Reality Bites Feed

The Power of Your Dollar

Politics in America is now front and center. You can't avoid a political discussion whether you lean to the right or the left.

Illy COFFEEPOT a symbol of political protestOur country was founded on political action.
 One of the earliest political actions by American colonists was a boycott by colonial women who stopped buying tea because it was taxed by England. This is why to this day, coffee is more popular in America than tea. Boycotting tea was a political statement.  "No taxation without representation" became the voice of American political activism almost 250 years ago.
I try not to politicize the information on ASK Harriete, but I just can not stay silent as the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are in jeopardy -- despite their negligible impact on the budget accounting for only 0.003% of federal spending.  That is 3/1,000 th of a tax penny.
"The NEA and NEH are vital to innovation and creative expression, cultural and artistic understanding, and scholarly research. The NEA and NEH support cultural institutions like museums, libraries, universities, and public television and ensure that all Americans have access to arts and culture." Your local or national art organizations have probably received NEA grants at one time or another. Your local PBS station is definitely dependent on NEA or NEH funding.  
Elain-Salinger-HuddleThis February in a Huddle, I learned that the current administration intends to divert funding from a wide range of education and cultural programs (including the NEA and NEH) to fund the production of more nuclear weapons. (This shocking shift in priorities was announced at a town hall meeting in San Mateo with U.S. Representative Jackie Spier.)
Learning from our colonial ancestors, the power of the dollar can affect politics and the art and craft community. I am using postcards of my art for writing to all my Senators and Representatives. Save funding for the arts!

Collect Your Money Pin by Harriete Estel Berman“Women hold the purse strings — this has been true for a long, long time.”  "There are many steps that each of us can take that cost us nothing and take no time. One is to boycott T___P brands. Brand specialist "Shannon Coulter began a boycott campaign on Twitter with #GrabYourWallet.... "  A spreadsheet (linked below) lists over 50 companies to boycott based on whether the company sells T____p products," etc.

"The list includes Macy’s, LL Bean, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Zappos, Amazon, T. J. Maxx, Lord & Taylor, and Bed Bath & Beyond." "Companies such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Jet, have been removed from the list after they stopped carrying Trump products." Use your dollars wisely. You can choose to buy or not buy T____p products, boycott stores, or call customer service desks and let them know your opinion.

The power of the dollar is in your pocket.
 Yes, your pocket. How do you spend your dollars? Or align your art and craft with your political allegiance?  In this polarized, dismantling of the arts and education trend, everything has become political.
This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending


Here’s What You Can Do To Protect National Arts And Culture Funding
 from the Huffington Post

TRUTH an artwork by Harriete Estel Berman
TRUTH - an artwork in progress.



Committing or Conquering Self-Rejection

Eco-Arts-Awards-FinalistDue to a recent turn of events, I am elated, but have come to a realization about my earlier thinking as well.  

Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin has been selected as a finalist for the Eco Art Awards in the category of "Repurposed Materials in Art and Design." With this selection comes professional acknowledgement, and being one step closer to the prize money. That is all good and wonderful, but what I am also all too aware of is, I almost didn't enter.

Right! I almost committed "self rejection."

Tom ProfileI think that is why Tom Muir's recent comments in his interview on the Jay Whaley Blog Talk Radio especially resonated with me.

Below is a short MP3 portion taken from the recorded podcast. Tom Muir talks about entering shows and the impact of self-rejection. [This is the first time I've tried inserting an MP3. Try a click. It should play. It worked for me. Let me know if you like this feature.] 



Below is an edited text excerpt from the interview:

Jay Whaley:
"You enter a lot of competitions every year don't you.

Tom Muir:
"I do, yes. I usually enter 12 or more competitions most years.

Jay Whaley:
And you encourage your students to do that too.

Tom Muir:
"Yeah, I sure do.

Jay Whaley:
"It seems to me that you are even delighted by your rejections.

Tom Muir:
"Well, I don't know about delighted, but I have a good sense of humor about that. I had two years in my career where I was rejected from every single exhibition I entered. So I do encourage my students to enter. I think it really helps them resolve their works and take their work much more seriously."

