Where Art Thou?

Posted by on Apr 12, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Last week I met a friend and art advisor, Shawna Barrett, who grabbed me off the train at 125th Street and ushered me into a tightly-secured warehouse on 138th Street, just under the Madison Avenue Bridge, where galleries store art they’re not currently showing. There we met a gallery director (from the Gerald Peters Gallery off Fifth Avenue) who showed us several works by an artist that one of Shawna’s clients had taken a shine to. After examining the 15 paintings she had displayed along the corridor, we hitched a ride downtown with her on her way to work. I asked her about business. She said that the brick and mortar gallery is just not the same model for selling art that it used to be. Although I don’t remember my parents going on gallery walks in New York, apparently their generation did… a lot. She said that now people are looking for art on line.

Next stop on our quest for just the right thing to grace the walls of her clients’ first homes; second homes; and offices — 28th Street in Chelsea. As we swung into another clinically-sparse industrial space on the street, feasting our eyes on others’ life-works, Shawna (aware of how much I was loving this adventure) announced, “this is what I do for living!” While I am completely envious of anyone whose job description includes shopping for beautiful things, I knew this work couldn’t be all lunches in cute cafes and random Kandinsky sightings.

KR: Shawna, explain what your process is for identifying what is needed in a space and then going off and finding it.

SB: Well, you have to really discover what this “thing” is together with your client. And that involves a lot of educating.

KR: In art history?

SB: Yes, and educating them on what is out there and what is accessible in terms of their budget. And getting a feel for what their interests are. But it’s really important that they come to this decision on their own because they are the ones who will be living with it and enjoying it for years to come.

KR: That would be so hard to step back, especially if you thought they were making a mistake.

SB: The pleasure in this job comes when they call back and say, “This was a stretch for us financially, but we can’t believe how much pleasure this painting is giving us”.

KR: Do people buy art as an investment? … so that now you have to be a forecaster, knowing which artists will appreciate in value?

SB: I try to deemphasize that with my clients. It’s important to buy what they like. If they come to me and ask, “Am I going to make money on this?” , then I am probably not their art advisor. Art is a commodity, it’s just like anything else, and it is often affected by what is in fashion. Like right now it could be cheaper to buy a Monet or a Calder (approx. $85 million) than a diamond-encrusted skull by Damien Hirst (approx. $100 million).

KR: I guess it’s a good thing our ceilings are too low to swing a Calder.

SB: Clients ask if they can afford art. …Almost everyone can afford art. I started with two little oils from a consignment shop. I loved them… you recognize something is good if you find it resonates personally. …And that could be that it is aesthetically pleasing or challenging. There is a lot of affordable art… especially from emerging artists. And you can still pick up great finds from tag sales.

KR: Art covers such a wide spectrum. It must be so tough to keep up with what’s out there.

SB: People hire me because, on the one hand I understand and follow the existing art market, but I am also constantly on the lookout for new and interesting work. I have to be reading gallery reviews constantly; talking to curators; talking to gallery owners. If you go to these galleries during the week, they are usually empty and the owners love to talk to someone who is knowledgeable and interested. I have picked up a lot from them. And, everywhere I go, I visit the local museums and galleries.

 

Art wheeling and dealing in the warehouse

 

This artist, Michael Glier, is a professor at Williams College — and paints on aluminum which causes the paint to slide on the “canvas” in interesting ways and then he scraps off layers of paint to reveal the metal

 

Gallery row… in Chelsea

 

Adorable art aficionado

 

The work of Fred Wilson in Murano glass at the Pace Gallery… You are so used to seeing Murano glass in garish colors.. this was really beautiful only in smoky black and clear. We both remarked that this would be all you’d need in a room… and maybe a chair so you could sit and stare at it

 

Close up

 

A framed light fixture… no argument here , that this lighting is art

 

Tons of details

 

Intricate workmanship of one of the many layers that make up this mirror

 

Glass drips on the wall and puddles on the floor — a guard kept an eye on me to make sure I didn’t walk on them, since I had my camera in front of my face

 

Looked up from 10th Avenue and saw the layering of the High Line against the old brick factory building and Frank Gehry’s glass building

 

This exhibit of the work of Sarah Charlesworth at the Susan Inglett Gallery was beautiful at first glance but amazing when the gallery director explained these were photographs using objects as prisms to refract light … creating perfect geometric shapes and wonderful compositions

 

This one created a silhouette using light…they have such a painterly quality and look so unlike a photograph

 

We stopped into a gallery showing paintings from the ’60’s by Robert DeNiro’s dad

 

Another gallery, Rick Wester Gallery upstairs and at the end of the corridor… (Shawna has favorites she always hits) had incredible photographs by Christian Vogt

 

This incorporates my flash (actually like the effect)…pretty wonderful that just turning a photo upside down can make it completely intriquing

 

Now here’s something you might want to install to dress up your backyard Weber… this piece actually looked so great the way the gallery showed it, up against a rusted metal wall

 

If you don’t want a painting, a light fixture, or a photograph on your wall… there are options (sorry for the blurry pic)

 

I loved this little piece and when I got home and read about it, I loved it even more. The Lori Bookstein Fine Art Gallery featured an exhibit called Arts and Letters. The art portion of this exhibit is by Varujan Boghosian (b. 1926, New Britain, CT) created as a tribute to a fellow artist, Philip Guston, and dear friend who had written him thirteen letters during his illness

 

Cafe under the High Line

 

This piece is entitled: “Me taking a photo through a gallery window of a stack of metal fenders while a truck passes behind me at noon”

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