyond that, as my grandpa always said, stay pickled, it saves your emballmer some juice and your wife some money. So do what you will.



On Thu, 6 May 2004, Dogmatic gallery wrote:


Which is why, I suppose, they often qualify listings with "cafe", "bar", "grocery store". Suit me.


I like the way the New York Times handles its listings: lots of thoughtful mini-reviews, grouped by location, with little asterisks for especially recommended shows. The Times listings don't pretend to be comprehensive (there's too much damn art), but they hit the highlights. And lowlights. AND THEY THOUGHTFULLY DESCRIBE EVERY SHOW THEY BOTHER MENTIONING.


Did anyone catch that in New City Gallery 400 is now listed (by itself) in a hot new gallery district known as "Little Italy"? I find that very funny for some reason. Rumor has it that delicious cannoli and fried calimari with marinara will now be served at all future openings to celebrate the christening of this new gallery district. Personally I'm greatly looking forward to any Arte Povera shows that might result from this new identification with the neighborhood.



Marc: I'll get right on that show. or maybe you can help out. are you ready to call up germano celant?

however, i'll have insist on italian ice before all of tasty treats.

lorelei director, g 400

On Thursday, May 6, 2004, at 10:30 AM, Marc Fischer wrote:

Lorelei Stewart Director, Gallery 400

University of Illinois at Chicago 1240 West Harrison Street (MC034) Chicago, IL 60607 312-996-6114 tel 312-355-3444 fax []


I disagree with several things in Kathryn Born's email

1 - I seldom go to openings. I go to see the art and you can't see it at openings. I go to galleries during the weeks the show is open and appreciate the Reader's comprehensive listings. 2 - Not everyone is 25 years old and uses computers or the Web. I do go online for other things, but I prefer the paper so that I can check off what I want to see during the month. 3 - I go to galleries I trust, but I make a special effort to see the work of particular artists whom I respect.

Claire Wolf Krantz


Lorelei Stewart wrote: "I'll get right on that show. or maybe you can help out. are you ready to call up germano celant?"

Sure thing, I'll call Germano (after I figure out who he is) and phone my contacts in Philadelphia which has the best Italian Ice in the country (pronounced "Worder Ice" for those unfamiliar with the Philly accent). I am also available to lend my curatorial services to any cultural institution in the Little Italy arts district that would be willing to host a retrospective of mid 80's Italian hardcore bands. This retrospective would need to include: Raw Power, the Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers, Negazione, Declino, and Indigesti (which I think is what you get after eating too much cannoli). Perhaps some adjunct programming could be included during "At the Edge" where Syd Migx from CCM could be flown in to give a lecture on his many knife scars. Again, I'm available to help with all of this. With new art districts appearing all the time, my fantasies for what the Chicago art scene could become have no limits.



I never said anything. I just quoted the questions that were sent to me from the Reader.

That said, it's good to get all different types of feedback, even if they conflict. Different people need different things and there's no right or wrong. Personally, I like openings, but if I can't make it, and I really want to see a show, I go another time. Also, some people don't dig crowds...

Italian ice would be so good right now. When is the next Coterie coming out?



On Thu, 6 May 2004, Claire Wolf Krantz wrote:

I read my email standing up. /jno


Hey, good cover story on the Reader. That Bonami is my kind of guy. It's hard to have an opinion about if he made good or bad decisions about a huge art festival, but it's still interesting.

It feels like the age of the critic has been trumped by the age of the curator.

And the quote:



So I look at the cover of New City, and then see the names Gabe Fowler and Mike Wolf, both names I've seen in OG.

I was all ticked at New City, but it's still awesome to be put on the cover of anything. Congrats.

And Mr. Fluxus is a good book, thanks for the tip. So is "Y E S" Yoko Ono.



Is it just me or are people being real snits over the New City coverkids? I mean, every critic has his/her pets. But these nine, though I'm not personally invested in much of what they do/make ( 'cept Brian who's a doll ), are solid.

So I don't think it's about the anointed few; I suspect something more devious afoot. Is there really so much jealousy/anxiety over such a little carrot?




On one level I can't argue with you about Brian being a doll, but is that really what gets you to "invest" in someone's work? Maybe it is. In which case art is no different from pop entertainment, the doll industry. Brian and his work are actually much richer and more thoughtful than that. I don't mean to question your respect and admiration for Brian, it's more that I wish you could say a word or two about what it is that makes him and his work important to you. It's better for Brian and it's better for the conversation.

I know that by "invest" you don't mean buy or spend money on... I throw this word around all the time and I am barely ever talking investing money when I use it. I guess it's about spending time with the work, reflecting on it, talking about it, wondering about it, and enjoying it. Couldn't we just as easily call this "using" the work?

As far as your suspicion that there is something devious afoot, I agree, there is no doubt in my mind that there is!

No one has been a snit to me about my complacent cooperation with the New City, at least not in a ways that I didn't expect and even hope for. Of all of the people who have kindly congratulated and ribbed me for doing this there was only one person who thought to ask me "how did you get on the cover of the New City?"

The answer, of course, I slept with the right people. Out of respect, I'm not going to say who those people are, but if you ask me in person I'd be happy to talk about it. One thing I will say though is that it's definitely not about sleeping with gallerists or critics!

But now there is a NEW New City out so we can all put this whole thing behind us.