"The other thing that we have seen........ students feel that they could never enter something and get accepted, and then when they see the actual show or see the catalog, they say gosh ...I could have gotten into that. Well you could have but you didn't enter. So it is kind of like a self rejection."

"One year I took all my rejection letters and I covered my office door with show that it's not such a bad thing to get rejected. You could enter those same works in another exhibition the next year and maybe win best of show in a much bigger competition."
Repair,dec10,rejectletters 038
My folder of reject letters (above) for just the last few years. I save them for the I.R.S. as documentation of my professional efforts.

In another example of conquring rejection consider this story from Kate DiCamillo, currently National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a two-year position to promote children's literature through the Library of Congress. 

It took her six years before she published her first book.  She received 450 rejection letters before a publisher finally agreed to publish her work. She kept a notebook of every submission, and rejection. She says, "if there is any message that I can give in that respect, it's persistence and not giving up on your dream."     

So the next time you are considering entering a juried show, "don't self-reject."

If your work fits the requirements;

1. Use the TOP TEN TIPS for Getting Into a Juried Exhibition, Show, Book or Magazine;

2. Enter the show!


FYI Tom Muir will be speaking at the upcoming Professional Development Seminar 2014 titled "Collectors, Collections and You." Don't miss it!  

RECYCLE Art Without Waste Opportunity

Do you work in recycled, re-purposed materials?
Here is an opportunity that I just found out about!


The link below is the best way for you to upload your images, information and consent. 

Please visit the following and upload images as per specific requirements:
If you know anyone who would be a good artist/designer for this publication, please direct them to the Facebook page.  Deadline is today....but if you see this Monday give it a try anyway.

But also learn a lesson. Always have your information and photos READY AT ALL TIMES because while I believe in the "early bird catches the worm", life often offers last minute opportunities if you are prepared. 

So sorry this is last minute...but the deadline is extended until the end of September. Being prepared also mean subscribing to ASK Harriete so you can learn about last minute posts like this one (written on Sunday morning before I flew out the door.)

RECYCLE fruit crate by Harriete Estel Berman

Recycle: the California Collection
Three dimensional fruit crate labels and necklace constructed from post-consumer recycled materials as a commentary on California as the leader in the recycling movement and green design.*

Reality bite, you are the best spokesperson for your work.


Exhibition in the Gallery at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, MABostonSOCIETY
Three Bracelets by Harriete E Berman
Post-consumer recycled tin cans 2007

In the previous post on ASK Harriete, a student asked, "What is the first step to get my artworks shown in a gallery?"

My guess is that the real sentiment was "How can I get my work in a gallery so that the gallery will sell my work, and I can just focus on making and not selling?"

Harriete flattening tin cans working in the studioTINS.100Many makers hold on to the fantasy that a gallery will sell all their work so they can dedicate their time to making work.  The reality is that those days are gone forever (except for a few rare individuals).  There are various reasons, including the Internet and this tough economy.  But it is incredibly important to realize early in your career that you are the best seller of your work. 

Just as movie studios came to realize that actors should participate in the marketing of their movies, and publishers understand that authors should appear on television and radio to sell their books, artists need to participate in the marketing of their work. The visible and articulate artist/craftsperson is the most effective tool there is for marketing.


Alyson Stanfield and Harriete Estel Berman at the Loveland Museum
Harriete E Berman & Alyson Stanfield
at the Loveland Museum exhibition 2010

People (i.e. buyers, collectors, and viewers ) want to see, hear and meet the artists. Whether it is meeting at an opening, participating in social networks, offering to do interviews, writing about your own work on blogs, or standing in your booth at a show, the creative spirit is what people want to see and hear.  They want to learn your story.

Showing your work, telling a story, or explaining the meaning behind your work are steps you need to take to achieve success. No gallery can perform this job better than you can.

A gallery that sells your work is a partnership. They may be providing a retail location with a customer base, but the better you are at your job, the better they can sell your work.

This post was updated on March 12, 2022.