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Art Dealer Show
Top 10 Art Dealer Show Episodes
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We are finally back with the second half of our conversation with San Diego gallerist Ruth Ann Thorn (Exclusive Collections). And maybe being a year and a half later you have concluded that the reason for the wait is because the second half was just more of the same. And if that’s you, prepare to be surprised.
I’ve heard lots of art dealers go on about how they need to find artists who are not just talented but are doing things their collectors have truly not seen before. And then wait for them to walk in the door, or hope to find them at the next art fair. But Ruth Anne does much more than keep her eyes open. She goes on the hunt.
Junkies, Schizoids, and Ex-Cons – oh my.
Listen to this new episode of the Art Dealer Show and find out what happens when a gallery owner makes a practice of placing ads on Craig’s list that start with “Looking for weird people creating weird things”. Follow her journey into Hollywood flops and other corners of the world no other art dealer I know is willing to brave, just to find their next artist.
But before we get into all that, a year and a half is a long time, particularly in today’s art world. So from our corner booth in the back of the ol’ art dealer bar, I gave Ruth Ann a call to check in and see what has been going on since we first spoke with her. And I’ll say this, it’s not a lot of same old – same old.
Ruth Anne has seen the changes coming come and like anyone who will survive to thrive, she’s adapting with the changing climate.
So slide on in, order yourself up the perfect tonic to carry you through the hour and join us.
Christi Cones on Who’s America with Sacha Baron Cohen as aspiring ex-con artist.
This is not your typical episode of the Art Dealer Show.
If you have not heard the news, the often controversial comedic actor and social commentator Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a brand new show. And what does that have to do with the art business? Well, right out of the gate in his first episode he’s pointed his sardonic lens at one of our own—art consultant Cristy Cones. And we’ve got her on the show.
Try to imagine that you have agreed to allow a UK-based reality TV crew film a sit down with you and an ex-con who has dreams of turning the art he started to make in prison during his recently completed twenty-one year stint. And then, when the time comes, in walks a hulking figure with a shaved head and a prison tattoo under his eye nervelessly clutching a folio.
Over the course of a “getting to know each other” conversation, he reveals that after a cell protest when he smeared his own excrement on the wall, he became inspired to create works of art with the same medium. He then hands you a primitive portrait of his cellmates. Next you are informed that their shirts are made with another fluid that was involuntarily provided by one of his subjects. I’m not going to go any further but this insanity does.
If you are asking “how would I react?” or just “what the hell?” then you definitely don’t want to miss this interview with the art dealer who got to live it.
Be forewarned: this is the first episode that I’ve had to put a content warning on. It’s also the first one that I’m suggesting you have no less than two drinks to properly prepare yourself.
Cheers my art dealer.
The post 26. Is Sacha Baron Cohen Calling The Gallery World “S***T”? Guest: Cristy Cones appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
YES, we’ve returned to our corner booth at the ol’ art dealer bar and we have a new episode of the Art Dealer Show show for you.
Even though the break went much longer than I expected, it did not go to waste — during that time I gave the show many new tweaks. All with the goal of being able to get more of them out to you. If you’re a regular listener, I’m sure you’ll notice them along the way. And I’d very much like to hear what you think?
I’m about as excited as I am nervous about this new episode. I’ve decided to finally take on one of the sacred cows in the art gallery business: pricing art based on Keystone (double net) as a firm rule.
Ironically rigid rules of this kind, which are intended to secure fiscal safety, can literally cause the opposite result. And over the years I’ve watched galleries undermine their own success, and even place their business in direct danger, by hanging onto hard and fast rules of this kind. For many people in the art business even suggesting that this type of guiding rule should be thrown away is heresy. But that’s exactly the case I’m going to make.
...Annnnd there’s a lot of funny and interesting stories in there too — along with a time machine, a duck and an old joke about ham.
Hope you take a listen.
