Houston Gallery May Be as Sleazy as is Rumored: Investigations Underway

For the most part, good artists and good galleries have good relationships, but it is no surprise to most gallerists that there are a few disparaging rumors floating around about almost (there are notable exceptions) each and every one of them. When the slighted, misunderstood and underappreciated starving artists mix it up with the money-grubbing capitalist wannabes dancing with socialites on the backs of these creative geniuses, this situation is to be expected. Thom Andriola, owner of Houston’s New Gallery is no exception to these rumors, but the rumors have been kicked up a notch recently.

Image from newgalleryhouston.com. Detail of painting by Cheryl Kelley, Thom in Blue Text.

Image from newgalleryhouston.com. Detail of painting by Cheryl Kelley, Thom in Blue Text.

After residing alongside some big leaguers at “Gallery Row” on Houston’s Colquitt Street since 1986, New Gallery moved into a new “temporary” space in Midtown two years ago and then recently shut its doors, quietly and unexpectedly. Glasstire received some anonymous email news tips as well as a few public posts (here and here) in its comment sections, only vaguely related to the topic at hand (although that’s not entirely new to Glasstire comments). [Please note: commenter “Barbara Davis” is most definitely NOT Houston gallery owner Barbara Davis.]

Apparently, there are a number of lawsuits against Andriola, although most details are not yet available. The district attorney’s office, associated lawyers and, of course, Andriola are not talking at present, but Culturemap’s Tyler Rudick has done a pretty good job at connecting the few verified facts with some stories from a few seriously disgruntled artists with some serious financial claims. For disturbing details, check out Rudick’s story and then keep a look out for updates!

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5 responses to “Houston Gallery May Be as Sleazy as is Rumored: Investigations Underway”

  1. Unfortunately, it is too easy for a gallery owner to sell a work advanced on consignment and not pay the artist. There was a gallery in the Heights that allegedly did this. My understanding is they were sued, a judgment was obtained and not collected, the gallery went out of business and the owners were not prosecuted.

  2. Thank you so much Glasstire for following up on Culture Map’s story. I am both an artist and collector, so I have seen both sides. Most gallery’s in town are great at paying their artists, but there ARE exceptions, and artists make easy prey for a handful of fast and loose art dealers….and yes, New Gallery owes me thousands of dollars also, for work of mine Thom sold and I was never paid a penny.

    1. Lester, I’m very sorry about the alleged misappropriation of fiduciary property resulting in the loss of your artwork and loss of income. Thank you for coming forward… I believe many artists from this gallery were afraid to speak up, either from embarrassment, mistaken protectiveness of the dealer, or from fear of retribution. The torch I carry now is to inspire artists, collectors, and dealers dedicated to the art and to integrity to begin a real dialogue about why all the players allow the shockingly unregulated activity that all too often leads to this. Artists are often treated as lowly vendors. Why is this tolerated? Why is it still okay to allow dealers to take art into their possession with no binding contract to back up the activity? Why are collectors allowed to purchase art they know has been stolen or misappropriated? I am virtually certain most of the art lost at New Gallery Houston was “disappeared” as payoffs, paybacks, bribes, and who knows what. How is this allowed, how is it tolerated? Who needs to begin to change? I would think it must start with the product, the art, and the makers of the product: the artists. I wish artists would revolt and demand legal protection. It is said that artists and collectors and dealers, all, LIKE it that there is no regulation. Well, I think that’s like saying the Wall Street turks and quants and kingpins LIKE it that there was no stock market regulation, leading to the recession of 2008. What can we do? Where do we start?

  3. By the way, the Hart Gallery in Houston fell because of the same misappropriation of fiduciary property, and those dealers went to prison.

  4. I saw a comment from two weeks ago (early March 2014) on Houston’s CultureMap website that Thom Andriola had allegedly been arrested and was in jail. Anyone know if this is true? Or is it more likely a troll’s rumor-mill?

    http://houston.culturemap.com/news/arts/01-09-14-houston-art-gallery-closes-amid-accusations-from-acclaimed-artists-1/

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