Art Market

Black Women Gallerists on Growth and Going Global

Jasmin Hernandez
Feb 28, 2023 12:09AM

Black women gallerists are continuing to sit at their own tables within the art ecosystem, and they’re inviting Black people and others to join them.

The nine Black women gallerists featured here are based from Harlem to Dallas, and their ages, their years in the art game, and the artists and aesthetics they’re drawn to all vary. They also encompass varying entrepreneurial strategies.

Yet there are consistent, clear throughlines.

Intentionality with artists and collectors they align with is key, and expanding their global presence (whether opening international gallery locations or increasing global exhibitions) is critical—as is obtaining career-changing museum acquisitions for their rostered artists, and continuing to champion Black and POC artists.

For some gallery owners, longevity has been their biggest asset. Seasoned and savvy Nigerian curator Atim Annette Oton has spent years advocating for emerging African and African diasporic artists in New York City, and made the leap to open Calabar Gallery in Harlem during the pandemic. A recent exhibition, Elan Cadiz’s solo show “The Limits the Sky,” paid homage to their familial ties through whimsical and personal paintings sourced from old family photographs.


Ivy N. Jones’s Welancora Gallery, a mainstay in Brooklyn for over two decades, is housed inside a handsome 19th-century brownstone in Bed-Stuy. The gallery is debuting Tamia Alston-Ward’s solo exhibition, which features works on paper and drawings deconstructing damaging Black stereotypes created by European colonization.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery, founded by veteran gallerist Karen Jenkins-Johnson in San Francisco, has spent over 25 years canonizing Black American artist heavyweights, including Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava. At the gallery’s intimate Brooklyn townhouse space, curator Jasmine Wahi, artist Tiffany Alfonseca, and other curators of color have produced invigorating shows.

At Myrtis Bedolla’s blue-chip Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore, Bedolla married her former artist consulting expertise with her curatorial endeavors and represents brilliant Black women figurative artists like Monica Ikegwu, Tawny Chatmon, and Megan Lewis.

Younger gallerists operate with a more nimble, unorthodox, DIY vibe. Six years ago, Stephanie Baptist opened Medium Tings out of her Brooklyn brownstone and now holds roving exhibitions all over her beloved borough. At last year’s 1-54 New York art fair held at Harlem Parish (Medium Tings’s first-ever fair), the gallery showed taylor barnes’s sensuous charcoal-on-cloth works.

Kendra Jayne Patrick’s namesake gallery takes a peripatetic approach, operating between Switzerland and New York City, representing artists including Qualeasha Wood and Ada Friedman. In 2022, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired Wood’s The [Black] Madonna/Whore Complex (2021) for its photographs collection.

In Chicago, Ciera Alyse McKissick’s close-knit, mostly BIPOC, online, and IRL community of artists and creatives has fueled her art baby AMFM since 2009. McKissick, also a curator, organized the group show “Relic” during last year’s EXPO CHICAGO, featuring artists Abigail Lucien, LaKela Brown, and others, on Black cultural relics of today and their meaning in the future.

Exterior view of Daisha Board Gallery. Courtesy of Daisha Board Gallery.


Daisha Board’s eponymous young gallery in West Dallas (still under two years old) thrives off the ethos of centering the underrepresented: BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and artists with disabilities. At the gallery’s current exhibition “Why Question” by Ghanaian artist Nii Narku Thompson, acrylic canvases depict bravery and affection with Black LGBTQIA+ subjects.

A longtime DMV-area resident, Satarra Leona worked and interned at various Washington, D.C., galleries as a teenager, but observed a lack of support for local artists. At just 22, Leona opened Arts in Color Curatorial in 2021, with a focus on local and global artists, and mostly women artists, including Filipina American painter Dannah Mari Hidalgo, and Singaporean artist Syahidah Osman.

In their own words, the following nine Black women gallerists share their truths and ambitions, be they raw and genuine, and reveal how they continue to transform the art ecosystem.

Atim Annette Oton (she/her)

Curator & Founding Director, Calabar Gallery

Portrait of Atim Annette Oton by Hakim Mutlaq, 2022. Courtesy of Calabar Gallery.

Margaret Rose Vendryes
Dan Solange – African Diva, 2019
Calabar Gallery

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

I had periodically worked as an independent curator exhibiting Brooklyn-based artists like photographer Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, who I gave her first solo exhibition. During these years, I built my gallery, mostly hybrid, and did select exhibitions online and in other spaces across New York and New Jersey, before ending up in our Harlem space.

