Printer Friendly

The art of the dealer.

Sarasota gallery owners share the secrets of their trade.

SARASOTA'S ART GALLERIES, THOSE DOZENS OF LITTLE SHOPS DOTTING OUR MOST ELEGANT AVENUES AND POSHEST PLAZAS, ADD CACHET AS WELL AS CULTURE TO OUR CITY. BUT MUCH AS WE LOVE BROWSING THEIR WALLS AND HANGING OUT AT THEIR OPENINGS, WE'VE ALWAYS WONDERED ABOUT THE BOLD SOULS WHO DARE TO GO INTO THIS BUSINESS. IS THEIR GALLERY A HOBBY OR A REAL BREADWINNER? HOW DO THEY DEVELOP THE TASTE -- AND THE NERVE -- TO DECIDE WHAT IS ART, THEN WOO PEOPLE WITH THE PASSION AND THE POCKETBOOKS TO SUPPORT THEM? AND WHAT KIND OF ART REALLY SELLS IN SARASOTA, WHICH DESPITE ITS REPUTATION FOR CULTURAL SOPHISTICATION IS STILL VERY MUCH A CONSERVATIVE, MIDWESTERN KIND OF TOWN?

WE ASKED THESE NOSY QUESTIONS AND OTHERS OF FIVE SARASOTA GALLERY OWNERS. WE CHOSE THEM -- FROM A FIELD OF MANY OTHER RESPECTED GALLERIES IN SARASOTA -- BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT A RANGE OF STYLES OF ART AND EXPERIENCE, FROM LESS THAN TWO YEARS IN THE BUSINESS TO MORE THAN 30. EACH HAS BUILT A LOYAL FOLLOWING AND A REPUTATION FOR GENUINE PROFESSIONAL COMMITMENT. WE THANK THEM FOR THEIR FRANK ANSWERS, AND WE THINK TAKEN ALTOGETHER, THEIR COMMENTS PRESENT FASCINATING -- AND SOMETIMES FUNNY -- INSIGHTS INTO THE ART OF DEALING ART IN SARASOTA.

FRANK TRONCALE THE HANG-UP GALLERY

What inspired your interest in art?

I was always an aspiring artist, but in college I didn't see eye to eye with the head of the department and changed my major to business and accounting with a minor in art. After college, I began collecting and enjoyed it.

What was the first piece you purchased?

An etching by Salvador Dali, offered through one of the print collectors' clubs.

Why did you open a gallery in Sarasota?

My partner and I had decided to open a gallery and had narrowed it down to Florida. We came down with our families in the summer of 1971 and my mind was made up after seeing what Sarasota had to offer, even back then.

What kind of art do you focus on?

Contemporary art, because it makes me feel good. It's exciting, fresh (for the most part) and innovative. It always amazes me what artists are coming up with these days.

How do you decide who to represent?

We receive calls, letters, resumes and slides on a daily basis. I do not have a closed mind to any type of work. We go on gut instinct and what appeals to us.

Do you make a living from the gallery or is it a sideline?

When we opened, 23 years ago this month, there were only three other galleries. Now there are more than 25. We are solely supported by the gallery. During our years in Sarasota, we have been affected by such economic trends as the gas shortage, the paper shortage, mini-recessions and the big one we are now experiencing, along with little wars here and there. As art is not a necessary commodity, we are the first to be put on a back burner when times are tight.

Why should someone buy art from a gallery in Sarasota instead of New York?

Many times, it is better to work with a gallery at home who will stand behind their work and allow you to live with the piece before making a decision to buy. And often you can get a piece for less at home than while vacationing in the Big Apple.

Are you an artist yourself?

I have only done one piece of sculpture since I opened the gallery. Time is so precious and I am so critical of my work after looking at talented artists everyday.

If you could be reborn as a famous artist, who would it be?

Salvador Dali, because he had such flair and was a creative genius born way before his time. What fun he must have had just being Dali!

What's your biggest challenge?

Making it through the summer...just kidding! It is very difficult to select artists for solo exhibitions.

The thing about artists is...

With their creative genius, most of them do not have good business sense.

I'll never forget the opening where...

I was acting in "Evita" and my daughter handled the reception. I left after the second act and someone covered for me for the rest of the show. I rushed over and made my grand entrance into the gallery and suddenly realized I had forgotten to remove my makeup!

