ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * February 21, 2002


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.


      "So, Dick, what do you do for a living?"
      That is the second question most people ask after meeting someone for the first time, right after "How are you?". This series of columns looks at making a living in the arts and will cover dance, movies and theater, and writing in future weeks.
      The question bothers Fairfax artist Valerie Ugro because it is so often followed by, "How do you make a living at that?"
      "We don't ever ask that of somebody else who is a sole proprietor," she said.
      I have yet to talk with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who had invited an AAC visual artist, "We like your abstract paintings! Come and work for us to paint whatever you want!"
      What makes us view an artist (in any medium) differently than the plumber or doctor or lawyer who works alone or who works for a large company? Can a fine artist find commercial success?
      The answer is Yes, but.
      The artist, doctor, house painter, lawyer, or plumber who have hung out a shingle are each the proprietor of a small business with all the risks and unrelated tasks running a business entails. There is the need to maintain inventory, to bill customers, to advertise, and to deal with taxes, health insurers, and regulators. Each task takes time away from the art, whether the art is making paintings or painting walls.
      Corliss Blakely of St Albans, Michael Domina of Montgomery, Gail Salzman of Fairfield, and Mark Tougias of Bakersfield are critically acclaimed and commercially successful fine artists. But for every Corliss Blakely, there are a hundred respected, successful Vermont artists like Paule Gingras, David Juaire, Meta Strick, and Wayne Tarr, artists who paint, photograph, or sculpt regularly but who also have day jobs. And even Ms. Blakely, Mr. Domina, Ms. Salzman, Mr. Tougias, and Ms. Ugro do more than just paint every day.
      Visual artist Gail Salzman has led three Can Do Art workshops under a grant for VSA-Arts Vermont and Northwestern Counseling and Support Services to make the arts accessible to people of differing abilities. She has also received a National Endowment of the Arts award and several regional arts grants, and teaches art at CCV and Burlington City Arts. Her oil paintings are popular at East Coast exhibits including the AAC Artrain Festival, the Amy Tarrant Gallery, the Furchgott-Sourdiffe Gallery. She accepts commissions.
      Michael Domina teaches six classes each week in watercolor and mixed media as well as several summer workshops. He has a full time studio in Hull, Massachusetts. He also manages and exhibits in the Red Barn Studio in Montgomery from May thru October.
      Ms. Ugro recently completed a residency at the Fairfax elementary school, a project that was artistically challenging and financially rewarding. "The program tries to make sure the artist gets paid to help educate the public about paying visual artists for what they do," she said. She actively promotes commercial art, has created a thriving market for her reproduction prints, and sells her own work to businesses.
      "It's a business and 95 or more percent of every small business fails," Ms. Ugro said. "It doesn't matter whether it is artists or musicians or the guy who just bought a new backhoe to start a ditch digging business. You've got to know about business. You've got to learn how to sell yourself."
      Next week, we will look at the job of artist.


      On Saturday, the AAC gallery exhibit at the Opera House in Enosburg Falls changes from Vermont photography to watercolor paintings and prints. This is your last chance to see the landscapes, portraits, seascapes, and fine art imagery of AAC member artists Dick Harper, April Henderson, David Juaire, Gustav Verderber, and Wayne Tarr and on Saturday, the first chance see new imagery by Connie Clay-Bickel, Michael Domina, Mary Harper, Joy Mashtare, Valerie Ugro, and more.
      The display of watercolor paintings and prints will fill the downstairs gallery and will remain on exhibit through March. Many of the works are available for sale.


KEPT WRITER MAGAZINE (February 28)--The Kept Writer Bookstore and Cafe is accepting submissions for upcoming issues. "We are looking for short fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction, as well as artwork, cartoons, etc." For more info call Jim (527-5088) or Launie and Jedd (527-6242). Manuscripts can be emailed to the Kept Writer, dropped off, or sent by snail mail to the cafe.
      As with most literary submissions, do not send originals, as manuscripts are rarely returned.

FOURTH ANNUAL FACE TO FACE INTERNATIONAL (February 28)--Massapequa, NY, exhibit of faces or portraits, real or imagined, human, nonhuman, masks, etc. in any 2D or 3D media. Juried. Entry Fee. No commission. Active publicity and 2500 viewer average. Click herefor info.

CALL FOR ENTRIES (March 14)--Distinctive, imaginative interpretations of the human figure across media. Juried show at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, MA Click herefor info.

GATEWAY 2002 NATIONAL JURIED ART SHOW (March 15)--This Northwest New Mexico Arts Council show in Farmington is open to all media and all U.S. artists over 18. $3000 in awards. Entry fee. In conjunction with the art show there will be a Colored Pencil Basic and Colored Pencil Technique Workshop. e-mail for info.

FIFTH L'OREAL ART AND SCIENCE OF COLOR PRIZE (March 15)--The theme is "the meeting of science and art in color" for an international commercial competition. Award of Euro 30,000. Click here or e-mail for info.

SCULPTURE WANTED (March 15)--Florida Art in State Buildings Program will commission several innovative and dynamic free standing sculptures for an engineering building, the courtyard of new teaching academy, and more. All media appropriate for outdoor installation will be considered. Write to Teresa E. Robert, BR-408, Box 161345. Orlando FL 32816 for info.

ENAMEL COMPETITION (March 15)--Open to all enamel work in 2D and 3D completed within the last 3 years. Juried. Entry fee. Click herefor info.


      The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has acquired net.flag by Mark Napier and Unfolding Object by John F. Simon Jr., two works of Internet-based art for its permanent collection and "hung" them on Monday in their Internet Art site. Although the artists have finished their work, the projects that will continue to change as online visitors alter them. If you like popping bubble wrap, you will love Mr. Simon's Unfolding Object.
      How does a museum pay for online art and what does it get in return? In this case, the Guggenheim received the work's code and the exclusive right to exhibit it. The museum plans to work with other artists in all ephemeral media and has created a Variable Media Endowment to underwrite recreating works endangered by technological obsolescence.

      Dick Harper notes "for the record" that chairing the All Arts Council is a volunteer job. In real life he "owns a company that engineers solutions for small businesses. Thank you for asking."


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2002 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.