Bellwether Closes Its Doors After Ten Years of Operation

by Art Fag City on June 17, 2009 · 25 comments Newswire

Few New York dealers have more skill soliciting press for worthy artists than Bellwether owner Becky Smith.  Citing financial strain, after ten years of operation, the dealer announced today she will close her reputable gallery.  An excerpt from the email below.

Owning the gallery for over ten years has been my great joy and honor. It was never easy but always thrilling to ride the waves of change that have washed over the artworld since the gallery opened. The name of the gallery has always been its intention, to be a leading indicator of future trends and movements in the artworld. I was proud to have been a part of the Williamsburg scene, the exodus to Chelsea, the dawn of the e-commerce era, the boom of the emerging market, the rise of the art fair imperative and the NADA generation. I always tried to have a distinct voice and point of view, represent as many women as possible, curate from my values and not my taste and get behind artists who's brilliance and concepts were apparent in their craft. I aimed to be known among my peers for having an eye for painting, photography and installation. I have enjoyed curating and was very proud of the many group shows the gallery has presented over the years and the critical attention they attracted.

As the current financial climate forces shifts in business and culture I feel strongly that it is time for Bellwether to embrace change and open itself up to what's to come. For the foreseeable future I will continue to represent the gallery's artists privately and I am working on several shows with them in a Bellwether-at-large capacity. Details to follow in the fall.

  • reportage

    Sad indeed, Bellwether put on my favorite shows on that particular strip. Thanks for the many exceptional lunch breaks from my days in Chelsea.

  • reportage

    Sad indeed, Bellwether put on my favorite shows on that particular strip. Thanks for the many exceptional lunch breaks from my days in Chelsea.

  • http://mtaa.net twhid

    Let me be the first to say: that sucks.

  • http://mtaa.net twhid

    Let me be the first to say: that sucks.

  • somepainter

    Let me be the first to say: Becky didn’t pay a lot of artists who then wound up having to sue her

  • somepainter

    Let me be the first to say: Becky didn’t pay a lot of artists who then wound up having to sue her

  • http://greggevans.net Gregg

    That is totally awful. When are they closing their doors?

  • http://greggevans.net Gregg

    That is totally awful. When are they closing their doors?

  • http://greggevans.net Gregg

    That is totally awful. When are they closing their doors?

  • Art Fag City

    @somepainter. You’re hardly the first to say it, but that was a while ago wasn’t it? Let’s not kick people while they’re down.

  • Gloria H.

    Good luck Becky.

  • Gloria H.

    Good luck Becky.

  • Art Fag City

    @somepainter. You’re hardly the first to say it, but that was a while ago wasn’t it? Let’s not kick people while they’re down.

  • Gloria H.

    Good luck Becky.

  • panda bear

    one of the pioneers of living beyond your means on your artists’ money. her program never did much for me and she led an exodus of brooklyn galleries to chelsea most of which have since closed. let’s hope this time everyone got paid.

  • panda bear

    one of the pioneers of living beyond your means on your artists’ money. her program never did much for me and she led an exodus of brooklyn galleries to chelsea most of which have since closed. let’s hope this time everyone got paid.

  • panda bear

    one of the pioneers of living beyond your means on your artists’ money. her program never did much for me and she led an exodus of brooklyn galleries to chelsea most of which have since closed. let’s hope this time everyone got paid.

  • http://donnaruffart.com Donna

    That is too bad- a rumor on howsmydealing from a while back turned out to be true. Becky has an amazing eye and had a wonderful program and I wish her (and especially her artists) continued success, maybe by morphing into something new.

  • http://donnaruffart.com Donna

    That is too bad- a rumor on howsmydealing from a while back turned out to be true. Becky has an amazing eye and had a wonderful program and I wish her (and especially her artists) continued success, maybe by morphing into something new.

  • Who am I?

    For all of Becky’s talent as a gallerist, I am glad that Becky’s playhouse went down. Granted she could scout some damned fine talent but she did it at the expense of stepping on the toes of a lot of good emerging artists.

    Not an ethical art dealer, her ruthlessness won her few friends and she was never fearful of betraying closest people just to get where she wanted.

    Case in point: the so-called benefit where artists donated work to support her gallery years ago was graciously paid back by her willingness to crash the careers of various young artists who were so talented.

    And there’s a reason why William Powhida drew her in such a bitchy manner. That Yale arrogance only can bring you so far when her teeth bites the Brooklyn hand that fed her all the way to Chelsea.

    Another dealer, another day.

  • Who am I?

    For all of Becky’s talent as a gallerist, I am glad that Becky’s playhouse went down. Granted she could scout some damned fine talent but she did it at the expense of stepping on the toes of a lot of good emerging artists.

    Not an ethical art dealer, her ruthlessness won her few friends and she was never fearful of betraying closest people just to get where she wanted.

