Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Friday Foul: How not to treat an artist.

First Friday is the monthly Art Walk on Bainbridge Island. Normally a time to celebrate new art installations with openings at the nearly dozen venues downtown, it was anything but a celebration for Peter Kirk, despite the fact that he was on the verge of his first art show. 

Thirty minutes before his opening, he was informed that the venue, Eleven Winery, had taken down his work. Peter had hung it only the day before.  

Peter was at a complete loss for words. His show had been arranged by Jen Till, Peter's mentor, a painter who has shown previously at Eleven. In January of this year, Jen sent several photographs of Peter's work, along with a description of his aesthetic, to Eleven. The Tasting Room Manager responded "I loved his work. We would be happy to have him showcased here at the winery."

In the weeks leading up to the show, Peter and the Tasting Room Manager exchanged emails about logistics, scheduling, when to hang the show, and providing an artist's biography. As recently as 3 weeks ago, there was nothing from Eleven but enthusiasm: "I am really excited to have your works featured here at Eleven!"

Instead of hosting a reception to be attended by friends and family, Peter found himself in the parking lot, with his artwork in boxes. 

This is not how an artist should be treated. 

Jen sent an email to Eleven's owner, who replied that the problem was that Eleven needed a "better system in place for making sure that all art pieces provided for display in our tasting room locations are pre-approved, so that there are no surprises for either the artist or the tasting room manager at the time of the show." Apparently he forgot that the Manager had emailed Jen back in January that she "loved his work" and that "[w]e would be happy to have him showcased here at the winery."

In closing his email, the owner added this little bit: "My artist friends have told me that rejection is part of the deal with a career in art, and that ultimately this experience will make you stronger, blah blah blah.  I'm sure you don't want to hear any of that now."

No. He didn't want to hear that.

Peter Kirk's website:


Lena said...

Just...*wow* I do like the photos of the sidewalk 'show', and thank you for honoring his work and making his experience public!

itswithoutanapostrophe said...

I wonder which color they found offensive?

Al Doyle said...

The last (and only time) I visited "11" was to stock up on local wines to impress some Canadian friends. For almost ten minutes Doro and I stood by the counter (without a greeting or nod) while the dude on duty waxed on and on with a non-customer about the virtues of recycling cork and whether or not fake cork was better than real cork. We left. They didn't say goodbye. We didn't come back.

Perhaps its time to change their name to THREE to better reflect their performance on a sale of one to ten.

Matt said...

Hi Jay -

Matt here, owner of Eleven Winery. I am very sorry for the hurt that this situation caused Peter. The email I wrote to Peter contained a thorough apology and an offer of a future show or other reparations, in addition to the bits you quoted here. You can publish the whole thing if you like.

We could have handled this situation better. We are only human. Naturally, things were more complicated and less one-sided than can be presented in a short blog post and web-resolution photos, but that does not mean that there was not a better way to handle them. We can only hope that Peter and the community can forgive us. We have taken steps to make sure that this sort of situation does not arise again.

We at Eleven Winery are supporters of local artists. We curate monthly displays in our tasting rooms in Winslow and Poulsbo, but unlike galleries, we do not take any commission on sales of the pieces displayed. All of the work we do in finding artists and coordinating their displays is done without reimbursement. We are a company that is built around the idea of doing good in the community and the world. The anguish we feel at having hurt an artist in our pursuit of good cannot be overstated.

Best regards,

Matt said...

Al, I'm so sorry that you had a bad experience in our tasting room. We do strive for a high level of customer service, and I believe that we succeed the vast majority of the time. We are only human, however, so perfection is out of the question.


itswithoutanapostrophe said...

So, Matt appears to re-define the phrase "hollow excuse". And, on the topic of experiences at Eleven; about a year ago I walked in with a zip lock bag full of about 100 corks for recycling. The woman at the counter actually chastised me for not bringing them to her in an environmentally conscious paper bag. In less than a minute her act gave me a reason to never return. Of course, and I understand, she is not perfect.

Jay Trinidad said...


You have all the space in the world to explain how things were "more complicated" than I made them out to be.

Awaiting your reply,


Deffedender1 said...

Dudes art kinda sucks anyway...

torweb said...

