I had recently moved to a new area and was eager to find a way into the local art scene. Delivering flyers for a workshop I was planning, I stumbled onto a fine art and antique gallery. It was a funky sort of place with a good buying public. The well-connected gallery owner, Mr A, was eager for me to bring my work by. He coincidentally knew friends of a friend of mine so I thought I could trust him. I brought over a few sculptures and he put them in his gallery.
Every time I stopped by, he told me about the people interested in my work and evaded enquiries about a contract. This made me a bit uneasy since there was no guarantee I would get my work if anything happened. I’ve had this experience before.
A friend of mine, Betty, suggested using a standard contract from the internet. We agreed that she could pretend to be my agent. When we arrived at the gallery, I introduced Betty as my agent. Mr A was quite chatty. Betty eventually brought up the contract that she had prepared as my agent on my behalf. He hit the roof and screamed at her, “I know your type …” He refused to sign any sort of contract. We left.
From that point, the gallery was closed every time I passed, and Mr A left my messages unanswered. This was a dilemma I had to get out of or get my work out of. I came up with a plan. I asked Betty if she knew someone who could call up Mr A to set up a meeting to view a chaise longue, a piece of furniture that I had admired. Her friend, Eric, said he would do it. An appointment was set up.
The second part of the plan was that Betty’s friend Jane would pretend to be a customer. I would arrive to get my things. With Jane there, it would be hard for Mr A to get into any discussions or arguments while I innocently removed my work.
On the day, Betty, Jane and I set out. I speculated that Mr A wouldn’t be able to resist a potential sale, but I wondered if he would see through the plan. From a distance we could see that the gallery was open. Jane went into the gallery pretending interest in many of the pieces. In spite of nerves, I arrived and said, “Hi Mr A. I came on the off chance that you’d be open today.”
“Yes,” he said, “someone made an appointment to come and look at the chaise longue.”
“That’s great!” I said, “I’ll just pick up my work.”
We pulled it off!
I drove away with a smile on my face knowing that I had my sculptures in my car, and he was waiting for a buyer who would never materialise.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty …