Next up in our NYC gallery profile series is Marinaro. Lauren Marinaro is a resident NYC gallery expert who’s experienced more than a few openings, closings, and everything in between. She was a key member at Zach Feuer and Feuer/Mesler and recently took over the Feuer/Mesler space to found Marinaro on the Lower East Side (come September 2017, the gallery is relocating to Chinatown). Lauren shared her insight with us on these changing times for the small gallery game, when to trust your gut, and what it takes to be a woman in the business world.
AB: What role do you see small galleries having as opposed to the giants (Gagosian, Pace, etc)?
LM: Smaller galleries have the ability to discover new artists and give them their first shows. Giants like Gagosian and Pace can’t afford to show young and emerging artists because their gallery overhead is too high and they expect and perhaps are expected to do blockbuster shows of known artists. At the smaller level it’s exciting to find new artists and help them navigate their first exhibitions. I find that younger artists (or artists having their first show) are generally more excited and it’s fun to see that enthusiasm and perhaps small sense of naivete. Every artist that the larger galleries show has had a show at a smaller gallery, so they are extremely important to the art system.
AB: What are some challenges and rewards of being a small space?
LM: In line with the question above, showing younger artists also means you are introducing them to the market and art system, so you have to spend time encouraging collectors, curators and art world people to come in and spend time with the work and show them that it’s interesting and worthwhile. It’s extremely rewarding when a new artist the gallery is working with sells their first piece, gets a review or receives acknowledgment for their practice.
AB: How have shifts in the art market/gallery space affected artists’ trajectories?
LM: This is a complicated question because there is no singular model for an artist’s trajectory. I have noticed that even the large galleries have begun looking at younger artists who haven’t reached a huge amount of success as was common in the past. I think this has to do with their desire to remain relevant and interesting in order to entice artists at all levels to show with them. This can be hard for smaller galleries to compete with the extensive budgets of large galleries. I personally feel really excited when I see smaller galleries grow with the success of their artists and artists stick with their galleries. 47 Canal and their artists are a really inspiring example. Variety is what keeps the art world interesting and more galleries and artists being successful is beneficial for the art world.
AB: Why curating rather than making?
LM: I think that curating and being a gallerist is a choice, whereas making art is not a choice. It is an insane thing to wake up every morning and make objects, videos or create performances that have no intrinsic value to everyday life. The percentage of artists who ever get a show at Moma is obviously very low, so most artists create because they are internally driven to do so. I don’t think anyone can “choose” to be an artist as a career, it’s too difficult and takes too much of your soul, while for the large part resulting in very little pay. I can get down with a craft project, but I would never consider myself an artist. I like being a gallerist because I like the business end of it just as much as getting to look at amazing art every day and having interesting discussions with my colleagues.
AB: You’re looking for an emerging artist you’ve never shown to do a solo show. What’s the first thing you look at in the artist and their work?
LM: I have realized that it doesn’t work when you look for something, as cliche as it sounds, I have to feel something. There is art that I have liked and then during a studio visit I don’t have that urge to show it at the gallery and then sometimes I walk into a studio and don’t know much about the work and have a very strong feeling “I need to have this at the gallery”. There are obviously many variants between those two thoughts, but it comes down to a gut reaction. After that there is some logistical decisions, but it’s never about looking for a specific kind of work and then identifying an artist that makes it.
AB: How does being a woman in the male-dominated art world impact the way you do work?
LM: It doesn’t effect how I work in the sense of my drive, ambition and passion, but the nuanced social interactions are something women have to be more aware of than men. I think women are unfairly judged harsher than men in business, but this isn’t just an art world problem. If anything it pushes me to work harder and want to be more successful.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Lauren! We can’t wait to see more amazing feats from Marinaro. If you want to know more about Marinaro or ArtBinder, shoot us an email at email@example.com or find us on our social media accounts.