An Artist Sues a Beloved L.A. Art Supply Store Into Oblivion, The Year’s Most Photographed Artists, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

Plus, who was spotted at Gladstone's annual holiday party? What textile artist is catching institutional attention?

The Downtown Los Angeles skyline on February 28, 2023. Photo by Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images

Every week, Artnet News brings you Wet Paint, a gossip column of original scoops. If you have a tip, email Annie Armstrong at [email protected].

PHOTO PERMISSIONS KILLED THE ART SUPPLY STORE

From conversations I’ve had with artist friends over the years, I can tell that the relationship between an artist and their art supply store is a special one. If you find the right spot for your practice, it can be equal parts sanctuary, therapy, and indulgence to walk through their halls, hunting down the right brand of gesso. That is why it seems to be particularly heartbreaking for a class of Los Angeles-based artists that the beloved Raw Materials Art Supplies in Downtown L.A. is shutting down later this month. 

A brief survey of reactions from some of my favorite L.A. artists: “Damn that sucksssss,” wrote painter Emma Stern when I broke the news to her. “I went there all the time when I lived Downtown,” commiserated Lauren Quin. “It was the most affordable I could find…Can’t believe it’s closing!” said Adam Alessi, who had similar fond memories of the joint. “I went when they were at their old location maybe 6 or 7 years ago… I was so broke at the time.” 

So, what happened? It’s not exactly Wet Paint-worthy news for a small business to fold—it unfortunately happens all the time. The circumstances of Raw Materials’s closure are unique however, as it is in fact the result of an artist who is suing the store, knowingly running the business into the ground. 

“While we were under considerable pressure from the weight of our financial obligations to vendors and lenders and the stress of operating during an ongoing pandemic, we still saw that hope and thought we could find a way forward for the store,” the owners, Celia and Jim Winstead, wrote in a joint statement on their website. “But this is the straw that broke our back.”

This summer, the store was approached by a legal team representing the photographer Anna Boyiazis, who had a complaint that one of her photos was displayed on the store’s website without the proper permissions. Boyzias is a documentary photographer who won an award through the Aaron Siskind Foundation, and the corresponding photo was published in a blog post on the site. 

According to the Winsteads, this post received less than 100 views from visitors to the site, and they took down the photo immediately. That didn’t stop Boyziazis’s team from pouncing, though. “Despite our efforts to settle the matter, she and her legal representatives have continued to insist on a settlement of $8,500 under the threat of filing a federal copyright lawsuit where they believe she is “entitled to recover Statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each infringement and may be able to recover attorney fees and court costs.”

Boyziazis couldn’t be reached for comment, but the Winsteads wrote to Wet Paint over email that the charges have not been dropped, and that their final day in business will be December 23. “The last communication we received from her lawyers was just a couple of weeks ago continuing to threaten us and claiming now that she has been harassed because we made the matter public,” they wrote.

Indeed, the comment section on the store’s post announcing their closure is quite hostile toward Boyziazis. “This is 100% bullshit! I am furious at this photographer and her psycho Shit heel lawyers! Absolutely complete bullshit,” wrote one. And another, “so sorry to hear about this. I can’t believe she is doing this to an art store and she is an artist, SAD!” 

I won’t comment on where my loyalties lie, but from Wet Paint to the plaintiff, I hope you enjoy the prices at Blick

A YEAR IN BFA PHOTOGRAPHY, BY THE NUMBERS

Cheers to this year’s winner, Hannah Traore! (Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Here at Artnet News, the end of the year means our team of intrepid journalists gets down to the wire crunching data on Q4 numbers. For the much more intelligent members of my team, this means telling stories through the numbers that paint vivid pictures of the current state of the art market and the global economy. Aren’t they impressive?!

For me, on the other hand, that means looking at party pictures on BFA for hours on end, taking stock of the movements in cultural capital and social statuses this year. Below, I teamed up with my friends over at BFA to see who in the art world is the most popular, based on number of appearances in event photography. Behold, the most photographed art world socialites, ranked by number of photos taken in a calendar year:

Hannah Traore: 421 photos
Kimberly Drew: 248 photos
Casey Fremont: 246 photos
Yvonne Force-Villareal: 149 photos
Antwaun Sargent: 146 photos
Sarah Hoover: 133 photos
Tyler Mitchell: 131 photos
Jerry Saltz: 129 photos
Afrodet Zuri: 107 photos
Chloe Wise: 103 photos
Sophia Cohen: 37 photos
Larry Gagosian: 36 photos
Klaus Biesenbach: 29 photos

WE HEAR 

Qualeasha Wood’s textile works are getting a healthy dose of institutional attention recently, as both The Studio Museum in Harlem and RISD Museum have added works by her to their collections… Sanford Biggers is looking to pay $65,000 to $75,000 to a fabricator who can lift 50 pounds… Nicola Vassel has picked up representation of Elizabeth Schwaiger…  Call it a new tradition? Lots of folks who traveled back from Miami last week now have Covid… 

 

SPOTTED 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Matthew Higgs (@matthewhiggs2015)

New mensch status-levels unlocked: Gavin Brown, Joan Jonas, and Latoya Ruby Frazier hanging out at the Gladstone holiday party *** Sasha Gordon, Jeanette Hayes and Kayode Ojo among the crowd at the annual party for the downtown staple Richardson Mag *** Dunkunsthalle has released some pretty tricked out merch, if any of my readers were looking for a Christmas present for me ***

 


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