Today NYNJ will learn more about Maria and find out what makes PRIME Gallery in Jersey City Heights so special. We will also dig into the evolution of the NYC & Jersey City art scene and offer some practical advice for people trying to break into the art world.
What first inspired your interest in art?
I come from a family of artists. My childhood was a bit out of the ordinary…while other kids were playing with toys, I was playing with brushes, paints, charcoals, and canvases. while they were listening to barney, I was listening to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, and playing backup singer for my father’s band, The Kinesis… it was the inevitable I would live, breathe and think everything art. I’m like Charles Saatchi…a true artoholic!
What is your experience/background in the art world?
When I was 17, my mom decided she was an artist. or rather, she always was one but just then realized it. I took notice and said we should do something with these beauts’. so we did. I curated her first exhibition at LITM in downtown Jersey City. This was during the time when the art scene was just starting to kick off. I placed 37 of her works in there and sold only one for $600 bucks. it was only one piece but the EXCITEMENT on that client’s face, of buying their first piece of authentic art…wow…it was art itself. I was hooked!
Since then I have gotten a few degrees, all specializing in art (and every aspect of it) and worked various fields in the trade, ranging from, gallery intern, to now, gallery director and everything in-between!
What is art staging? how do you work with sellers and agents in this vein?
Similar to staging furniture but different in the sense that these are authentic, one of a kind, works of art for both aesthetic and investment appeal…just like real estate. It’s a fusion!
Tell us about your art consulting business? Where do you pull the artwork from?
If one were to ask me what I am, I simply say, I am an art consultant. the staging, curating, dealing, and all else business related to art falls under the umbrella of art consulting. I have an ever-growing database that houses all of the artists i have ever come across. I discover artists via online, events I attend, friends, art fairs, galleries, open studios, etc. if I take an artist’s info, they are most likely getting added to my database.
Who are your favorite artists and why?
So many, but my top would be Amedeo Modigliani. Why? Because his artwork was the first to ever make me shed a tear and make my arm hairs go up. I never felt so connected to an art piece like that before.
Who do you see as a rising star in the art world?
KAWS, a street artist from jersey city, who blurs the line between commercialism and art.
Also another street artist, Turcs & Caicos born, Bradley Theodore, who has now taken over the NYC art scene and beyond, creates works that are inspired by iconic figures throughout history (classical and contemporary), his travels and the music world.
Both artists have had a consistent rise in value over the past 10 years and have shown alongside Basquiat, Banksy, and Shepard Fairey to name a few. When I see artists like these two who display bodies of work with substance, are prolific and carry business savvy, it is the inevitable they will make their mark in the art world.
How has the art world changed and developed in NYC over the past decade?
It’s more of a shift, than a change. Over the past decade, I have seen the Lower East Side (LES) become the new Chelsea. The reasons vary but real estate is a significant factor. In relation to Chelsea—LES has changed drastically. The early settlers back in the 2000’s, were known to be hole in the walls, with unknown artists. Presently, however, Galleries in the neighborhood have matured greatly, and so has their art.
What piece of advice have you carried with you throughout your career?
Follow your passion, the rest will follow.
What would you suggest to anyone wanting to break into the art world? what kind of path/trajectory would find them the most success (Get from point A (maybe education) to point B (being an art director like yourself)?
Immerse yourself in anything and everything art related. I received my bachelors in art with a concentration in art history. best decision! although I knew I wanted to build a career on the business side of art, I still needed to know the inner workings of this unique commodity and every genre within it [art]. Masters in art marketing was next on the agenda…basically, the business side of art. an art marketing degree prepared me for a career in the production, sales, marketing and display of visual arts. it was comprehensive and guided me in the economics and management of art. Intern and volunteer…galleries, auction houses, non-profit art organizations, museums, etc.
Read! I follow all the major art publishers out there. some of my favorites that cover the contemporary art market are art in america, Juxtapoz, art news, the art newspaper and art review. i also am a fan of Blouin art+auction because they do a great job in helping readers understand the business and pleasure of making, buying, and understanding art.
Subscribe to artnet. It’s like the Dow Jones for the art world.
Go out and learn the art scene…I try to attend 2 art oriented events per week; one in my local community and another in NYC. This helps me to keep up on the current trends in the art market. I am planning on starting art tours in the fall and would love to guide anyone interested in learning about the art scene. the tour will consist of a variety of venues; galleries, museums, art studios, creative spaces, private collections and beyond. contact me for details.
Where have you traveled that has provided the greatest source of inspiration, why?
Europe by far on several occasions! I studied art history for a semester in London. My classes were held in museums, galleries, cathedrals and castles…yes, castles! While in grad school I was offered an amazing opportunity to work for a gallery, GMG, in Moscow, Russia. I was hired as their Gallery Representative to facilitate all operations related to the gallery’s involvement in art fairs and independent projects throughout various countries in Europe (most notable; Wein Messe – Vienna, Austria; ARCO – Madrid, Spain; The Venice Biennale – Venice, Italy). It was inspiration that would stay with me forever!
What are three favorite galleries in NYC?
Those are my favorites but the top dogs are Gagosian, David Zwirner and Luhring Augustine. Among many others!
Who/what has served as your greatest source of inspiration (personally or professionally)?
My family’s roots; my mother, father, cousin and great grandparents were all artists. My Art History Professor in college once said to surround yourself around all things that inspire you…that has always stuck with me and accomplished everyday by my amazing independent friends and family…they are my true inspiration. and of course Art.
Tell us a little about the company’s story?
Embracing the robust Jersey City art scene, PRIME Real Estate Group takes on PRIME Gallery, a fully operational art gallery housed within their second office location of Jersey City Heights.
The gallery presents a space for audiences to experience high quality, challenging, new artworks in a wide range of contemporary visual art media through solo/ group exhibitions, performances, publications and events.
PRIME gallery will feature works by artists near and far in six curated exhibitions a year by myself as well as guest Curators.
What makes PRIME Gallery unique?
The gallery marries the 2 worlds of art and real estate.
What is it like to be director of a gallery and a real estate sales partner?
I started my career as an Art Consultant, basically the business side of art. I have over 15 years experience, learned knowledge and love for the art world integrated with a fascination of the real estate world helped which helped me realize that these two worlds were not so different. I decided, why not do both? After all, real estate in itself is its own art form.
Having the art gallery puts me in a unique situation of being able to stand out from your everyday real estate agent.
How do you choose an artist for an exhibitions?
All different outlets. Everything from being networking with the local art scene to utilizing social media resources, predominantly Instagram.
Other than exhibitions, what type of events and activities do you offer at the gallery?
We offer the space as a venue for the community. We host everything from book signings to artist talks to networking/ marketing events and recently we started offering “Sunday Sessions”, one artist from the current exhibition is invited to create a new artwork in real-time.
What is the next step for the company/ What are your plans for the future?
As of right now we have 6 exhibitions a year with several linked events in between. Besides continuing this trend, we would like to take advantage of this unique space and host more community oriented events.
Are there any upcoming events our readers should know about?
Our next exhibition, “The Power Pop trio” will feature 3 local artists; Robert Piersanti, Kayt Hester and Joe Waks.
What are some of your favorite businesses in JC heights, besides PRIME?
For more information on PRIME Gallery visit www.PRIMEgallery.art