Artwire: Member Features

Advice from Members Who Are Work From Home Pros

Caitlin Berry, Washington DC
Art Advisor

Caitlin Berry, Caitlin Berry Fine Art

How do you stay inspired and motivated when at home?
My art world colleagues keep me motivated every day when working from home. A phone call just to say hi can often turn into a conversation about how to collaborate on business. A quick motivational text make all the difference when you’re an office of one!

Go to snack?
Apple slices and almond butter. Although, I secretly have a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ready for especially stressful moments.

Do you have a morning ritual?
First thing when I wake up, I write in my “6 Minute Diary” which keeps me focused on gratitude (so important in these times!). It makes me literally write down how I’m going to make the day great and who can argue with that? Too often I look at my phone first thing which only spurs on anxiety. Writing keeps me focused on the positive.

What’s your top WFH tip? Take breaks! The natural interruptions that occur in an office setting allow you to shift gears in your mind, so it’s important to schedule in time to take a walk, do some home exercise, meditate or look at @jerrygogosian’s instagram account for some art world levity. 

How do you schedule your day? I try to do business “housekeeping” in the morning and business getting/marketing in the afternoon, but it doesn’t always work out this way. COVID-era WFH leaves a lot of creative time up for grabs that I would otherwise be using for in person meetings or travel, so it’s nice to be able to focus on projects that feel like they’ve been on the back burner. 

Anything else to add? Stay connected! Social distancing does not have to mean disconnection. Check in on your colleagues and friends and send them funny videos and memes!

Monica Espinel, New York
Independent Curator

Monica Espinel, Independent Curator

Where in your home do you work?
I have a desk in the living room (allows me to work late into the night or early mornings if needed), with a reading lamp, a large screen that I plug my laptop into, and a toy unicorn. On the wall above I have two small paintings by Paloma Bosque.

What’s your top WFH tip?
Silence your phone when you need concentration. Use a timer if you need to get a lot done. I use the pomodoro technique.

How do you schedule your day?
Hard to say, every day is different. Roughly, I work from 10-5 (whether it’s meetings, reading & writing, or studio visits, museum/gallery going). Then it’s kids time until 9. Some nights I work until midnight if I have more to do, or go to openings, dinner, etc.

What’s your favorite snack?
Gooseberries and chocolate chip cookies

Anything else to add?
There is a song I listen to on repeat when I‘m in the last stages of writing, “Shades of marble” by Trentemoller. It became a sort of ritual when I was working on a show called The Skin I Live In (it’s in the soundtrack of the film that inspired the show) and it stuck.

Donna Enad Napper, Northern California
Art Consultant

What’s your WFH Top Tip?
It’s important for me to actually take a “real” nourishment break for lunch or an afternoon snack even when I might not have much time for either one. Taking a nourishment break around the same time each day helps give me some sense of structure and I’m less likely to snack randomly several times during the day. For this, my thighs thank me. This practice means not being in front of my computer taking incremental bites while working, which has been my habit for years working outside the home. It took me a few months, but I had to learn to eat healthier while working at home and now I do.

Truth be told, there are times when my computer is nearby and within glancing distance but I try to make a habit of physically removing myself from the stationary position in front of the screen and give my eyes, brain, and body a break even if I don’t have much time for lunch. If I skip lunch and have only 5-10 minutes to put something in my stomach, I still try to practice taking a physical break. We can’t forget about taking care of our bodies which will help sustain us so that we’re able to do our jobs.

Do you have a morning ritual?
After many years of reaching for my laptop upon awakening in the morning, it took working from home to break me from that habit. I learned the hard way that by not centering myself first thing in the morning I can easily and quickly getting myself riled up, from reading the latest disheartening political news or opening a work email to a “fire” that needs to be put out that day. My reaction to the supposed fire is that it’s imperative I put it out now, with no time to even wash my face! Next thing you know, I get caught up in work, the day has gone by, and wait a minute…did I wash my face?

I find that what I might misconstrue as requiring my urgent response can often wait until after I have a quiet morning with my daily cup of chai tea, and possibly after a little yoga and breakfast as well. If I must reach for something to set my eyes upon after waking, I reach for one of the several books I have bedside that will be soul-enriching. Even if I have only 15 minutes, getting into the habit of having a calming morning ritual before starting any work will help set a better tone for the day, and possibly the week.

Anything else?
Now that we are becoming skilled at video conferencing, here’s food for thought. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, which I am too young to be, my final tip is that I suggest making at least a minimal effort to look neat and presentable…to be interpreted as you wish. I know we are all in the same boat and it’s not necessary to dress as if we’re going on a job interview, but I think it does show a degree of respect to others. Untidiness in yourself and/or your surroundings (which we also see) can be distracting.

