Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gallery Space Talk: Sara Nightingale Gallery

(Sara Nightingale)

The Mission of the Sara Nightingale Gallery is to be a leader in the exhibition of significant and challenging contemporary art, with an emphasis on emerging artists. The gallery encourages experimentation, diversity, innovation, dialogue and risk in new art of all mediums. It seeks to enhance the careers of its artists by exposing them to new markets and opportunities. The gallery was founded in 1998 and has been participating in art fairs since 2001

Sara Nightingale Gallery
688 Montauk Highway
P.O Box 1061 Water Mill, NY 11976
631-726 0076

(Section of the Sara Nightingale Gallery with paintings by Eric Dever)

Brian Sherwin: You are the director of the Sara Nightingale Gallery. When was the gallery established? What is the mission of your gallery?

Sara Nightingale: The gallery was established in 1998. The mission of the gallery is to be a leader in the exhibition of significant and challenging contemporary art, with an emphasis on emerging artists. The gallery encourages experimentation, diversity, innovation, dialogue and risk in new art of all mediums. It seeks to develop the careers of its artists by exposing them to new markets and opportunities.
(Annie Wharton with Sara Nightingale at ArtLA- 2006)

BS: Why did you decide to become a gallery director? Are you an artist yourself? How did you get involved with the arts?

SN: It's hard for me to answer how I got to this place exactly. Now that I'm here with my own gallery it just seems like all of my life's experiences were a path that led to this. I used to dabble in producing art, but now that I'm a gallerist, there is no time for that. I get so excited by curating, bringing artists together and overseeing installations that this really satisfies my creative urge.
(Gallery Installation of Melanie Fischer with Sue McNally paintings)

BS: What is your personal philosophy about art and artistic creation? What makes an artist an artist?

SN: Well, fortunately, there have been many philosophers who have tried to define art and the creative process. The truth is, though, we are all still searching for the answers to these kinds of questions. Every time I open a new show, I hope that I am coming a little bit closer to understanding the truth about art, artists, culture and the human condition.

When I select artists to exhibit I do look for certain qualities in the artists themselves (beyond just examining the work). I like to see that they are dedicated, intelligent, asking questions all the time, and trying new things. Of course the work must have a unique voice, so the artist must be mature enough to know how to both utilize and eschew the influences of other artists. John Lahr, writing a review in the New Yorker of Mercedes Rhuel's turn as Peggy Guggenheim in "Woman Before a Glass", wrote: "The character must somehow bring news- both of society and of the self". I circled this sentence and refer to it often when I am looking for new art. In my case, of course, the "character" is the work of art. That (the art object) "must somehow bring news" is something I strive for when selecting art.
(Sara Nightingale selling at ArtLA- 2006)

BS: It often seems that many artists are not aware of the business side of art. Do you have any suggestions for an artist who wishes to learn more about the marketing side of the business that is art?

SN: Oh how I wish we could all take the money out of art....(though I realize there are many who do not feel the same way; just look at this past week's auction results!). However, the business side of art is essential to the production mechanism. In fact, I sometimes think that the collector is the most valuable cog in the wheel that is the art machine. Without him it would all come to a grinding halt. Or only people with trust funds would be able to produce and display art. So....for artists to gain business acumen? Knowledge is the first tool. Get out and talk to people, learn about the art world, read, go to shows. The more you know and the more people you meet, the better you will understand the business side of things and how it all works. This, however, will keep you away from the hard work and long hours that you need to be putting in at your studio. So I would advise that you focus on the actual work and getting a good solid body together before you begin to approach galleries. Then, once you begin showing and getting your work seen, be careful about which galleries you work with and don't be all over the place if you actually care to establish a viable market. Remember, of course, that the art world is constantly in flux. One minute there is a gallery system, the next artists will be selling directly on ebay and that will be the new, hip thing to do. Always be ready to throw everything you know away and try something completely outside of the box. The white box, that is.

(Sara Nightingale with Melanie Fischer installation)

BS: What can you tell our readers about the artists you represent?

SN: I have been extremely lucky to have worked with an extraordinary group of artists. Everyone I work with has the traits I mentioned above: dedication, talent, etc... and I especially enjoy watching artists in my stable appreciating and respecting each other's work. Each individual in the gallery contributes to the overall success of the "family", which is how I like to think of my gallery, with me as the Mom. (Let's just hope I don't turn into the Grandma.) But to name a few people who have been extremely important in bringing the gallery to where it is now: Rachel Owens, who did an amazing job with her ScopeNY05 installation, Elizabeth Huey, who recommended Sarah Trigg (both are fantastic), Joseph Hart and Ryan Wallace (recommended by the talented Hilary Schaffner), Malin Abrahamsson, Rebecca Miller, Josh Peters and Jeremy Wagner. Look these people up on the internet and get inspired! Each has a unique voice and is embarking on an adventurous artistic
journey.

