Saturday, August 2, 2014

Don't Get Sick IF You Join The Pomona Valley Art Association

I had an interesting experience today, and ultimately one of the most embarrassing. But first a little history.

In September of 2013 at the Millard Sheets Gallery during the Los Angeles County Fair I stopped to chat with one of the demonstrating artists. As we talked she encouraged me to visit the art group she was representing. A week later I did just that and realized I had been to the space when a friend of ours was managing it years before.

Gallery SoHo is a strange place to have a gallery ... in the basement of the old newspaper building in the "art" district of Pomona, CA. Back then it was pretty active and the second Saturday of each month had a pretty nifty ART WALK. Now, just about all the galleries are gone, one of the old basement galleries is a bar with questionable clientele and the only bathroom is on the third floor which requires an elevator trip to reach.

Membership is inexpensive and your 8' x 5' space was $15 a month and one 5 hour shift manning the gallery. There was no commission on anything you sold. However, I realized after working a few shifts you didn't have to worry about sales as no one ever came down.

Soon after joining I got my diagnosis of cancer and was very open with the president and the gallery manager about recovery and such. I would not be able to drive during the recovery period so I would miss a few months of my required co-op hours. My colitis and stenosis didn't let go so the recovery period was quite slow. I worked a few days before my surgery at the end of January and with help was able to make the change outs of new art for old after. Before my trip at the end of June I worked and said that while July was not possible I would make up my lost time in August and the fall.

One of the reasons I joined the group was they had a lock on the sales at the Fine Arts gallery and controlled the demonstrating artists. I was open about this and mentioned it often. Everyone was very quiet about this and I never received email about procedures, sign-ups and such.

When I went in this past Saturday to change my paintings I was met by total silence. The two people who had been after me to work during the recovery period ignored me completely. I found the new gallery layout and was grudgingly told where it was. I moved my paintings, hung them and sitting at the table where money was changing hands discovered it was for the monthly contest. Another person took the tri-monthly space amount. Very grudgingly I was given change that I needed to pay for the monthly contest.

Next I asked for the sign-up book and again the cold shoulder. I found August and was told when I held a pen to put it in pencil (good thing too). Looking at the signups I noted and openly said, "Well half of them are in pen." I was told "Well, they are not supposed to be." I noted it would be a good thing to put that information on the calendar. She then told me that I had better tell the president I signed up too. So I did. I was not prepared for the attitude or venom of that talk. "You owe us at least two more shifts. That is what you are required to do," he said. I replied that yes, I knew that and once the school year started I would make up my time.

The breaking point for me was when I again asked, from the same two people when the information for the County Fair would come out. They looked at me and each other and said it was already filled. What? Yes, you were sent an email in March or April and when you didn't respond we thought you didn't want to participate. I looked the one person in the eye and said, "You know I was interested. I have asked you personally (confirmed by someone else that was there at the time - and given a "we will send it out soon answer) many times about this. I never received that email. Who is the coordinator?" "Me," she replied.  The woman, the other coordinator, who sent the information out died. So you are responsible for the show? "Yes." I looked at them both and left.

However, as I reached the front door, the days events, the cold shoulder, the attitude, their harassing calls and emails and being purposely left out of the one event I wanted to be involved with even after my promise to get caught up, I walked back down the stairs and told them, "Since you two are the people I wanted to talk to, and we are alone, I resent how you have treated me since I got ill." The president, practically spitting told me they had made allowances for me but this was a co-op and one of the responsibilities was paying my money and working once a month. I agreed. I said that I didn't ask for my illnesses and when I joined several had not shown up yet. Still on a rant, he continued saying, "If you can't do your obligations then you shouldn't be in the gallery." I looked at him and her and replied, "You're right. I want my money back." I pulled the paintings from the wall, collected several others I had as alternatives and left. As I was packing up my truck the woman who manages the monthly contest came over with another painting, the one I was going to enter.

We chatted a few minutes and I told her, I felt there was a definite clique going on and that I sure hoped none of them got sick. This reminded me of putting the old Eskimo on an iceberg and letting them drift off. The one thing that kept me sane and gave me hope during my recovery was my art. But at 68 I was too old for this kind of treatment and behavior. I don't need it in my life. She agreed.

To be honest, I don't know what is going on here. I do know that I don't need to be any part of it. This was my first attempt to be in an art association and gallery and would have to say, after today, my last. I was just about as skilled as most of the members, in fact many of them complimented my art. Its back to square one as far as representation goes. I do have my Etsy stores but they have been slow lately too. Need to do some research and see what my next adventure will be. I DO know for sure where it won't be!

Visit for crafts and photography and for acrylic and oil fine art paintings. Thanks for visiting!

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