I can’t begin to tell you how many pieces, in thirty years of
exhibiting, I’ve had damaged and stolen. Please only exhibit with
galleries, museums, or shows which provide coverage for your work.
If you are unsure of the show’s validity, please ask for a
certificate of insurance.
In 1979, I had two valuable pieces (one approximately $2000 and the
other $3000) accepted to a show at Penn State. The prospectus said
that the gallery had insurance. When the pieces were returned to me,
after the show, with serious damage, I contacted the University.
After describing the situation and damage, I was asked if I had
photographed the shipping boxes before I opened them. And, had I
photographed the pieces as I was unwrapping them. The University
blamed the shipper. Since the boxes were in perfect shape and of
course I hadn’t photographed them, (who would!), I knew the damage
had been done by whomever handled the pieces at the show. When I
called again, I was passed from one person to another, each of whom
denied any responsibility. When the University stopped accepting my
calls, I enlisted legal aid to help me (at the time, I was a poor
artist in residence in Portland, OR). To make this long story not
too much longer, the University finally told my lawyer that I could
never afford to sue, that I was too far away, and that they had lied
in the prospectus (they had catastrophic insurance only) and that I
should dry up and blow away. Needless to say, I was devastated.
Shortly after that time, I had a letter published in the Craft
Report, explaining the situation, urging people to boycott uninsured
shows and to ask for a certificate of insurance when necessary.
As I mention earlier, I have had thousands of dollars of pieces
stolen and damaged over the years, and I have been happy, since Penn.
State, that I have been compensated for all.
My advice… Be careful and send a message to galleries who don’t
feel a sense of responsibility for their artists.
Happy but cautious,
Munya Avigail Upin