BS: What kind of message do you want the art in your gallery to have? Is there a certain direction that you look for?

SN: The message may be purely formal, or it may be articulated by an accompanying statement. Sometimes it is solely up to the viewer to provide the message. Hopefully it is a dialogue between the artist and the viewer, though they may never meet each other. The gallery is a "mini think tank", where a variety of ideas are shuffled around, dissected and displayed. What are "appropriate" ideas for messages in art? Well...let's refer back to that John Lahr quote: "The (art object) must somehow bring news". It would be impossible to define "news". Death, consumption, ambiguity of authorship, global warming, the disaffection with the American Dream, Suburban sprawl, loneliness, non-belonging, the catastrophic global landscape condensed and transformed by the media, environmental "happy places", the street.....all of these have been themes in recent shows at the gallery. I'd like to do a show about religion (because I think it's funny that very few art world people are religious, despite the fact that religious institutions patronized art for centuries).
(Sara Nightingale- Water Mill 2007)

BS: Do you have any advice for emerging or established artists who would like to exhibit at your gallery?

SN: If you truly love the other work that I show, and you really believe in yourself, then get in line.

BS: What was the most important exhibition you've been involved with? Care to share that experience?

SN: What's the definition of important? My goal is to inspire my community. I haven't done any outside curating (yet), though I have juried shows. So it would have to be something I've organized here (in the gallery). I've had a string of excellent shows here, thanks to the hard work of the artists. And I've been fortunate to have been in the presence of some incredible artworks. Andrew Schoultz's, Cataclysmic Proliferation, comes to mind. It later traveled to Track 16 Gallery in LA and then onto Jonathan Levine in New York. Nicola Verlato's, Mothers, was another amazing painting, which could render one speechless. That was brought to my attention by David Hunt, who curated a show here in 2005. I could go on and on naming really amazing works that have shown here. Jeremy Wagner's, Hotel Everybody, for example. I could have just eaten that up!

BS: If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who buy art from the Sara Nightingale Gallery, what would they be?

SN: I must brag here: my clients are the best of the best. I don't show "named" artists here, so my clients have to have confidence, charisma, risk taking characteristics, and just love art for all the right reasons. Maybe it's a good investment or maybe it's not. They are buying interesting, unique works of art for great prices....but in the Hamptons, it's often easier to sell expensive work that has a name attached...or just expensive enough where the client thinks it's valuable because of its price. If I were a collector, I'd buy from me, because people are getting great deals here on really strong work that is still a good value because the artists are young in their careers.

BS: As a gallery director, what trends do you see in the art world? What is hot at the moment?

SN: Well, of course, there's China. I personally love the Japanese artists. There's the Goth trend....gothic sculpture such as the work by Terence Koh and Banks Violet. The lowbrow/ Juxtapoz aesthetic is pretty hot. Jonathan Levine and Merry Kranowski are showing these artists. But I also like the alternate spaces, such as Giant Robot, which are integrating skate culture and product development with fine art. The whole psychedelic, graff drawing thing is hot as well. In general, it's pretty pluralistic out there. That's one of the great things that postmodernism did.... it allowed for a general "anything goes" attitude. It's all been done before anyway...so let's mash it up and rehash it. This is happening in music as well. Appropriation is all over the place, especially in the dj culture. While there are stylistic trends.....for example, abstraction was really out for a while...I think to segregate art stylistically is ridiculous. Art can be good or bad regardless of whether or not you like the style. Who gets to decide whether it's good or bad? It shouldn't be up to the market. I guess everyone gets to decide for himself.

BS: What can you tell the readers about the art scene in your area?

SN: I'm in the Hamptons, so there is a lot of history here. Everyone is always trying to create the buzz that's there's a resurgence, a renaissance out here. And I must say, with Scope coming here and the myriad new galleries springing up, and art in general becoming more of a mainstream pastime, it's probably true.

BS: Do you have a website for your gallery?

SN: www.saranightingale.com

BS: Is there anything else you would like to say about the Sara Nightingale Gallery or the "art world"?

SN: It's all about the present tense (if you're in the contemporary sector) and the process. And having good values and principles and applying them to your daily work.
I hope you that you have enjoyed reading about Sara Nightingale and her gallery. Be sure to visit the gallery website.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

D. said...

In a a way that I am never comfortable admitting, I can easily imagine myself in Jack Purcells wandering into such a place after a hearty cup of coffee and wandering about in the White Light, really enjoying myself before hopping on my new bike and heading to the beach.