Thursday, April 25, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
Genea Barnes of the blog, Broken.me stopped by Varnish to talk to Jen and Kerri about their thoughts on the San Francisco art scene and running a contemporary art gallery in the City by the Bay.
Chatting with Jen Rogers & Kerri Stephens of Varnish Fine Art (San Francisco)
Kerri Stephens: I didn’t go to art school, I just went to a (state) university. They had a good art program. Right after school I went to work in a bronze foundry in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And, it ended up being a bronze foundry here in Berkeley where Jen and I met. We were doing sculpture, and meeting a ton of amazing sculptors, some big-time sculptors. We did work for , Nathan Oliveira
JR: We were seeing not so many places showing the kind of artwork that we like, so we figured hey, we’re just always going to show what we like. We still do, and people love it, so it worked. It was a gamble at first because a lot of the galleries that we went to, we weren’t really digging it. And yet, we were working at the foundry, and hanging out with all of our art friends and seeing incredible artwork produced all the time. It just wasn’t in galleries.
KS: And our kind of M.O. (in curating) is (showing) stuff that we like, art that is really provocative, and a little edgy, stuff that makes people think about art a little bit more, not just stuff that people can hang on their parent's walls; stuff that we feel was and is important socially, and politically. We really try to stick to our guns about showing that kind of artwork.
Well, I think there’s a few different communities in the city. It seems like every time you’re talking about "the art scene" you’ve got the old school, the middle school, and the new school coming in. I think in San Francisco, there’s still a lot of really big control by the old-school art community. You’ve got the old ceramicists movement from the 60′s and 70′s, they’re still big and strong here. You’ve got the big 49 Geary galleries that are still showing a lot of that kind of work, and the SFMoMA that’s still pretty conceptual in its ideas of what kind of art they’re bringing in and what kind of art they’re looking for the new
KS: Well, I don’t know too much. It seems like it’s a little bit tougher here, and everybody sticks together a little more, it seems like the artists support each other a lot here. I don’t know so much about LA and New York, if they are so supportive of each other.
JR: I know for the galleries, we’ve got some very supportive art dealer friends here, New York, and all over the country. I feel like our East Coast friends really appreciate talking to us because we’re just so real about everything. It’s nice to just really be real. It’s a different kind of industry. The kind of meetings that we have-- I laugh sometimes because I think if this was a board meeting at some huge corporation, the same feelings would be going on in the room, but nobody would say anything about it. It’s just super nice. We’re in the business of making people happy, and some people get that, and some people don’t. It just depends on where people's heads are at, if they’re an artist or a dealer.
JR: I think a lot of people think that it’s easy to be doing what we’re doing. I think that part of our job is to make look easy, and I think that goes for the artist too. They make it look easy because they are so good at it. It’s tough. It’s hard. Most of the time it’s completely wonderful, but when people assume that everyone’s just sort of hanging out and smoking pot in their studio, it pisses off an artist. If they assume the same thing about us, (that we're) just sitting there examining our glittering diamonds, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just funny, once people get it and understand, then it’s the happy place to go. It’s tough to get across to a lot of people in a lot of places in America, especially that nobody’s going to slap you across the face for not knowing who an artist is when you walk into a gallery. So for ten years we’ve been trying to get everyone to understand not to be scared. I wear jeans every day here, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’ll dress up for an event, but its not like walking into a bank.
KS: I think that’s the hard part about America, it’s sort of our job to remind everyone how important art is, and how we all need it in our lives.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Friday, April 5, 2013