Last Friday, a Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) employee fielded a call from an Arizona-based artist inquiring about the museum's new education program with a $10,000 budget. The artist had been called by a man who identified himself as a SMoCA representative and wanted to arrange a private studio visit to further discuss the opportunity.
Turns out, there isn't a new education program with a $10k budget.
SMoCA quickly put the pieces together and found out that two guys going by the names of Howard Russell and Lamont Curry are contacting Phoenix-area artists about the education project that SMoCA claims is totally bogus. "We are quite concerned about their motivations since the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has no affiliation with these persons whatsoever (nor do we have a new education project with a $10K budget!)," the museum says in an official statement.
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Lesley Oliver, SMoCA's marketing and public relations manager, tells New Times that the artist who accidentally tipped off the museum to the scam filed an incident report with the Federal Trade Commission. In turn, the FTC advised that artists who may be contacted in the future should say that they're too busy to meet, followed by a call to the authorities.
Assessing the situation, Oliver says, "Some of these poor artists are so vulnerable. The men can case the place out or ask them for their pieces to be shown for this so-called project, and their art would be stolen away from them."
Anyone that's contacted about the project can call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357.