I'll always remember overhearing a customer say:

"They sure have a lot of pieces here by Mixed Media."

It's sure to sell in Sarasota if...

It has the designer colors du jour.

It will never sell in Sarasota if...

It has snow in it!

If I could convince customers of just one thing, it would be...

To buy what you like, not what you are told to like.

If I could tell beginning artists anything, it would have to be...

To find your style, perfect it, and above all, persevere.

After a hard day of art dealing...

I love dancing, reading, listening to my favorite soundtrack, or most of all, acting.

My favorite movie is...

An Affair to Remember.

My favorite TV show is..."

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

The best building in town is...

The Ringling Museum.

What the arts scene here really needs is...

More coverage. The sophistication of this town and the art available here should not be overlooked. But several shows at various galleries with major names have had more coverage in Tampa, St. Pete and Bradenton. Even for our art walks and art functions downtown, we have had better coverage out of town.

ALLYN GALLUP MIRA MAR GALLERY

What inspired your interest in art?

My father was a collector of prints and one of the first "patrons" of the Associated American Artists. He bought prints by artists like Reginald Marsh and Grant Wood for $10 and $15 each. Later, working with Citibank's private banking and fine arts management service, I became more involved with collectors and the auction markets and developed a fascination for the business of art.

What was the first work you purchased?

An etching by Jack Levine -- "El Greco." I bought it 25 years ago at "Graphics," a now-defunct gallery in Greenwich Village, and I like it as much now as I did then.

Why did you open a gallery in Sarasota?

Because I thought a gallery focusing on art by established contemporary artists could succeed here, in light of Sarasota's demographics and wealth; because this is the residence of Armand Castellani, a major collector and arts benefactor with whom I am working; and because I thought I'd like to live here -- and I do.

What draws you to contemporary art?

It seems to me the most exciting. Observing the evolution in the imagination artists bring to the process of creativity is very stimulating, and it's certainly more fun to work with them if they're still alive.

How do you decide whom to represent?

I'm approached two or three times a week. I try to determine the technical competence of their art; its originality or freshness; and not unimportantly, its saleability. I'm also influenced by the artist's background, where he or she has shown before, in what museum collections the work is included, what others -- i.e., critics -- may have said.

Do you make a living from the gallery?

I don't know yet. Ask me in five years. Seriously, its purpose is to make a profit. It may look like a hobby -- I am having fun, but it is not a sideline.

Why should anyone buy art in Sarasota?

Anyone seriously interested in contemporary art has to get to New York from time to time to see what's happening. However, there are a number of wonderful artists in Florida producing great things that can only be purchased here. Comparing value is tricky, but often art is less expensive here -- particularly work that can be found in both places -- e.g., prints by Johns or Rauschenberg.

If you could be reborn as a famous artist, who would it be?

Picasso, because he was so fecund and had such an enormous influence.

What's the greatest challenge of the business?

Stimulating sufficient excitement to convert people from lookers to collectors.

How well does the local media cover art?

If a gallery exerts the rather considerable energy that it takes to put up a show with a theme or featuring one or a few artists, the show deserves to be reviewed with more than a sentence or two. Criticism is encouraged!

The thing about artists is...

Sometimes they don't realize how much their personal involvement adds to the experience for collectors.

I'll never forget the opening where...

More than 200 people came, and we expected, and were only ready for, 40.

I will always remember overhearing a customer say...

"I'd love to have this but I don't have any space on my walls." At that point, I'm challenged again with instilling in others my passion for collecting.

If I could tell customers just one thing, it would be...

That art provides pleasure, that collecting is fun and that you don't have to be rich to own art. An example: Dorothy and Herbert Vogel just gave their 2,000-work collection to the National Gallery of Art. These passionate and successful collectors supported themselves on salaries as a postal clerk and librarian.

If I could tell beginning artists just one thing, it would be...

To concentrate on creating a body of work in your own style; that it's difficult to create art that's different and memorable; and to keep a strong restraint on price expectations!

After a hard day of art dealing...

I do a lot of reading -- contemporary fiction, art and news magazines, four newspapers. I've become an information junkie! I take walks on the beach and would like to be able to play a lot more tennis.

My favorite movie is...

Recent favorites: Enemies, a Love Story; Tune in Tomorrow; Europa, Europa; and Husbands and Wives.

