An introduction to the legendary Gray Gallery, with gallery director, Laura Lester

by leslierankowfinearts

 

Laura Lester
Director
Gray Gallery, NY

GRAY GALLERY, FOUNDED IN CHICAGO BY RICHARD GRAY, AND HEADED BY HIS SON, PAUL, THE GALLERY IS MADE UP OF A GLOBALLY RECOGNIZED TEAM OF ART PROFESSIONALS. ALL ARE DEVOTED TO FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT ARTIST CAREERS AND TO BUILDING OUTSTANDING ART COLLECTIONS FOR THEIR CLIENTS. THEIR FOCUS CONTINUES TO BE ON DEEP AND INSIGHTFUL RELATIONSHIPS WITH BOTH ARTISTS AND COLLECTORS.

FOUNDER MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS AGO, THE GALLERY’S REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND INTEGRITY HAS SPANNED TWO GENERATIONS, INSPIRED BY THE CREATIVITY OF ARTISTS, THE PASSION OF COLLECTORS AND BY THE TRUST PLACED IN THEM BY BOTH.

Richard Gray
Founder, Richard Gray Gallery

WHEN ITS FOUNDER RICHARD GRAY DIED IN 2018, THIS IS JUST ONE OF TRIBUTES

Richard Gray was a legend in the art world, establishing galleries in Chicago and New York. He received well-deserved international recognition in the art world and was a dedicated patron to Chicago’s cultural institutions. His son, Paul, has carried on his legacy.

Juane Plensa
Richard Gray Gallery

“Richard was a beacon in the art world,” said Jaume Plensa, whose Crown Fountain sits in Millennium Park. “We are orphans without him.”

“Richard Gray was my dealer for 40 years. His humanity and appreciation for the human condition was immense,” Jim Dine said in a statement Thursday. “His deep love of drawing suited my obsession for the medium to a tee. To me he was a great dealer and a great guy.”

Jim Dine
Richard Gray Gallery

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, KT Hawbacker, May 17, 2018

IT IS A PLEASURE AND A PRIVILEGE TO WELCOME THEIR RECENTLY APPOINTED DIRECTOR, LAURA LESTER, TO THE LRFA BLOG. A VETERAN BOTH OF THE FIRST-TIER AUCTION AND GALLERY WORLD, SHE BRINGS HER UNIQUE FOCUS, KNOWLEDGE AND ENERGY TO BEAR AT GRAY GALLERY, NEW YORK.

https://www.richardgraygallery.com/

LAURA, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN ART?

I was raised in Wilmette, IL, which is just north of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan. I grew up visiting the city’s great museums with my parents and have always been interested in the history of art but did not take it seriously as a career path until college.

WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL AND WHAT ACADEMIC PURSUITS DID YOU PURSUE BEFORE FOCUSING ON A CAREER IN THE ART WORLD.

I earned a dual undergraduate degree in English Literature and Art History at Indiana University. I attended IU, initially, because I was interested in music; I was a serious pianist growing up and they have a fantastic music school. After matriculating at such a large university, I quickly realized how big the world is and began exploring its many offerings- that’s when I really fell in love with art history. After college I moved to New York City to get a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art from Christie’s, which positioned me well to enter the commercial art world.

Christie’s Education
Master’s Program, New York

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT EXPERIENCE SERVED YOU IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL PATH?

My first job was a receptionist position at Gagosian uptown. It was a real crash course in who the players are in the industry! I moved from that position to assisting Larry directly and traveling with him, which was an incredible education. He taught me a standard of fastidiousness in all things that has stuck with me to this day.

THAT IS A PHENOMENAL INTRODUCTION! WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE GAGOSIAN AND ENTER THE AUCTION WORLD?

After nearly four years of really interesting assistant work at Gagosian, I felt I had learned a lot about the ecosystem of collectors, client service and deal making but was lacking object connoisseurship. I knew a cataloging position at an auction house would teach me that inside and out.

McArthur Binion
DNA: Work and the Under: Conscious Drawing
Gray Warehouse, Chicago
Current exhibition

IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT WITH THE  CAREFULLY PLOTTED ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL STEPS  LAURA HAS TAKEN, SHE IS NOW THE DIRECTOR OF GRAY GALLERY.

IN OUR NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG LOOKS FORWARD TO LAURA’S INSIGHTS INTO BOTH THE GALLERY AND AUCTION HOUSE WORLDS, THEIR SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES.

PLEASE JOIN US!