|When we first started to get serious
about the gallery; we decided that since we had "the bar"
we should use it at receptions. The problem was that we didn't have
a beer/wine license nor could we afford one, (much less the
We decided to "skirt the law" by
making clay mugs and selling them at the openings. When someone
bought a mug for $6.00 we promised to keep it filled with beer or
wine all night. (Beer and wine was a lot cheaper in 1980!) We felt
that by doing this we really weren't selling beer or wine.
Roy Steyskal, Rick Brinn and I threw mugs,
embossed them with the Michigan Gallery logo we were using for that
edition and glazed them all alike....or almost alike. Usually we
made about 200 for each opening. Stephen Goodfellow designed his own
mug design Perhaps you might remember the : "I Refuse to
In all, we produced six clay editions plus one
glass mug with a silkscreened logo for the "No
Brand Art Show" that Nick Nagy, Brewster Luttrell and
Stephen Goodfellow put together.
So, in all, there were seven different mugs!
After we decided that we couldn't afford the
time required to make the mugs, we simply started selling beer and
wine at openings and at Tuesday evenings "Drink and Draw"
sessions. We ran "the bar" as a "Blind Pig" for
more than 20 years and were just plain lucky. Several times we
bought 24 hour licenses and insurance but it was too expensive. We
only had one alternative! Besides, our crowd was the Art Community
and their guests.....our members, artists and friends. We never had
any trouble! We were still lucky!
Some thought we made a lot of money at
openings.....not so. Our average cost at an opening for beer, wine,
a band, bar staff, popcorn, etc. was about $1,500.00! Most of the
time I had written at least $700.00-1,000.00 in checks before the
openings ever started. Usually there was about $50.00 in the bank.
Our income from the opening often just covered our expenses,
sometimes we had $200.00-$300.00 extra but more often, I had to tap
my personal account for several hundred dollars..... sometimes for a
thousand or more if the opening went poorly! On Monday mornings I
would race to the bank to beat the bad checks.
One amazing point: About half of the sales
were made the night of the opening AFTER the the reception and after
a lot of beers! In many ways, the bar helped to keep us alive for
more than a quarter century!