Q: You have worked with twenty-plus galleries during your career. Which ones do you consider the best?
A: Probably the most prestigious gallery that represented my work was Brewster Fine Arts on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Brewster was my first New York gallery. In the summer of 1996 I mailed the gallery a sheet of slides, as we did in those days. I was living in Virginia and had been a working artist for ten years. In July while traveling around Mexico, I decided to check the phone messages at home in Virginia. I was thrilled to receive an invitation from Mia Kim, the gallery director, to exhibit pastel paintings in October! And she had not yet even seen my work in person.
Beginning that fall, I gained representation with Brewster Fine Arts, an elegant gallery specializing in Latin American Masters like Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and others. I am not Latina, of course, but I showed there due to my subject matter. At my October opening, I remember Mia declaring to the attendees, “Barbara has the soul of a Latina!” That night I met fellow gallery artist Leonora Carrington. She and I were the only non-Latina artists respresented. I knew I was on my way!
The gallery continued to present my work in group exhibitions and the staff gave brilliant talks about me and my creative process. For many years whenever I introduced myself to a new art aficionado, they already knew my work from having seen it at Brewster. I continued to be represented there until the gallery closed years later.
Also, Gallery Bergelli in Larkspur, CA did an excellent job of representing my work. I applied for one of their juried exhibitions, was accepted, and afterwards, they offered permanent representation. Soon they introduced me to one of my best collectors, with whom I am still friends.
I have worked with many galleries, some good, some not, for various reasons. Ours is an extremely tough business. Unfortunately, many of the best and formerly-great galleries are gone forever.
Comments are welcome!
A: This is an excellent question and one I like to revisit because with all the day-to-day frustrations and disappointments that are a normal part of an artist’s life, it is easy to forget what is important.
First, I make art because I have a gift and a desire to share it with others. To not develop, express, and share all that I have to say through my work is unthinkable.
Second, I make art because it is what gives my life direction and purpose. I believe that each human being has his or her own quest, driven by passion, to fulfill a certain duty. Recall Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey.” I need to make art in order to feel that I am living up to my highest potential.
Third, for inexplicable reasons (to me, anyway) soft pastel is an undervalued medium. I fell in love with pastel above all other media and hope to demonstrate that great art can be created with it. This is one of the drives that keeps me steadily working.
Comments are welcome!
A. That is a long story. To get far away from New York for the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, my friend, Donna Tang, and I planned a two-week road trip to see land art sites in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. (Donna did excellent research).
We hoped for a private tour of Roden Crater with James Turrell, which is not easy to arrange. I had also invited my friend Ann Landi, an art critic and arts writer, to join us, hoping she might get an interview with Turrell and write an article for Artnews. Turrell has been working on Roden Crater for 30+ years so Ann was interested in seeing it too! Ann contacted Turrell’s gallery – Gagosian – but they later relayed Turrell’s refusal.
We were planning to see other land art sites. As an alternative to Roden Crater and Turrell, Ann pitched a story to The Wall Street Journal about Sun Tunnels and Nancy Holt (Robert Smithson’s wife, who as the only woman in the land art movement, has never been given her due). The Journal said yes, so Ann made plans to join Donna and me in Salt Lake City.
The three of us visited Sun Tunnels, Spiral Getty, and other sites together. Ann had a brand new point-and-shoot camera that she hadn’t yet learned how to use. I always take lots of photos whenever I travel. After we returned home, I sent Ann a few images and she asked permission to submit them with her article. I was thrilled when The Wall Street Journal requested JPEGs. It was the first time I’ve had a photograph published in a major newspaper.
Comments are welcome!