Chelsea gallery owner discusses the trends of dealing art

Mitchell Famulare, Arts Editor

Union alumna Ellie Rines ’10, owner of the gallery 56 Henry in New York City, visited Professor Lorraine Cox’s class “The Business of Visual Art & Contemporary Entrepreneurship” and discussed the art of dealing creative work. Throughout Cox’s class, students have been exposed to numerous speakers, surveying the variety of opportunities the art world has to offer.

Located on 56 Henry Street in Chinatown, New York City, the gallery has a very small exhibition space, representing artists such as Al Freeman, Anna Weyant, Cynthia Talmadge, Nikita Gale and Richard Tinkler.

Rines had the dream of owning her own gallery space forever, doing anything in her power to secure a space and promoting it to the best of her abilities. Her first space was a fire escape. Rines described how she once had to live in the loft behind a gallery space and keep storage in her shower for some months in order to pursue her passion for the arts.

55 Gansevoort was Rines’s first official space, exhibiting up-and-coming artists that she scouted out. Rines elaborated on how she tends to exhibit lesser known artists as she likes to witness their growing success over time, as well as stay ahead of trends.

She stated that “people are obsessed with buying the next young artist.” Galleries often scout out these artists through graduate school art shows, where these artists have already established a name for themselves in the art world.

Traveling across the globe, Rines discussed the relationships she has with the artists she represents. She explained how it is very rare for the dealer to take agency over the way an artist’s work is displayed, stressing how her role is for the promotion of the artist and not the other way around.

While the best place for an artists is an institution like a museum, Rines explained how an artist’s career is extremely unpredictable. Rines elaborated on how “visual culture can shift drastically.”

With the 2016 election, Rines expressed how there is now more of a demand for women artists as well as black artists, which was not seen during Obama’s presidency. She explained how when communities find that they are represented well in society, there is a lesser demand for art surrounding these communities.

However, when said communities feel as if they are not being represented well in society or feel as if their voice is not being heard, an influx of this art occurs. Rines talked of “fads” in the art world and explained how the dynamic between a dealer and their artist must be organic. When dealers promote art that they themselves are not passionate about, it is evident in their sales pitch and hurts the gallery as a whole.

Artist LaKela Brown’s “Surface Possessions” is currently on display at 56 Henry with press in the New York Times, artnet News and Cultured.