THE EXHIBITION OVERLOAD
SaSha Wolf: I had a brick-and-mortar
gallery for almost ten years and let go of
that space [in December 2016]. I have more
freedom, and I’ve been traveling a lot more
the past few months to go work with my artists
in their studios, wherever they are. That just
feels fabulous to me on a personal level.
The only thing that needs to be figured out
is how to satisfy my artists’ desire for a public
show. The answer to that seems to be that
I will have pop-up shows, and I’m actually
going to have one very soon.
The decision to get rid of my physical
space was not easy. That white box, where
you rotate shows every six, seven weeks:
It’s so deeply ingrained into culture and
the art world.
There are so many things that went into
the decision. One is that I started to enjoy
my experiences less with people coming in.
I found that people under a certain age
started coming in and photographing the
show and then leaving, instead of coming in
and really engaging with the work and with
me, asking questions. I have no judgment
about that whatsoever, but that experience
became less interesting for me.
My overhead was also getting really crazy,
and it was starting to feel suffocating financially.
The third factor was that it seemed like my
artists always felt like they had to have a show
every two years, that that became the industry
norm. No matter how many times I kept
telling my artists to relax and that this was
just a false paradigm, they really couldn’t get
away from it because it’s the way the industry
works. It started to feel not good, like I was
putting up too many shows that were not fully
baked. When you hang a show you want to
feel filled with pride. I started to feel there
were too many shows going up that were
good and not great.
There were a lot of other reasons to
close the brick-and-mortar space, but those
were the big ones. Now I feel free, and I am
working on all these other projects and am
much more productive. I’m selling more.
I’m more focused. I still represent my artists,
I still have all my clients and things continue,
but without the feeling of having to conform
to a certain standard.
FIND ART NOW
Mf: I made the move from Chelsea to the
Lower East Side. I started on Allen St., which
is a block away from Orchard Street, where I
am now. The amount of through traffic there
is really rich for me, and I have found that I’ve
made converts of people who just happen to
walk by the space and come in and buy work.
I have really big storefront windows.
Having [them] is very important to my
business. I had a panorama [by photographer]
Wyatt Gallery in my window, it was $12,000.
I sold it to some people I’d never met [before].
They saw it from the street, we talked about
it, the deal was closed at the end of the day.
They don’t know Wyatt, they don’t know
Foley, they just saw it and walked in. Sold.
I still think that the gallery provides a
platform for physical interaction between
two people. One is the art seller, the other
is the art buyer. If I don’t have that, I think
I’m missing a big tool in the toolbox. But at
the end of the day, it’s going to come [down]
to economics. If it comes to the point where
my rent is so high that I don’t care how
many walk-ins I get, it doesn’t pay, then
I do feel that it’s an important step for an
artist’s completion of that body of work to
actually show it in a public space. It allows
for a kind of celebration on their part. It also
allows for critical valuation. That’s the
one thing that I don’t think will occur if an
exhibition isn’t in place—it’s not going to get
reviewed, and it’s not going to have a critical
dialogue. The gallery, the brick-and-mortar
space, allows for that.
“ I THINK THE ABILITY TO
BUY ART ONLINE HAS HAD
A MASSIVE EFFECT ON THE
INDUSTRY IN WAYS PEOPLE
DON’T REALIZE. I SAID A LONG
TIME AGO THE INTERNET
WAS GOING TO AFFECT US
AS MUCH AS ANY RETAILER.”
— SaSha Wolf © W
MICHAEL FOLEY opened
Foley Gallery in 2004
after working for galleries
including Fraenkel Gallery
and Yancey Richardson.
He has taught at the
School of Visual Arts
and the International
Center of Photography.
SASHA WOLF runs Sasha Wolf Projects,
a private art space. In addition to
dealing art, she is currently consulting
on photo books, exhibitions and
other collaborations with artists,
and also consults individually with
photographers, providing critiques
and advice on editing, sequencing and
presenting work to the art market.