Archive for April, 2009

In the midst of the economic gloom that tends to dominate the media right now, I think it’s important that we also hear about good news in the art world. To wit:

  • The CM Russell Auction sold almost $1.5M this year; this is below last year’s record-setting amount, but is still the fifth highest amount the auction has ever sold. One of Charlie Russell’s watercolors sold for more than $100,000 in “spirited bidding”. Not too shabby, methinks.
  • Legacy Gallery had its annual G. Harvey show in Scottsdale in mid-March. They had collectors calling beforehand and saying “I’ll call back after the show when you’re ready to sell at a discount”.
    The night of the show, all but one piece sold by draw (and his work is way spendy). The gallery was in the enviable position of telling the discount seekers afterwards that they were out of luck.
  • The Scottsdale Art Auction (of which Legacy is a major part) sold 78% of its lots, though prices were on the low end of the estimates. Still, the auction did about $6.2M (against last year’s $9.2M).

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…in the Gervais saga. Here’s a firsthand report from an artist who contacted me recently:

I was at last year’s show at the Holiday Inn in Missoula, MT. There was no advertising, not even a sign, until one of the artists’ husbands put one up. It was supposed to bennefit the Wildlife Film Festival with a reception for a couple hours. Nobody showed up except two film festival people. That Sunday was Mother’s Day so we had some traffic from the Mother’s Day brunch in the next room. At the time I thought he was just an inexperienced promoter but after talking to other artists at other shows I am starting to realize just how bad he is. Not one person who has done business with him has anything good to say about him. Looking at his web sites this year it looks like he is having it [the Missoula show] again but in one place it says it is at the fairgrounds. At another place it says the Holiday Inn. I wonder if he is using the tax exempt status of these non-profits for some sort of tax break for himself. By the way that is him on the MySpace page……..definitely!

I just learned today that the Missoula show that was to take place in a few weeks has been cancelled by Mr. Gervais; he has promised refunds to all the exhibiting artists. I sincerely hope the refunds materialize.

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Snow Coming

Once upon a time, I was talking about a certain well known wildlife artist with one of my favorite dealers. Mr. Dealer said “Yes, I’ve heard all the stories about how The Unnamed Artist Whom We Are Discussing copies ideas from others. Frankly, I don’t see how you artists keep coming up with new ideas.” And I replied, “Getting out in the field. It’s the best way I know of to stay fresh and keep the ideas flowing.”

My recent trip to Freezeout Lake was just such an inspiration. I normally (a) do not paint birds, and (b) do not like painting subject matter in soft or flat light. Yet the impending snowstorm sweeping down on the Rocky Mountain Front, combined with the sight and sound of a blizzard of snow geese, was the imagery I most wanted to capture right after my return (go figure).

Now, certainly, copying a successful painting idea that has already sold well for another artist probably has more surety as a sale. But I’m not here to make oil reproductions of someone else’s ideas – I’m here to push my own boundaries, even if it’s uncomfortable (which is frequently) and without guarantee of a sale.

What do you think?

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Those scammers never stop. Here’s the latest to land in my email (on April Fool’s Day, no less) from a “”:

I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing some creative artwork from you.I will purchase the following(Lynx Study 8 x 6-$750,Companions #1 6 x 8-$750).

let me know their various prices and how much discounts you are willing to give?
I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in London.As well,I want you to exclude the shipping cost.I will arrange for the shipment.We are travelling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.

On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a certified cashiers check or a personal check which can be easliy cashed in your local banks around you,please let me know on how to procced for the payment of the creative artworks.
Have a wonderful day.


As always, there are a number of warning signs:

  • Rife with poor grammar and misspellings
  • Errors of logic – like listing the prices with the pieces and then asking what the prices were (this has happened in every scam email I’ve received)
  • Asking to exclude shipping cost
  • Paying with a cashiers check or personal check (both of which can take a long time to clear for certain).

Don’t bother replying to these sorts of scam emails. Post them here so we can all learn from them.

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Folks – here’s the latest on this. I emailed Mr. Gervais (he’d sent me an email thanking me for my original blog post) with:

Dear Christopher,
You might want to check on the responses to my blog entry about your magazine – there are some people who do not feel they have been dealt with fairly.

Since I’m a businessperson myself, I always like to make sure that I know how my clients and colleagues feel – and I like to do everything in my power to make things right, if there’s an issue.

Best regards,
Julie T. Chapman

This was his response:

Dear Julie:

I have not spoken to any of these people that have written on your blog. So the fact is not one has called and engaged in a conversation to me or my “Interns” since I have no intern. No such person called on Monday by the name of Lori Lemanski.

I will remind that you are legally responsible for any information that is posted on your website (as you are the owner) that is false. I have enough attorneys to consult on this matter. I will not permit false and misleading information to be spread about the magazine.

If your groupies want to be critical, do so to the former Wildlife Art that took everyone money when the ceased operations.

Western & Wildlife Art Magazine
The International Journal of Western, Wildlife Art & Conservation
Christopher J. Gervais, Editor & Publisher

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