Scam Artists

Readers weigh in on "The Great Heights Art Heist."

Scam Artists

Not One-Nine: Just a slight correction to your excellent article ["The Great Heights Art Heist," By John Nova Lomax, March 3]: You state that Gallery 19 was West 19th's first art gallery, but in fact there was a co-op gallery named Gallery One-Nine on 19th in the mid-'90s. I was one of 20 or so artists involved with the gallery, which closed in 1996. Gallery One-Nine was in no way affiliated with Gallery 19. Thanks again for shedding light on this troubling situation.

Darren Emanuel
Houston

Online readers weigh in:

User-managed Spacetaker: Given the difficulty in making one's way as an artist, preying upon aspiring artists is especially egregious. We applaud those cited for taking the initiative to host their own shows, though after paying for each exhibition's effects, as well as a venue rental of that amount, no commission should have been involved. Period.

If we may, we'd like to offer a slight correction to the reference to Spacetaker.org. We certainly appreciate the nod; however, though we don't condone their practices, our exclusion of H Gallery was not intentional. Our Web site is user-managed, and it is the responsibility of each gallery, venue or individual artist to post information about upcoming shows.

Best of luck to the affected artists in retaining their fees, and thank you for speaking out in order to put this to a stop.

Jenni Rebecca Stephenson
Executive Director
Spacetaker

Artists need to communicate and network: If there was ever an article that needed to be written, this is it. And imagine, there are those who question the importance of a free and independent press.

The takeaway from the article for those who must enter into a commercial relationship with anyone is the quote from Eleanor Williams: "This is the reason we have a legal system." Use it!

And that advice is supremely logical for us in the U.S.A. We have little, if any, government oversight of private commercial organizations here as compared to Europe and Asia. And if the conservatives have their way, we will have less government oversight beginning soon.

Every promise made when entering into a commercial agreement needs to be spelled out in that contract with expectations clearly stated. That does include dates, times and signatures.

And if artists sense a red flag, they need to be prepared to call an attorney and/or Crime Stoppers.

Now would be a good time to spread the good and the bad news for the arts community via a Twitter account, which is free and easy to use. One Tweet from an artist to the arts community can shut down a fraud before it gets started. Let the Twittering Begin.

Gary Packwood

FYI to anyone dealing with this: "No one who is important will be watching." They don't give a shit about thrift stores in the Heights. This sucks for you, I know, but get back in the studio and try and get into a real gallery. Or else stage a warehouse show. If you can't do either of those, know it's hobby time. Go back to waiting tables.

ChristopherGuest

An old scam: Sadly, this scam gets played out daily somewhere in America. Promise the moon to young, up-and-coming artists that you know damn good and well can't afford to sue you, then when you sell their work, moan, groan and keep putting them off till they go away. Worse yet, the legal system in this country supports the thieves more than the victims. So you go to Small Claims. Even if you win, the court can't or won't force the criminals to pay what they owe. This provides very fertile ground for these con artists.

These people have a pattern of consistent criminal behavior. Why in the name of God is it so difficult to get the appropriate criminal charges brought on them?

I run a studio for Houston artists. I have been a working artist myself for more than 50 years, and I have witnessed this same scam repeated over and over for all these decades. It's time to put a stop to it. And it's time the art community, in conjunction with the many legitimate galleries in this town, demands this behavior no longer be rewarded.

Get together and demand that the law do its part!

Donald Tucker

LOL: While the author did a tremendous job, the story has its comedic value, for sure. The title should read, "Dear Houston, another small business is behind on their bills." Another one bites the dust.

The photo above of the pouty artist holding a doomed painting that looks like a car backed over it is funny. Sorry, it is. I can see it now, a Saturday Night Live video of an artist covered in tats, a million-dollar pout, and very bad art who was told by some anonymous, well-meaning "professional" artist to quit her day job slinging hash.

I suspect the reason no charges have been filed is because there aren't any to file. Am I right in assuming this?

Cousin It

Brave: The bottom line is that a group of hardworking artists has been ripped off by the very people who should promote them. I applaud the bravery exhibited by these artists who have risked much to warn and aid others who might be taken in by the above mentioned gallery. They have stood up knowing full well that anyone can take a pop and make fun, but they've done it just the same.

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2 comments
Claire Richards
Claire Richards

FYI: Only 4 of many artists took H gallery to court in this case. H gallery lost and the judgment was for over 100K just for those artists alone.

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