The post 25. Galleries pricing art by the keystone rule and other fun ways to lose a business. appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
Co-owner of the San Francisco Art Exchange
If you listened to Part One of our conversation with San Francisco Art Exchange’s co-owner Jim Hartley, I’m sure you have been eagerly waiting this episode. It’s not going to be easy to top an art dealer origin story that involves coming under fire during the Iranian revolution but I think we’ve met the challenge.
In Part Two, Jim and I go over the amazing story about how a gallery that was started to be an active brokerage for blue chip art ended up bringing Alberto Vargas, one of the most noted American illustrators, to the market for the first time. How a chance encounter with a music agent led them to representing the art of one of The Rolling Stones and that led to creating its own market of celebrity artists. And how that later became the beginnings of...well, you’re just going to have to listen to the show. Because Jim is going to tell this story, and many more, much better than I can.
But before we head off to talk with Jim, I’m going to buy you all a drink over at the ol’ Art Dealer Bar. Because this time I have a story from the front line that just happened to me.
I have a tail about a top-flight show that we (Limelight Agency) just put on with one of our partner galleries (Mouche in Beverly Hills) and the walk-in that became a “coconut” the size of an “elephant.” And how it was brought to a halt by Asian inches.
And if you’re asking “what does that mean?” — you’re not alone.
The post 24. Big Art Sales...Because Of and Despite Our Best Efforts – Guest: Jim Hartley, Pt. 2 appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
Co-owner of San Francisco Art Exchange
For such a down-to-earth guy, our guest Jim Hartley has had quite a glitzy career in the art biz. Jim, along with his partner (and past guest) Theron Kabrich, have owned the San Francisco Art Exchange for about thirty years. Their gallery has hosted some of the biggest names in rock-n-roll, movies and popular culture—both as artists, clients and artistic subjects. It is also where I started my own gallery career.
Jim is an Art Dealer’s Art Dealer and he’s one of the few who I consider a teacher. Not just for me, but for dozens of people who have had the chance to work with him over the years. In fact, the first lesson that I learned from Jim happened when he offered me my first job in an art gallery. He called me to make the offer...which I didn’t actually accept. I asked for a week to consider it—selling art at the time felt a bit like joining the circus. But instead of saying yes or no, he just kept talking—talking about life, what I wanted from it and what he’d done in his own. He told me about his family and asked about mine. I think we even talked about movies. And an hour or two later, he said “How about you come in tomorrow?” and I said “Okay.” Yep, I got tricked into this racket by one of the best talkers I’ve ever met.
So it’s Jim who I have to blame on the worst of days. And it’s Jim who I have to thank on the best.
But even if I didn’t stick in the art biz, I would owe him debt of gratitude for that valuable lesson which has brought me some of the biggest artists I’ve worked with, allowed me to close sales in the millions and may even be responsible for how I stole the heart of my wife. That aside from the clever things we tell people, great stories, jokes and facts we dazzle the non-believers with—it comes down to just being there. Sticking it out, taking our time, getting to know each other. And underneath that having the strength of will like a force of nature that erodes walls over time.
Cheers to that.
San Francisco Art Exchange
The post 23 How the Iranian Revolution Started a Storied Career in Art. – Guest Jim Hartley Pt. 1 appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
It’s been a while but I’m back and comfortably settled in my usual corner booth at the ol’ art dealer bar. Having been away for a bit, there’s a lot bouncing around in my head. First up is something most of us can relate to: It’s a story about an art gallery which I sell to, and my less-than-impressive attempt to help them convince a client that a big ticket painting was really worth the price. It’s a part of the job that I’ve never liked but which somehow calls to me like the siren’s song in the fog...to wreck myself onto its jagged shore. So this time, instead of pontificating on my own, we’re calling in an old friend of the show, Jeff Jaffe, to help shed some light on this age-old obstacle.
Alex Salazar, owner of Salazar Fine Art in San Diego CA
We’re also going to return to the second half of our conversation with San Diego gallerist and art dealer Alex Salazar. The first half is not a prerequisite to enjoy this episode but I highly suggest checking it out as well. This time we’ll get a lot deeper into how a young Alex with multiple masters degrees in art and religion found his way into the world of art sales. And moreover, the lessons he learned along the way that make him the successful and more importantly, happy art dealer he is today.
