OK, there it is.
One of my pet peeves is this, gallery theme shows. That's when a gallery tells all of their artists they are doing a special show and want paintings of some particular subject, say, Forgotten Foods of Yesteryear. I think the only theme that I really like is "New Work". I am a landscape painter, I don't really paint food, but I obligingly and naively do a beautiful 24 by 36 of a suet pudding and take it to them. They say they love it and even put it on the sleazy postcards they send out to be ritually discarded by their clientele. Well it's one of the six on there anyway, cropped.
At the end of the show's run, I go back to the gallery and they hand me back the painting unsold. Again they smile and tell me how much they loved it.They are so sorry it didn't sell, but now they are done with it. They think they have done me a favor, in fact, they included me in a show! Years ago I learned never to work for exposure. Now here I am doing it again! But what am I supposed to do with my apotheosis of suet now? I put all the effort into making something I would never have made except for their request, I wanted to appear to be a good sport, but I wasted two weeks of effort and a pudding, and they still know I'm a crank. I have put out all of that work for nothing. No other gallery is going to want my over the sofa sized quivering desert. I have made a painting that should have been a commission.
Here is what I intend to do in the future. If a gallery calls me and tells me about a "themed" show I will ask myself "will what I make be portable?" For instance, if the gallery is in a place of great natural vistas, or in a historic village, or something else I would ordinarily paint, and they want something local, OK I'm there. If they don't sell it, I can take it somewhere else. But if they want, Steam Driven Wurlitzers that Changed the World, count me out! I will be as polite to the dealer as I can be, but that is the rule. I have lost weeks making things for dealers that they never sold, and I can't afford it.
A newly wed young couple is going to be perplexed, when as their wedding gift they receive my lovely suet pudding painting in a Chinese frame with an open corner. Its a suet pudding! I'll tell them, but they will still look glum.