Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready

by Apr 8, 2018

Let me go ahead and say that I’m not really bitter, but I am definitely disappointed. Maybe I expect too much from people – always have. Things like the rules of etiquette (The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group) or just common-place manners (A person’s outward bearing or way of behaving toward others) more often than not appears to have been forgotten.

Please allow me to backup a bit and explain where I’m coming from.

I have been a professional artist and gallery owner for more than 25 years. During that time I have been involved with numerous art shows and events outside of my gallery. I have personally exhibited my work in local art fundraisers as well as, in the Atlanta, Knoxville and Memphis areas. I have had very successful shows and have been selected as a Featured Artist more than once. Most of the events have been well-organized although a few appeared to be flying by the seat of their pants. And I have seen event chairs that were gracious and appreciative but I’ve also witnessed those that were in over-their-head, stressed-out and difficult.

In the last few years, I have often participated as a gallery and brought assorted works from the artists that I represent. I have also stepped into the role of committee member and helped to plan several events and shows. That role led me to eventually co-chair entire fundraising events and even help create a new art show from scratch.

I’ve shown my work in various school shows but stepped into leadership with shows for the Temple, Christ the King, The Martin Senior Center and The Gordon Jewish Community Center. I have not had a connection to any of these groups. I am not Jewish, nor a member of the Jewish Community Center. I am not Catholic, nor have a child or grandchild attending Christ the King School. However, I am definitely a senior citizen but not a member of The Martin Center. I worked on all of these events because I wanted to help.

I took on several roles with my involvement such as jurying artists, reconfiguring a venue’s layout, and even menu suggestions for receptions and artists’ meals. I have encouraged artists that I represent as well as, other friends to participate and have even shared my customer mailing list. I have loved being a part of the process and proud of the improvements that I have brought to each show.

Five years ago I was asked to offer suggestions to a group wanting to begin an art fundraising event. Again, I had no connection other than to the dear friend that asked. I met with them, shared my ideas and then was asked to not only help start the event but to co-chair as well. I said yes and a brand new annual weekend art show was born. I agreed to co-chair for two years and continued the third year when no one else was ready to take over. The show has been successful and something that we are all proud of. When the fourth year rolled around, a very capable replacement came along but unfortunately, not a co-chair to help. I was not going to let the show fail so I returned one more year to assist.

The fifth year is upon us and is being chaired by the person that I helped select for the first year’s featured artist. When the call to artists happened, my friend and former co-chair was included. I kept waiting for an invitation but it never came. I mentioned that to the head of the organization thinking they would step in to clear the oversight and yet, they did not. The invitations are now out and the show that I helped create is about to take place – without me.

I was not totally shut out as I, along with my former co-chair, have found ourselves listed as Honorary Chairs. But still, I was not given a spot to showcase my art and help raise money for the fundraiser that I helped to create. Hoping that it was just a mistake, I wrote to the current chair, included past chairs and the head of the organization, listing my past involvement that helped to bring the show to this point. I asked for an explanation as to why I was not afforded the courtesy of an invitation. At the time of this writing, neither the current chair or the head of the organization has responded. Regardless, it will not keep me from helping others in the future when asked.

For now, I am choosing to believe it’s just an unintended slight. (An insult caused by a failure to show someone proper respect or attention)


J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.

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