Mishap…mistake…or misprint?

news (2)Last Saturday I set up my vendor booth at a small town reunion festival in the heart of SC. It is a yearly event on the Saturday closest to the Fourth of July but this year was a little different. The former leader of the reunion committee passed away last year. Eliza Claxton was a wonderful woman, loved by many for her generous ways. I found out at her memorial service that I was only one of many people in Calhoun County, SC that she uplifted in some way. I may never have started selling my art at festivals if not for her encouragement.

8 years ago, I was selling some of my work at the local flea market when a neighboring vendor suggested I get a booth at the Fort Motte festival. I told her I wasn’t a good enough artist or salesperson to sell at festivals. One reason I was working at the flea market was to get used to talking to people about my art and learn how to sell from a booth, but I was reluctant to make the switch to working as a “real” artist at a festival. Anyway, this woman talked me into calling the coordinator of the festival and when I called Eliza Claxton, she was friendly and talked me into getting a booth.  I thought I could do it since it was a small festival and only 10 miles from home (about as close as anything in my rural area).

The first time I showed up at the festival, knowing no one and feeling very unsure of myself, Eliza walked up to me and gave me a big smile and a hug and welcomed me to her community. She continued to mentor me in more ways than I can say.  I will always be able to hear her voice introducing me to people as “our artist”. I felt so proud every time I heard her say this, she really inspired me to share my art with others.

I’m primarily a landscape painter, but sometimes will draw quick portraits at festivals.  Eliza had me draw her many years ago during the Fort Motte festival and after she passed away I felt the need to try to paint her portrait.  I knew she would encourage and support me in this effort if she was still with us, and would share the results with everyone she knew.  So this year, I took the barely finished portrait to the festival to share with those who loved Eliza.  Many people visited my booth to see her portrait and some even took snapshots.

Two weeks later I was surprised to see my painting in the local newspaper printed along with an article submitted by the Fort Motte Reunion Committee about the festival and Eliza Claxtons part in it.  Feeling a little awed and proud, I began feeling worse as I read the article and found no mention of the painting or the artist. I had not given anyone permission to reproduce the picture.  I was surprised that no one told me it would be in the paper, but I was shocked that I saw no mention of my name as the artist.

I realize it may not have violated copyright laws since no one made money from it, but I feel like it was disrespectful and my tribute to Eliza was besmirched and belittled.  I hadn’t even finished signing the work and certainly hadn’t planned for it to be publicized.  What’s the world coming to?  Is there no respect for the printed image now that the internet has made everything public?  I’d like to know your thoughts about this situation.

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5 Comments

  1. It was inappropriate for them to use the painting without permission. Somebody provided them with the image – probably the person you gave it to. And she may have even told them you painted it or included your name. A couple of things I have learned: 1 – misunderstandings and miscommunications happen quite frequently within media. 2 – You have decide if you’re going to be upset and if you are upset, do something. And if you don’t want to do something – let it go. In this case, for me, I would just let it go.

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  2. Here is what I sent the newspaper, along with a better photo of the portrait –
    THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING OF ELIZA CLAXTON
    by Jean Ehler
    I was excited to see my painting of Eliza Claxton in the paper last week and thought you may like to know the whole story.
    Quite a few years ago I was selling some of my artwork and drawing quick portraits at the Orangeburg Flea Market when a neighboring vendor suggested I get a booth at the Fort Motte festival. I told her I wasn’t a good enough salesperson to sell at festivals. One reason I was working at the flea market was to get used to talking to people about my art but I was reluctant to make the switch to working as a “real” artist. I was talked into calling the coordinator of the festival anyway and when I spoke to Eliza Claxton she was so friendly and encouraging that I decided to do it, and got a vendors booth. When I arrived there a few weeks later, knowing no one and feeling very unsure of myself, Eliza walked up to me and gave me a big smile and a hug and welcomed me to her community. She had me draw her one time during the Fort Motte festival and after she passed away I felt the need to try to paint her portrait, even though I am primarily an Impressionistic landscape painter. I knew she would encourage and support me in this effort if she was still with us. I will always be able to hear her voice introducing me to people as “our artist”. I felt so proud every time I heard her say that, she really inspired me to share my art with others. Since that first local festival, I’ve participated regularly in the Festival of Roses, the Old South Farm Festival, the Purple Martin Festival (when possible) and the Fort Motte Community Reunion Festival. I’ve given programs on painting to art leagues and painted with the garden club. I even give private painting lessons now and have worked with a couple of childrens art clubs in our school. You can see my artwork at the 5 Rivers Market in Orangeburg, SC. My business, Hillview Art, has expanded greatly since Eliza encouraged me to share my art with the community. May she rest in peace.

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  3. Stopped by the newspaper office today and the editor was very apologetic and said he’d try to fit in something about it being my painting. He stated that the submitter of the article should have told him….and he hadn’t had time to review the article…….

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  4. Published in The Calhoun Times August 17th, 2014

    JEAN EHLER IS PAINTER OF ELIZA CLAXTON PORTRAIT
    In the July 17 issue of The Calhoun Times in the article and photo’s on the Fort Motte Reunion Festival and Parade, there was a photo published of a portrait of Reunion founder Eliza Claxtin, Although the author of the article did not identify the painter, we felt it would be appropriate to recognize her – she is local artist Jean Ehler.

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