I began conceptualizing Calabar Gallery when I was selected to be Curator for Community Engagement for the “Bronx: Africa” exhibition at Longwood Gallery of the Bronx Council on the Arts. Later, I was brought in to launch AMREF’s ArtBall Auction by Natalie Kates-Ferri as its African Art curator, and spent six years in that role sourcing then-unknown African artists, and built a database of about 2,000.

By 2020, I decided to fully concentrate in Harlem and build the gallery. Firstly, that represents African, Caribbean, and African American artists who are emerging, and secondly, shows select mid-career artists like the late Margaret Rose Vendryes who had one of her last solo exhibitions with us. COVID-19 gave me time to really develop and work exclusively on it.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

What works for us is concentrating on growing the careers of our represented artists while working with some artists strategically both in our gallery and online. We have an extensive email list and send out emails once a week, and we have found a way to sell and introduce new artists. We’ve done well at Prizm Art Fair and experimented with new regional fairs which were helpful to introduce artists to new audiences, but not as successful in on-site sales.

We’re very active on social media; we do local and global outreach to collectors; explore collaborations with other galleries; and are in talks with museums to include our artists. I’m also big on recommendations and we get referrals. Harlem is a big draw and we get visitors coming to us during their visits to New York, and some come specifically from our marketing.

Installation view of “Black Resilience and Sustainability” at Calabar Gallery, 2022. Courtesy of Calabar Gallery.

Installation view of “Dennis Owusu-Ansah and Nii Narku Thompson: Ghanaian Artists in Portraiture” at Calabar Gallery, 2022. Courtesy of Calabar Gallery.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

I’m working exclusively to develop and grow the careers of a range of artists: Congolese-based artist Alexandre Kyungu Mwilambwe, whose work is focused on scarification and mapping; London-based photographer P. Wamaitha Ng’ang’a; Ghanaian-based Winfred Nana Amoah; and Jersey City–based Donchellee Fulwood, who creates puzzle-like paintings. I’m also focused on Black women photographers: New York–based African American photographer Kay Hickman; Philadelphia-based African American photographer Koren Martin; and Nigerian American photographer Inyang Essien, whose work was recently collected by Dr. Joy Simmons, a Los Angeles–based collector.

I keep coming back to showing and selling the work of Zambian-based Mulenga J. Mulenga; Newark-based Kwesi O. Kwarteng; Ghanaian artists Musah Swallah and Nii Narku Thompson; and Harlem-based artists Sika Foyer and Taeesha Muhammad. I enjoy working with Rosy Petri and Sonia E Barrett, and recently added the work of Nigerian artist Oluwaseyi (Shayee) Awoyomi, the daughter of Nike Okundaye and Twins Seven Seven, to our exhibition series. I tend to show emerging artists while working with group shows, along with established artists like Otto Neals and Dindga McCannon from the Weusi Artist Collective as a way to engage a variety of audiences on-site and virtually. I’ve also begun to show Nnenna Okore, whose work amazes me and speaks to environmental issues.

I am a big believer in calls for artists, and I just did a Portfolio Week as a new initiative to look at new artists. Instagram, and generally, social media has been helpful to see new artists, but exhibitions are another way. Our calls for artists and various auctions have brought Zambian, American, Nigerian, Congolese, and Caribbean artists. The gallery’s focus is global, so I constantly look at shows across Africa and the Caribbean, and I’m making a big push for abstract, non-figurative work and Afro-Latino artists this year

Mario Joyce
Mama Will You Braid My Hair Like Yours, 2019
Calabar Gallery

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

I’m intentional in introducing collectors to artists that are not trending but are producing incredible work and focused on building with small and large collectors. Like writer Jacqueline Woodson, or working with new collectors like Toyin Ajayi, who’s interested in collecting African art. I’ve sold Mario Joyce’s work very early on to collector Danny First three years ago at Prizm Art Fair, and a Caribbean artist to CCH Pounder last year, and want to continue working with collectors who are intentional like her. I try not to focus on trends but instead on artists who have a distinctive and defined voice, and tend to find artists very early in their path. I sold Amoako Boafo’s work at the AMREF ArtBall Auction just before his career took off. A lot of this approach is about looking at an artist at their initial stage and spending time to prepare them for the next stage. It’s an investment we intentionally make.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

The vision for the gallery includes doing art auctions, art fairs, art licensing opportunities and residencies. In 2022, I launched a Social Justice Art Residency and our first resident, Ghislaine Sabiti, based at coLAB Arts in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who works with seven art advisors. Our second residency is in Grenada based out of Cannes Brulees Rum Factory. The broader vision of providing art licensing opportunities came with curating the work of 10 BIPOC artists for the Spin Master Series puzzles that included Paul Lewin, Aurélia Durand, Ashley Joi, Graffiti Egypt, and Winfred Nana Amoah, and getting art on the Showtime series Flatbush Misdemeanors.

