Starting a Gallery: Five Different Approaches

Do you dream of starting your own gallery? Here are five stories told by gallerists about their starts and paths to succeed.

Esther Kim Varet, owner of Various Small Fires, Los Angeles

The gallerist opened her art space during PhD research in Los Angeles. Esther says that she met many mid-career artists from New York and LA who had no platform to represent their art. So, when the work started, the gallery received a lot of curatorial and artist support.

Jessica Silverman, owner of Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

Jessica opened a gallery during MA studies and turned her college studio into an art space. This model helps her to move slowly and experiment a lot with artists and formats.

James Cohan, owner of James Cohan Gallery, New York

James believes that to start one’s own art space you need to understand what artists you believe in and be ready to promote them. He calls them ‘life blood’ because without artists a gallery would not be much except for the wine in a plastic cup.

Claudia Altman Siegel, owner of Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco

Before moving to San Francisco Claudia has been working as the senior director in a gallery in New York for 10 years. But in the new city the art scene wasn’t broad, so she found her niche and started a gallery. Being from New York, the gallerist used a list of artists who were interesting for her but too young to work with her previous workplace.

Atle Gerhardsen, partner in Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin & Oslo

The path to owning a gallery was a long one for Alte from Oslo, but he dreamt about it from the very beginning. He not only studied art history in Sweden but also explored first galleries in SoHo. Prior to opening his own space, Alte even worked as a janitor and when he was fired he understood that it was the right time to make dreams come true.

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