Letter 1: February 25, 2021 / A View from The Desk
Hello and welcome to the inaugural issue of The Other Side of the Desk, a series of discussions about contemporary art and artists from the perspective of an art world insider with roots in both gallery business and independent curating.
My interest in art and artists originates from a family background in the gallery business. I love art and recognize artists as passionate individualists. Yet I also recognize and affirm the fact that they are willing participants in a “culture industry” that employs galleries, collectors, critics, and curators to maintain a community to support and promote art and artists. Artists who have played any role in this community are all competing for the prize of professional success. It’s not pie-in-the-sky glory. The gallery provides a social construct that includes, in a majority of cases, an introduction to basic professional relationships that are aimed at furthering the careers of artists while at the same time expanding the purview of the gallery itself into broader contexts of cultural authority.
In recent years, much of the art world has found a home online, and individuals and organizations have gained access to a model for expression and communication that didn’t exist a decade before. Galleries not only have online portals, but have migrated their authority to this new sphere. The experience of art has changed, and with it our expectations of what constitutes a gallery. Anyone can have a page on Instagram or elsewhere, and they can assume the proprietary role brick and mortar galleries once guarded. Yet I feel that within this expanded field there is room for opinions and perspectives that are still connected to real world concerns. Making them consistent and persuasive is my intention here.
The front desk interfaces with the rest of the world as it enters the gallery, where many artists are exhibited for the very first time, and where many can freely enter and find the art work that may engage and inspire them. Every gallery has a front desk, and each one is a view of the world as it encounters the art in this context. Some critics have compared the white cube of the gallery as a stage with no proscenium. I also think it’s a human scale incubator, where the elements of art and people interact both for the first time and repeatedly, creating potential for growth and mutation. These interactions cannot ever be adequately analyzed, being primarily interior. But they have had a profound affect upon me. The desk as a symbol remains with me no matter where I go, whether to endless other gallery spaces, museums, or artist studios. I always have a bit of the gallery office with me, a bit of the business acumen and market perspective with me. It’s something I can adeptly offer along with aesthetic and critical perspectives on art everywhere.