Not Going To Option This Art

| Working | June 23, 2015

(I’m 25 and a summer student at an art gallery and for all intents and purposes, my 21-year-old coworker and I run it with little supervision. I’m helping set up an exhibit with a particularly difficult group of artists who have completely disregarded our authority under the assumption that we’re high school volunteers. In Ontario you need to complete 40 hours community service to graduate high school.)

Artist #1: “What kind of art gallery doesn’t have a hammer and nails?”

Me: “The kind of art gallery that doesn’t want holes in the walls. That’s why we have the professional hanging system.”

(Artist #1 calls their husband to bring a hammer and nails and proceeds to put holes in the walls. A couple of days later…)

Artist #2: “Can we use your cash box or should we use our own? I know it costs about $1.75 to write a cheque.”

Me: “It’s your choice. You’re welcome to use ours, but if you use your own, you wouldn’t have to wait for the money to be deposited and then wait for a cheque; you’d only have to wait for the cheque for credit card payments.”

Artist #2: *to the group while I’m in the office* “[My Name] says we have to use our own cash box.”

(Cue complaints. Just before the weekend, we’re chatting pleasantly with a couple of the artists who have started treating us a little better.)

Artist #2: “So are you here every day?”

Coworker: “Yep, open to close every day we’re open.”

Artist #2: “[My Name] said she needed the hours. Are you doing this for community service hours for high school?”

Me: “Um, no, we’re actually paid. The [Gallery] gets a government grant and we have to work 33 hours for six week contracts.”

(A couple of days later, another member of the group, the most problematic who still isn’t aware we’re in charge, is asking me about moving their displays during a special event.)

Artist #1: “Do you think if we just move the centre display and the chairs, that will be enough space?”

Me: “Probably, but if the hosts of the event think any pieces are at risk they might move them back here just to be safe. They’ll be responsible for putting anything they move back in its original place. It’s you’re choice.”

Artist #1: *to the group in the main gallery* “[My Name] says we have to move the centre display and the chairs and that someone else will be moving our stuff.”

Me: *in the office to my coworker, sort of singing under my breath* “That’s not what I said; I said you had the option just like I said you had the option of using our cash box.”

(I’m not sure what happened to make me go from lowly high school student to dictator but at least I’m done working with this group now.)


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