My favorite TV show is...

"McNeil-Lehrer News Hour."

The best building in town is...

The Women's Resource Center; Plymouth Harbor.

What the arts scene here really needs is...

More recognition throughout Florida and the Southeast, as well as in the community, through better marketing and public relations and more media coverage.

MORRIS APPLE & DOUG CARPENTER APPLE & CARPENTER GALLERIES

What inspired your interest in art?

We've had an interest as long as we can remember. Even as children, we found visits to art museums the highlight of family trips.

What was the first work you purchased?

(Doug Carpenter) At 14, I bought a painting by Alois Arnegger, an Austrian artist who painted beautiful scenes of the Swiss Alpine region. This was a painting of the Alps in winter with rich colors of a setting sun.

Why did you open a gallery in Sarasota?

It's known around the country as one of the finest cultural centers of the Southeast, and we wanted to be a part of this artistic community.

What kind of art do you focus on?

Fine paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries by American and European artists who are considered excellent investment quality and are known around the world by collectors and museums.

Do you make a living from your gallery or is it a sideline?

It's our full-time vocation and provides us with a good living.

If you could be reborn as a famous artist, who would it be?

(Doug Carpenter) Having just returned from Giverny, France, where I visited the home of Claude Monet, I would choose him, because he had a very peaceful life and lived in a most beautiful corner of the world. Also, he was appreciated during his lifetime and shared the companionship of many other well-known artists.

What's the greatest challenge of your business?

Finding quality works of art in the Sarasota area and convincing the community that there is a local gallery that is willing and able to purchase important paintings.

Why should people buy art in Sarasota instead of New York?

Because Sarasota has a wonderful selection of quality works in all periods and styles and it encourages the various galleries to keep their businesses in this area, enriching the cultural life in Sarasota.

The thing about artists is...

Each is unique as they each paint their own experience.

After a hard day of art dealing...

Relaxation usually comes through an intriguing novel or quiet conversation with friends.

My favorite movie is...

(Doug Carpenter) The Sound of Music. It was a "feel good" movie.

My favorite TV show is...

(Doug Carpenter) British theater on "Arts and Entertainment."

The best building in town is...

Without a doubt, the Ringling Museum.

What the arts scene here really needs is...

A professional alliance dedicated to the promotion, enhancement and economic development of the visual arts in Sarasota, as well as the performing arts.

KATE HANSEN JOAN HODGELL GALLERY

What inspired your interest in art?

My art teacher from fifth through 10th grade at Pine View, Ms. Gaskins. She was the most inspiring and giving teacher I've ever known.

What kind of art do you focus on?

Glass sculpture and abstract art. Glass because of its fluid beauty and unique relation to light. Abstracts because there's no hiding in them. Your color has to be balanced, your palette and theme from your imagination and your design strong. You can't rely on something nature made beautiful to begin with.

How do you decide who to represent?

I get about 600 portfolios a year and I travel a lot for new art -- this year to New York City, California and Illinois. That's a lot to choose from, so the work has to really move me. Also, it needs to work with the direction of the gallery but not be too similar to a carried artist's work. Most important, the artist's work must be consistent and consistently good.

How economically rewarding is this business?

It's not a way to become rich and famous. It's a labor of love. If you work very hard and you're lucky enough to read and foretell the public's taste, you can make a living at it. I do.

Are you an artist yourself?

I was a sculptor and my work was carried at several local galleries. I'm a businesswoman now and the gallery is all-consuming of my attention. However, being an artist is something that can never leave your soul.

If you could be reborn as a famous artist, who would it be?

Michelangelo. He had a phenomenal understanding of stone, my favorite medium and the most unforgiving. His masterpieces literally move me to tears.

What's the greatest challenge of your business?

The discipline to sit and do 10 hours a week of paperwork. That and trying to remember everyone's name.

How well does the local media cover art?

The newspaper seems to be focusing on movies and rock clubs, which seems strange to me in a town that is obviously keyed to the arts and an older population.

The thing about artists is...

There are too many good ones to choose from and so-o-o many bad ones.

I'll never forget the opening where...

Two people nearly came to blows over the same piece. While they argued and I tried to intervene, a third person calmly picked out the piece and took it to my assistant in the back, who not knowing of the events in front, sold it to her!

I will always remember overhearing a customer say...