Yours, Mike


It seems that the selection of artists for the New City thing were wholly based on the skewed opinions of Michael Workman. Most seem to agree that Workman's role in the art community is highly problematic -- on one hand, he spends a lot of time and energy writing about art in a public forum, which is a good thing; on the other, seems totally ignorant about art history and oblivious to some important contributions. What do you do with a guy like this? Does Chicago deserve him? He's champion of the arts, but a lazy fact-checker with a bizarrely singular perspective.


Hmmm. Who would spell anonymous wrong? Hmmmm.

Anonymously posted opinions about Michael Workman....



maybe Norm D. Plum?


On Fri, 14 May 2004, Anonomous Person wrote:

I am not commenting on the content, just the means:
- "From: Anonomous Person, another_fake_account at"

Funny. I had hoped people would sooner or later see through the obvious, that is, you can post here and be totally opaque - uh, wait... that happens quite too often.. I mean: your identity can be anonymoufied. We then can only figure out "who it is" by an analysis of the writing style and misspellings, like 'anonymous'. BTW, for your Sherlock Homes Clue Register, I misspell the work 'whcih'. And place punctuation marks outside of quotes - C style. So it aint me.

I agree, he only seems to write about his friends and aquaintances. That could develop into a whole new Method of Art Criticism (TM), "I only write about my friends".

Admin clue: Workman has not been on the list for some time.



No, Workman replied to the Coterie thing, saying he has checked with his lawyer regarding liable.

I don't know if I have any issue with a particular clique coming up together. It's a sense of an "it" group that helps create some central scene. And then things branch out from there. I take back NOT one word about sending in a hooker just to get a show listed in New City, I think they are inherently dishonest about their publishing practices. But I have no issue with the list being (possibly) one person's vision. Then you have something to break away from. If there's no core, you can't react from the core. There's no energy, no movement, Chicago is an art swamp. If M Workman sucks, awesome, at least Somebody Is Someone Enough to Suck. Then a new, better, faster, smarter, friendlier M Workman can come up as a response.

And there is something vibrant about West Loop Gate, and Bodybuilder and Sportsman, etc. After showing in the Section 8 Flat Iron building, filled wit zombies and the un-dead... at least one location has some vibrancy.

Most art movements started with a core small group, the Chicago Imagists, for example. And reading that Mr. Fluxus book, there is oftentimes a core critic or central figure in that group.

Also, art is bias. You could never objectively pick a criteria for 9 top artists without subjectively deciding the criteria. Or otherwise it'd be some intellectual jury decision at which everyone would be sleeping at the end.

The problem isn't New City, the problem is an overall lack of press. And sometimes, like tonight.... I'm looking at the Reader openings, is it just me, or is nothing going on? Nothing sounded interesting.

Blathering on as always, Kathryn


Okay, "invest" from "vestire". To dress. Like a doll.

I've shown with Brian, I've had conversations with him about his work, I found his work relevant and inspiring, and I care that he's successful. That's about it.

Point is, since Michael Bulka quit writing for New City it's not worth reading anyway so I seldom bother.

By the way, MB's looking for donations of live locusts to make a pie. He's planning a party so this needs to happen soon.



what makes one successful?

we all have connections to people who we think may do or write something about us....yet we pay the usual fare for the metro.


Michael should be writing. I miss the rants.

beyond this I have no voice



DAMMIT! I leave town for a couple weeks and I miss a controversy.

BTW If anyone on this list happens to be cruising by the Sioux City Art Center I have a pair of pieces in their current show.



A. Well, mostly art sucks. I congratulate the stamina of those who continue to make, show, curate and write. I could be more erudite and detailed except . . .

B. I'm a lazy fuck,and easily distracted. To whit (is this the right spelling and usage?) . . .

C. I'm not planning a locust party, though there is supposed to be a 17 year cicada event in a few weeks. I would like to eat some, They're supposed to taste like artichoke/potatoes, full of protein and good in stir-fry or on a bbq skewer.

From what I've read, they are best harvested just as they come out of the ground, before they harden. This happens in the pre-dawn. After they harden, the legs and wings have to be pulled off.

Of course the females are the better eating, but i don't know how to tell them apart.

I think if you are really brave or hungry you can eat them live. The other plan is to parboil 'em, or stick'em in the fridge in a live marinade. Then they are ingredients - tacos, pizzas, omelets, deep-fried for snacks,

I'm not too optimistic. A few years ago there was a different schedule of cicadas that came out. The few I saw were too sickly to eat. This year - in my Wicker Park neighborhood, I don't think there is any ground that hasn't been disturbed in the the last 17 years.

If you are out in the un-chem-lawned part of the country, and can gather a bucket of bugs, I'll show you that i\I'm a decent cook


OGs, Yesterday I got the disturbing email below from artist Paul Chan, who many of you may know or remember as he used to live in Chicago and was just back recently to give a couple lectures/screenings. If anyone wants to write him and send words of support or encouragement, his email is: manwichartist at Better yet, circulate this email. In addition to being an excellent artist, Paul has been doing extremely courageous work with Voices in the Wilderness. Show the man some love. These are such fucked times we are living in. Marc

Here is the email:

Friends, Some news, not so good but strangely hopeful nevertheless. On June 4th, I will stand with other members of Voices in the Wilderness at a hearing

at the Federal Courthouse in Washington DC. The US Dept of Treasury is attempting to collect $20,000 in fines for bringing medicines to Iraq and the US Dept of Justice is attempting to impose 10 to 12 year prison terms on us if we don't pay. (It is important to note we have filed a countersuit, against the US for maintaining the crime of economic sanctions. Also important to know is that we will not pay, will never pay, and will fight this, tooth, nail, whatever).

