Wellcome to the bar around the corner from the gallery. After closing time, this is where the art dealers retreat to swap war stories and ponder this unique life of art sales.
Hosted by art business veteran Danny Stern, this is the first show dedicated to exploring the world of art sales and the professionals in the field. Through an on-going series of in-depth and revealing conversations with art selling masters from every strata, angle and specialty this podcast aims to capture an industry that remains a mystery to even those who are at its center.
It’s our opportunity to share the wisdom and stories that don’t usually travel past the walls of galleries around the world and which could potentially be lost forever. These are are the tales and biographies that define our chosen field through its history and culture.
So my art-selling friend, order something stiff from the bar, pull up a seat and please join us.
29. A Show About Selling Art…Now?
What should a podcast about selling art be in a moment where so little of that is happening?
Do we carry on as normal? Or maybe even attempt to answer the questions about how to survive in the present and adapt to the coming future?
These are the questions I’ve asked for months. And then it hit me. Do what art dealers do when we stuck in the corner and there are no moves left— TELL SOME DAMN STORIES.
No one can advise us on how to tread these strange waters. Much less set a course for the uncertain future. So, while the world waits to see what comes next, we can huddle for a bit around the electric candlelight in our little corner booth here at the ol’ art dealer bar to share our stories.
Because when we find ourselves asking “what are we going to become?” it’s best to remind ourselves what we love about who we’ve been. And there is no better way I know to do that than this. Or at least not as much fun.
Going forward I’m counting on hearing your best tales that we can share on the show. Seriously — email, call, Instagram, tweet, I wanna hear from you. But for now, I’ll get this ball of yarns rolling with one of my personal favorites.
Tonight I have a story that goes miles beyond the “you never know who will buy” parables. It’s a story about an unexpected collector who taught me a lifetime of lessons on how to be a better art dealer as well as a happier person.
And if that is not enough to get you to quickly smash down on that play button (and subscribe to the podcast) – you’re also going to meet him in this new episode of the Art Dealer Show.
Cheers, my art dealers!
Right Time, Right Art. Guest David Fahey of Fahey Klein Gallery.
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 photographed by 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
"Looking for weird people creating weird things" - Guest Ruth Ann Thorn - The other half.
Ruth Ann Thorn (Exclusive Collections)
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.
Sponsors:Art World NewsRelavent CommunicationsArt Santa Fe – a Redwood Media Group show
Guest:Ruth-Ann Thorn, CEO and owner of Exclusive Collections:San Diego • Beverly Hills • Las Vegas • Laguna Beach(619) 238-0320www.ecgallery.comhttps://www.facebook.com/ecgalleries
Is Sacha Baron Cohen Calling The Gallery World “S***T”? Guest: Cristy Cones
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.
Galleries pricing art by the keystone rule and other fun ways to lose a business.
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.
Big Art Sales…Because Of and Despite Our Best Efforts – Guest: Jim Hartley, Pt. 2
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. Cheers. Danny
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Inside Baseball and Really Great
Danny Stern has the inside-the-art-world beat. He GETS it. He's honest and his guests are well chosen, articulate and also honest. You hear the good and the bad (not much is ugly).
Never having been immersed in the art world, it's a great education and a lot of fun to listen to and learn from.
Not a lot of spiffy special effects or fancy music—just smart people talking about a subject they clearly love with intelligence and authenticity. Can't ask for much more than that.
Danny puts together an exceptional show about topics that I never knew pertained to me until I heard the words from him and the conversations with his guests. I’m an artist and wouldn’t have considered myself a dealer before hearing this show. Now everything has changed. Things that I partially understood or had vague notions about within the art world are suddenly placed into clear view. It’s as if I’m seeing the Milky Way galaxy for the first time! This show is a MUST LISTEN for anyone doing anything in the artworld!
Well-Produced and Much Needed!
The always-charismatic Danny Stern is breaking down the invisible barriers that keep us art dealers from doing exactly what we should be doing - communicating, commiserating, and celebrating our successes together.
I found this podcast as an Art Consultant, studied it as a Gallery Director, and am now using all I learned in the commercial art world to further the mission of an artist I truly love... a dream come true for my career. While this podcast didn’t directly make that happen, it has offered something that was very much needed: a sense of community in an industry not known for its warmth towards anyone perceived as “competition”. Danny’s “Art Dealer Bar” is the first place I’ve ever been (well, in my imagination) where it feels like no art trade questions are off-limits. Something superbly valuable to the art dealer that is eager to learn but with limited resources available.
If I could ask Danny for one thing, it would be for more strategy or advice-oriented content. While I like the interviews and the guests a lot, my favorite part is the breakdown afterwards. In a career with limited role models who are willing to tell-all, applicable advice, or food-for-thought (even in the form of open-ended questions) is the thing I really find interesting. Even if there are no hard and fast rules for art sales, hearing a veteran give their perspective never ceases to be interesting or offer something new I could try. And of course, “MORE episodes!” should go without saying.
Thank you Danny for all that you do.