Not all episodes of the “Art Dealer Show” have moral to them. Typically, they probably raise more questions than answers. But after relistening to the conversations with Alex and Jeff while I edited this week’s show, I kept noticing that the parts that made the most sense had almost the same basic points. While talking to Jeff for several minutes about how best to deal with a client that is not easily convinced of the value of a painting, he finally said “just be the person they’d trust buying from.” With Alex there was a point when he explained that the qualities of a good art dealer are much the same as being a “good human.” And that may be the secret to it all—that the key to selling art, and being happy in life doing it, are the same lessons that our parents, kindergarten teacher, friends, every religion and the occasional fortune cookie has told us. Be a good person (for all that means) and the rest will start to fall into place from there.
Seems I’m two glasses ahead of you so please hit play and catch up with me.
Alexander Salazar, owner of Alexander Salazar Fine Art:
225 WEST MARKET STREET – San Diego, CA 92101
Downtown San Diego
(619) 531 8996
Jeff Jaffe, owner of Pop International Galleries:
195 Bowery (at Spring Street), New York, NY 10002
T: 212 533 4262 F: 212 533 6553
Ruth-Ann Thorn, Owner of Exclusive Collections
To be a seasoned art dealer is to have taken some knocks over the years. There’s just no way around it. Stay in the business beyond the length of a college internship and you’re going to get some scrapes on your skin and soul. Slide back the cuffs and hems of the designer suits and dresses worn by those of us who have made it to the top, and you will see the well-earned scars from battles won and lost.
Despite this, it’s not the occasional backwards drag through the thorny bushes that makes our business challenging. It’s that, despite this, our craft demands that that we always have a smile for a collector walking in the front door. That even in our darkest moments we need to be living in the moment of the best day of our charmed careers.
Now I’m not saying we are a beaten and cynical lot — far from it. As someone who talks to dozens of art-selling folk every week, that’s not the case at all. Heck, you could not pull off this schizoid performance if, at your core, you weren’t relentlessly optimistic. I’m just saying that we’re...complicated. And not without our dark sides.
Perhaps that’s why, when I came out to Exclusive Collections’ San Diego gallery location to record a conversation with their CEO and owner Ruth-Ann Thorn, it took me a moment to get my bearings. Ruth-Ann always seems to find her way to the positive, no matter how frustrating the topic or painful the tale. No matter how much I personally pushed, poked and tried to chisel away at that candy shell, I just kept on finding more of the same positivity. And it pissed me off almost as much as it endeared me to her.
Ruth-Ann has been through her wars too. In some ways, much more so than many others. And she is always willing to admit how hard things are. She just refuses to take on the negative when there is a choice. During the first part of our two-part conversation, we spent a lot of time discussing one of the most difficult topics for us in the art biz: Whether or not the next generation entering into what has typically been the art-buying age will actually be buying art. We considered that maybe they will but just not in a way we are able to sell it. Or maybe they just won’t be buying from us in particular.
A conversation like this will mostly get you lot of deep breaths and pained looks into the middle distance from just about any art dealer I know. But not Ruth-Ann. It almost felt like she was not only unafraid, she was actually excited to take it on — to figure out and win the greatest challenge facing the gallery world today.
She’s a fabulously annoying bundle of art-selling optimism.
The post 21 Are Millennials Not Buying Art, Or Just Not From You? – Guest Ruth-Ann Thorn Pt 1 appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
Years ago I called Alex Salazar (this episode’s guest) to go over some increasingly complicated and continuously changing details pertaining to a show that we were working on together. One of Alex’s galleries was going to host one of our celebrity artists. And as is often the nature of working with celebs in the art business, there were going to be “requests” made of the gallery—well beyond the norm. After going over the newly added accommodations to the already complex list, with long-winded explanations and, of course, the customary and often patronizing case made for how they will actually “benefit” the gallery as well, Alex stopped me. He took a short breath to refocus and said “Nope, too complicated. I’m just here to sell art.”