The last three years has been about exploring the full art ecosystem which includes showing art at The Yard in Columbus Circle; a co-working space where I show various artists beyond our focus on Black artists; doing online art exhibitions on our website; expanding onto Artsy and Latitudes Online; and innovative collaborations like our Philadelphia art auction we created with rapper Chill Moody. Also, launching a Black Women Art Collectors initiative to increase the number of collectors and continuing to grow our weekly ART TALK: DIALOGUES, which broadcast on Mondays on Facebook Live.

My ambitions are to keep growing the gallery, work with particular artists, and expand the Harlem Arts Stroll that we run to bring people to see art in galleries, including outdoor murals. It’s part of our work to center Harlem as a place to see contemporary art. I would also like to get more emerging artists in collectors’ hands and expand our Black Women Art Collectors while selling more art locally and globally. I’m looking to expand our collaborations with galleries and spaces in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

Ivy N. Jones (she/her)

President/Founder, Welancora Gallery

Portrait of Ivy N. Jones by Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr. Courtesy of Welancora Gallery.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

Welancora was founded several years ago in a brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant not too far from our current location. Eight years ago, I decided to move to a slightly larger building a few blocks away and run the gallery full-time. The gallery name is an amalgam of the first names of my parents and older brother.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

What works for us is coming to an understanding that it’s okay to pivot and try new things when it comes to protecting and nurturing long-term interests, which are to stay in business and to continue to lend support to the artists that we work with. We have tried a number of things over the years, including publishing catalogs and inviting guest curators to organize shows in our space. We’ve decided not to publish as frequently and instead participate in more art fairs while maintaining a commitment to programming in the gallery. In 2021, we were an exhibitor at The Armory Show, and at Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2021 and 2022, with a solo booth of work by Carl E. Hazlewood.

We have completed our first showing at Frieze Los Angeles with work by Helen Evans Ramsaran and Chris Watts. In April, we will exhibit work by Oasa DuVerney and Helen Evans Ramsaran at EXPO CHICAGO. Additionally, we’re gradually increasing the number of artists we represent—or have a long-term relationship with—collaborating with other galleries, and building a stronger back office with additional support staff.

Helen Evans Ramsaran, A Willow’s Secret, 1978. Courtesy of the artist and Welancora Gallery.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Some of the artists that we work with or have worked with repeatedly include Carl E. Hazlewood, Helen Evans Ramsaran, Oasa DuVerney, Anders Jones, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, Hakeem Olayinka, Chris Watts, Adrienne Elise Tarver, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, and Tamia Alston-Ward. We discover new artists through referrals from other artists, curators, open studios, and of course, Instagram.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

It’s an exciting time to be an abstract painter or sculptor of color. New and seasoned collectors are responding to the work in positive ways. There is a long history of artists of color working in the tradition of abstraction. As younger artists pick up the mantle and mid-career artists working in the field keep fighting the good fight and gaining more exposure, it creates an opportunity for more people to learn how to decipher and interpret the work. Most importantly, it reinforces the fact that artists of color are multifaceted.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

Our ambitions more broadly are to continue to grow the gallery at a pace that’s sustainable and in a way that will allow it to live on long after I’ve transitioned. A part of that growth includes expanding to a larger gallery space that we own and providing more professional opportunities for young people of color to learn from our experience.

Kendra Jayne Patrick (she/her)

Founder/Director, Gallery Kendra Jayne Patrick

Portrait of Kendra Jayne Patrick by Irene Ferri. Courtesy of Gallery Kendra Jayne Patrick.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

I’ve always thrived in environments where dedicated cultural and political analyses are integral to their purpose and function. I graduated from law school and then made my way to the fashion world, hoping to find a line of work where aesthetic and academic concerns were in need of constant balancing. During an internship at a fashion magazine, I was asked to write about studio visits with emerging New York artists.

