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Archive for the ‘Finances’ Category


Unless you are the next Rembrandt or Chagall, artists are expected to work only for the love, passion and/or need to create. In fact, many renowned artists led lives of poverty, achieving notoriety only in death.

The thinking seems to be that if an artist happens to sell a thing or two, well then, s/he can buy a few more supplies to keep fueling the desire to create.

I was driven to this post after reading a call for artists and thought, “This is the last straw!”

A small non-profit posted a call for artists, for a show in a nondescript location (read: not much exposure for the artists), as a fundraiser. The show was juried. There was an entrance fee (whether or not your work was chosen). You were expected to provide 2-3 pieces, that were not offered for sale, and one of them had to be donated for an auction, for which they receive 100% of the selling price.

Now, if the cause is a well known one, I can see artists doing it not only for altruistic reasons, but for the exposure that it might give them. But this little, local organization, where few will see the work, and it COSTS artists money to participate – AND they are jurying the entries? Good luck with that fundraiser.

Artists are a generous lot. They give a lot of time and contribute work to many causes. But like other people who support causes, they should be able to contribute to causes that have meaning to them. I resent it when artists are exploited by regular requests for support, but receive few paid purchases.

I willingly give gifts of my work, which is well received and appreciated. Would it be unreasonable to expect that if the recipients like my work, they might consider buying it sometimes?

And don’t get me started on galleries. The producer of the work gets less than half of the selling price. This price inflation (or deflation for the artist) necessarily means fewer purchases for the artist.

Artists don’t ask much. They only ask that if you like their work enough to think you will sell it to support your organization, or you like it enough to wear it, that you support them by purchasing some for yourself or to give as a gift.

It is no more unreasonable than any business model. But somehow, artists are kept in poverty because there is a mistaken belief they don’t need money to live too.

The creators of the art that the world enjoys should not require one to live in poverty or the support of their families. Artists’ talents, their time, and the high cost of art supplies is worth something.

Think of this next time you admire someone’s art. Surely you will have need to give a gift. Instead of supporting your local Macy’s, buy something from your local artists.

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I deliberately used a question mark in the title of this post because that has been the reaction I got when I told people I was going to Pittsburgh. They would ask why and I said it was because I wanted to see It. They didn’t believe me. Except for one friend, who said she wanted to come too.

It all began many years ago, when reading an article in (I think) Business Week or some similar publication. It hailed Pittsburgh as one of the most livable cities. It defined livability as a place that offered cultural, educational and outdoor opportunities, with good housing prices and safety. Recently cited by the AARP, of which I am a card carrying member, as one of the best places to retire, I got even more curious. So one night, over dinner with my friend and our husbands, the subject came up. Before you knew it, we decided to go, abetted by our husbands.

We enlisted a realtor and told her we were on the first stop of a several year tour of potential retirement places. We wanted to see the housing stock and the city. We spent nearly two full days looking at homes and neighborhoods and one day exploring what Pittsburgh has to offer.

We were smitten! I saw many homes that I liked, and one I loved – mostly because of the kitchen. My friend, who is not afraid of taking calculated risks, said, “Why don’t you buy it?” I got excited. It felt right. There were several “signs” that I should do it, not to mention the mortgage interest rates being at their lowest ever.

I got on board immediately. There was only one hitch. My husband. Typically ultra conservative about any risk, as am I, I could not imagine him considering it. I would be able to do it without him, but I would face a penalty on early withdrawal of my retirement funds. It would be better to tap his, since he is old enough to withdraw funds without penalty.

All the way home from the airport, my friend and I sang the praises of Pittsburgh. My husband laughed in a way one does when not taking chatter seriously. When we got home, I told him I had something serious to talk with him about. I reiterated how much I loved the city. It had all the important elements I was looking for in a location: affordability, diversity, access to education and excellent healthcare, culture, good restaurants, an art scene, nearby airport and the ability to live in a suburban setting that is only 10 minutes from downtown. As a bonus, it was beautiful. Hills, parks, rivers, hiking and bike trails.

Then he said, “If you think you can buy this house for the price we can pay, do it!” Sixteen words that changed our lives! Not only did it determine where we would go next, it was the first time we took a risk – together. It is a calculated and safe risk – I did the math, interest rates are at an all time low, and the investment will hold its value. Further, time goes so fast and this next stage of our lives is only a few years away.

Well, the house negotiations did not work out, but I am returning to Pittsburgh to find another. Our paths have been forged and I am excited about it. Who knew, several weeks ago, that I would be retiring to Pittsburgh?