"I like that. I think I'll go home and make myself one."

It's sure to sell in Sarasota if...

The answer to this one is something we would all like to know.

It will NEVER sell in Sarasota if...

It's dark and moody or overpriced.

If I could convince customers of just one thing, it would be...

To place their love of a piece over matching the couch and hoping for great monetary appreciation. The best art is created with passion and should be bought the same way.

If I could tell beginning artists anything, it would be...

Don't approach a gallery until your work is recognizably yours and consistent. Go in with a well-presented portfolio, good photos and slides, well-displayed and organized.

After a hard day of art dealing...

I settle down with my cats and a good book -- but I can't remember the last time I had time to do it.

My favorite movie is...

The Princess Bride and Hook.

My favorite TV show is...

I don't watch TV except old classic movies.

The best building in town is...

The Ringling Museum.

What the arts scene here really needs is...

More outdoor sculpture.

FRANK J. OEHLSCHLAEGER THE GALLERIES OF FRANK J. OEHLSCHLAEGER

What inspired your interest in art?

While living in New York City, I was a collector of paintings and managing a Park Avenue hotel. Several dealers and artists, especially Jon Corbino, suggested I open my own gallery.

What was the very first work you bought?

Two small paintings, one by Jon Corbino and one by Louis Bosa.

Why did you open a gallery in Sarasota?

I opened the gallery 31 years ago. After visiting several areas -- Palm Beach, Miami, Santa Fe -- I decided Sarasota offered the most cultural possibilities and already had an impressive contingent of good artists, such as Corbino, de Diego and Ben Stahl. Also, the Ringling Museum and Ringling School of Art were here.

What kind of art do you focus on?

The colorful, contemporary, interesting -- and of course, well-painted.

How do you decide who to represent?

I select works that are appealing to me and are well-executed and saleable. The credentials of the artist are not a deciding factor. The art must speak for itself.

How economically rewarding is this business?

I've earned my living as an art dealer for more than 40 years. First in Chicago and then here in Sarasota. The early years were lean, but persistence and devotion paid off.

Are you an artist yourself?

I studied art and soon learned I was not creative or original enough in my expression. However, the training was invaluable to me as a dealer.

If you could be reborn as a famous artist, who would it be?

Monet. The inspiration of the beauty in nature experienced by the viewer.

What's the greatest challenge of your business?

To limit my inventory of paintings. My greatest joy is to buy paintings! My brother said I'd go broke in this business because I would rather buy paintings than sell them! He was right about that, but I didn't go broke.

How good a job does the local media do in covering art?

Local art critics vary dramatically. Some are knowledgeable and discerning; another can be prejudiced and spiteful. The newspaper downplays the role of the galleries in Sarasota and in bringing art lovers to the area.

The thing about artists is...

They tend to be sensitive, temperamental, dedicated and hard-working.

I'll never forget the opening where...

The table holding the champagne glasses buckled and the filled glasses slowly slid off the end!

I'll always remember overhearing a customer saying...

(At a group exhibition of 30 different artists) "Mister, did you paint all these pictures yourself?"

If I could convince customers of just one thing, it would be...

Buy what you like and want to live with.

After a hard day of art dealing...

I have a swim, relax with a drink and a leisurely dinner and settle down with a book or TV after walking through my house and enjoying all my paintings and art work.

My favorite movie is...

The Tramp, with Charlie Chaplin.

My favorite TV show is...

"Murder, She Wrote."

The best building in town is...

The Ringling Museum.

What the arts scene here really needs is...

Better promotion and coverage by papers, tourist bureaus, chambers, etc.

What didn't we ask that you'd like to answer?

Are there too many galleries in town? The answer: No. The more the better. I'd like to see more on St. Armands.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Clubhouse Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sarasota gallery owners
Author:Fottler, Marsha
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:3349
Previous Article:Portrait of an artist.
Next Article:Get lucky: winning advice from lottery expert Ben Johnson.
Topics:


Related Articles
Shopping: strolling down Palm Avenue.
Cultural center emerging in West Chelsea.
Life begins at 70.
ART AND THE DEAL.
Chelsea: galleries & garages. (Notebook).
Gallery 12 at the Ringling Museum.
Shop talk.
Gallery chronicle.
Some of Sarasota's most fantastic shopping experiences are hidden behind closed doors.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters