My first art-world job came late, after a lifetime working in construction. My passion for art was sparked when I moved to Dakar, Senegal, in 2001, and began to collect West African art. As my interest (and collection) grew, I became more involved with the artists and art scene in the region. Noticing a need for more commercial arts infrastructure within Ghana (where I’d moved), I decided to found Gallery 1957. I was 44. I still haven’t taken a salary, but I am so lucky to be working on something I’m truly passionate about.
From the beginning, I’ve had to stretch myself across every job: branding, finding artists, managing the exhibition process. Setting up a gallery in a non-traditional art city is difficult. More traditional art centers take basic infrastructure and services for granted. But growing the team here on the ground has been really rewarding.
Being around artists has inspired both my life and career. There’s more crossover between construction and contemporary African art than I’d realized. Artists have made me think differently about the materials I used to work with everyday: steel, plastic, and wood.