Shortly after, I attended my first gallery opening and artist dinner and left that evening sure that the art world was my home. So I kept a blog of my studio visits for a year or so, and at the same time did some assistant curating and sitting at other galleries’ art fair booths. Eventually, I began to unofficially direct an artist-run space in New York and did so for around two years. Around the end of 2017/beginning of 2018, I felt ready to frame my ideas about art in and on my own terms. Gallery Kendra Jayne Patrick was conceived as an itinerant gallery program.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

Staying nimble, adventurous, and collaborative has always worked for me. The art world is constantly changing and adapting to current social, economic, and political circumstances. At the moment, auction houses, mid-sized galleries, emerging galleries, behemoths, fashion brands, Hollywood, and PR agencies are all reaching significantly into one another’s territories, upsetting what used to be distinctive boundaries defining their roles in the art ecosystem. Open-minded flexibility and a sense of humor make it fun to surf these changing tides, and allow me to continually explore boundary-pushing possibilities for a program like mine, which has always been committed to the avant-garde.

David-Jeremiah, installation view, from left to right, of N.F.D.B.J.W.B.D. (Externalized), 2021; and N.F.D.B.J.W.B.D. (Internalized), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Kendra Jayne Patrick.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

I have to say, I met each of these artists by personal introduction and/or dedicated Instagram stalking! Over the next two years, I’ll be working closely with Qualeasha Wood, David-Jeremiah, Ada Friedman, Sharona Franklin, Paolo Cirio, Teresa Baker, and Constanza Camila Kramer Garfias on various projects in Switzerland and New York. We have an exhibition by New York artist André Magaña at our new, first permanent location in Bern, Switzerland.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

Intentionality is essential to a high-quality gallery program. A clear and decisive vision—executed with specifically selected artists and pointed exhibition-making—draws a clear path into the program for collectors, supporters, and admirers sharing those interests. GKJP thrives on the meaningful synergies between artists, collectors, and art that result from our brand of intentional engagement with art.

Currently, collectors are exercising a lot of care. Despite the recession, there has been much discussion of surplus in galleries and art fairs, high prices for young artists, and premature institutional acquisitions. In response, collectors seem to be stepping back from frenzy and taking the time to sift, parse, and discover art that is truly special to them.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

I’m excited about having opened the gallery’s first permanent space in Switzerland. The geopolitical relationship between Switzerland (my new home) and America (my homeland) overlaps and dovetails at curious junctures. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the artists I work with deal with that now-foundational condition of the gallery’s makeup.

Karen Jenkins-Johnson (she/her)

Principal, Jenkins Johnson Gallery

Portrait of Karen Jenkins-Johnson by Kevin Johnson. Courtesy of Karen Jenkins-Johnson.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

Jenkins Johnson Gallery was founded in San Francisco in 1996, focused on contemporary painting and sculpture, and in 2004, we added photography. From 2005 to 2013, we expanded to a second location in Chelsea, New York. One of our first New York exhibitions was with Roy DeCarava in 2006, his last solo show before he transitioned in 2009. We are a 100% Black-owned gallery that is expanding the art canon to include overlooked and underrepresented artists of the African Diaspora.

The gallery also champions emerging Black artists, curators, and writers through Jenkins Johnson Projects, which was founded in 2017 in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens section of Brooklyn. We provide a space for underrepresented creatives and have emerged as a hub for critically acclaimed curators and artists of color. Project curators have included Derrick Adams, Antwaun Sargent, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Kenturah Davis. Leading emerging artists have exhibited at the project space, including Chase Hall and Vaughn Spann. In addition to the gallery’s current San Francisco and New York locations, we plan to open a gallery in Los Angeles this fall.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

What works for my gallery is a focused strategy representing artists of the African Diaspora across generations, helping develop and build their legacy through exhibitions in the gallery, and at international art fairs including Art Basel and the various Frieze franchises. This allows our artists to be part of the contemporary art dialogue, with exposure to museum curators, collectors, and art critics.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Some of the artists Jenkins Johnson is working with include 20th-century masters Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Gordon Parks, Ming Smith, and Aubrey Williams. Our program also includes established, mid-career, and emerging artists, such as Dewey Crumpler, Lisa Corinne Davis, Enrico Riley, and Raelis Vasquez. Our artist Ming Smith, the first Black woman photographer collected by the Museum of Modern Art, is having her first MoMA exhibition, “Projects: Ming Smith,” through May 29, 2023. I discover artists through referrals by other artists, at art fairs, during my travels, reading, Instagram, and online.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

Yes, my gallery is very intentional. We work first and foremost with collectors who can assist in developing our artists’ careers through their museum board affiliations, collectors who are building focused collections, and who lend work for institutional exhibitions. We especially assist in building collections of Black collectors. Black collectors often do not have access to our own artists because we’ve not had long-standing relationships with galleries that give preference to their existing clients. At Jenkins Johnson Gallery, we make it a priority to sell to Black collectors. Collectors are trending toward collecting abstract or nonrepresentational art, especially from artists of color, and toward acquiring emerging artists who they hope have a long and successful careers.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

Jenkins Johnson Gallery wants to position itself as an international game-changer that expands the art canon to include artists of color. We want to assist our artists to receive economic equity, place work in museums and private collections that build their legacy, and achieve proper recognition during their lifetime. We will continue to be a place where curators, collectors, and critics discover both recognized and new talent.