Appraising at a Distance:
Working from Home as an Appraiser

Linda Selvin, New York
Executive Director, Appraisers Association of America, Inc.

Can you describe your set-up? Where are you?

I am working remotely from Long Island, returning to the city every two weeks to check on mail, etc.  We had gone paperless several years ago so it was an easy transition to begin to work from home.  I hold “staff meetings” each morning to stay connected to them and set out our goals for the day.  After the initial scramble to reset our workplace, I have found that I am now able to tackle projects that I would not have been so quick to address.  

How are you keeping in touch with clients and staying updated on projects? 

My clients are my members and supporters, many who have been with the Appraisers Association since the 70’s and 80’s.  I’ve made calls to most of them; checking in to ensure that they are well and managing during this time. We also are holding ‘Coffee Hours”, which are casual web-based gatherings to share updates on appraisal practices during this time, information on available support, and just to connect.  It’s great to see and hear from each other. The casual format allows for everyone to relax and provides a sense of connection. I thoroughly enjoy them. 

Our Annual Awards Luncheon had to be cancelled, but most other in-person events are now virtual. We found that many people had not taken courses online before so we have dedicated a lot of time getting people familiar with the platform so that they too could participate.

Can you describe the aspects of your job that you can move online? 

All aspects of my work are now done remotely.   All committee meetings, board meetings, and classes, including our summer intensive course, the Comprehensive Appraisal Studies Program, which is usually held during the month of July in New York City, will now be held online.   

We will also be holding our annual conferences- Art Law Day and the National Conference- planned for November, online.  This is providing us with an opportunity to design a different and exciting format and to develop a program that would appeal to a more diverse audience.  It’s an opportunity to get creative and innovative.  

How is the appraisal process going from home? 

Many of the appraisals that are currently being conducted are on works that had been previously seen in-person or that will now be examined virtually.  Facetime is a valuable tool to an appraiser at this moment.  If the work was seen virtually, the appraisal report will need to clearly explain why it was examined using this method.  The I.R.S. was specific about the need to explain, explain, and explain. 

 Is there a moment that sticks out that you would like to share? 

There are two events during our time of PAUSE in PLACE that stand out for me.  The first was at the start, when I needed to make sure that my staff and my members were handling the vast changes that were taking place: what were their concerns, were they healthy, how I can help. The second moment that stands out for me is dealing with the grief that we are experiencing from the number of people that we have lost. 

Do you have any advice for other AT members valuing or taking care of pieces at home?

At this time, I would recommend that all collections be valued, but recognizing that the market will change in 6 months to a year, and that the appraisal should be updated.   

Sarah Ann Wilson, Philadelphia
Accredited Appraiser, Appraisers Association of America

Can you describe your set-up? Where are you? 

I am usually working from my home office in Philadelphia just two blocks away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art Library but with the shutdown, decided to take the long duration to quarantine in rural Pennsylvania, which is surrounded by mountains and the best medicine, nature.  

How are you keeping in touch with clients and staying updated on projects? 

Not much has changed as far as daily communication and appraisal practice. I always communicate by phone when I can and email to exchange images and information needed to complete appraisals when I am unable to physically inspect works in person. While it is always preferred to examine works in person, most artwork and antiques can be appraised from detailed photographs and working closely with the client to gather all necessary information regarding provenance. It can be a fun learning experience for both you and the client. 

Can you describe the aspects of your job that you can move online? 

My appraisal practice started 10 years ago, when almost anything could be found online if you knew where to look. While working online is not uncommon for my practice, the most valuable resource is my network of other reliable scholars, appraisers and auction house professionals who are all eager to help one another and stay connected through these uncertain times.  

How is the appraisal process going from home?

I know this time is affording many of us the opportunity to get projects done that we may not have otherwise had the time to get to. It is also a time to reflect on the things we surround ourselves with and choose to live with. I have noticed this with my clients who are reaching out for appraisals or advice on selling and encourage others to use this time wisely. With appraisers working remotely, many are more accessible than ever, it only takes a few minutes to take and send an image for some feedback. Why not get a second opinion on your most prized family heirlooms while you have the time? 

Is there a moment that sticks out that you would like to share? 

I was one of the 16-20 some million people laid off due to Covid-19 last month and was initially anxious by all the sudden changes. Instead I chose to embrace it and immediately created a basic website to share with friends and colleagues. I contacted a local artist run print shop to have personal business cards made and to help support another small business in the process. I received my first few jobs as an independent appraiser and am using this time to slowly build my own business. 

