SIKKEMA JENKINS & CO. ENJOYS A LONG AND RESPECTED HISTORY IN THE CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD FOR DISCOVERING EMERGING ARTISTS WHO GO ON TO GAIN GREAT CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL SUCCESS AND SUPPORTING ESTABLISHED CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WHOSE CAREERS THEY NURTURE. LOCATED AT 530 WEST 22nd STREET IN THE WEST CHELSEA ARTS DISTRICT IN NEW YORK CITY, THE GALLERY WAS FOUNDED IN 1991 BY BRENT SIKKEMA AS WOOSTER GARDENS. BRENT SIKKEMA BEGAN HIS GALLERY WORK IN 1971 AT THE DIRECTOR OF EXHIBITIONS AT THE VISUAL STUDIES WORKSHOP IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK. HE OPENED HIS FIRST GALLERY IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, IN 1976. MICHAEL JENKINS, WHO HAD WORKED ON PROJECTS WITH THE GALLERY SINCE ITS OPENING IN 1991, JOINED AS DIRECTOR IN 1996, AND BECAME A PARTNER IN 2003.
SIKKEMA JENKINS & CO. WAS ORIGINALLY LOCATED ON WOOSTER STREET IN SoHo AND IN 1999 MOVED TO ITS PRESENT CHELSEA LOCATION SUBSEQUENTLY UNDERGOING EXTENSIVE RENOVATION AND EXPANSION. THE GALLERY IS AN EXTREMELY INVITING ENVIRONMENT, WITH A DEDICATED AND ACCESSIBLE STAFF EAGER TO EDUCATE AS WELL AS TO PLACE WORKS.
MEG MALLOY, A PARTNER AT SIKKEMA JENKINS, IS THE PERFECT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE OPEN UNPRETENTIOUS SPIRIT OF THE GALLERY AND THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME HER TODAY.
MEG, THANK YOU, IN THIS BUSY SEASON OF THE ART YEAR, FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG.
WHAT WERE YOUR EXPERIENCES GROWING UP THAT ENCOURAGED AN INTEREST IN ART?
I was born in Chicago and raised in Glencoe, a suburb north of the city. I am the oldest of six. My mother had wanted to be an artist, and going to museums was a part of my childhood. The Art Institute also had a great outreach program and before any school trip there, museum docents would come to school and educate us about what we might see. My parents were involved in a local theater group and I took part in the youth version, always on the management side as a producer or v.p.- never as a performer. In high school and college, friends and I used to take the train to the city and to go the Art Institute. We would just wander. I was always struck by Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky Above Clouds, which was installed at the top of a grand staircase at the museum: it seemed so majestic, and it motivated me to read her biography. I loved thinking about her work, and what sounded to me like an impossibly exciting life in art.
DID YOU PAINT OR HAVE AMBITIONS TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST?
I never had any talent for art making, though I enjoyed it. I really thought I would go into publishing. I worked on the school newspapers in both junior high and high school. One close friend did have parents who were collectors, and another had a mom who ran a gallery downtown.
WHAT WAS YOUR ACADEMIC BACKGROUND, AND HOW DID IT LEAD YOU INTO THE ART WORLD?
I went to The University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana and studied Comp Lit.
My plan was to follow my favorite aunt’s career path in publishing. Because comp lit is interdisciplinary, we often looked at visual art. My interest in its history was piqued, and I added art history classes to my course of study. I was a resident advisor and had a number of artists on my floor – I loved visiting their studios and talking about what they were doing.
Then I took a museum studies class and decided I should go into museum education. With that goal in mind, I decided to go to grad school in art history, and ended up at UC Berkeley. There I had a job at the art museum bookstore, and then became the intern for Connie Lewallen, a wonderful curator and human being. She ran the Matrix program, which focused on one contemporary artist at a time in a frequently changing exhibition program, always with an accompanying brochure. I loved the variety and the engagement with the artists and their ideas. It was compelling. I also became the de facto house sitter for the curators — all of whom had great contemporary art and libraries, and I loved being immersed in those environments.
SO MANY INFLUENCES LEADING YOU TO NEW YORK AND A CAREER IN THE ARTS. IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, MEG WILL DETAIL HER FIRST EXPERIENCES IN THE NEW YORK ART WORLD.
PLEASE JOIN US!