Ciera Alyse McKissick (she/her)

Founder, AMFM

Portrait of Ciera Alyse McKissick in “Relic” at the Arts Incubator at the University of Chicago. Photo by Victor Hilitski. Courtesy of Ciera Alyse McKissick.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

AMFM was founded in 2009 when I was in my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally it was an independent study project that I started because I was majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication. My entry point into the arts was through writing. I was a writer for the school music magazine and the school newspaper writing reviews. I’ve always had a love for magazines, the arts, and writing, and wanted to find a way to marry those things together.

As a part of my Journalism class, I took a web design class and wanted to put those new skills to test and create my own web magazine. I enjoyed writing for the school publications, but we were writing about artists who had already “made it.” I wanted to highlight more emerging artists, and artists and creatives that I knew, believed in, and hoped someday would “make it” too. I pitched the idea to my professor and designed the branding, the logo, and the website, and did a series of interviews with artists, transcribed them, and wrote feature articles. In the end, I submitted it as my final project and ended up getting an A. I still keep in touch with the professor on LinkedIn!

AMFM initially stood for art, music, fashion, and magazine. They are still the three main categories of focus. I never thought that 13 years later I’d still be doing AMFM and that it would evolve in so many ways—from an online platform to curated art and music events, exhibitions, and even a brick-and-mortar space from 2016 to 2018 in Chicago. Now, art is really the driving force of AMFM through partnerships with brands, organizations, and institutions, art fairs, mentoring emerging artists, and seeking out opportunities for them.

Marcelo Eli Sarmiento, installation view of “De Sangre, De Tierra, y De Oro” at Compound Yellow, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

To me, the “art market” is driven by capitalism and the commodity of art in regard to what’s trending at auction houses, fairs, and being flipped. I’ve never approached my curatorial vision, gallery, or relationship to art like that. I definitely understand the market, and how it works, and aspire for the artists that I work with to be successful and wanted in those markets. However, accessibility to those spaces, galleries, and collectors has always been a point of contention for me. Right now, everyone is clamoring over Black art because it finally made it to the radar of the market. Some of us have been doing this work for a long time, not just responding to a moment. I even know some Black collectors who’ve been shut out of trying to acquire work because of the politics at play within the elitism of the art world.

Also, as a budding dealer and gallerist who doesn’t operate in that way and is situated in the Midwest, the art market looks very different to me. I’m always trying to have conversations about how to keep art accessible to communities, even in the language that’s used. Sometimes, I find the language to be overly didactic. Ultimately, what works for me is relationship building and trying to expand my own network and reach, so that in turn, I can expand the network and reach of the artists I’m here to serve.

Erin LeAnn Mitchell, Cruel Summer, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

I work with a diverse range of artists across media, and most of them are Black artists and artists of color. Artists that I’ve consistently worked with include Erin LeAnn Mitchell, a painter and textile and fiber artist who was one of our first resident artists at our AMFM Gallery space. I’ve continued to showcase her work in exhibitions and fairs, supported her pursuit of residencies, and contributed to her first catalog with a project of hers with the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in California. Another longtime relationship includes Marcelo Eli Sarmiento, a Mexican and Ecuadorian artist whose work draws inspiration from ancient Mesoamerican history and art through a contemporary lens. I’ve shown his work several times at fairs and exhibitions, and we even did a limited edition book of drawings for an exhibition in 2021. Other OG artists include painter Roland Santana, and performance artist and painter, Bimbola Akinbola. I’m really interested in how they’re exploring different materials and distorting the figure through abstraction.

I’m excited to be working with some new artists in the coming months. I am showcasing the work of painter Juan Arango Palacios, and LaNia Sproles, a painter and printmaker at an exhibition I’m curating at FLXST Contemporary. I’m participating in EXPO CHICAGO this year and showcasing the work of emerging Black artists, sculptor Lola Ayisha Ogbara, abstract painter Erol Scott Harris, photographer Kelvin Haizel, and Erin LeAnn Mitchell.