This is, of course, on top of the old (maybe new to you) news that Kathy

Kelly, co-director of Voices in the Wilderness, along with 5 others, have been serving prison sentences since late April, for their protest work. Kathy will be in for 4 months at the Pekin federal prison in Illinois. Jerry Zarwada got 6. Others, 3.

People ought to know, don't you think, that our government is not only waging a war overseas, but also here, against the very people who are trying to stem the institutional violence that has become the unfortunate fabric of our lives.

Help me. Tell your friends about what is happening to VITW. If you have friends in the media, pass the information on. Tell them to contact me or Danny Muller, who is coordinating outreach for the group. Kathy is available for interviews in prison. Get media to interview her, or reprint her essay that was just posted on (full link below). No friends in the media? How about setting up a media event? There are 5 or 6 of us in the NY area willing and able to talk about Iraq, the war, the occupation, the future, without war. Help us get the word out.

I leave you now with a quote from Albert Camus, VITW's unofficial philosopher: "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."


------------------------------> MEDIA CONTACT FOR VITW Danny Muller (Chicago, NY, DC) danny at 773 784 8065 voices office 917 217 6809- cell

Paul Chan (NY) feed at 212 929 0698
------------------------------> Kathy Kelly's essay on life in prison and a visit from the FBI (May 20, 2004) []

Read the summons from the US dept of Treasury against VITW []

Baghdad Snapshot Action (oldie but goodie) []



Just getting around to this...there was a discussion a few weeks/months back regarding the idea of "royalties" for artists on their work being resold at later dates. Some viewed it as impossible, a silly notion at best. I have news for you. Such a program exists in California. There is even a database system whereby artists can update their information if/as they move around, so the checks can find them. Remarkable.



Adam: So, what do they call this magical program?



Mr. Deathtrip-- I will have to dig through my notebooks for the exact name. From the discussion that the topic came up in, it doesn't seem to be a dominant program with the arts communities here. None the less, we once again see that a road has been paved where we didn't realize a path had even been cut.

KYR Adam


Please define "program".

You are saying that a buyer, on a non-voluntary basis, makes a legal agreement with the artist, that if, at any time in the future, they sell the piece at a profit, the artist will receive a percentage of that profit?

If the artist dies, does the family receive the royalty? If the buyer dies, is the inheritor of the piece under similar contract?

Is the database maintained without fees, or is there an administrator or organization that takes a percentage? What type of long term commitment has the database administrator given to the artist and buyers? What if they lose interest in the project and they stop maintaining the database?

The devil is in the details. Most important to me is if this is a voluntary thing. There will always be some people who volunteer for this type of agreement. But if it became THE WAY it's done, and the buyer had no choice, I would still be very interested to see how far this would fly.

But I still maintain, I don't think it's fair to go one way. If the piece makes money in the future, the artist should get a cut. But if the piece has no resale value, I just don't see why the artist shouldn't share in the loss as well. It simply cannot be a one way street, otherwise this agreement provides NOTHING for the buyer.



I want to research this, but if you have the leverage to do it, you can contract for anything. I doubt you would get anyone to agree to a "If you sell it I get a cut" clause but I am sure someone somewhere has pulled it off.

I seem to recall reading about a movement to do this in CA that got on the books (was law) but I can't imagine that the art dealers (and auction houses) were happy about it.

In a brief non Lexis-Nexis search I found:

The methods of enforcing the scheme also vary. In France, a collecting society collects and distributes the royalties, after deducting its administration costs of 20%. Whilst dealer sales are theoretically subject to resale royalties, in practice this is not enforced due to the difficulty in administering the system. In California, there is an onus on the person making the sale to withhold 5% of the amount of any sale over $1,000 and to pay the royalty directly to the artist within 90 days of the sale"

Even better:


Sounds like a total nightmare to enforce, and I imagine, short of things that aren't part of the landscape (like the fountain discussed above) that people will take their Jasper Johns and route in through New York (or, even better, form the corporation in a different state and bounce all of the money out of, say, New Hampshire or somewhere where they are very kind in their business law)

I'll have to dig the following article up to see what the state of things was in 1980:

Morseburg V. Balyon--The High Court Grants Royalty a Reprieve: Constitutional Challenges to the California Resale Royalties Act By Bob Jones

On November 10, 1980, the United States Supreme Court denied appellants petition for writ of certiorari in Morseburg v. Balyon, 621 F.2d 972 (9th) Cir. 1980), culminating three years of litigation on the constitutionality of the California Resale Royalties Act (California Civil Code section 986). This article examines the three constitutional issues addressed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the subsequent constitutional arguments made by the appellant in his certiorari petition: copyright preemption under the Copyright Act of 1909; retroactive application of the Resale Royalties Act; and the due process issues &rising in the retroactive application of the Resale Royalties Act. The author also expands the preemption analysis to include the prediction of the outcome of any future challenges to the Resale Royalties Act under the Copyright Revision Act of 1976. He concludes that it would not be found preempted.

