Friends of Black Rock are No Friends At All

Steven Chandler at Liberty Fine Art Gallery
Steven Chandler at Liberty Fine Art Gallery

As I was filling out some applications for art projects this year, I looked up the Friends of Black Rock Residency.  I saw the show at Liberty Fine Art Gallery in 2014.  As I was reading over the application I first focused on the sentence from the application “Artists are also required to provide the copyright for designated art piece to the Bureau of Land Management.”

What?  This is the second application in Nevada  demanding the copyright of the artists work, the first being the Circus Circus Mural Contest.  This is highly irregular in established art communities as it not in the artists best interest .  Interestingly, the language on the application has changed in the last day.

Actually, the entire list of expectations has changed in the last day.

I emailed the contact and asked them three questions:

1.  Does Friends of Black Rock believe ” What Friend of Black Rock will Provide” and “What is expected of the Artist”, listed on the application, is an even exchange between the organization and artist?

If so, why?

If not, why?

Please be as specific as possible.

2. How has this residency helped the careers of the artists who have participated?  Specific examples please.

3. Where, on your website, can I find information about last years artists and the work they have done for this residency.

I got a response, they were too busy to reply and I would hear back, I have yet to hear back.

On February 25th 2015  the application stated:

“Friends of Black Rock will provide:
• Access to locations from Gerlach if required
• Tours of potential artistic locations
• An exhibition and reception at end of residency (including invitations, refreshments, installation assistance, etc)
• 250 prints of final art work
• Frame limited edition prints which will be given to government agency stakeholders
• Modest $350 stipend to artist
• Recognition of achievement in press releases, advertising and promotional materials, on BLM and FBR websites.
• Lodging in Gerlach
Expectations of artist:
• One completed artwork for BLM/FBR, created within the NCA
• Work in field on art piece 40 hours per week over two weeks, at minimum
• Greet and speak to groups at two events, at a minimum
• Willingness to talk with media
• Sign 50 first run prints
• To grant rights to print designated artwork for use in fundraising or exhibitions
• A workshop/demonstration scheduled during the Black Rock Rendezvous on Memorial Day
• Participation in a community service project on the Black Rock NCA during the residency period.
• Participation in a public exhibit of works at the Gerlach Community Center and/or a Reno/Carson City arts location.
Artists are also required to provide the copyright for designated art piece to the Bureau of Land Management.
Artwork may be used in exhibits and for educational purposes by Friends of Black Rock – High Rock. The artist
retains a royalty-free, nonexclusive use license under the copyright of the art. Friends of Black Rock High Rock, Inc.,
holds the rights to reproduce the art piece. Under those rights, the artist has a license to make use of the artwork
for his or her purposes. When artists reproduce artwork for their own purposes. Any publication information will
include the language: “This artwork was produced under the Artist-In-Residence Program at Black Rock Desert
National Conservation Area.” These creative works will exhibited frequently and shared with the public through other
appropriate means.”

and now, February 27, 2015, it reads:
Friends of Black Rock will provide:
• Access to locations from Gerlach if required
• Tours of potential artistic locations
• An exhibition and reception at end of residency (including invitations, refreshments, installation assistance, etc)
• 500 prints of final art work • Frame ten limited edition prints which will be given to government agency stakeholders in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Nevada and the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
• Modest stipend to artist • Recognition of achievement in press releases, advertising and promotional materials, on BLM and FBR websites.
• Lodging in Gerlach Expectations of artist:
• One completed artwork for BLM/FBRHR, created within the NCA
• Work in field on art piece 40 hours per week over two weeks, at minimum
• Greet and speak to groups at minimum of two events
• Willingness to talk with media
• Sign 100, first run prints
• To grant rights to print designated artwork for use in fundraising or exhibitions
• A workshop/demonstration scheduled during the Black Rock Rendezvous on Memorial Day
• Participation in a community service project on the Black Rock NCA during the residency period.
• Participation in a public exhibit of works at the Gerlach Community Center and/or a Reno/Carson City arts location.

FBRHR will retain copyright over donated works. Donated artwork may be reproduced by FBRHR and the BLM in promotional print materials, electronic publication formats, or for any other purpose. Artists will retain a royalty-free, non-exclusive use license under copyright of their artwork by FBRHR. When the artist reproduces this artwork for his/her own purposes, publication information must include the language: “This artwork was produced under the Friends of Black Rock-High Rock Artist-in-Residence Program.”

Further, there is no information about any of the artists on the website from past years, no art highlighted.  The event in Reno was not at a proper gallery, rather a coop, was not well organized or attended, nothing sold or was even bid on and the artists I spoke to expressed a financial burden and lack-luster response.

