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Fire Sale: Artist plans to burn works that fail to sell

The “Fire Sale” show at the 303 North Studio at The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., is scheduled to end in flames Sept. 28 when artist James Henninger ignites the pieces that do not sell.

“I did it last year. We had about 300 pieces,” said Henninger. “We sold about 240 of them, and the rest went into the fire.”

Henninger is a prolific, accomplished artist who explores new mediums and techniques regularly. His art has sold for thousands of dollars.

“I love his work,” said Susanne Forestieri, who teaches at UNLV and shows her art at R Space, a studio at The Arts Factory. “I don’t think I could do that, burn my work, but every artist is different.”

The decision to burn the work comes from a philosophical place and a practical one. Philosophically, Henninger can’t bring himself to sell work for less than what he thinks is fair.

“I had a piece last year that was a big pen and ink piece,” Henninger said. “I put about 200 hours of work into it. It was a $1,500 to $2,000 piece, and I had it on sale for $300.”

He was offered $50 for it during the sale.

“What, are you kidding?,” Henninger said. “That’s less than 10 cents an hour. For that price, I’d rather burn it.”

He did.

On a practical basis, Henninger lacks sufficient room to store unsold art.

“I live in a 400-square-foot apartment,” he said. “I’ve got no furniture. I’ve got three work tables in my living room, which is my studio. My bedroom is full of supplies. I’ve got no room for anything.”

There is also a perfectionist aspect to the Fire Sale. Inevitably, art becomes damaged as it is stored and moved around.

“Big pieces get scratched and banged up,” Henninger said. “They’re going to get ruined. I had a bunch of pen and ink drawings that I had with fingerprints and other marks from showing them to people over the years.”

Henninger does oil paintings and encaustic paintings on Masonite panels and Plexiglas, too.

“I can’t burn those,” he said. “It would be toxic. I’m just going to scrape those down and paint over them.”

Henninger will put the rest of his unsold work in a fire pit and set it ablaze during the evening Sept. 28 in the patio area outside the Bar + Bistro at The Arts Factory.

“I’m not holding my art hostage,” Henninger said. “I’d rather see it someone’s house. I’d rather see it sold for a good price to someone who’s going to appreciate it.”

For more information, visit or call 702-742-6241.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at or 702-380-4532.