The following is the text of the section:


Division 2. Property

Part 3. Personal or Movable Property

Title 2. Particular Kinds of Personal Property

Chapter 3. Products of the Mind

986. Sale of fine art

(a) Whenever a work of fine art is sold and the seller resides in California or the sale takes place in California, the seller or the seller's agent shall pay to the artist of such work of fine art or to such artist's agent 5 percent of the amount of such sale. The right of the artist to receive an amount equal to 5 percent of the amount of such sale may be waived only by a contract in writing providing for an amount in excess of 5 percent of the amount of such sale. An artist may assign the right to collect the royalty payment provided by this section to another individual or entity. However, the assignment shall not have the effect of creating a waiver prohibited by this subdivision.

(1) When a work of fine art is sold at an auction or by a gallery, dealer, broker, museum, or other person acting as the agent for the seller the agent shall withhold 5 percent of the amount of the sale, locate the artist and pay the artist.

(2) If the seller or agent is unable to locate and pay the artist within 90 days, an amount equal to 5 percent of the amount of the sale shall be transferred to the Arts Council.

(3) If a seller or the seller's agent fails to pay an artist the amount equal to 5 percent of the sale of a work of fine art by the artist or fails to transfer such amount to the Arts Council, the artist may bring an action for damages within three years after the date of sale or one year after the discovery of the sale, whichever is longer. The prevailing party in any action brought under this paragraph shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees, in an amount as determined by the court.

(4) Moneys received by the council pursuant to this section shall be deposited in an account in the Special Deposit Fund in the State Treasury.

(5) The Arts Council shall attempt to locate any artist for whom money is received pursuant to this section. If the council is unable to locate the artist and the artist does not file a written claim for the money received by the council within seven years of the date of sale of the work of fine art, the right of the artist terminates and such money shall be transferred to the council for use in acquiring fine art pursuant to the Art in Public Buildings program set forth in Chapter 2.1 (commencing with Section 15813) of Part 10b of Division 3 of Title 2, of the Government Code.

(6) Any amounts of money held by any seller or agent for the payment of artists pursuant to this section shall be exempt from enforcement of a money judgment by the creditors of the seller or agent.

(7) Upon the death of an artist, the rights and duties created under this section shall inure to his or her heirs, legatees, or personal representative, until the 20th anniversary of the death of the artist. The provisions of this paragraph shall be applicable only with respect to an artist who dies after January 1, 1983.

(b) Subdivision (a) shall not apply to any of the following:

(1) To the initial sale of a work of fine art where legal title to such work at the time of such initial sale is vested in the artist thereof.

(2) To the resale of a work of fine art for a gross sales price of less than one thousand dollars ($ 1,000).

(3) Except as provided in paragraph (7) of subdivision (a), to a resale after the death of such artist.

(4) To the resale of the work of fine art for a gross sales price less than the purchase price paid by the seller.

(5) To a transfer of a work of fine art which is exchanged for one or more works of fine art or for a combination of cash, other property, and one or more works of fine art where the fair market value of the property exchanged is less than one thousand dollars ($ 1,000).

(6) To the resale of a work of fine art by an art dealer to a purchaser within 10 years of the initial sale of the work of fine art by the artist to an art dealer, provided all intervening resales are between art dealers.

(7) To a sale of a work of stained glass artistry where the work has been permanently attached to real property and is sold as part of the sale of the real property to which it is attached.

(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Artist" means the person who creates a work of fine art and who, at the time of resale, is a citizen of the United States, or a resident of the state who has resided in the state for a minimum of two years .

(2) "Fine art" means an original painting, sculpture, or drawing, or an original work of art in glass.

(3) "Art dealer" means a person who is actively and principally engaged in or conducting the business of selling works of fine art for which business such person validly holds a sales tax permit.

(d) This section shall become operative on January 1, 1977, and shall apply to works of fine art created before and after its operative date.

(e) If any provision of this section or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid for any reason, such invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or applications of this section which can be effected, without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are severable.

(f) The amendments to this section enacted during the 1981-82 Regular Session of the Legislature shall apply to transfers of works of fine art, when created before or after January 1, 1983, that occur on or after that date.

At 06:33 PM 5/25/2004 -0500, you wrote:


Sorry I wasn't entirely accurate, you can't contract for illegal things, just in case some wise ass wanted to throw that out there.

At 08:08 PM 5/25/2004 -0500, you wrote:


I don't think its reasonable to expect an artist to pay if a client loses money when he/she sells a work. What if a collector goes bankrupt and is forced to liquidate their assets? The timing of the sale is too important. It is up to the collector to choose when to sell, and if they are afraid they will not make a profit, they can simply keep the artwork....that should be enough of a profit!


--------------------------------- Do you Yahoo!? Friends. Fun. Try the all-new Yahoo! Messenger


I once had a boss who said "Don't say what we're doing wrong without proposing a way to do it right."

So true to that idea, this seems like something closer to reality:

One thing I think the art world needs is for more people to become collectors. We need a more widespread, grassroots, collecting movement.

So say a collector (buyer) and artist (seller) could work out an agreement that the artist discounts the piece 50%, then they sign an agreement (not a contract, an agreement) that if the piece increases in value in a certain period (say 10 years) they get a good percentage of the sale.

A utopian vision of this would be small time, awesome collectors, with awesome taste - someone really on the ground in the arts - would be creating a specific type of art collection, almost taking tokens from undiscovered artists, an art community or burgeoning movement. Artists would have to believe in the collector's vision, and want to be a part of this collection. The collector, in turn, is trying to create a body of owned work that is so cleverly collected that the collection AS A COLLECTION has value.