I discover a lot of emerging artists by going to BFA/MFA shows. It’s a great way to see what art students are making, thinking about, and getting a taste of a very fresh and raw talent. I get asked to do a lot of panel and application reviews for juried exhibitions, residencies, and artist grants, and always save the artists I like. That’s how I came across LaKela Brown’s work very early on! And lastly of course, the internet and social media, and going to lots of art shows.

Installation view of AMFM’s booth at The Other Art Fair, 2021. Courtesy of Saatchi Art.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

I’m intentional with the collectors that I work with because I’m intentional with the artists that I work with. I’m very interested in changing the narrative around what a collector is and looks like, and oftentimes I’m working with people who are just beginning collections or buying their first works. Being a collector doesn’t mean you have to have a lot of money or collect work by big-name artists. I like to tell them the artist’s story and what drives them to create certain works because that matters just as much as what a work looks like visually. I once did a fair and there was a man interested in work by an artist I was showcasing, but they seemed much more interested in what accolades the artist had, name-dropping institutions and board members. It turned me off to wanting to sell the work to him.

I did an exhibition in 2021 featuring works from Black art collectors alongside works from the collection of the oldest, and first Black arts institution in the U.S., the South Side Community Art Center. I interviewed each collector about what and why they collect, got a lot of word-of-mouth suggestions of who else I should approach, and was able to grow my collector base in that way. I also meet a lot of people at fairs and exhibitions, and can always tell someone who truly cares about the work and make sure to follow up.

In my conversations with collectors recently, a lot of them have been interested in smaller-scale works or works on paper because they’re more accessible by price and scale. Sometimes collectors simply don’t have any wall space left! I also feel like more and more collectors have been interested in abstract work that doesn’t involve figuration, and have been more drawn to sculptural works.

What are your ambitions with your gallery more broadly?

My ultimate goal is to run my own institution that features the work of emerging and mid-career artists. I love being a part of an artist’s journey, cultivating their careers, and getting them to the next level. We need more institutional spaces that aren’t galleries and centered on sales, that are willing to take a chance on budding artists and do experimental projects and exhibitions.

In the near future, I’m excited about exploring my own curatorial process again in a forthcoming studio gallery space, where I can have a space to show work, and experiment with curatorial styles, media, and programming, while also working with new artists outside of the context of AMFM.

I’m also very interested in doing more exhibitions globally and working more with international artists to facilitate artistic exchanges. I’m interested in exposing Midwestern and U.S.-based artists to more global conversations and networks and bringing national and international artists here to engage with artists and work in a socially driven place like Chicago. Chicago is one of those places where many artists have been able to incubate and make prolific work that speaks to the sociopolitical and cultural sphere of the city.

Stephanie Baptist (she/her)

Founder & Director, Medium Tings

Portrait of Stephanie Baptist by Stephanie Land. Courtesy of Medium Tings.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

I started the gallery in my 500-square-foot living room in a brownstone apartment in Brooklyn back in 2017. I was really interested in creating a platform for emerging Black artists by curatorially focusing on solo and two-person shows with artists that were primarily (but not exclusively) self-taught. Informed by my years living abroad, I saw this as an opportunity to use my home as a way to facilitate conversations around emerging artistic practice.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

For the past few years, we’ve been an itinerant gallery which has been really successful for us. We’re able to be flexible in terms of any physical iterations and it has allowed for really interesting collaborations with other galleries and institutions. To date, we haven’t participated in any global art fairs which are really costly endeavors, but that doesn’t mean we won’t take part in the future.

Karo Akpokiere, Tile and Weave, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Medium Tings.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Karo Akpokiere, a multidisciplinary artist based in Germany; Adolphus Washington, a collage artist based in London; and taylor barnes, a fiber artist out of Austin, Texas. It’s really important for our program to focus not just on artists that are local to us, but to center conversations with artists around the world. We find artists through studio visits, artist critiques for educational and cultural organizations, word of mouth, as well as Instagram. Traveling also informs a lot of the artists that come across our path.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

More than 50% of our collector base is relatively new to the art market. We firmly believe that creating pathways for both emerging artists and collectors to be in conversation, helps to create a more diverse, engaging, and thriving art ecosystem. At the moment, people are responding to multidisciplinary practices, especially those that center strong narratives or storytelling. Most collectors respond the most to work that speaks to them personally.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

We just launched a wallpaper collection (our first artist is Karo Akpokiere) which allows us to work with more global artists on a bigger scale. We also anticipate more multidisciplinary collaborations and are working toward a publication arm.

