Much of my work today already occurs outside the gallery walls, spearheading or supporting my artists’ museum exhibitions, biennials, public art projects, and publications. The artists I work with are scattered around the globe, as are their collectors. All of us are connected through technology, so being tied to one gallery space in San Francisco doesn’t fit with what is happening in the world.
Though the pace of exhibitions and art fair participation can be exhilarating, the reality is that this intense cycle of productions does not serve the artists’ best interests. The blood, sweat, and tears that gallerists and their artists put into each exhibition is often not met with the audience anticipation and enthusiasm we once saw before the frenzied era of art fairs. If it’s not in the best interest of the artists, maybe it’s time to do things differently.
What am I proposing that is different? Others have already moved towards different models. Prominent gallerists are opting to simplify, such as Andrea Rosen’s decision
to end artist representation and focus on representing the estate of
. Stefania Bortolami
’s “Artist/City” presents artists in pop-up shows in cities and sites around the country, experimenting outside of her standard gallery shows. New, collaborative gallery communities such as Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, Cromwell Place in London, and Condo in New York and London are emerging, whose members aim to support one another as they navigate the shifting market environment.
In my case, the data I have analyzed pointed to another option for me and for the artists I am dedicated to serving. This new model is not about the space, but about the art and what’s best for the artist. How can we provide each artist with the ability to authentically connect to as many people as possible? I saw an answer in the real estate market.
In the past few years, while working with major developers on both their private projects and major public art projects like San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower and The Shipyard, I saw the glut of vacant commercial space that exists in most major art markets, which are also sites of job creation and significant urban development. Why not activate these underutilized spaces around the world by using them to present audacious art shows? Instead of frantically following the art world calendar, we could slow it down and work with our artists to select the most optimal place in which to showcase their work, in a market where collectors and key advocates are sure to engage. We can continue to promote, to program, to publish and connect our artists and their work to audiences, but in a targeted and global manner.
I recall one of my trips to Mexico City in 2008, where I was first introduced to Kurimanzutto’s initial site-specific model. I walked into an autobody garage—not a gallery—and was in awe. Moving through “Poor Tuning,” an exhibition of
’s modified, humanized and bedazzled auto sculptures, was an unforgettable experience. And I look at those Kurimanzutto artists—a few of whom I consider friends—and see how liberating the process was for them. To those artists, with whom I’ve done several exhibitions in my beloved 5,000-square foot Jessie Street space in San Francisco’s SOMA, I now ask, “Where shall we go next and why?”