In this way the collector almost becomes an agent, or talent scout, and this type of collector would have goals that would entail "flipping" the collection in 10-15 years, while the artists are still alive and not using a cane.

An example of something like this is a story I heard about a married couple, both worked for the post office, and they were normal people with a kick ass taste in art. They bought cheap art from unknown artists. But then the artists got to be well known and I guess the collection is worth millions. Now say someone in this collection didn't become very well known. But just because that artist was a part of that collection, because those post office workers thought their art was good, it would give that unknown artists' work a value it didn't normally have.

If I keep writing I'll hit the size limit... Does this make sense? What do you guys think? K


I know this is essentially two forwards in one week but as with the information from Paul Chan, I think information like this must be circulated as these stories will surely be ignored by the Fox News Network and its ilk. Forward widely. This is outrageous and appalling. Marc


FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body


Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest

and died in her sleep. The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with

government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at []


Steve Kurtz is Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the State

University of New York's University at Buffalo, and a member of the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble.

Kurtz's wife, Hope Kurtz, died in her sleep of cardiac arrest in the early morning hours of May 11. Police arrived, became suspicious of Kurtz's art supplies and called the FBI.

Within hours, FBI agents had "detained" Kurtz as a suspected bioterrorist and cordoned off the entire block around his house. (Kurtz walked away the next day on the advice of a lawyer, his "detention" having proved to be illegal.) Over the next few days, dozens of agents in hazmat suits, from a number of law enforcement agencies, sifted through Kurtz's work, analyzing it on-site and impounding computers, manuscripts, books, equipment, and even his wife's body for further analysis. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Health

Department condemned his house as a health risk.

Kurtz, a member of the Critical Art Ensemble, makes art which addresses the politics of biotechnology. "Free Range Grains," CAE's latest project, included a mobile DNA extraction laboratory for testing food products for possible transgenic contamination. It was this equipment which triggered

the Kafkaesque chain of events.

FBI field and laboratory tests have shown that Kurtz's equipment was not

used for any illegal purpose. In fact, it is not even _possible_ to use this equipment for the production or weaponization of dangerous germs. Furthermore, any person in the US may legally obtain and possess such equipment.

Carla Mendes. "Yet owning the equipment required to test for the presence of 'Frankenfood' will get you accused of 'terrorism.' You can be illegally detained by shadowy government agents, lose access to your home, work, and belongings, and find that your recently deceased spouse's body has been taken away for 'analysis.'"

Though Kurtz has finally been able to return to his home and recover his

wife's body, the FBI has still not returned any of his equipment, computers or manuscripts, nor given any indication of when they will. The case remains open.


A small fortune has already been spent on lawyers for Kurtz and other Critical Art Ensemble members. A defense fund has been established at [] to help defray the legal costs which will continue to mount so long as the investigation continues. Donations

go directly to the legal defense of Kurtz and other Critical Art Ensemble members. Should the funds raised exceed the cost of the legal defense, any remaining money will be used to help other artists in need.

To make a donation, please visit []

For more information on the Critical Art Ensemble, please visit [http://www.critical]

Articles about the case: [] -WKBW-2.html [] -WKBW.html

On advice of counsel, Steve Kurtz is unable to answer questions regarding his case. Please direct questions or comments to Carla Mendes .


On Tue, 25 May 2004, Kathryn Born wrote:

that was 4K. Size limit is 16K - keep prattling.

Question: do you guys sell a lot of art?

I dont.



Where is the precedent for doing this? Besides being impossible to enforce, I don't know that it would increase the number of collectors out there. Talk about an incentive to not buy. In my experience, art collectors buy art for one of two reasons. Either they simply like the piece or they are banking on the artist becoming well known, thereby increasing the value on their investment. If saddled with contracts and royalties, I'm certain this would turn away many would-be collectors. But I digress. Where is the precedent? If I sell a Rob Zombie CD on ebay, do I have to give the musician a portion of my sale? Of course not.

Just my 3 cents. Skwee

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I don't think the law can be applied as a punitive measure if your work does increase in value. It isn't like the artist has to settle up at the end of the day (I can remember working at the the Art Institute when we were trying to dump a Larry Poons that was less valuable than the frame it was in, if only we could have recovered from the estate). The royalty law can only be used if you work increases in value, so that you, as the artist, can get a cut.

You bring up an interesting point though.

What if a collector is liquidating assets, and dumping your work at fire-sale prices, can you sue to recover the lost royalty from the (in your view) improperly handled sale?


At 08:51 PM 5/25/2004 -0700, you wrote:


Actually this has seemingly been well litigated (although more difficult to enforce than lots of other things).

The problem with the whole resale royalty problem is that it applies to the big name people out there. The only easy way to tack work (and therefore royalties due) is through the auction and gallery secondary sales systems which are awash in documentation. Private sale, you'd be hard pressed to prove that you were owed money.

Beside, does Jasper Johns need any more money?

At 07:01 AM 5/26/2004 -0700, you wrote:


The first sentence is to read "does not" the last sentence is to read "your work" I really have to start reading these things before I send them. Apologies.

