No one really knew where he came from. One minute he was not there and in the next minute there he was, talking a big game, walking the walk, and promoting himself to any artist that would listen. He said he had connections, he had patrons and clients, he had galleries and even museums that counted on him to supply new works by emerging artists.
He wanted to see everyone and everything. He appeared to have money and he shoved it around but only a little, and no one noticed. All they heard was big shows and bigger exhibits and major sales. This was in the days before the Internet, and no one took the time to check him out. Where would they have checked him out?
He helped promote a small local show that actually existed before he showed up. He made everyone think it was his show and that he facilitated some advertising and promotional aspects for the show but again no one noticed. All they saw was a guy who seemed to know his stuff and made them believe that he could make them into someone special in the art world.
In fewer than thirty days he had ingratiated himself into the arts community of the town and was even interviewed by the local community newspaper. We discovered later that he had refused to be photographed by the newspaper saying his clientele didn’t like it when he was the focus of the promotion and not them. The newspaper bought his explanation.
One Sunday he announced that a major gallery on the East Coast had contacted him and he was in the process of securing artwork of an exhibit in a major city with an established art market. Artists flocked to meet with him, to make arrangements for their works to be included, and some even paid a small commission to him for ‘added’ attention in the installation of the their works in the gallery.
Several artists I know fell for his hype and severely chastised me for not participating. I was at the end of my project for my M.F.A. degree and didn’t have the time or the money to stop and prepare works for a promised show. They on the other hand busted their collective arses and delivered works to his truck. He even hired a couple of local artists to help him load the truck.
The paperwork was way too simple for this type of a commitment, and it had few if any details on the show, the insurance, or the commissions to be paid out. But the artists came and delivered their works, a few were actually turned down either to make it look legit or because their works were not saleable.
The whole time the promoter gave his assurance that he was dedicated to the task and he felt personally obligated to safeguard the artworks to and from the show. About 10 AM that morning he departed for … ‘parts unknown’.
He was never heard from again.