wHAT IS a vanity gALLERY?
A vanity gallery is an art space that “rents” or sells its space to artists in order for the artist to have a show. Thus, the main driver in having a show at a vanity gallery is not necessarily the quality of the artwork, but the artist’s ability to pay the gallery to host his/her artwork.
Las Vegas is crawling with vanity galleries. Vanity galleries are often looked down upon by everyone who knows that they’re a “pay-as-you-show” space, since they are essentially a “rental” gallery.
A knowledgeable art critic or curator knows which galleries in his/her town are vanity galleries, and often ignore them, much like book critics ignore most self-published writers, who use “vanity publishers.”
My Opinion (not representing of our organization):
My experiences as a gallerist, is I have seen “reputable” galleries which sometimes cross the line and become “charge the artist” galleries or vanity galleries once in a while, as the mighty dollar (or lack thereof) calls.
Sometimes, we’d get a phone call from an agent of other talents (musician or actor) who is also a “painter” or “photographer,” or from an individual “artist,” and they would ask us how much would we charge to host a show by their “artist.” When we’d inform them that we do not rent the gallery for artists to have shows, they’d thank us and hang up. Then a few months later I’d see that “agent's artist” or "artist” exhibiting in one of the area’s “reputable” art galleries, and immediately recognize that - at least for that month - that gallery is making ends meet by renting the space to someone.
While I understand that most galleries are labors of love, and often run by the skin of one’s teeth, I still find it somewhat distasteful, and dishonest - to appear (on the surface) to be a gallery that shows work based on merit, while at the same time showing work based on an artist, or a corporation’s ability to pay.
I know it's “business as usual,” while to me it was distasteful and dishonest and left a bad taste in my mouth for the longest time.
- Dinh Chau-Kieckhafer