In January, Anna had a show in Tatame in Winter Park, including about 40 pieces of her work from the last 15 years. It was due to stay up until early February. However, a few days before the end of January, she got a call one evening informing us that Tatame had been sold, and she needed to come and collect her artwork immediately, because remodeling was starting in the morning. At the time, we were out having dinner with my mother, who was visiting from England, and we said we couldn’t do it. They told us instead to be there first thing in the morning to collect everything, so we rearranged our plans for the next day and said we’d be there at 10am after dropping Anna’s daughter at school.
When we arrived at Tatame the next morning, work was already underway. Several pieces were already off the walls and put on one side, and the DJ booth was partially dismantled. The old and new owners were deep in paperwork, and basically told us to hurry up because everyone was waiting on us to clear the art out of the way. We loaded up everything we could see as quickly as we could, double-checked the walls, and left within 15 minutes. We knew we didn’t have everything that we’d brought, as some pieces had been sold.
Earlier this week, Anna realized one of her paintings was missing and wasn’t one that had been sold. It had been hanging on the side of the DJ booth, not on the walls, and must have been removed by the workmen before we got there. In the chaos, nobody told us where they’d put the pieces they had taken down, and we didn’t have time to do a proper inventory before leaving. Anna contacted them, but all that either the old or new owners could tell us was that there was no art on the walls after we left, and there’s no sign of it anywhere now.
And that’s it. The painting’s gone. No apology from anyone at Tatame. Nothing. (We were originally scheduled to be in St Augustine for a few days at that time, so I hate to think what would have happened if we’d actually been out of town and hadn’t been able to get there until the following day.)
I'm still kicking myself for not being my usual stubborn self and insisting on a full inventory check before we left. But I'm also annoyed at Tatame for putting us in that position in the first place.
That’s not the only problem we’ve had this year either. In January, Anna had some sculptures in a show at Red Light Red Light. When she came to collect them, in a dark parking lot one night, Anna noticed that one had a missing hand. The guy running the show looked in his car and found the broken-off hand on the seat, so clearly it had happened after he’d taken the pieces off the wall. When we got back home and looked at it again in the light, Anna noticed that the fingers on the other hand were missing too, but it was too late.
And once again, there was no apology or admission of responsibility, just a mumbled, “there you are, hope you can fix it.” Well, it’s been partially repaired, but the piece is now damaged and we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to sell it without a lot of additional work.
Sadly, there seems to be nothing we can do about it in either case. The venues disclaim any responsibility for loss or damage, so it’s entirely our problem. To be fair, this is quite standard shows of this nature, and we do exactly the same at our Friday Ferox shows. Unless we’re charging a much higher commission, we can’t afford the insurance, and neither can the venue. We’ve had work disappear from a show, and while we were prepared to make good some of the loss personally, we couldn’t do it for a high value piece. We can't really expect Tatame or RL RL to be any different.
So, artists, there’s two lessons here.
First, consider insurance for pieces you’re putting in a show. Accidents, vandalism and thefts do happen, and nobody’s going to compensate you for anything that happens to your work while it’s on display, no matter whose fault it is. If you're showing your work in a pub or restaurant, remember that they're not really looking after your precious artwork. They're far too busy selling food and drink to people - which means alcohol, spillages, and all sorts of risks.
And secondly, when you collect your work, make sure everything is accounted for, and don’t leave the building until you’re sure you’ve got everything.