I know it has been several months since I have posted. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would ever post again. A few month ago my world got thrown for a loop and I found myself in a situation that sapped my personal, emotional and creative strength. I was heart broken and it felt wrong to pretend to be happy for the sake of keeping the blog going. My personal life was in shambles and I needed all my energy to keep afloat. I won’t say I am completely whole, but I am better, stronger and more focused than I have ever been to continue to live by the motto that this blog was created — living your life out loud and proud…..so you know what that means?
I’m BACK! I am going to slowly ease myself back into the blogging fold but I have missed the outlet and am excited to officially start my “comeback” with an interview from Annete Schutz and James Bacchi, the dynamic duo behind the San Francisco based art gallery ArtHaus…..
ArtHaus was opened in San Francisco in 1996. What inspired you to open up a brick-and-mortar gallery when everyone else was flocking to figuring out how to go online?
JB: It was a time when art began to crave an online presence though there certainly were obstacles. Seasoned collectors were only somewhat comfortable acquiring works online by artists they were extremely familiar with. I believe the Blue Chip and Limited Edition Print markets benefited most in the early days. With the exception of trust and the condition of the work, there were few surprises in regard to the image itself. Introducing works by unfamiliar artists, especially to novice collectors online, was simply a more immediate version of sending photographs by mail. The fear factor was high. New collectors are most comfortable viewing art up close and personal to make purchasing decisions. A number of strictly online art sites began to emerge, many of which did not withstand the early days.
For the past several years we have had tremendous success placing art online, though the majority of these collectors either own works by the artist, or are familiar enough with the artist’s work. Still, nothing quite matches the up close and personal experience ArtHaus is known for.
AS: Seeing a work online pales in comparison to experiencing a work of art in person. We often have collectors walking in to the gallery after viewing ArtHaus online. It [internet] is a great tool in narrowing down ones gallery search but most of us when purchasing original works of art need it see it.
The name ArtHaus – can you tell me a little more about how the name came about and what it means to you?
JB: Our original concept was a by-appointment-only, salon styled gallery housed in my then apartment. To coincide with this space, it was important to imply a sense of “home” in the gallery name. Because it was the dawn of internet searching, it was also important that the gallery name began with the letter “A” so it would appear close to the top when searching Art Galleries. Well, what do you think about ArtHaus?
AS: It was important for us that the name would communicate “art gallery” and feel approachable.
Art, like love, is highly subjective to the individual. How do you and your business partner, Annette, go about selecting artists to represent?
We began with a stable of established New York artists, including Adam Kurtzman, Serena Bocchino, Andrea Arroyo and Marc Lambrechts whom I represented in the East Village and SOHO during the mid-1980’s , along with two Bay Area artists, Brian Blood and Carolyn Meyer , who I met when I first arrived here when scouting work for an East Coast Collector. Annette and I continued to introduce one another to other Bay Area artists, and we have selectively built a stable of 18 Gallery Artists and an evolving roster of special Guest Artists including; Rex Ray, Tracey Kessler, Samuel Fleming Lewis and Kenney Mencher.
The gallery itself is a beautiful space. Can you explain the “science” that went into designing a space to showcase art?
AS: Our careful selection of lighting, paint color and carpeting was meant to create an environment that is inviting. The intimacy is creates is reflective of many of our collector.
JB: My first look at the current ArtHaus space involved shear imagination. So much so, that I had to leave after half an hour and see it again the next day with fresh eyes. Prior to ArtHaus, 411 Brannan Street was home to the infamous Cigarette Girls, followed by the first round of dot com start- ups. My second visit to the space sparked some vision. I remember Annette was out of town at the time. I looked at it twice, and begged Annette to do the same before making any decisions. We’ll take it!
We began by installing the best lighting available, and worked with a lighting consultant. This was key. Selecting paint colors, flooring, and working with Knack Design to recreate our now open to the public identity, we managed to transform the space and open our inaugural exhibition, ON THE MOVE, in four exhausting weeks. Come September, we will celebrate 18 years in business, 9 in SOMA.
What would you say are the 2 things most homeowners do incorrectly when displaying artwork in their home?
