Thefts at Art Sales & Festivals

Unzipping her booth tent the second morning of an arts fair, mixed-media artist Patricia Hecker of Bloomington, Indiana knew that someone had been there the night before. Her artwork was OK, but a cabinet had been broken into. “I’m sure someone was looking for money,” she said. Fortunately, she had made sure to take all cash and receipts back to the motel the evening before, so there was no loss on that end – just a damaged cabinet. Hecker mentioned the break-in to the fair sponsors, who had hired security guards and had otherwise required all of the participating artists to sign a contract in which they acknowledge that all property at the site is left there at the vendors’ own risk, but not to her insurance company. Why bother? The $1,000 deductible on her policy far exceeded the value of the cabinet, “and if you report a claim they’ll just raise your rates.” Continue reading

Victory for Percent-for-Art

A U.S. district court in San Francisco turned back a challenge from a bay area Building Industry Association to Oakland’s recently enacted amendment to its Percent-for-Art statute that requires large-scale real estate developments in the city include publicly accessible works of art or pay a fee to the municipal arts agency. The February 5th ruling by Judge Vince Chhabria accepted a motion by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker to dismiss the association’s lawsuit to stop the implementation of the city’s 2015 requirement that developers of both commercial and residential properties include artwork on their sites. Continue reading

Do you own the work you create in your college program?

Going to college (for art students and everyone else) is an opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of ideas, academic and practical pursuits, but by enrolling in a college both the student and the institution enter into a legally binding agreement. Actually, it is more than one agreement. Students sign contracts to pay tuition and all required fees, to behave in a certain way while attending classes or living in a dormitory (“I shall conduct myself in a manner which demonstrates respect for the University, myself, and my classmates” is one of six statements in the agreement that students at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania are required to sign) and to abide by some spelled-out code of conduct while using school-owned computers and software. Additionally, there may be other legal documents to sign for those involved in athletics, internships and foreign travel. Continue reading

Moral Rights Case: Trinity Church in Manhattan

There is much to be learned from instances in which an artist wins a moral rights lawsuit involving the Visual Artists Rights Act. That piece of federal law, enacted in 1990 as an amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act, permits the author of a “work of visual art” the right

(A) to prevent any intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification of that work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation, and any intentional distortion, mutilation, or modification of that work is a violation of that right, and (B) to prevent any destruction of a work of recognized stature, and any intentional or grossly negligent destruction of that work is a violation of that right. Continue reading

Get it in Writing

Don’t get Harriete Estel Berman started on the subject of artists having contracts with the galleries that represent their work. The San Mateo, California sculptor doesn’t converse on the subject; she proselytizes. “In no other field than art do people regularly work without a written contract,” she said. “If I agree to work with a gallery and they don’t hand me a contract, then I provide them with mine, and we go from there. If they say no to a contract, end of story. I’ll work with some other gallery.” Continue reading

Protecting Artwork in the Event of a Disaster

If people chose where to live based on the likelihood of natural disasters, few would choose to settle the earthquake-prone West Coast or the hurricane-plagued Gulf Coast and Carolinas. However, California and Florida are the first and fourth most populous states, with tornado-alley Texas coming in second. Clearly, artists, art dealers and collectors are willing to take their chances with the environment, and the artworks they made, exhibit or own will have to suffer along.

Suffer, but not necessarily perish if a disaster strikes. There is a variety of precautions that homeowners may take to mitigate the potential for damage: Continue reading