What sorts of challenges for collectors do you predict down the line?

This moment in time is proving that many collectors are comfortable buying without physical access to the things they are collecting. Everyone has the time to skim online catalogues and source for items of interest, so you have to be a step ahead and have knowledge about the things you are looking at. Use the internet to your advantage and educate yourself on the objects you collect and know what questions to ask the vendors. 

Do you have any advice for other AT members valuing or taking care of pieces at home?

Make sure your appraisals are up to date and work with a USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) compliant appraiser. It is recommended that you update insurance appraisals every three-five years. Even if you are not interested in a formal appraisal, getting a second opinion can help you determine the best approach to keeping your valuables protected. 

ArtWire: Members With Dogs

Courtney McNeil, Savannah, GA
Chief Curator & Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Telfair Museums

Can you describe your set-up? Who’s your canine companion, what’s their name, breed?

We closed my museum to the public on March 13, so since then I’ve been sheltering in place at home with my family, which includes our two Siberian Huskies, Trot and Tessie. I live out in suburbia, so we are fortunate to have a fair amount of space to stretch out. Lately I have been taking advantage of the great weather we’re having in the Southeast and have been working outside on my porch. I typically work during normal business hours, and I have been trying to cut back on the late-night work—nobody ever likes getting emails from their boss at 11 pm, and I’m guessing even less so during the stress of a global pandemic.

How are you achieving and maintaining a routine? How do you keep peace and take calls? 

My huskies aren’t typically big barkers, but they “talk” when they’re feeling neglected, which seems to always happen when I’m in a Zoom meeting. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty quick with the mute button, so as long as I can keep a straight face and keep nodding along, most of the time my colleagues don’t have to be subjected to the dogs’ noise! But for a serious phone call you’ll usually find me sitting on the floor of my closet, which allows me to keep three closed doors between me and the chaos.

Do you have any advice for other AT member pet moms at home?

While I certainly don’t have it all figured out, the advice I would offer is to cut yourself and your pets some extra slack—yes, the dogs are misbehaving and crying for more attention—it’s due to the stress of this change in their routine. And yes, you probably feel more overwhelmed and irritable with them than usual—again, that’s only natural given these trying times. Just take some deep breaths, go on some extra walks, and remember that it’s OK if pet parenting feels extra hard right now. We’re all in this together, and we’re all doing our best!

Lisa Gold, New York, NY
Executive Director, Asian American Arts Alliance

Can you describe your set-up? Who’s your canine companion, what’s their name, breed?

I’ve rediscovered my desk! I try to make a point to eat at the dining room table and work from my desk. In a small apartment, demarcating space makes a difference psychologically. Maka, my Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, loves to sit with me in my desk chair. She’s used to coming to work with me, but she has her own bed under my desk at work. At home, she never sits in her own bed.

How are you achieving and maintaining a routine? How do you keep peace and take calls? 

I have a Zoom check in call with the A4 team first thing every morning so I have to be somewhat presentable. Maka is used to walking at least three times a day and that helps me remember to get up and move. It’s actually very quiet in my apartment, which is in a small building. The sirens have slowed down quite a bit and almost 1/3 of my neighbors are quarantining elsewhere.

Any new walks, new tricks? 

Unfortunately, the only new thing Maka is doing is hiding under my bed at the 7 PM salute to essential workers. She hates the noise. But we have been walking all over the neighborhood and discovered lots of lovely places, like the waterfront mini park by Basketball City.

Do you have any advice for other AT member pet moms at home?

I think getting out and walking regularly is so important — for everyone’s health! Vitamin D and exercise are great antidotes to Zoom call marathons. I haven’t figured out how to make her wear a mask or practice social distancing, though. 🙂 I guess my idea of “Mommy and Me” masks for dogs and dog moms won’t be my ticket to an early retirement after all.

Gina Broze, Seattle, WA
Owner, smArt Rights

Can you describe your set-up? Who’s your canine companion, what’s their name, breed?

I’ve worked at home since starting my business about 5 years ago, and my dog Giovanni – a 12 year old Yorkshire Terrier (insta: @gogogiogo) – is an integral team member! After starting my home office with a laptop, dining room chair and a repurposed kitchen table, I quickly realized that having a desk, real office chair, large monitor, full keyboard, and ergonomic things like a foot rest, keyboard and mouse pad, were essential. Just skip the terrible back and neck pain, and set up a real work spot as soon as you can. I picked a bright area of my house, with windows, and things outside I don’t mind looking at. This happens to be off my kitchen, and is on view to anyone who visits me. This is ok with me, as I am the one who has to use it all-day, every-day, and if people are coming over, I’m ok with tidying it up and leaving it on view. This isn’t so much an issue at the moment, however. 

