We Talk to (Actual) Gallery Girls. Episode One: “I lose a lot of sleep.”

08/02/2012 12:52 PM |

From Bravos Gallery Girls Sneek Peak
  • From Bravo’s “Gallery Girls” Sneek Peak

According to Bravo, unpaid art world jobs are your ticket to all the art parties, cute shoes, and frenemies you could possibly desire. Maybe work for six months, get photographed at openings (always looking whistful), and chances are that Bravo, recognizing your potential, will sweep you up in its new art reality series. wink. ;)

With your hard-earned degree in hand, bags packed, you bid your family goodbye and set out for Manhattan. Well, Bushwick, actually, because with over $100,000 outstanding in student loans, you’re on a “tight budget.” But you’re bound to make it big soon.

…Right? We checked in a few years down the line with unpaid, real-life gallery girls to see how that’s been working out. Their names and specifics have been changed to protect their references. This week, we spoke to Carrie Bradshaw.

Are you getting paid? Do you ever expect to get paid?
I work for a non-profit art organization that was founded in January of this year. I am the Associate Director. We have absolutely no funding what-so-ever. We are in the process of obtaining our 501c3, and many grants and other funding is unavailable to us until then. No, I don’t get paid. I don’t know when we will ever make enough money to pay myself and the Director. It feels futile.

What did you expect from the internship? Is the experience different?
What I expect from working for this organization is to be able to curate shows and provide opportunities to emerging artists. As we have been able to do this to some extent, it has been a challenge. Because I am not getting paid, I cannot put 100% of my energy and time into working here. Even though I am the Associate Director, I am treated much like an intern, or low-man on the totem pole. I am also expected to operate like this is a paying position, when in reality, I am limited in my time and devotion to this is because I have to have a paying job (at an art gallery), to pay my bills.

What’s your day like?
My day is not typical. I work…from home, or my studio when I can and have free time. We do not have an office space that we can collectively work from. Often we meet in the director’s living room. What I have contention with mostly, is the passive aggressive emails that are sent to me, while face to face conversations are friendly and positive.

Have you or are you currently attending art school?
Of course I go to art school, ha! I am finishing my MFA this week, I just turned my thesis paper in to my professors 2 hours ago.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve been asked to do?
Fly [out of state] to put on our very first exhibition and pay for it out of my pocket. And yes, I did it.

What do you eat for lunch?
That depends. Thai food is nice sometimes, usually leftovers or a sandwich.

Have you ever come close to quitting? If so, why?
I do consider quitting often. The amount of stress that I feel from this organization keeps me up at night. I often am asked to do a task, which I will put a lot of time and energy into. When it comes time for the task to be completed (shipping of artwork, compiling a press release…) it is swept out from under me. The director of our organization is a control freak. She has to do everything herself, and no matter how hard you have worked on something, you will most likely not get recognition for it, or it will be taken away and formed into something else. This is an organization where I believe that we should be working collectively, whereas the Director sees me more as her minion, and not her equal. It’s tough. I am constantly weighing the benefits of the experiences I will have with this organization versus starting my own. I know that is vague, but there are MANY times where I have almost quit. I lose a lot of sleep.

One Comment

  • It sounds like she needs to quit and move on, just for the fact that she’s not being paid. She’s being taken complete advantage of emotionally and financially. (You paid out of pocket for a business trip???) It sounds like she will reap no benefits for helping start up this company or organization. The resume work “experience” sounds like the worst possible experience to me. Tolerating a bad boss to pay the rent is one thing, but putting up with it AND helping financially? (ie: the trip) Furthermore, as someone who’s had a salaried job, you’re probably not even getting the experience that will move you forward. Just quit – you won’t get paid either way!!!!