Gaining broad experience in all the sectors of the art world, with Sarah Murkett, founder of Murk & Co.
IN ORDER TO START AN ART GALLERY IN THE WORLD TODAY, THERE IS REALLY ONLY ONE KEY COMPONENT: GREAT ARTISTS, INDIVIDUALS WHO YOU BELIEVE IN AND ARE WILLING TO FIGHT FOR IN THE CONTEXT OF SELLING THEIR WORK, PROMOTING IT TO THE CURATORIAL CONSTITUENCY AND ENGAGING CRITICAL DIALOGUE. FINDING SUPPORT FROM THE CURATORIAL WORLD MATTERS.
JAMES COHAN, as quoted in Artnet in https://news.artnet.com/market/how-to-start-an-art-gallery-574523
EQUALLY IMPORTANT, IN THE OPINION OF THE LRFA BLOG, IS THE ADOPTION OF SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICES AND INNOVATIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO ANY POTENTIALLY GLOBAL ENDEAVOR. PARTICULARLY IN THE LIGHT OF THE PANDEMIC OF COVID-19, AN OUTREACH OF WHAT IS ESSENTIALLY A VISUAL BUSINESS VIA TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS STAYING OPEN OR NOT.
THUS, A FULLY DEVELOPED BACK ROOM ADMINISTRATION IS CRUCIAL TO A BUSINESS IN THE ARTS. ADMINISTRATIVE, LEGAL, SALES AND MARKETING PROGRAMS, INSURANCE, TRANSPORT, STAFF FOCUSED ON THE PLANNING AND FOLLOW UP OF ART FAIRS, BE THEY BRICKS AND MORTAR OR VIRTUAL ROOM EVENTS, AND A HIGHLY DEDICATED AND WELL-RUN WORKFORCE THAT SUPPORTS THE FRONT ROOM, ALLOWS THE GALLERIST TO FOCUS ON ARTISTS’ CAREERS, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, CULTIVATE COLLECTORS AND MUSEUM CURATORS.
THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BACK THE FUTURE-THINKING AND DYNAMIC SARAH MURKETT, FOUNDER OF MURK & CO., THE RECRUITING BUSINESS TO CONTACT TO OBTAIN OR FILL A POSITION IN THE ART WORLD.
SARAH, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?
I moved to New York in 1998, before arts administration programs were common, and through my experience in Rochester and Providence, I had all the skills I needed to work in galleries, including things like organizing exhibitions and events, writing press releases, as well as art handling and archival work.
My first full-time art job was at PPOW Gallery, and there on Broome Street, I got to experience the tail end of Soho before everyone started moving to Chelsea.
WHAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU LEARNED FROM THIS JOB?
I really enjoyed the closeness to artists and the art they made, but I did not like going to an office every day, and the pay for this entry level work was very low. Unfortunately, it still is.
WHAT DIRECTION DID YOU TAKE PROFESSIONALLY FOLLOWING THAT?
Through a recommendation of a colleague at PPOW, I went to go work for a small bespoke cosmetics company, which paid better, and I started study in Arts Administration at NYU. After my studies, I did a lot of exploring of roles through freelance projects doing mainly writing, research and helping companies in the art world to organize and run the back end of their businesses. I would help with events and marketing initiatives, overhaul databases and other operational infrastructure. Many of these projects turned into full-time positions and I learned a lot about different sectors in the art world from Art Fairs and Advisories to Logistics and Non-Profits, eventually landing at Armand Bartos Fine Art.
I found Armand by applying to a job posting for someone who was looking for help organizing their library, and after several months of helping Armand Bartos to organize his private art dealing business we went to work on opening a secondary market gallery on the Upper East Side. This was far and away my favorite job I have ever had, bringing together so many of the things that I enjoy doing, like designing the physical space and the brand identity for the gallery. I developed an exhibition strategy curating all the shows, and applying for us to participate in art fairs. I loved talking to collectors and anyone else that was interested in what we were showing. In addition, I oversaw the day to day operations and management of the gallery. And Armand was very generous in teaching me secondary market dealing, which I carried on after the gallery closed.
SOUP TO NUTS, A HANDS-ON WAY TO LEARN EVERY ASPECT OF ART WORLD BUSINESS: GALLERY OWNER, PRIVATE AND SECONDARY MARKET DEALER, CURATOR, ART FAIRS AND MARKETING, PROVIDED SARAH MURKETT, FOUNDER OF MURK & CO., THE PERFECT PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES TO UNDERSTAND ALL THE REQUISITES NECESSARY TO FILL JOBS IN THE ART WORLD.
NEXT WEEK WE WILL EXPLORE MURK & CO, THE RECRUITING FIRM SHE ESTABLISHED.
THANKS FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!