Ritual Coffee Roasters Owner Eileen Hassi Pulls Artist’s Work from Display?
Got this email today from Varese Layzer. Haven’t had a chance to look into everything yet, but this sounds like it sucks. Makes me think I should avoid buying coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters in the future. I’ve emailed Eileen from Ritual Coffee Roasters for a response and will publish it here if I get one.
I’m sorry I didn’t know you until one of my colleagues forwarded to me your name and that you might be interested in my story. I hope you might take a second to read about my case?
A very prominent San Francisco cafe, Ritual Coffee (ritualroasters.com), offered to show my work. I asked them to choose from among my many photographs and they said I could do what I liked as long as it was not portraits. I invited them to view the work I chose. I also asked if I could put up an artist statement. They said yes. I said it would be large and was that okay — they said yes.
I spent approximately $3,000 on the show and hundreds of hours (as you can well imagine). It was professionally framed.
The owner of the cafe tore down the statement a few days after it opened without telling me, two days ago. When I noticed this, I complained bitterly to the curator, who had been my only point person and had done all the approving, etc. He apologized and left a message with the owner. The owner, Eileen Hassi, wrote today to tell me to take the entire show down now. You can see her letter here.
In it, she says the show was too serious for a cafe and that she had goofed by not telling me this sooner. She fired the curator (who told me he was actually a volunteer) and he has renounced all responsibility for the incident. She has offered me “$300 for your time on this one.” She will not phone me or give me her phone number and has further contacted me only to say that I must take it down by Thursday.
I would be happy to show the work without the statement. Most people who have seen the work without the statement have found it totally harmless (which is why I added the statement, frankly!). While I’m sort of happy that the statement is such a Rite-of-Spring-riot inducer to one woman, I think she’s making a terrible mistake and that the work itself is really very pleasant if you don’t show it with the statement.
I hope this is something that interests you and your readers. I’m not sure what to do.
Thanks for reading,
Update 3-8-2012: Just got this email from Varese:
I am happy to report that a gallery owner has invited me to show the work you wrote about last year when it was removed from Ritual Coffee.
Thank you again for taking the time to read my letter in the first place and giving it space on your very influential site. I can see that people are referred from your article to my site weekly — still.
Making Room will be shown at Krowswork Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland, krowswork.com, from March 30th to April 28th, along with two other artists’ work. (I also have another “serious” series in this show.) The opening is the evening of the 30th. You are most welcome — it would be great to meet you.”