Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Shaper of Talent for a Changing Art World

Photo-Alex Aquesada for The New York Times
Nicola Vassell, a director at Deitch Projects in SoHo, NYC.

The NY Times like ARTmostfierce is doing series about the Art Market. The NY Times series is about people trying to begin careers in the arts and examine how that process may have changed over the years.

I thought this article written by Felicia Lee for the NY Times about Nicola Vassell The Gallery Director @ Deitch Projects is worth reading and rather inspirational...enjoy!

Published: February 2, 2009
The wall labels were missing. The inventory needed to be finished. And where was the sign for the shuttle bus to the gallery, a former warehouse west of the Wynwood art district in Miami? Just hours before the opening party for “It Ain’t Fair,” an exhibition of more than 30 emerging artists on the fringe of Art Basel Miami Beach, the glamorous, outsize international art fair held every year in early December, the O.H.W.O.W. gallery (for Our House West of Wynwood) was still strewn with forlorn boxes, the wall stacked with cases of beer that only hinted at the festivities to come.

This is the fourth in a series of articles that will follow people trying to begin careers in the arts and examine how that process may have changed over the years.

“No one will ever know,” Nicola Vassell, a director at the Deitch Projects gallery in Manhattan, said of the mess. Her comment was for Kathy Grayson, also a Deitch director and, like Ms. Vassell, one of several curators of “It Ain’t Fair.”

Ms. Vassell, 30, began working as an intern at Deitch in SoHo in 2005, when both optimism and price tags ran high. But by the time “It Ain’t Fair” was poised to open, on Dec. 2, the previous month had easily seen the worst two weeks in the art market in more than a decade. A tumbling stock market and cascading problems on Wall Street had made buyers scarce, as the contemporary art world pondered the impact of broader economic woes. Ms. Vassell, a former model and a Jamaican immigrant, found herself facing the question of how to build a career in a suddenly contracting industry.
There is no single tried-and-true path to the gallery door. In interviews, dealers, curators, museum directors and others say that many successful dealers have had a mentor, academic credentials, a passion for art, a head for business and high-gloss social skills for a world that marries the aesthetic and the commercial.

Many of the front-desk gallery faces in New York City have belonged to those with money and a family pedigree. They could afford low-paying entry-level positions, or were prized for their connections to wealthy collectors. While the art world has always been sprinkled with female dealers, it was for a long time dominated by white men.
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