Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Gift of Fine Art

"Old Man of the Sage" by Tim Shinabarger
It's that time of year again where the leaves have fallen off the trees, plans have been made to gather with family and temperatures are dropping.  Unless of course you're down South, then the sun is shining and the weather is probably perfect.  It's also the time of year where marketers fight for your share of holiday shopping.  I'm not going to ask for a piece of your holiday shopping action, I just want to say that art, truly is a perfect gift.  Whether you're shopping for that person who has everything already, a loved one that you've given gifts to for years and have run out of ideas or someone you just care a lot about, fine art makes for a very special gift!

I've always felt like a great gift is something you would love to have, but don't always make it a priority to purchase for yourself.  It makes it that much more special when you receive it.  I think fine art falls into that category for a lot of people.  Everyday that person wakes up to the painting you gave them, they will think about the wonderful time you spent together over the holidays, or at their birthday celebration.  Not to mention, all the other positive emotions they'll feel every time they view that work of art because good art will stir the emotions in all of us.  Maybe it will remind us of our favorite fishing hole, or that backpacking trip into the back country where we came face to face with some big horn sheep.  Whether it's a big painting or a little sculpture, every time they look at that piece of art, a smile is going to stretch across their face.

"Basking in Evening Light" by David Graham
You may notice that almost every gallery in the country has a holiday miniature show.  Miniatures by the Lake in Coeur d'Alene kicks it off in September, and then there's a parade of terrific small works shows all across the country.  Small original paintings are perfect around the holidays, because they're small so people can always find room for them if their walls are full, and their price points are going to be significantly less than a larger painting.  If you're visiting family across the country, miniature paintings can be carried onto an airplane for the trip home.  I've always thought there was something special about small paintings, because they're meant to be viewed from close range, so you really get an intimate look at the brush strokes and technique of the artist.  From an artist's standpoint, it presents a whole new set of challenges, because how do you create an intriguing work of art in such a limited space?  That little painting you come across may or may not tell a story on canvas, but there will definitely be a story to tell when you give it as a gift.

As you're out and about shopping this holiday season, don't forget to visit your local galleries.  Even if you're not in the market for paintings, you may find a great miniature sculpture, original etchings, books on your favorite artists, handcrafted jewelry, horse hair pottery or custom hunting knives for that special someone.  If you happen to be in the Coeur d'Alene area, be sure to stop by Coeur d'Alene Galleries on Saturday, November 29th where Michael Dudash, Joe Kronenberg, Kyle Paliotto and Abigail Gutting will be hanging out and painting, talking about their works and having a great time!

"Rough Road" by Kyle Paliotto
"Mountain Winter Dusk" by Michael Dudash
"Crossing Over" by Joe Kronenberg

"Like A King" by Abigail Gutting

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

American Royalties Too Act (A.R.T.) - Droit De Suite - Auction Re-Sale Royalties

As Christies and Sothebys post record numbers for their recent Contemporary Art auctions, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrat on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and Internet subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, continues to push his bill titled the American Royalties Too Act (A.R.T.).  The American Royalties Too Act (A.R.T.) proposes that artists receive 5% of the price of art that is resold at public auction for more than $5,000. The proposed bill caps the royalty paid to artists at $35,000 on resale works.  Musicians, composers, and writers all have royalty protection under United States Copyright Law; however, that protection doesn't apply to visual artists.  Artists may retain the copyright to their images for reproductions, but the rights to ownership of the original works belong to the collector who purchases the painting.  There are valid arguments for both sides as collectors have benefited for years from reselling works for a profit, and the artists don't receive any of the resale prices.  Many people believe that the artist's hard work, talent and devotion to a career in art contributes to the higher prices when collectors resell original works, so it's unfair that the artists don't receive compensation.  On the other hand, there are just as many people who think the artists receive benefits in the way of enhanced notoriety, profits from the original sale, and increased value of an artist's work as their career progresses and they sell new works.

Giants like Sothebys and Christies have spent nearly a million dollars on lobbyists in opposition of the proposed bill.  The Internet Association also doesn't support the proposed A.R.T. bill, and many think it's unfair that the bill only targets public auction houses and not galleries and dealers, because the proposed resale royalty only applies to public auctions at this time.  The Copyright Office did hold a public round table that included major and minor players in the art world before issuing their report.  You can view that round table here.

70 countries around the world including some from the European Union have adopted some form of the artist's resale royalty act.  California had a resale royalty law, but it was struck down as unconstitutional in 2012 by a federal district judge.  This is a potential game changer in the art business, but the chances of the bill being passed is approximately 2% according to Govtrack.us.

In the Western market, we've all seen works by Howard Terpning, Martin Grelle, and many other artists sell at museum shows and gallery shows, then find their way to auction to sell for significantly more than their original price points.  Many people in our industry say that you shouldn't buy art as an investment; however, it doesn't mean you can't sell original works for more than you paid originally.  The question is, should artists receive a royalty for resales?  Where do you stand on the issue?  There are some advocates who believe that it's like selling a house, and the builder and architect don't receive a royalty when the house is resold.  What if the collector loses money when he resells the painting?  I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think we can all agree that we should continue buying art regardless of the outcome of the A.R.T. bill.

Here are a few other articles about the American Royalties Too Act:
  1. Famous Paintings Sell For Millions At Auction, But the Artist Gets Zero
  2. New Bill Proposes Auction royalties for Artists - NY Times 
  3. Lobbyists Set to Fight Royalty Bill for Artists. Auction Houses Taking No Chances on American Royalties Too Act - NY Times 
  4. Shouldn't Artists Benefit WHen Their Paintings Auction for Millions?