With good humor and unexpected frankness, a quintet of art dealers and project-space founders sat down at NADA New York last weekend to discuss the mechanics of simultaneously working as both artists and dealers in the current art world.
Dubbed “The Art of the (Cough) Deal: Why Artist-Gallerists Do It Better,”
the panel, moderated by Artspace
editor-in-chief Andrew M. Goldstein
, offered advice and war stories from the popular new breed of gallerists. Panelists included Sarah Braman
of CANADA Gallery
, who shows her own work at Mitchell-Innes and Nash
(and who, jokingly, began by blaming her husband Phil Grauer
for everything wrong at their gallery); Max Warsh
of Regina Rex
; Ridley Howard
of 106 Green
; Elyse Derosia
of the Philadelphia transplant Bodega
; and Margaret Lee of 47 Canal
The stories they told of the birth of their spaces were surprising, passionate, and personal. Lee, for instance, recalled how she had just started dating her partner, Oliver Newton, then of Alexander and Bonin, when “I asked him if he wanted to open a gallery” together. He told her she was “crazy,” but eventually gave in.(She admits she kind of had to talk him into it because she had “promised Michelle Abeles a show and had to make it happen!”)
Lee’s own installations went on view in the Barney’s windows, uptown and down, earlier this week. But the artist/gallerists talked about often having to put their own work on the back burner. Some noted they routinely paid their own staff more than themselves, and shared the serious reservations they have about working in the conventional gallery model—something they were still wrapping their heads around.
The best part of being an artist-gallerist? Not having enough studio time to overproduce their art (a common temptation), some agreed.