When I posted the list of expectations on my facebook page for responses, everyone agreed, it’s a total rip off and the lawyer who chimed in said it perfectly, before forwarding the information to some employment law attorneys… “ I don’t like to see artists get ripped off. Funny how they think they can avoid paying minimum wage by calling the payment a “stipend” and the job site an “artist-in-residence” program.”  

http://blackrockdesert.org/2015-artist-residence/

http://blackrockdesert.org/AIRapplication.pdf

Here’s the contact for “Friends of Black Rock”  Michael Myers at m.myers@blackrockdesert.org or call 775.557.2900

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Friends of Black Rock are No Friends At All

  1. I love that you are sharing this information, Andrea. Most artists do not give thought to the financial burden that many “opportunities” end up costing them.

    Giving any organization two free weeks of your life, and art, and paying for all your expenses (except for a very small amount), is not a good business plan!

    I think that by bringing this to the attention of the organization, and helping them to see how their program HARMS artists rather then helps them, is a great thing.

    I hope that we see positive change come from this!

    Like

  2. Hi, this is Michael Myers from Friends of Black Rock-High Rock. I would like to state that I was not trying to avoid answering Ms. LaHue’s questions in regards to our Artist-in-Residence program. I am currently the only full time paid staff member at Friends, and as one might imagine, it can be difficult to respond to every request right away. I informed Ms. LaHue that I would respond by the end of the week, which I did, on the 27th, apparently at the same time she was posting her blog.

    In regards to the language changing on our application. I was informed from our BLM partners on the 25th that there was a slight issue with the wording of our application. So, on the 26th we updated our application. Unfortunately, multiple older versions of our application were combined, and I did not catch the error. This issue has now been resolved and is currently live on our website at the links provided in the article.

    I would also like to point out that the artist does retain the copyright of their work with FBRHR and the BLM granted a royalty-free, non-exclusive use license allowing us to use images of the artwork for whatever purpose, in perpetuity. Not the other way around as it was previously posted.

    Last year was our first year hosting an Artist-in-Residence program (which included the reversed copyright ownership), and being a learning experience, the copyright wording was to be reversed for this year.

    So, I would like to apologize for the discrepancies on our application from our true intention. We want this program to be a positive and rewarding for all parties involved, especially the artists. We definitely do not wish to rip off any artists. I appreciate this oversight being noted by Ms. LaHue and being brought to my attention.

    I would like to note that the Liberty Fine Art Gallery is a great, and legitimate gallery, and had a great turn out on the First Thursday art walk. A second, Artist-in-Residence only, reception was not attended as well as we had hoped. The artwork from the program was not available for sale at the First Thursday event, but due to interest in buying the artwork, we opened it up for a silent auction at the later event, which did not have the intended results.

    I would also like to note that we hosted an Artist-in-Residence reception in July in Gerlach, which was well attended, and multiple pieces from each artists sold.

    I will conclude by stating that I hope this clears the air a little bit, and I hope you will consider us your Friend. We are always accepting feedback and looking for ways to improve our program. If anyone has any comments or questions they are always more than welcome to contact me at m.myers@blackrockdesert.org or at 775-557-2900.

    Thank you for your time.

    Like

  3. Hi Mike and Maria,
    Although I am glad the language has changed about the artists no longer have to give up their copyright to the Bureau of Land Management and the language has changed regarding the expectations of both the artist and Friends of Black Rock, it is still, in no way, an even exchange of resources. Not by a long shot.

    And none of the art or artists from last year are anywhere on their website.

    Here are the expectations as they are stated now, March 3, 2015:

    Friends of Black Rock will provide:
    • Access to locations from Gerlach if required
    • Tours of potential artistic locations
    • An exhibition and reception at end of residency (including invitations, refreshments, installation assistance, etc)
    • 250 prints of final art work
    • Frame limited edition prints which will be given to government agency stakeholders
    • Modest $350 stipend to artist
    • Recognition of achievement in press releases, advertising and promotional materials, on BLM and FBR websites.
    • Lodging in Gerlach
    Expectations of artist:
    • One completed artwork for BLM/FBR, created within the NCA
    • Work in field on art piece 40 hours per week over two weeks, at minimum
    • Greet and speak to groups at two events, at a minimum
    • Willingness to talk with media
    • Sign 50 first run prints
    • To grant rights to print designated artwork for use in fundraising or exhibitions
    • A workshop/demonstration scheduled during the Black Rock Rendezvous on Memorial Day
    • Participation in a community service project on the Black Rock NCA during the residency period.
    • Participation in a public exhibit of works at the Gerlach Community Center and/or a Reno/Carson City arts location.
    The artists will retain copyright over their works, and agree to grant FBRHR and the BLM a royalty­free, non­exclusive
    use license allowing us to use images of the artwork for whatever purpose, in perpetuity. When the artist reproducesthis artwork for his/her own purposes, publication information must include the language: “This artwork was produced
    under the Friends of Black Rock­High Rock Artist­in­Residence Program.”

    Do I need to go line for line, why this is not a good deal for the artists?

    Like

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