Hard Truths: Can Shady Art Dealers Escape Blockchain Armageddon?

You know what? Blockchain is going to destroy my gallery’s business. There, I said it. Nobody else will. Anyone with a midsize gallery knows that cash flow is a problem. When I do manage to sell work, the money often goes toward paying outstanding debts. Practically speaking, this means artists may have to wait a little to get their checks. In the end, the lights stay on and artists get what they are owed. From what I understand, blockchain makes things instantaneous. When a collector pays, that immediately triggers payment to everyone included in the transaction. This is not good! If blockchain and crypto are really the future, it seriously means the end of galleries like mine. When we fall, what will happen to the gallery ecosystem? Do we just want bland blue chips? Because that is what we are going to get.

We applaud your candid question and at the same time condemn your sordid business practice. Is the only thing keeping mid-level galleries such as yours afloat the fact that you do not treat artists fairly or even pay them on time? Now, we’re the last ones to defend behemoth galleries and shady cryptocurrency, but it sounds as if you want to stick with old-world money only in order to continue quietly abusing your artists. This being the case, one can easily see how blockchain and crypto might ultimately favor an artist more than a gallerist with a trough of unpaid bills.

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Your argument that only blue-chip galleries will prevail is a red herring to distract everyone from your defective business plan. While it may cause pain, after selling an artwork you are morally and legally obligated to pay the artist the agreed-upon share in a timely manner. The money you’ve made is not yours alone, and it’s certainly not a slush fund for you to pay off your bad debts and regrettable business decisions. If treating artists fairly is the thing that torpedoes your gallery, then it’s high time to admit to yourself and everyone else that you are not running a sustainable enterprise.

There are plenty of smaller galleries that do an excellent job of selling work and paying everyone on time. You should put your efforts into emulating these models rather than stagger through another Bottino after-party on someone else’s dime. Maintaining the gallery’s health and viability is obviously your top priority, but remember that you aren’t alone in this concern. Your hangry artists also want you to stay open, and being honest with them about your financial straits may foster goodwill and help manage expectations about your payment schedule. Nevertheless, any gallerist who is dumb enough to write publicly and divulge their slow cash flow scheme deserves to close. You’d better hope that no one figures out your identity!

Is it rude if I don’t follow back some boring curator who works at a B-list institution in the middle of nowhere? You know the type. She’s put on some cool exhibitions, don’t get me wrong, and I’m flattered she seems interested in what I’m up to. But she mostly posts pics of her kids or the things she’s baking, which is pretty inane content from somebody I don’t even know. Still, I don’t want to snub anyone or burn a bridge over something that dumb.

Here’s a hard truth for you: everyone in the art world has cringe social media. Even so, mothers are curators too. While baking isn’t considered high art, a piping hot snickerdoodle beats yet another William Kentridge exhibition any day. If you respect this lady’s shows enough to forgive her geographic irrelevance, then a follow back can’t truly hurt. You can always like the first picture in her feed and then put her on mute. Not liking any of her posts will make you look like a jerk, and she may get so insulted that she unfollows you. If this happens, you will win at being the worst art friend.

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Source: artnews.com

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