News__ Resolution #9
RESOLUTION: “I Will Be More Arty”
EXPERT: Kate Werble, Gallerist
Of all the exclusive cultural realms one might choose to participate in, the art world might be the most intimidating to enter without a wealth of knowledge or experience. Partaking in the institutional and commercial art industries requires a certain amount of know-how, both in terms of etiquette and in terms of pre-existing knowledge about art history and theory. Perhaps the most challenging space to occupy for a newcomer to the art world is the gallery during an opening. It calls for a balance of social panache and conversational knowledge about the works for an attendee to truly "work the room." So while you may not feel comfortable spouting your opinions about this light installation or that collage just yet, there's always a place to start.
Kate Werble is an independent gallery owner who opened her namesake gallery in Soho. The gallery has been the recipient of glowing press reviews for work of its artists including Anna Betbeze, Brock Enright, and Gareth Long. Kate participated in the Nada Art Fair during Art Basel Miami Beach this year and recently returned from a trip to LA showing in Art Los Angeles. We caught up with Kate to ask her some questions about her love for and experience with art as a successful woman in the industry.
Explain a typical art opening to us?
The gallery is open later, usually at night from 6-8 PM, and people are free to come in and look at the new show. Most of the time, the artist or artists are there, celebrating the completion of the work that went into making the exhibition. It is more of a party for the artist and their friends than the typical day at the gallery.
What was the hardest part about opening a gallery on your own?
The financial instability and it is lonely when you are working alone. The best part is that you learn how to do everything when you can't afford to hire help.
Some say the art world is a boy's club, would you agree or disagree and why?
No, look at all the women who run and own tremendous galleries: Marian Goodman, Paula Cooper, Andrea Rosen--the list goes on.
What words of wisdom do you have for someone trying to enter the industry?
I would just say to work hard and be prepared for it to be tough. It is better not to have any expectations and instead focus on what the artists or gallery may need.
It seems like in the space of an opening, the crowd can be on display just as much as the artwork. What tips do you have for getting dressed to attend one?
I don't have any tips on what to wear. It would depend on the weather but I don't spend a lot of time looking at what people wear at openings. I think one of my gallery artist's, Chuck Yatsuk, is a good one to ask for advice on this question. He wears a lot of LL Bean and in the summer likes to wear a beach towel around his neck.
Finding good listings can be difficult if you don't know your galleries, how do you choose what to see and what to skip?
The best way to find listings are on Artcards.com, The New York Times, Artforum.com, or The New Yorker. These listings will give a general range of the different shows that are up in New York City. I also think that if you are walking around and you find a gallery you like, ask the people working at the gallery what other shows are up that they recommend. I am always pointing people in the direction of the other galleries in my area and that is a good way to learn about what to see.
Loving art and selling art are two very different things. What advice do you have for people trying to navigate the space between?
I think that for me loving art and selling art are the same thing. If you find that you are selling artworks that feel disingenuous, then it is probably better to move onto a new gallery or new position.
What do you love the most about curating? The least?
I'm not a curator because I work directly with my artists and we organize the shows together. Curating technically refers to working within an institutions collection. I think the word is misused a lot or maybe its meaning is shifting because I've noticed that people use it now to refer to gathering objects or events together. I read in a magazine that someone had 'curated their shoe closet' and it made me wish that the word curate would just fall out of fashion.
Is taking a prospective love interest out to an art show a good move? Why or why not?
It's probably a good way to start a conversation and since you can talk while you are looking at the exhibition, better than having to sit silently through a 2 1/2 hour movie and talk about it all at the end.
For someone ill-equipped in art education and art theory, what is a good place to begin?
Reading and looking at art--going through images on gallery websites is a good introduction. In terms of art theory, there are some classics to read in philosophical theory mostly from the 70's like Foucault, Barthes, Derrida and Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Kristeva.
If you are interested in a particular artist, look at their bibliography section within their bio and read what has been written about them. This is a good way to find essays about work you like and it has lead me to read things I would not have normally found on my own.
What are your must reads?
I read a lot of publications and blogs. Daily it would be The New York Times, The New Yorker, Gawker, artforum.com and Artforum reviews, Dlisted, Mike Allen's Politico Playbook. Weekly and monthly include New York Magazine, Modern Painters, Frieze, the Atlantic, Vogue. In terms of books, Nine Stories by JD Salinger and Petersburg by Biely are on my list.
What is the one show/opening/exhibition that everyone should see in New York right now?
The crane on top of the 1 World Trade Center. It's like gigantic rabbit ears on that building. The whole thing is surreal.
What are the biggest taboos to avoid at an art show?
I think unwanted touching is pretty much the biggest thing to avoid at an opening--sort of like riding the subway.
Read our previous resolutions here–Resolution #1: “I Will Dress Myself Better,” Resolution #2 “I Will Learn More About Wine,” Resolution #3 “I Will Travel More,“ Resolution #4 “I Will Be More Comfortable Nudie,” Resolution #5 “I Will Be More in Tune With My Aura” and Resolution #6 “I Will Feng Shui,” Resolution #7: “I Will Help My Friend Who Has A Kid" and Resolution #8: "I Will Write down my Dreams, The Ones I Have At Night."