At 09:42 AM 5/26/2004 -0500, you wrote:


When a collector sells a work of art from their collection, there is also the issue of how that effects the value of the artist's work. If I were an artist I would be more concerned with this than making a cut of the sale. Now, this of course probably only pertains to a small percent of artists (who are involved in the art market), but it is a more critical issue than royalties. I read that Damien Hirst wanted to buy his artwork back from Charles Saatchi because he knew that this collector has a reputation for selling off in mass the work of one artist - ruining the value of the artist's work (and their career). I think if you want to make a career selling your art then you need a good gallery - one who will not just sell your work, but sell it to the right people - people who care and take responsibility for their position as an art collector.

anyhow, I'm not sure if this really pertains to anyone on this list...does it? Most artists I know sell work to people they like and don't worry about those people making money by re-selling their work - or, they don't really sell at all, they just make work and do projects because they have a drive to do so - and royalties are not even a concern for them. there's a whole beaurocratic and legal mess that's being discussed here that ruins the whole enjoyment of creating and owning art. keri


Of course it's a violation of integrity to consider making art that people want to buy the first time, but on the resale market we think artists should get a royalty?

That's hypocrisy.

We've had this conversation before and it's boring. Let's direct our energy toward producing rather than taking.

To appropriate Abraham Simpson, "I'm an artist. Gimme gimme gimme."



The syllogistic marriage of art and business has always caused paradox and anxiety. We are also the first people to heckle the successful, and if we are successful the first to forget to help out others, by and large.

Change and improvement in the art world starts with us, community is how we can all succeed and few artists are interested beyond lip service.

At 11:21 AM 5/26/2004 -0500, you wrote:






it is tough...i may have to start selling "elotes"(corn on the cob) in Pilsen to make ends meet.



Kathryn Born wrote: []




I think some people are missing the point of this conversation (hello Curt).

It's not about greed. This is about the conflict between commerce and existentialism.

When an existential action is assigned monetary value, how does the value effect the quality of the action? When the action is wholly commodified as a transferable object, what relation does this have to the original gesture?

Certain artists have addressed these issues explicitly in the content of their work (John Baldessari and J.S.G. Boggs come to mind), and there's still a lot to talk about (hello Marc).

If we can separate the boring pragmatics of money transfer to the more interesting philosophical issues, we may get somewhere.

Peace GF


Yup, scary. I don't want to demonize Gallerists, the Gallery world particularly on the early-mid career artists is clearly an act of love and dedication by the proprietors. I haven't run a gallery, but have worked at and with a few and the overhead is huge and the profit small. Hopefully we can experience another economic boom soon and the art world will pick up.

In response to Gabriel:

Isn't that the dream of what we do? Sadly, I just tallied my loan debt, etc, yikes! And as an artist who does work that is more analogous to construction contracting than painting my eye is constantly darting to the expense sheet.

If only there was a better public support network for creative types in the US. How many people could you feed, symphonies could you fund, public art project could you pay for, for the cost of one day on Iraqi occupation?

Okay, I have been way to chatty on this list, I will now resume my lurking.

We should for a lobbyist organization to promote the r At 11:51 AM 5/26/2004 -0500, you wrote:


Actually, an artist could help control the sale of his/her artwork by demanding a cut no matter if it is profit or loss. Then, the collector would be less willing to sell unless it were for a profit! MB

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Gabriel Fowler wrote: "Certain artists have addressed these issues explicitly in the content of their work (John Baldessari and J.S.G. Boggs come to mind), and there's still a lot to talk about (hello Marc).

Hello Gabe. This is nice but am I the only person who finds it mindblowing that a discussion of hypotheticals involving collecting and the resale of art just go on and on but no one has yet mustered a little public moral outrage for the astonishingly fucked up situation involving Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble that I posted information about earlier? Or Paul Chan's situation? Doesn't this make everyone feel horrified and incredibly vulnerable as an artist or simply as a human being? What would the FBI enjoy looking at and confiscating from your studio when you call in an unrelated medical emergency to the police? What the fuck is happening lately?

And lest anyone think that the news from RTMark might be a hoax, multiple reports from people close to the situation are reporting back that it is not. So what do we want to do about this? Keep worrying about Monique Meloche's lease and Jasper Johns' bank account or find ways to drum up support for Paul and Steve?

Workman is writing something about Chan's situation for Bridge. That's a start. I'm leaving town and scrambling to do what I can before. What else can we do? At the very least it's easy to donate to Steve's legal defense. Marc


Gabe, Love you man. But this is still hashing over the same issues and sounds like artists griping about what society owes the communal "them".

There are millions of jobs out there, but very few if any really pay anyone to be existential. Jobs pay to people to be productive.

But still there are existentialists in the world. In fact there are millions of them, they just work it into the rest of there lives. Sometimes quietly so that no one notices and sometimes overtly and to the betterment of society or within their jobs.

If being an artist is your job, then make it your job and make money doing it. If being an existentialist is your interest, than be one but don't expect it to pay your rent.

I'm being a little facetious and simplifying (its more fun than work) but at some point a counter opinion needs to be stated to bring the conversation back into reality.



Gabriel Fowler: "If we can separate the boring pragmatics of money transfer to the more interesting philosophical issues, we may get somewhere"

Theres nothing wrong with discussing money. Money is a symbol of the existential action, it is a symbol of the underlying philosophical argument, so as long as you understand that, it isn't a boring discussion.