Coming out of the mouth of almost anyone else that is not necessarily profound. But from Alex, an art dealer who can pack more creative ideas turned into actual actions in a year than most of us will attempt in a career, it was a drop of sage wisdom. Alex, of all the art dealers I’ve known, can be the most focused and clear-headed about getting down to the marrow of what he really wants to achieve.
That’s why when I reconnected with Alex years later to interview him for this show, it was at first shocking but ultimately not surprising to learn that he had turned the business he’d been building for years inside out. In one year, he closed all of his seven galleries throughout greater San Diego and moved into seven hundred square foot showroom well off the main track. And from this tiny headquarters, he is now doing as much business as ever, mostly by working off of his hard-earned rolodex of collectors who adore him.
Alexander Salazar, owner of Alexander Salazar Fine Art:
225 WEST MARKET STREET – San Diego, CA 92101
Downtown San Diego
(619) 531 8996
The post 20 Selling Art Off of a Gym’s Wall? – Guest Alexander Salazar appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
Richard Perry owner of Centaur Galleries.
How about this for a show tease? An Andy Warhol painting changes the lives of a civil servant’s family forever, Dali’s pet ocelot gets out of control, and the chance encounter of a 19 year old and a famous eccentric millionaire made gallery history in Las Vegas.
Now if that does not have you hooked for an hour of listening than this podcast will never be for you. But if it has, I’m thrilled to welcome you back for part two of our conversation with Richard (Dick to his friends) Perry.
In our first episode, we learned how the government seizing every penny a young Perry had led him to taking a key role in what would eventually become a gallery dynasty — and the great stories that came from those early days at Merrill Chase Galleries. (listen to episode one) This episode picks up in the second chapter of Richard’s career as we follow him to Las Vegas where he opens Centaur Galleries, the first major art gallery on the strip.
But before we jump into all of that, I’d like to buy you a drink and bend your ear a bit over at the Ol’ Art Dealer Lounge. This week I’ve been thinking about how two hundred years of our frontal lobe evolution, and the answer to why you should never order a cocktail at a bar with plastic pourer tops, may be the reason that some people didn’t buy that big painting from you. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing how I dig myself out of that cryptic set up...
Show Host and Producer
Richard Perry – Owner of Centaur Gallery, Las Vegas NV:
4345 Dean Martin Dr #200, Las Vegas, NV
The post 19 What in the Gallery Is Telling Them Not to Buy from You? – Guest Richard Perry, Part II appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.
In the late 1980’s I crashed an art opening on Le Brea Blvd. in Los Angeles. I was an art student and yes, it was partly to make a meal out of cheese and crackers and to get some white wine cheer on. But it was also to see one of my new favorite photographers – Joel-Peter Witkin.
Witkin’s disturbing art was amazing to see in person. But in retrospect it was the gallery that impressed me the most. At this time most serious galleries did not show photography. Most would consider it unworthy of wasting wall space on. Let alone using the walls for photographers as “daring” (hard to sell for a living room) as Witkin.
The gallery that dared to do what others of the day would not was Fahey Klein, owned and directed by this episode’s feature guest David Fahey.David Fahey
Ralph Elliott Starkweather
For years his gallery has been considered a leader in the curating and selling of contemporary photography. From well-established masters to photographers whose images have changed the course of history, to ones who push our understanding of the medium and the world.
Today, sitting in his gallery office recording our conversation for the show, representing fine art photography feels as normal as selling any other form of art. These days photographs sell in galleries for tens of thousands. And in auctions, they hammer down even in the millions.
When David began his career working for the G Ray Hawkins gallery collecting photography was a market often in the hundreds. And would have politely been referred to as esoteric or “affordable art” which may have turned off most any newcomer to the art business who was looking to make their fortune. But for David, he did not enter into the field to become a dealer for the sake of dealing. As a photographer himself, it was his love for the medium that propelled him.Photographer Joel Peter-Witkin – photographed by David Fahey
The post 28. Right Time, Right Art. Guest David Fahey – Fahey Klein Gallery. appeared first on ART DEALER SHOW - podcast.