As members of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (umvaonline.org), we’re replying to the recent article about Art Collector Maine (“New gallery draws competitors’ ire by charging artists for exposure,” Dec. 7).

The article hit on key points about pay-to-play galleries opened by the Maine Home+Design publishing conglomerate, but it fails to follow through on the ethical problems involved.

There’s a conflict of interest when publications like these share ownership with galleries and then seek to provide marketing products, not only to individual artists, but also to the galleries in which the artists show. In effect, the publications are presenting self-promoting ads as journalism.

In addition, artists have reported being bullied – and if they were to withdraw from the gallery, they’ve been threatened with being blacklisted from coverage in these magazines. Leading Maine galleries have withdrawn from advertising in these publications for the same reasons.

We want to be clear: It is unethical to present advertorial (paid) presence as magazine editorials. When combined with the pay-to-play gallery and enforced marketing, these conflicts and unethical practices are damaging to the clean reputation earned by Maine artists and galleries.

We call on the principals – Jack Leonardi, Kevin Thomas and Susan Grisanti – to reorient their professional practices so that they do not prey on artists desperate to get their work shown, miring our state in conflict-of-interest or unethical practices.

Natasha Mayers

Whitefield

Rob Shetterly

UMVA president

Brooksville

and three additional signers