I would like to see some existential action on this topic, though. I think there has been enough discussion and proven something is viable. I would also like to see the public reaction. I imagine that at first, collectors would go out and buy up some art before any new laws or contracts are put in place. Afterwards, there might be a downturn, but it would pick up and might increase art sales. Comparing a Rob Zombie, or any cheap reproduction like a poster to original art is not a useful comparison. By making a buyer sign a contract you would be emphaszing the fact the art does increase in value. I don't think it would break a sale....I think it would help make a sale!


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MB Writes " Actually, an artist could help control the sale of his/her artwork by demanding a cut no matter if it is profit or loss. Then, the collector would be less willing to sell unless it were for a profit!"

And less willing to buy in the first place. Or not at all.



Like Richard, I feel I have posted too much. After this post, I will try to lurk as well.


Let me try to do the impossible and tie in Marc's outrage at current events, and these money art discussions.

Yes, technically, we should all open our wallets and help out these causes. And if you have any cash, you should do it.

But for me, since I cannot give money, there are other things I can do. We can spread the word not just about one-off injustices, but support channels that are controlled by the public, rather than moneyed interests.

At the heart of all my talk about money and art is one question: is there any way, as artists, as individuals, as a community, that we can affect change? Can we think creatively to distribute a range of thinking and a variety of viewpoints? Because if our only answer is government support, or our only answer is to spend money out of pocket when our apartment rent is already late, or the only answer is to talk to our friends about politics or make art as a hobby-- then we have really painted ourselves into a corner. Then the only voice who ever has our ear is corporations.

You probably don't have money to get a billboard to post your message about these cases, but we can make posters and wheat paste them around the city. As artists, we could come up with some good posters. You should look at "Nobody Died When Clinton Lied" ( Look at what these folks do with no money. Tell me you need money and I can't help you. Tell me you need artists' to create an effective message, and think creatively about how to spread that message around, then I can.

The power of one artist can be greater than the power of 100 activists. Artists are on this planet to show the rest of the world a different way of looking at ordinary things.


P.S. is one organization that does cover these news stories, if you are interested.


It's very fishy that Marc's email about Steve Kurtz went to my junk mail folder...(not really, but I don't know why some go there and others don't)

anyway, Marc is right - are we all beaten down by the Patriot Act like everyone else in the US - or, maybe not beaten down, but just complacent?

This is just as unbelievable as about 75% of what I read/hear about in the news lately. The protests didn't work, maybe my little amount of money here and there might help a bit, but really, it's depressing when outrageous would be a better collective emotion.

The next POST edition by Siebren Versteeg features an image from the movie Independence Day of the white house being blown up. If they haul me, lisa and siebren off to prison will all of you come bail us out?



Right on Marc. Just what I was thinking.

Its really outrageous what has been done to Steven Kurtz. And that it follows so closely on the Oregon lawyer's arrest and release makes it doubly so. I don't so much care what it means for artists and FBI harassment (and worse) of artists but what is means for anyone--and I mean anyone--to be subject to this treatment. We are living in a fucked up country and no one seems to be outraged. Except for that idiot Senator who is outraged at the outrage. He's outrageous.

At this point I can't be all that articulate about this. But I do know that day by day it is becoming incredibly hard to live life "normally" while these things are done in our name, by our government. It has to stop.

On the money question, I would argue with Curt that artists work is somehow different from jobs that pay "people to be productive." Artists are productive. They may not produce what the market wants them to. But there are others out there who may not be in a position to influence a market but that value artists production. An easy example would be producers--non-profit heads, DYI start-ups like POST, critics and writers who aren't well compensated, etc. I know you were being facetious, Curt, but I think this conversation needs more nuance not more binaries. I think that the way you put it sets artists in two camps and doesn't acknowledge the many types of capital that art produces: cultural, economic, social.

For those of you who are interested in the question of business, art, economics and its many facets, next week UIC is the host of the Association of Cultural Economics International, June 2, 3, 4 & 5 in the Chicago Circle Center on Halsted. Those of you who know the U of C Cultural Policy Center, they are participating. More information on the conference and paper topics can be found at [] Its costs money but if some of you on this list really want to go I could probably find a way for you to attend at least some sessions for free.


On Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at 12:17 PM, Marc Fischer wrote:

Lorelei Stewart Director, Gallery 400

University of Illinois at Chicago 1240 West Harrison Street (MC034) Chicago, IL 60607 312-996-6114 tel 312-355-3444 fax []



On the money: After Richard's awesome posts, which saved all of us a lot of time (were we to go digging for it), some are saying "yeah well I don't care anyway". Almost sounds like a spoiled child.

Someone/many people went to the extreme trouble and legal fees to put your rights as an artist on the book as a LAW you idiots. They didn't have to, nobody was going to jail over it. Whether you choose to exercise this is your decision, but you would be remiss to depreciate its value. If a gallery and artist decide to forgo this agreement, no harm. On the one hand bankrupting small galleries is mentioned, but how much is five percent of the price tag of a young, local artist anyway? Do the math, it's peanuts.

On the man:

Artists are historically the first to meet the gallows, specifically because of their power to subvert and influence. I mentioned the fiasco concerning Mark Lombardi a few months ago who went through a very similar situation with the federales. Raided his shows, confiscated works and made his life a living hell, which incidentally, ended very tragically. There is a history to this harassment that could be very a valuable defense if someone compiled it. A poster campaign is a fine idea. Similar projects, minus the direct political slant, have erupted from magazines like Tokion and Adbusters in recent years, where designs were available for download from their sites (as PDF) so any one could pull it, photocopy it and put them up. It is especially effective when the same message pops up in different cities. If someone there gets their act together and designs something, lemme know and I'll see what we can do out here. If it helps I have a site that could possibly host such a document, as an expression of my love for the people of the United States and the glory of the Nation. (just in case any of ashcrofts peeps are listening in) Just within the connections of this group we could drop this from coast to coast. Maybe a design competition/something non-competitive to get people involved? Was Steve involved with OG? If it was on his hard drive...