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This vacation went faster than usual. Maybe it was because lots of non-vacation-like things happened, such as: (1) mother-in-law went to the hospital. This necessitated a minimum of 3, and up to 6 calls, each of the 4 days she was there. (2) brother-in-law got sick with worry because his mom got sick and called twice daily (with texting in between) to report his bathroom trials. (3) our dog of 10 years, who loved vacationing with us at the lake, went home with my son and passed away.

Doesn’t this make you feel like you would now need a vacation? It does me.

To be fair, some good things happened too. I took 3 art classes and taught one. A sculpture classmate fell in love with one of my pieces and purchased it. I am elated that it spoke to her so strongly and that it will have a lovely home in her Maine garden. I taught a class, which I love doing. The wonder and thrill of the first time people make felt is a privilege to witness.

My son and two of his good friends spent a week with us. I love those boys like family and enjoy having them in Maine, along with my son.

We had friends visit for an all too short weekend. It deepened our friendship and I did the most relaxing during the time they were with us.

Although it would be nice to have a few more days, I am looking forward to returning to a job I really like, and to catching up with friends neglected during my studies. Life is good – and always interesting.

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A good friend of mine just told me she is applying to a PhD program. I am so happy for her – and I admit – a bit envious. I wanted to get a doctorate but was talked out of it by someone who had gotten one. She told me it was an arduous process. I know it is not practical for me to get one now, except that it would be kind of cool to be addressed by everyone as “doctor.” I’d even make my mother and my kids call me “doc.” On the other hand, I love research, I’m eternally curious and I don’t ever want to stop learning. Maybe another master’s degree? It would not be unprecedented.

I am just completing an associates degree in nutrition. What will I do when I am done? I was just perusing the university websites to see what’s interesting. Library science? Art maybe?

But I also want to travel. Better to spend money on that. It is after all, a great learning experience. Maybe I could live in Florence for 6 months, immerse myself in the language and live like an Italian. That’s educational. Maybe I could even work there when I learn Italian well enough. How about more art classes? I need to find my artistic voice. Oh, and I want to write a book. So many things available; what to do?

Oy! I’m exhausted. Time for a nap.

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And now, from more serious matters, to one that will leave you laughing in disbelief! You all know those scam emails you get and delete? Last night I got an email from one John Varlay of Barclays Bank (email address: john-barclays@admin.in.th). I opened it because I actually have business with this bank, but immediately started laughing when I read it. Unfortunately for Mr. Varlay, I was in a frisky mood, so I decided to answer it with a snarky retort. Since he responded, I just kept it going to see what would happen. What follows is a transcript of our “conversation.”

FROM: BARCLAYS BANK

Hello,

A situation has arisen concerning the ten million dollars (10,000,000.00), which has to be transferred into your account. I’ve sent the first round of the transfer ($2,000,000.00) and want to know if I should use the same account to pay in the concluding sum of $8,000,000.00 

BANK OF CHINA
BENEFICIARY NAME—– WANG CHAN & SONS, LTD.
BENEFICIARY ACCOUNT: 432010901880121373.
BENEFICIARY ADDRESSIN YUAN LI.CHAOYANG DISTRICT,BEIJING,CHINA
PHONE:0086-10-13371682774.
SWIFT CODE—BKCH CN BJ 110.
BANK PHONE:0086–51388550
BANK OF CHINA QING NIAN LU SUB-BRANCH BEIJING CHINA

Because of the amount of money in question I felt it most appropriate to consult you before concluding this phase of the transaction.

Yours,
John Varley

FROM: DEBBIE

Gee, thank you SO much. My husband and I purchased a brand new home, took a trip around the world, paid off my children’s college bills and donated $500,000 to charity. 

We are looking forward to receiving the balance of $8,000,000 soon.

Thanks again
Debbie

FROM: BARCLAYS BANK

I have receive your email but before I go ahead with the transfer of $8,000,000.00 I strongly advice that you keep to our agreement of paying the ADMINISTRATIVE FEE of $700.00 (ah, here’s where the proof of scam appears)

Upon this agreement I stand and I will complete the 2nd phase of this transfer if the agreement is been kept.

Thank you
John varley

FROM: DEBBIE

Really? Did you think I received the first $2,000,000? And please deduct the $700 administrative fee from the balance of $8,000,000.

FROM: BARCLAYS BANK

IF YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THE 2M, WHO DID?

FROM: DEBBIE

How would I know? You sent it. Don’t you know who you sent $2,000,000 to?

P.S.-I hope no one actually falls for this kind of email scam, but unfortunately, probably some do (like my brother-in-law)

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