    Case in point: the so-called benefit where artists donated work to support her gallery years ago was graciously paid back by her willingness to crash the careers of various young artists who were so talented.

    And there’s a reason why William Powhida drew her in such a bitchy manner. That Yale arrogance only can bring you so far when her teeth bites the Brooklyn hand that fed her all the way to Chelsea.

    Another dealer, another day.

  • http://www.colorcodedprint.com Anthony Telesford

    I am one of Becky’s vendors. I have been responsible for most of her printing on the high end for the last 3 years and owed in the thousands. I speak only from my experience. She gave me and my partners an opportunity to work with her. Up until 2008 there was never an issue wether or not she paid her bills in a timely manner. Truth be told she was one of the better paying clients.

    The downturn in the economy and the subsequent ill’s that it produced was not and never was exclusive to her gallery. In many respect a lot of the galleries we work with had the same problems with paying on time etc. Throughout 2008 and 2009 Becky always returned calls made efforts to turn her gallery around but unfortunately in business there becomes a point when unless you have enough financial resources at your disposal, its a matter of time before you are faced with the hard reality of perhaps closure. And more and more of small business owners are facing that hard reality far to often these days it seems.

    I wish Becky the best I know she cared a lot about her artists and always strived to showcase them on a higher level for every new show. The most frustrating part of being a small business owner and seeing your years of hard work fall apart is that despite all the negative comments being left is that I am sure no one can come close to beating up Becky more than Becky herself, thats what it means to be “the bottom line” you are your own worst critic. ” Keep your chin up Beck’s!!

  • http://www.colorcodedprint.com Anthony Telesford

    I am one of Becky’s vendors. I have been responsible for most of her printing on the high end for the last 3 years and owed in the thousands. I speak only from my experience. She gave me and my partners an opportunity to work with her. Up until 2008 there was never an issue wether or not she paid her bills in a timely manner. Truth be told she was one of the better paying clients.

    The downturn in the economy and the subsequent ill’s that it produced was not and never was exclusive to her gallery. In many respect a lot of the galleries we work with had the same problems with paying on time etc. Throughout 2008 and 2009 Becky always returned calls made efforts to turn her gallery around but unfortunately in business there becomes a point when unless you have enough financial resources at your disposal, its a matter of time before you are faced with the hard reality of perhaps closure. And more and more of small business owners are facing that hard reality far to often these days it seems.

    I wish Becky the best I know she cared a lot about her artists and always strived to showcase them on a higher level for every new show. The most frustrating part of being a small business owner and seeing your years of hard work fall apart is that despite all the negative comments being left is that I am sure no one can come close to beating up Becky more than Becky herself, thats what it means to be “the bottom line” you are your own worst critic. ” Keep your chin up Beck’s!!

  • somepainter

    @AFC 2:06 That’s easy for you to say…she doesn’t owe you money. And to further my point this quote from How’s My Dealing:

    Anonymous said…

    The way the Bellwether closing is being handled by Becky is the quintessential textbook example of how NOT to close shop and burn all your bridges along the way.

    She gave her artists a little over a week to get their work back from her with a warning: there will be 2 trucks coming, 1 for storage and the other for garbage. Next, she’s skipping town for a few months and is refusing to even discuss payment of exorbitant debt with her artists outside of the terms she’s presented. (Essentially: Don’t expect to see a dime.) She cries a river of crocodile tears over the hard work, expenses, and risks she has undertaken as if she were the only one. What she fails to see is how every one of her artists also worked hard, had expenses, and took a risk with every piece and show they did with her. She is myopic and selfish in this respect.

    If her artists have any sense of self worth after being in such an abusive relationship, they should band together and show her for what she is. Drive her out of town and make sure she can never return.

    Karma’s a bitch when you are too.

  • somepainter

    @AFC 2:06 That’s easy for you to say…she doesn’t owe you money. And to further my point this quote from How’s My Dealing:

    Anonymous said…

    The way the Bellwether closing is being handled by Becky is the quintessential textbook example of how NOT to close shop and burn all your bridges along the way.

    She gave her artists a little over a week to get their work back from her with a warning: there will be 2 trucks coming, 1 for storage and the other for garbage. Next, she’s skipping town for a few months and is refusing to even discuss payment of exorbitant debt with her artists outside of the terms she’s presented. (Essentially: Don’t expect to see a dime.) She cries a river of crocodile tears over the hard work, expenses, and risks she has undertaken as if she were the only one. What she fails to see is how every one of her artists also worked hard, had expenses, and took a risk with every piece and show they did with her. She is myopic and selfish in this respect.

    If her artists have any sense of self worth after being in such an abusive relationship, they should band together and show her for what she is. Drive her out of town and make sure she can never return.

    Karma’s a bitch when you are too.

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