Sorry about how this worked out and agree with Matt that a better procedure be in place to prevent this in the future. One suggestion is that all artists bring in their work prior to acceptance so it can be evaluated. I don’t know anywhere in the art world where an artist will bring in photos of their work for evaluation and acceptance. Other issues are the illegal use of artist works from visitors taking pictures…it gets complicated and can eventually limit who can display work by requiring them to fill out an agreement.

I also think it’s important to use the Internet fairly…not like the horrid press that drives individuals to desperate measures from “one sided reporting.” Be fair and talk to both sides and make no accusations…present a fair platform for people to decide.

Two scenarios existed here…remove the art at the last minute and reschedule when the time is right for the artist…. or have the artist present with family and feel the pain from people ridiculing the works…that would hurt me most as a parent.

His works, in my opinion, are works in progress. We are not all “de facto artists.” It’s a badge that one must earn…and sometimes that is a real tough road.

The Eleven loves all that come through their door…grow with them to make things better and stop this sad vengeance. That’s really what everyone wants…

PS. Jay, focus on more beautiful things besides a fight. You’re talented and should use that talent for more joyous pursuits.

Jay Trinidad said...

Torweb (aka person who gives advice without actually standing behind what they say with their name),

You write: "His works, in my opinion, are works in progress. We are not all 'de facto artists.' It’s a badge that one must earn…and sometimes that is a real tough road." Thanks so much for the lecture. Just curious, who asked you to opine on the quality of his art? Seriously. Where do you, anonymous troll, who puts NOTHING on the line, get off passing judgment? What, precisely, are your qualifications on passing on what is good or bad art?

You also write: "I don’t know anywhere in the art world where an artist will bring in photos of their work for evaluation and acceptance." We are not talking about "the art world." We are talking about Eleven, not Pace or Gagosian. Second, this actually sounds like a declaration of ignorance on your part, rather than an insight. In the art world, people actually are given shows based on the strength of images on the web.

[Also: Regarding "[o]ther issues are the illegal use of artist works from visitors taking pictures" is another statement that couldn't be more wrong. It is not illegal for a visitor to take a photograph of art. There is NO violation of US Copyright or any other law. Careful giving legal advice when you don't know what you are talking about.]

The fact remains that something happened between when Patrick Kirk hung his show and when it was summarily removed from the walls.

Matt claims that "things were more complicated and less one-sided than can be presented in a short blog post." I invited him to explain what these "more complicated" elements of the story are. He has not contest one single fact I have presented. Not one.

How Peter Kirk was treated was wrong. It is wonderfully paternalistic of you to express concern about what you must believe is Peter Kirk's incredibly fragile ego. You think Eleven acted because they were afraid Peter would "feel the pain from people ridiculing the works." While that might hurt you "as a parent," I can tell you that both Peter and his mom don't actually take criticism from anonymous arm-chair art critics to heart.

You suggest that I am not using the Internet "fairly." I do not limit any comments or criticism of my blog or my Facebook posting. I have invited Matt to explain what happened. If there are ANY factual errors in what I have written, I will issue a correction.

torweb said... are a one messed up person. I know who you are and admire your talent as a photographer. I've watched you walk Winslow Way taking pictures of your own reflection in windows (I have photos).

I am sad for you as a human. Why don't you just use your love of image and life to make things better instead of setting fires.

I don't know how old you are but I was drafted in the 60's and was introduced into a bad world that hurt me to this day....however I have learned to forgive and forget.

Your are so VENGEFUL in your pursuit of this issue that I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what you want as an outcome.

It makes me sad to see you...a good person...driving such hate and anger in this lovely community.

Bottom line...what do you want as an outcome to this issue? What do YOU want Jay... a pound of flesh?

Be a gentleman and put and end to this shit... You're bigger than this. Everyone wants to relax.

Your statement is make the right choice next time and we all learn. Keep on this path and you will become what we all feel sad about...ugly people!

torweb said...

PS. I am a big fan of your photography...fantastic work.

Unknown said...

Nothing like shining a light on unconscious behavior and watching the roaches scatter. This community is not Mayberry where everything has a happy ending and Aunt Bea serves pie at the end of the show. If we, as individuals and as a community, are going to grow beyond the base narcissistically opinionated unconscious acts that pervade our society, then we must speak out, turn on the lights, and get to work. It's messy. Really messy. Kindness isn't easy. Doing the right thing isn't easy, or popular. It is the high road and it is steep.