When galleries close, artists’ lives and careers may suffer

“I have the reputation of being pretty loyal to my artists, regardless of whether they sell or not,” said Andrea Rosen, a Manhattan gallery owner who specializes in mid-career artists. Still, earlier this year, Rosen informed all the artists she represented, around a dozen, that she would no longer be their dealer, that her focus was shifting to representing the estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Dead men pay no rent, but the artists she was talking to did and, out of the blue, they found they had major decisions to make. Who is going to exhibit my work in New York? How do you approach a gallery? How much do I have in the bank? (How long can I go without another dealer?) Continue reading

Sales Tax for Artists

Artists may receive money in a variety of ways, including awards and prizes at shows, project grants, scholarships and fellowships. The prize money or the monetary value of an award (the cash value of a gift certificate, for instance) that an artist receives at a show is taxable at normal state and federal rates. The same taxability is true for money received through project grants from a private or governmental agency. On the other hand, there is no tax on fellowships and scholarships if the artist is studying for a degree at an educational institution (including tuition, lodging, equipment and travel expenses), nor is an award taxable if it comes from a governmental agency or school. If the award is contingent on the recipient teaching or offering demonstrations or some other part-time service, however, a portion of the fellowship or scholarship will be taxed. Continue reading

Freelance Isn’t Free

When asked their professions, painters and sculptors generally describe themselves as artists, omitting the fact that most of them do something else that actually pays the bills. It makes perfect sense. Using the shorthand of “artist” projects a sense of seriousness and dedication that otherwise might be lacking if they went into detail about chasing sheetrocking jobs and adjunct teaching here and there or whatever keeps a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs. Still, hunting up paying jobs or shorter-term “gigs” is a well-understood facet of their lives and careers as is, sometimes, the pursuit of payment after the work is done. Payment can be the larger challenge. Continue reading

Artist Foundations

Many successful people have time to plan their legacies, but the last months of Nancy Graves’ life were hectic. In May of 1995, the 55 year-old sculptor was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and five months later she was dead. With no heirs, she had to decide quickly what to do with her belongings and wealth. Like a number of other artists with significant holdings of artwork and other assets, she created a nonprofit foundation through her will to shelter her estate from high death taxes. Continue reading

Declining number of art supply stores

A.I. Friedman, the Manhattan art materials store, never had a lot of products for sculptors – there were some small tools for carving, some Sculpey and a limited number of small bags of plaster – but its closing on April 30th after 80 years in business means that yet one more venerable brick-and-mortar supply company for artists to visit, shop and learn about new products is gone. New York City, where there are perhaps more visual artists per capita than anywhere else in the world, has seen a spate of these closings in recent years. In 2014, Pearl Paint closed its doors for good after 81 years, and both New York Central Art Supply (founded in 1905) and Lee’s Art Shop (founded in 1951) closed last year. In 2006, Peter Leggieri Sculpture Supply was shuttered after 17 years. Continue reading

Children of Artists Carrying on their Parent’s Legacy

It is rare that an artist retires, so when sculptor Rob Fisher died suddenly of a massive heart attack at age 67 in 2006, he left five large-scale commissioned projects uncompleted. In most contracts to produce a new work of art, there is a clause to cancel the agreement in the event of the death of the artist, but Fisher’s family looked to maintain and extend his legacy. Over the ensuing six years, his son Brett and daughter Talley took over the process of completing these commissions and even to begin new projects that they themselves designed, however still under the imprimatur of Rob Fisher Sculpture. Continue reading