Running a gallery in the 21st century

Interview  /  Galleries
Published: 22.02.2015
Running a gallery in the 21st century.
Maria João Jerónimo
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Owner Allison Barnett modeling Atelier Zobel. Photocredit: Peter Ogilvie Photography©, 2014..
Owner Allison Barnett modeling Atelier Zobel. Photocredit: Peter Ogilvie Photography©, 2014.

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Patina Gallery is one of the the most successful galleries nowadays, presenting not only wearable jewellery but also works from other artistic fields. In an interview with the director Ivan Barnett we sought to understand the focus of the gallery and all the work behind a business of this scale.
Patina is one of the most successful galleries in America, operating with a very well-planned business model. How do you balance all the professional matters with the "soul-stirring" aesthetic that you utter so much?
Patina continually strives to have fun while engaging in its business practices. 2015 is our sixteenth year in business. A large part of our mission is to be as creative in business matters as we are as artists. Most of our staff are also artists in one form or another: painters, photographers, sculptors, writers and printmakers. It is a misnomer that art and business cannot live side by side, however a great amount of internal self-discipline is required. (The history of Apple with its creative director Mr. Jobs is a beautiful example of this, as is Pixar Studios).
I believe that as Patina’s director, I inhabit a unique role given that I am also a practicing studio artist and have been for four decades. I grew up watching both my parents be full-time artists and business people. Lastly, Patina has a wide circle of professionals that assist in managing all aspects of the "soul stirring" experience. These business allies are always there, monitoring our creative activities regardless of their experimental enterprises.

What motivated you to cover diverse fields of art and not focus on just one?
Body adornment even at large scales is relatively small. Patina’s ever-changing eclectic mix of  fine art allows the gallery visitor to take a breath and rest the eyes. This also gives us, Patina’s curators, an opportunity to represent new areas of art and design that we love from around the world. The gallery itself is 2000 sq. ft. in size.

Who is your target audience and what means do you use to reach new markets?
Patina’s target audience is an international one. Visitors globally are attracted to Santa Fe. The average age of our client is 50 years. They are sophisticated in their tastes, well-traveled, affluent, and only want the very best, most authentic works in the world. Our gallery visitors expect to be consumed by beauty from the second they set foot in our door. Usually they have been sent by one of our loyal fans who have already visited the gallery.  
Both traditional marketing and advertising are used to promote the gallery, while at the same time many unconventional strategies are employed. We also embrace our local and regional arts community with many unusual social events. Internationally, Patina has a reputation for being the place to visit for the extraordinary. New clients find their way to our doorstep every day. Several social media platforms have also been adopted for spreading the Patina word! We attract confident, strong, independent-minded men and women. We are a fashion forward arts business.

What criteria do you use to select "the best" for the gallery? How can an art piece be outstanding in contemporary times?
A simple personal criteria is used to make our selections. First and foremost we must love what we are reviewing. So you might say that the pieces in the gallery must be pleasing and beautiful to our eyes first. Great works must have the elements of the following:  strong design with sensitivity to form and function, well crafted and constructed, and if works are wearable, they need to be comfortable and well fitting to the body. Patina’s clients do not merely collect works, they insist on having them be quite wearable. They ask themselves, “how does it feel against skin?”

How does the gallery prepare itself for the constant changes in the contemporary art world and for the future of art? Does Patina Gallery set the future or present the "now?”
Patina tends not to be concerned with the future of contemporary art. Art trends have little impact on our decisions for the gallery. 

"Now is the future and the future is now"   "Patina= Beauty(over) Time"

Global business trends do impact our decisions especially the ever-changing way the consumer embraces information and also how and why they choose to consume art. In 2016, fifty percent of the world’s wealth will be held by only one-half of the one percent of the world’s wealthiest. Patina’s goal is to educate itself as to how to speak with them.

What are your expectations about the future of art? What is missing in the field?
I really don't have any expectations about the future of art. Regarding what is missing in the wearable and jewelry arts, I wish more makers would consider the importance of beauty, craftsmanship and wearability when approaching their studio practices. The sign of a great wearable object is the beholder’s passion to wear it many times over, under many different circumstances.
The history of adornment worldwide is filled with the wearers’ quest for enhancement or beauty, even if relative. Many makers today seem compelled to shock their audience in an effort to be noticed. What they’re missing is the element of beauty! I ask the woman reading this article right now, do you want to feel beautiful when you put a piece of jewelry on your body? What I would say about Patina’s future is this: by 2018 Patina will be the number one gallery of its kind in the world!

A message to all the young artists, hoping to have a place in Patina Gallery:
If an artist would like to be considered for Patina, they should ask themselves if what they are making is amazing and beautiful. Do their works have a voice? What would Picasso or Calder say about them?
Atelier Zobel pieces for Patina’s August 2014 exhibition, 100 Rings. .
Atelier Zobel pieces for Patina’s August 2014 exhibition, 100 Rings. 

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American artist Claire Kahn with her serpentine crocheted necklaces, available exclusively at Patina..
American artist Claire Kahn with her serpentine crocheted necklaces, available exclusively at Patina.

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Some admiring Patina Gallery patrons during a summer exhibition..
Some admiring Patina Gallery patrons during a summer exhibition.

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