Daisha Board (she/her)

CEO/Owner, Daisha Board Gallery

Portrait of Daisha Board with Jeremy Biggers, DEFIANT 001, 2022. Photo by JT Studios. Courtesy of Daisha Board Gallery.

Joey Brock
A Sisterhood, 2022
Daisha Board Gallery

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

In 2017, I founded Black Sheep Art Culture Inc., a consulting firm to ensure representation of marginalized artists and advocate for increased visibility for BIPOC artists in traditional and non-traditional art spaces. After several years working with local galleries to increase their diversity numbers through art acquisitions and engagement, it became clear that in order for me to build an inclusive art community, ownership was my next step to ensuring an equal playing field to visibility and accessibility of marginalized artists. In October 2021, Daisha Board Gallery was founded and opened its doors to represent emerging and mid-career artists.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

It has truly been an amazing first year, and what has worked for me is not believing other galleries were my blueprint for success. I knew that there was a void in the representation of women artists, BIPOC artists, and LGBTQIA+ artists, and that we exist in this world every day, not only when it’s convenient. Obviously, social media has been a huge platform for us, and by curating thought-provoking exhibitions, receptions that are attended by a wide range of people, music, and a refreshing beverage to give our guests an overall experience is clutch. Being transparent with our pricing and staying on the pulse of innovation in presenting the works through QR codes, audio components, and major selling platforms has also been very well received. I’m also offering installment repayment plans for younger buyers, which allows them to access the market, in addition to selling to typically wealthy collectors. Everyone can own art.

Jennifer Monet Cowley
God's Bounty & Her Counsel, 2022
Daisha Board Gallery

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Jennifer Monet Cowley, Romulo Martinez, Jeremy Biggers, Nii Narku Thompson, Joy Reyes, and William Tolliver. Oftentimes, I’m going to group exhibitions in a non-traditional space, typically city arts and cultural centers. Because of limited opportunities to exhibit their full body of work, I find the artist who’s standing in front of their work eagerly ready to tell me what it means to them. Art fairs still historically perpetuate the notion that art is only for the elite, but so many new art collectors are paving ways for more sociopolitical artists to be seen in that space. Engaging with artists at multiple stages is extremely important to challenge the hierarchy and reduce barriers to entry.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

I’m intentional about creating a cultural democracy of acquiring works and establishing new relationships with collectors at all stages. The art world at its core has always been an exclusive club. We are a “safe space” for anyone who’s interested in educating, engaging, and acquiring art. I’m extremely proud that more than half of my collectors are women and intergenerational. My collectors appreciate the wide-ranging art we exhibit and the accessibility to artists’ talks give them more of a personal connection.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

I’m extremely enthusiastic about the future! I’m currently looking at expansion in an international market to fit the needs of my artists and establish a global presence and long-term development with artists to ensure permanent placement in museum collections. We’re maintaining positive relationships with our collectors and keeping accessibility to the art at multiple price points. The secret is perseverance and always having a seat at the table or even better, building your own.

Satarra Leona (she/her)

Curator & Owner, Arts in Color Curatorial

Portrait of Satarra Leona by Ellen Kai. Courtesy of Satarra Leona.

Syahidah Osman, Anyone Can Dream, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

I’m originally from Tokyo, Japan but moved to the DMV area when I was 16. Growing up in Japan, I was incredibly fascinated by other cultures, especially culturally focused art. My parents would take my siblings and I to many different art galleries and museums growing up. When I moved to Washington, D.C., at 16, I started interning and working at many different galleries. At 17, I decided that I was going to open up my very own art gallery. In February 2021, I opened Arts in Color Curatorial. We’re an art consulting company and art gallery. We work with local artists from the DMV area and around the world. Our main goal is to give all artists opportunities, regardless of experience.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

There’s no specific niche that specifically works for us. However, what we’ve realized is to not focus on the experience of the artists. Whether the artist has been creating for two years or two days. Whether they went to SCAD or a community college, you should never discriminate against any artist. We look for the emotional connection between the art and the artist. That’s what makes us unique.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Two artists that we’re working with are Terrell Lomax Russell and also Syahidah Osman. We usually discover new artists through our inquiry page. Attending exhibitions is also another amazing way.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

Right now contemporary and abstract work using pastel colors is a huge trend. Even though we have many wonderful artists we work with that create pieces like these, we do have others who focus on other mediums and styles as well. When it comes to our collectors we’re very intentional about the pieces we have.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

Our ambition as a gallery is to open more locations across the U.S. and internationally. I’d love to open at least one gallery in my hometown, Tokyo.

