August 17, 2007

Artists vs. gallery on MySpace

American Indian artist takes gallery dispute onlineA common business dispute became a mini online cause cèlébre recently when an American Indian artist used his account to complain to friends (more than 600 of them) that a Santa Fe gallery had stiffed him for money owed from the sale of paintings.

Micah Wesley, who describes his work as pop surrealism, was expecting a check for $425 from the Gary Farmer Gallery of Contemporary Art, 131 W. San Francisco St., sometime in June.

The payment was for sales of artwork—paintings on vinyl records—during and after a show of his work in April.

Wesley said he made a trip to New Mexico from Texas to confront the gallery director, Deborah Lamal, but the business was closed. Lamal finally sent him a check, but it bounced. He hopes to be paid while he is in Santa Fe this weekend for Indian Market.

Payment disputes between art galleries and artists are not uncommon in Santa Fe, but what makes Wesley’s unusual is his use of the Internet.

Wesley said he posted the warning about the gallery on his MySpace home page because some of his friends had upcoming shows at the gallery, which specializes in Native American art.

“I’m not trying to do anything bad,” he explained.

Wesley got a “huge response” from the posting, he said. “Other artists said they had been wronged, too. It was amazing. I thought I was the only one.”

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