Entering the gallery world with Ryan Lee’s Director of Sales, Kim Schmidt
CONTEMPORARY ART HAS BECOME THE MOST DYNAMIC AND VIBRANT FOCAL POINT OF THE GLOBAL ART MARKET, DEMANDING THAT GALLERISTS HAVE A BROAD-BASED KNOWLEDGE OF THE HISTORY OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AS WELL AS EXPERTISE IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS, ART LAW, VALUATION AND CURATORIAL SKILLS. GALLERIES THAT SUPPORT THEIR ARTISTS AT HOME AND ABROAD REQUIRE A DEDICATED AND HARD-WORKING TEAM TO UNDERTAKE ALL OF THE DEMANDING RESPONSIBILITIES THAT INCLUDE MAINTAINING THE GALLERY’S EXHIBITION SCHEDULE, INSTALLATIONS OF COMPLICATED WORKS, PRESS RELEASES, SALES AND MARKETING AND ORGANIZING EXHIBITIONS FOR THEIR ARTISTS IN MUSEUMS, OUT-OF-STATE AND INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES. AT THE SAME TIME, GALLERISTS MUST CONTINUALLY NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLECTORS AND MUSEUM CURATORS, EXHIBIT AT AND ATTEND THE NUMEROUS ART FAIRS THAT CREATE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE FOR THEIR ARTISTS.
KIM SCHMIDT, DIRECTOR OF SALES AT RYAN LEE, A NEWLY EXPANDED GALLERY IN CHELSEA, NEW YORK, IS A SEASONED TRAVELER IN THIS WORLD, ACQUIRING MARKETING, CURATORIAL AND CLIENT SERVICES EXPERTISE TO SUPPORT HER GENUINE PASSION FOR CONTEMPORARY ART. THE CURRENT TRIO OF EXHIBITIONS SPEAKS FOR THE DIVERSITY OF THE AESTHETIC AND MEDIUMS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ROSTER OF ARTISTS, BOTH ESTABLISHED AND EMERGING, THAT THE GALLERY REPRESENTS. PAUL HENRY RAMIREZ, ORIGINALLY FROM TEXAS, WHOSE WORK IS CURRENTLY INCLUDED IN A MUSEUM TRAVELING SHOW “OUR AMERICA: THE LATINO PRESENCE IN AMERICAN ART”, CREATES BIOMORPHIC ABSTRACTIONS; THE RL PROJECT HOSTS AN INSTALLATION OF SOUND AND OBJECTS BY MENDI + KEITH OBADIKE AND IN THE RL WINDOW, VISIBLE FROM THE HIGHLINE, RASHAAD NEWSOME’S SILENT VIDEO FEATURES A DANCER WHOSE GESTURES ACT AS A DEVICE TO CREATE HYPNOTIC LINES, SHAPES AND FORMS.
TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION WITH KIM ABOUT THE PROFESSIONAL TRACK THAT HAS LED HER TO RYAN LEE GALLERY. http://ryanleegallery.com/
KIM, YOU JOINED MARLBOROUGH GALLERY IN 1996. AT THE TIME, WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE GALLERY AND HOW DID THEY EVOLVE?
When I joined Marlborough, Crown Point had closed in New York. I was hired for sales in the print department and to help grow the business. It was a completely different world, with many new artists and lot’s of galleries around the globe, and possibilities. There was no dedicated press, so we worked with various ateliers and matched up projects with printers and published some wonderful editions with gallery as well as non gallery artists. I was able to use the knowledge I had garnered in the medium of photogravure and work on publishing editions in that medium. I loved it.
One of the things I am most proud of in my nearly 20 years there is the publishing projects that I did with Richard Estes in woodblock. He had taken a nearly 20 year hiatus from print making, and we embarked on an incredible project and produced a number of editions that are just gems. We worked with Hidekatsu Takada on a number of them, he was a true master. It was a wonderful way to get to know Richard too, and we remain close friends today.
I started traveling extensively for Marlborough almost as soon as I arrived, and we began participating in many of the small museum fairs around the country. It was a great way to meet clients and promote our artists. I still do many of those fairs today, and it remains a really enriching experience. The museum relationships that have grown out of this have been tremendous, and I have wonderful friends and clients all over because of it. People are so grateful when you go to them, visit their homes and collections, and help in all aspects of collecting. This is what I love the most in what I do – the relationships that evolve and develop with your artists and collectors. And, everyone eventually comes to New York, and they seek you out and come to the gallery.
I stayed with Marlborough for nearly 20 years, working also with painting and sculpture. It was very enriching, and my role there kept changing and growing. I came to know many of the artists so well, and developed deep friendships that I treasure. There was really never a dull moment, with something always happening, an exhibition always about to take place, a fair about to open, a client walking through the door. After so long I think change is really healthy, and joining Jeff and Mary was a very organic process. I had known them both for years, and they were growing and had a need. When they opened the new space last year on West 26th street things just aligned, and I never looked back. It has been a great transition, and I love being part of Ryan Lee and Mary Ryan Gallery, and being in Chelsea. I had closely followed and respected their programming, and was impressed by the artists that they were working with.
DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN THE ART BUSINESS?
My advice for almost anyone starting out in the art world would be to do an internship or more than one. There are so many areas that one can consider in the art world, and I think until you try you won’t know if the gallery world suits you. It can be a very hands on experience, and I always believed in really mentoring my interns, if they were good, showed promise and wanted to work hard and learn. Many of them went on to work with me and generally in the art world, and I am in touch with so many of them still today.
There are a lot of misconceptions about working in the gallery world – popular culture really portrays it as an industry where we all come in dresses and court clients over cocktails at art fairs. While there is that, there is so much more that happens behind the scenes. It is really hard work, long days especially during installations, fairs and openings. You need stamina and a sense of humor. And working in a public space is definitely not for everyone.
Certainly anyone pursuing a career in the arts should consider interning to get a flavor of what it is all about. The Museum world is so different from the gallery world, which is so different from the auction world, and the only way to really know is to try.
IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, WE WILL LEARN MORE ABOUT RYAN LEE GALLERY’S ARTISTS AND ACTIVITIES. I APPRECIATE ALL YOUR COMMENTS AND SUPPORT. KEEP READING!