Myrtis Bedolla (she/her/Black)

Owner & Founding Director, Galerie Myrtis

Portrait of Myrtis Bedolla by Grace Roselli, Pandora’s BoxX Project. Courtesy of Galerie Myrtis.

Can you briefly explain the origin story of your gallery?

Established in 2006, Galerie Myrtis is an emerging blue-chip gallery and art advisory specializing in 20th- and 21st-century American art with a concentration on African American artists. The gallery evolved from Creative Artisans, a company I established in 1989, to assist artists in developing their professional portfolios. I discovered that many of the most successful and educated artists I knew lacked a well-written artist statement, biography, and résumé. I drew from my background in business and marketing to advise them on content development and to use the language of art to reflect their practice.

While operating Creative Artisans, I knew I had discovered my life’s passion, and it was the foundation for Galerie Myrtis. I began taking formal art classes at the University of Maryland University College (now University of Maryland Global Campus), and I later enrolled in the curatorial program Exhibition Design Seminar at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In continuing my educational pursuits, I’ve earned online certificates in Cultural Theory for Curators and Curatorial Procedures from Node Center for Curatorial Studies in Berlin.

The mission of Galerie Myrtis is to utilize the visual arts to raise awareness for artists who deserve recognition for their contributions to portraying our cultural, social, historical, and political landscapes. This is achieved through our representation of emerging to prominent Black and women artists.

Looking at the art market from your point of view, what works for you and what hasn’t worked for you?

As a gallerist, the most significant and rewarding achievements have resulted from my relationship with the artists I represent, collaborations with organizations like UTA Artist Space, and numerous museums I’ve either curated for or partnered with. I would cease to exist in the art world without the ongoing support of collectors who believe in the artists and the gallery’s mission.

Where I find myself most challenged is with acceptance into the highly competitive world of art fairs and acquisitions of artists’ work by major museums. I represent many of the most influential contemporary artists producing today who are deserving of having their art featured at fairs like Art Basel, and in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others of the same caliber. I’ve witnessed the shift towards equity, diversity, and inclusion in the art world, and I’m optimistic that, based on the merits of the artists’ work and the gallery’s representation in the industry, I will achieve the goals of participating in prominent art fairs and museum acquisitions will ensue.

Who are some of the artists you’re working with? How do you discover new artists?

Artists represented by the Galerie Myrtis include Lavett Ballard, Tawny Chatmon, Wesley Clark, Alfred Conteh, Morel Doucet, Susan J. Goldman, Michael Gross, Ronald Jackson, M. Scott Johnson, Delita Martin, Felandus Thames, and Nelson Stevens. Recent additions to the gallery are painters Monica Ikegwu, Megan Lewis, and photographer and conceptual artist Fabiola Jean-Louis.

I discover new artists through staff recommendations, colleagues, clients, and family members who are collectors. As you might imagine, I’m constantly approached by talented artists from across the globe. In determining who to add to my roster, I seek artists who create works with compelling imagery and narratives that translate into thought-provoking and powerful storytelling.

Are you intentional with the collectors you work with? Any styles or trends your collectors are responding to?

When assisting collectors in acquiring artwork, my efforts are always intentional. The process begins with learning from them what purpose the art will serve, and aesthetically what they’re drawn to. During that exchange, I listen carefully to clues that guide me to artists whose works I believe they’ll appreciate, represented within and beyond my gallery. I don’t consider the art I sell a style or a trend, But artistic interpretations that speak to Black people’s consciousness and varied experiences. The works represented here exemplify cultural pride and are a means of persevering belief systems and traditions.

What are your ambitions with the gallery more broadly?

I’m putting forth efforts to establish an international presence for the gallery in Paris, London, Switzerland, Morocco, and Senegal. These are burgeoning markets for African American art. I’m also considering opening a second location in the U.S.

Jasmin Hernandez
Jasmin Hernandez (she/her) is the Black Latina creator of the award-winning Gallery Gurls. She's written for Elle, Bustle, SEEN, among others, and is the debut author of WE ARE HERE (Abrams, 2021).

Header image: Portrait of Daisha Board with Jeremy Biggers, “DEFIANT 004,” 2022. Photo by JT Studios. Courtesy of Daisha Board Gallery.