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Copycat in the Gallery – by Robert Genn



Copycat in the Gallery
by Robert Genn 

Yesterday, Jaye Alison Moscariello of Mendocino, California wrote, "A year ago I moved to the West Coast and joined an artist collective. With the incredible inspiration of the new area, my work changed dramatically. I wanted to capture the best part of the vast landscape. I began making very long horizontal watercolors. People responded. Another member told me he liked my work and then he started to do the same thing--same format, same subjects, even similar titles. I feel awful that he is placing his work so close to mine. Now he's selling prints of his work. I know competition is healthy, it's just that I came to that format organically. How should I respond? His wife is the gallery director." 

Thanks, Jaye. While you're probably not the first to use the long format, nor will you be the last, it is aggravating when this sort of thing hits so close to home. It's a jungle out there. Predators are ready to snap up your babes. But take heart, by the looks of your website you're capable of a wide range of styles and motifs. I'm sure your imagination will outrun that of your entrepreneurial and well-connected copycat. FYI, we've put a selection of Jaye's work at the top of the current clickback

It's not so much a matter of authenticity versus ersatz, it's a matter of the shaky validity of prior claim. The general public doesn't often know, and dealers don't often care. 

No matter how the world turns, the evolved artist learns to keep her spirits up, her head down and her attention on her own processes. While there are plenty who would deny it, art is a doing thing, not to be sullied with public response. My advice: 

Keep supplying your work to the gallery, but don't hang out there. Look for other galleries, collectives and friends who may not be as likely to clone. Your success is your calling card. Take control and put galleries in your stable, not you in theirs. Keep pursuing your private bliss. Your natural curiosity, creative flair and good work habits will take you to your next epiphany. 

Above all, hold no bitterness toward your admirer. His story is one of the oldest, but it can be the very source of development, progress and innovation. Like it or not, we are all small actors on the great stage of Creative Darwinism. 

Best regards, 


PS: "Those who follow are always behind." (A Y Jackson

Esoterica: "Is it possible to copyright a mountain?" a friend asked me recently. He had done the same one so many times he thought he had a right to be its personal painter. I mentioned the Canadian watercolourist and printmaker Walter J. Phillips, who had wondered the same about Mt. Rundle, near Banff, Alberta. "It's my bread and butter mountain," he used to say. Phillips has gone now but the mountain is still looking for its greater master.  

 Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insight, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com! 

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