Ann S. Moore is one of the most powerful women in the world according to Forbes and Fortune Magazine. Graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1978, Moore climbed the career ladder leading exciting positions including being the publisher of Sports Illustrated for Kids and People Magazine. She was crowned People Magazine’s president in 1993 and become the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Time Inc. in 2002.
Now, it is 2015; Moore has established a high-end art gallery in Chelsea, New York. The Curator Gallery, as it is called, focuses on a mission to “bring exposure to hardworking artists, as well as to educate and expand the pool of engaged, serious collectors”. We interviewed Moore, and if you have in interest in the business of art galleries or the process of having your work included in one then read on to learn more.
After establishing pleasantries concerning the New York weather, we got down to business and discussed what it is like to launch and maintain an art gallery in the city that never sleeps.
The Birth of a Chelsea Art Gallery
After Moore departed from corporate America and began her venture into retirement; she would visit her son in San Francisco. When she did visit, she noticed something interesting about her son’s walls; they were bare and blank. Moore decided to take her son for an art walk and realized that younger generations want to break into the art market by purchasing work, but aren’t sure how to go about the process. Thus inspired her new venture.
Upon returning to New York, Moore walked the Lower East Side with a friend. They believed that the best place for a gallery would be in the heart of Chelsea. “My job is to be the bridge between the young collectors looking to get started and a curated group of artists and photographers – I’m a matchmaker,” said Moore.
Moore noted that she “didn’t come from the art world”, so she decided to use guest curators within her gallery. She followed a system she once used in publishing; using help she would comb the world for resources and pursue them. “This is what makes us different,” Moore says, “We have people curate our selections – every six weeks we change exhibits, and there is a new curator.”
Keeping Art Profitable and Educating the Public
“The business model is simple,” Moore says, “it is based on a consignment model.” The hardest part for starting the gallery was to find the perfect location; she constantly repeated “location was key.” Other than that, Moore compared it to running any other small business. She laughed and noted that her perspective might be skewed a bit after serving as Time Inc.’s CEO and Chairperson though.
When questioned about the difficult aspects of the day-to-day business, Moore told us that the main question was “how do we get buyers in here and educate about what the artists are offering?”. To succeed, The Curator Gallery holds weekly events and dinner parties. Every week, watercolor classes are taught on Sundays by New York artist Aaron Apsley. Moore notes that all skill levels are welcomed, and she recommends even “non-artists” give it a try. The mission is to sell a lot of art for the artists – that is how the gallery aims to survive.
How to Have Your Work Noticed in the Art Community
As soon as we asked how to get noticed for gallery exhibitions, Moore exclaimed with passion, “Shame on you if you don’t have a website! You absolutely have to have one!”. She explained that some of their best-selling artists were found online thanks to portfolios. Artists have to be able to tell a story with their work. “Tell me the story in a simple to understand way,” Moore says, “Why am I opening up my checkbook and paying $10,000?” She also noted that you should strive to capture something unique and show the world from a new point of view that hasn’t been seen.
The process of selection for a gallery isn’t always straightforward, Moore explained. One of their most recent artists, Kacper Kowalski, was discovered by his work displayed in Brooklyn. On the other hand, thousands of people send in their portfolios via email. “If you are interested in having a show, you have to contact us and send us a link to your website. Without a website, you are dead in the water,”, Moore emphasized. Preparing your work and reaching out to a gallery is a vital part of breaking into the fine arts community. Find local galleries that you can connect with and send them your work.
“Most of the work that sells in volume is between $5,000 and $10,000,”, Moore explains, “raise your prices as your work gets in higher demand, but good galleries should be helping you with pricing and marketing”. As usual, the answer is not always straightforward and you have to play with the market, but don’t underestimate yourself; the most expensive piece sold by The Curator Gallery is $25,000. You will have to work your way up before making thousands, but it is possible.
The Future of ‘The Curator Gallery’
The goal of the gallery is “to just keep going,” Moore laughed. She did note at the possibility of expanding The Curator Gallery brand to the west coast with the help of her son at some point.