Being small has its disadvantages.
Yesterday I wrote about a survey
confirming the gender gap in the art world. (Women in the arts earn 68¢ for every dollar earned by men.) That sparked a lively conversation, which I’m sharing with you more or less verbatim:
“It’s interesting when there’s a group of painters set up and you notice passersby only going to engage the male painters, or they ask if he’s teaching a workshop.”
“I was asked to join a co-op. When I showed up, they were surprised; they thought I was a man. Last week Steve was helping me bring my work in and someone asked if I was helping him.”
“I was set up during International Paint-Out Day at Otter Cliffs about six feet from a man who was outfitted in his painter’s vest, high leather boots with his pants tucked in, and a big brimmed safari hat. I saw many vacationers strolling around the rocks, but most of them would just go and look at the guys’ easels. One couple just kind of walked around until they saw where we were standing and walked all the way from the shoreline up to his easel, and bought the painting. It was his first time out, and he was new at painting, but he looked the part and that’s all it took.”
I’ve taken to carrying a riding crop so that passers-by will know I’m the teacher. Just kidding.
“That’s one of the reasons why I sign my paintings with only my last name. It doesn’t indicate my gender.”
“An artist friend painted a very large oil. She walked into the gallery as the sale of said painting was going on. The man buying it was introduced to her, and exclaimed, ‘A little girl like you painted this?’ And walked out of the gallery.”
“I won the top prize at a plein air event. My work sold adequately; about the same as it would have in a gallery. A few paintings later, the auctioneer was trying to gin up business, and said, ‘c’mon guys, So-and-So is a professionalartist.’”
“Back when I used to do a pretty full schedule of summer shows, I cannot tell you how often people assumed ‘JC’ was my husband. He’s tall; I’m small—bigger presence. It used to irk me that once he redirected them to me, they were always so surprised.”
“On too many occasions I’ve had to defend my right to use my initials as my business name and signature, always to male artists. At least one told me flat out that if I was truly proud of who I was and my work, I wouldn’t have to hide behind my initials.”
One of the best posses I ever rode with was this group of women at Adirondack Plein Air. From left, Mira Fink, Crista Pisano, me, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Laura Bianco, Kari Ganoung Ruiz and Tarryl Gabel.
I’m going to add one more story of my own, about a gallerist who refused to even talk to a friend about representation, averring that “women can’t paint.”
Yesterday, Sue Baines, owner of The Kelpie Gallery
, commented, “I think across the board, we need to be retrained, from female artists who apologetically price their work for less, to the art buyer/collector who undervalues a female artist’s work.”
How do we do that?