LS writes "that artists work is somehow different from jobs that pay "people to be productive." Artists are productive. They may not produce what the market wants them to.

Ah, poo. Artists do not deserve some special status that allows them to draw from society when no one is buying their art. If you open this door for artists, you must then open it for unsuccessful writers, musicians, floral arrangers, and jugglers.

As far as "capital", I will argue that each of those flavors, cultural, economic, and social, ultimately leads to the same thing - the ability to pay the rent. Successful artists all have someone willing to pay them to make work. Maybe it's a museum, government organization, or a grant writer rather than a collector, but it all comes down to someone writing a check.

DIY spaces are great, but they have the same problem. They can have a few years of creative involvement, but then they can't do it any longer - no matter what they have contributed. Maybe the sum of them including the openings and closing lead to a synergistic cultural phenomenon but that's little solace to the individual alternative space operators who have to go get a job.

Finally, I don't think this is "binary" as Lorelei states. I think it's endemic. The only way the art community in Chicago is going to thrive is for people to be able to make a living off it. That means artists selling work, gallery owners running successful businesses, collectors supporting Chicago based artists (which I do), and the museums educating the public and drawing bigger audiences.

I feel like I am repeating myself and sounding negative (which I'm not). I'm going to be quiet now. Really.



Marc, Thanks for posting the disturbing and tragic news about Steve Kurtz and Hope Kurtz. Ex-othergrouper Dan Wang told me about this last week and while I find it very unsettling. But I am sorry to say, it's not that surprising.

Now let me talk about selling art...oh wait, that has, like, nothing to do with me. Why would I talk about that? Because everybody else is?

Like everybody up on this group I have a lot of experience dealing with money and there are many transactions of capital (cultural capital, cash, all that stuff Lorelei was talking about) that happen around my art and art that is important to me, like that of the Critical Art Ensemble. Let me to trace a short series of transactions, all of which are about supporting art, all of which are vital and important, but none of which are about buying or selling art or getting royalties:

Somehow Michael Workman was impressed enough by my art (or something) to invite me to be included in article about emerging artists in some weekly rag, even though I don't sell art. I fret about whether or not to play along, asking friends and artists I admire for advice, they generously talk it through with me. I end up in the paper. This was the most visibility I've ever had. People I ran into on a day to day basis, but who knew nothing about my work saw me differently. My status was different as a result of this article, for these people, people on the train, people at my job, art students I know, and so on. At the behest of my mother, and because I knew that my grandmother would like it, I sent the article to my grandmother, a lovely and remarkable woman. In turn, out of her passion for me, inflamed by the New City article (which she probably didn't read very carefully or even really care what it said) she decided to send me half of her income tax return, $200. I sent that money to the Steve Kurtz legal defense fund. Thank you Grandma, seriously.

Here we have a series of important exchanges, of money, emotion, and support. My work is supported and promoted, I support the one of the most interesting artists anywhere, money is given, but never is any art bought or sold. My grandmother experiences a profound fit of passion, I experience a profound sense of insecurity and anxiety and am mobilized to give money. All of this is happening parallel to the market/exchange economy that we've been fretting about with this whole royalties thing. Selling art is not the only way of being supported. Buying art is not the only way to support. So much happens outside of those narrow and jagged channels of the market economy, and to my mind these extra-market exchanges are the interesting exchanges and the most rich territory to explore (forgive me for my neo-colonialist analogy, I've got to come up with a better way to talk about this). There are ways to solve the rent problem, there are ways to eat, and there are ways to be entertained/entertain that don't really depend on a market system. I haven t found them it, it s a bigger project than that. And I'm not saying that the solution to the rent problem is a generous grandmother either (not for everybody, but maybe for some people). I m using this series of transactions to illustrate that "support" can happen regardless of a strong exchange/market economy, and to titillate the imagination of exchange. The discussion of royalties is one where I find I am pretty much illiterate by choice. I'd rather try to talk to my alderman about playgrounds in my neighborhood or a union rep (if I had one) about my health coverage. Both territories that seem just as beyond my control as royalties for art, but much more immediately interesting.

thanks, Mike


For those of you interested in arts coverage there is a free roundtable being held next Wednesday at Malcolm X College. Lots of arts professionals, writers and broadcasters are listed to attend. But no artists. I urge you artists who care to go.

The roundtable discussion is FREE, but you have to RSVP to cmw at with "arts roundtable" in the subject line to be on the list.

More detailed information can be found at the website: [] +Sub&main_id=373.


PS. I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Wolf about the other systems of exchange that support artists. I think if traditional "supporters of the arts" and collectors understood more about these concepts then the cart wouldn't be put before the horse. Just as pollution has excess negative value, we could understand that art can have significant excess value over what market (and its sometimes limited knowledge) is interested in. And yes musicians and writers deserve and often get these other avenues of support.

But I do agree with you Curt that museums and institutions have obligations to educate audiences and potential supporters.