JB: I believe there are three. First, it seems most people hang art higher than it should be. Ideally, individual works of art should be hung eye level to the center point of the art. Should one partner be several inches taller than the other, I recommend splitting the difference. The absence of lighting takes a close second, followed by displaying excessive numbers of family photos in important, more public areas of the home.
AS: I have noticed what seems to be most challenging for many homeowners is the scale of the artwork chosen for a specific location and the placement of the art. My advice is to hire a professional art installer.
In recent years, works of art from contemporary artists have been going for large sums at auction. Some art critics have said the influx of “new money” is responsible for these spikes. What would you say to someone who asks “is this piece worth the cost…”?
The influx of “new money” continues to have a dramatic effect on the art market in general. In regard to important contemporary art auction activity, this is high stakes collecting. It involves a select group of players – best served by the services of noteworthy art advisors. Simultaneously, the influx has created unlimited numbers of beginning private and corporate collectors. Many of these younger, newbie collectors are acquiring art because they are drawn to it. But let’s face – collecting art is perceived as hip, fashionable and successful. In response to “Is this piece worth the cost?” Are you in love with the work?
ArtHaus has a wonderful collaborative relationship with interior designers in Bay Area. Can you explain a little more about your program for interior designers?
ArtHaus continues to enjoy a wonderful collaboration with the Bay Area and New York design communities. We are often called upon to present and provide art for their residential, corporate and retail projects. Our program is educational and extremely service oriented. Often times designers will invite us to the project site and request we create an art presentation based on the space, their client’s aesthetic and budget. Designers often escort their clients to ArtHaus where we set a time to introduce specific works for site specific areas, and talk about each artist and their work. Some designers prefer to schedule appointments for their clients to visit ArtHaus on their own. We have done several commissions with designers for their clients, most recently with designer Eric Cohler and artist Michal Venera for a San Francisco investment company here in San Francisco, and an extraordinary Petri Dish by Klari Reis for Krista Coupar. Our Out & About Program continues to create further presence for ArtHaus. We are often invited to curate Designer Showrooms such as Kendall Wilkinson, Poliform and Coupar Consulting. We current have a pop-up show at CODE Salon. My favorite art/design moments to date are; Our invitation by Ken Paige to be Icons of Design at Millennium Tower and presenting The Fine Art of Design at Coupar Consulting to a packed room of designers during SF Design Week.
As we mentioned, ArtHaus was started in 1996. How have you seen the landscape of the art industry change in the almost 20 years you have been in business?
The internet, technology and social media have certainly changed the landscape of the art industry over the last 20 years. The immediacy is magical. The ability to snap a photo with my I-Phone, post it on Face Book, reach thousands of select people in seconds and receive a request to purchase moments later allows gallerists to place art from anywhere at record speed. In 2012, ArtHaus hosted the First Annual International Mobile Photo Awards Exhibitions. The show was a major success and the media was all over it. This juried show generated thousands of submission from 114 countries. Criteria to enter: Photo had to be taken with your phone, all manipulation done with your phone and your photos had to be submitted by phone. The MOBILE PHOTO AWARDS were invited to the 2012 SF Fine Art Fair and the 2014 SILICON VALLEY ART FAIR. Mobile Photography is now taken quite seriously as an art form.
Finish this sentence….. “Art is………..”
AS: Art is a portal that awakens the senses.
JB: Art is my passion.
[photography credit: photo by adza]
[art credit/listing: in order of appearance]: Thumbnail: Shadow Blasters” poured enamel and acrylic by Serena Bocchino // Mix Masters detail shot // Painting by Carolyn Meyer/Sculpture by Riis Burwell // Deborah Brown, “Solid Colors (Purple), 30″x22″, oil on canvas board/”Red Triangle”, 30″x22″, oil on canvas board // Pendants, original leaded mica light sculptures by Adam Kurtzman // Astrid, Hands 24″x18″, solarized print // Sculpture by Riis Burwell // Installation photo, paintings by Donna McGinnis & sculptures by Riis Burwell // Riis Burwell, Cloud Cutout III, 20″x20″32″, patinaed steel