How are you achieving and maintaining a routine? How do you keep peace and take calls? 

Integral team member, Giovanni is the best at routines. He gets up at 6:30am and wants breakfast by 7am. For him a walk after breakfast is really important. He likes to walk very slowly, sniff every blade of grass, check in with his neghiborhood friends, and do some business. I call this “reading the paper”. It is impossible to be impatient with him, even if I know I have a busy day. He is stubborn and makes the walk rules. But this means I’m normally at my desk between 8 and 9am. He then happily naps at my feet until he needs to go outside again. Lunch is at 2pm – he lets me know it is time. I am not good at routines, and Giovanni is very important in this respect – he reminds me to be on-time, eat, stand-up, go outside, and take walks at regular intervals. 

How are you achieving and maintaining a routine? How do you keep peace and take calls? 

Gio is very good, and normally only interrupts if it is important to go outside immediately, or if it is almost time to eat. And everyone I’ve been on a phone call with has been very nice about any interruptions. He makes regular appearances on all video calls. It helps that he is adorable.

I’m not sure if I have gotten more inventive during this time – but I have been consciously more forgiving to myself and my feelings. There have definitely been some days I haven’t felt like working, or days I just don’t seem to be able to get anything done. Everyone is feeling similarly I think, and so far every one of my clients has been forgiving as well. It’s important that we give ourselves the space to adjust and process this weirdness.

Do you have any advice for other AT member pet moms at home?

Overall, I think the basics – setting up a nice, comfortable place to work, and having a routine – are the most important things I’ve done since I’ve started working from home. It is so easy to let work blend with the rest of your life and your space – and you should let it – but only in so far as is healthy for you, and works for you. 

Here is a trick I’ve taught Gio during quarantine!

Community Engagement in A Virtual World

Julia Elizabeth Neal
Visiting Lecturer of African American Art History, Georgia State University

How have you managed to stay engaged with your community during quarantine? Any advice for members in doing so?         

Healthfully. Screen burnout is real; consecutive meetings on so many different platforms is exhausting. Thanks to professionalizing tips I’ve internalized in graduate school, I limit how accessible I am to the never-ending unfolding of life on the internet. I check my emails within a specific timeframe. Of course I deviate occasionally. I’m human. However, so much is happening with such ease of a button or tap that one can blink dazilly and be surprised by how much time they invested in bookmarking all the exciting events, online conversations, tense news from the art world and politics, self-learning about political activism, among many more things both personal and public.          

I have a cautious but healthy relationship to social media as well, and I approach it much like I do when carving out specific time with emails. There’s this interesting accusation sometimes exhaled into the internet vacuum that moralizes sociality and para social relationships on social media: that, somehow, if you do not comment on that user’s current platform within the spirit of the moment, that your silence is complicity. This, of course, is a criticism limited by its sight on a single platform and a reality/digital binary. Not only does it erase one’s chosen platform or their individual ways to embrace visibility but it also elides how their invisibility could be part of a strategy of self-preservation. So, I do respect people’s decisions to be seen when and how they want, or “being present where you wish to disappear” in the words of Nana Adusei-Poku and their brilliant essay on the complicated matrix of seeing and being seen amid claims or demands for equity and inclusion of Black lives.          

On a lighter note, luckily enough, my transition to interactions within digital spaces was seamless–mostly. The occasional screen freeze and slew of other internet failures humanizes the experience in some way. Online events have increased accessibility for me, as I am privileged with dependable internet and technology. Art spaces’ adaptations to the internet resulted in now being able to attend events stateside and around the world. I do hope that these many recorded events remain accessible online for the long-term, so that more people have opportunities to witness them when they can. 
Personally, most of my life is local. I am a CSA member with Aluma Farms; I purchase all of my books through Charis Books & More (the nation’s oldest feminist bookstore according to Atlanta Magazine), and so forth. I only use Amazon for public library book checkouts, mostly, and I rarely shop online these days. I just learned about Free99Fridge (@free9fridge), which just opened two public fridges to address food insecurity in my neighborhood, and I look forward to bringing in donations. I came to these and other organizations/events slowly, and I give when I can and show up when I can. But I refuse to overextend myself so that I can be most helpful when I do show up. These issues in the USA specifically are chronic and have been for centuries.

My suggestion for members would be to better understand your skill set so that you can identify your lane clearly, be honest, humble, patient and empathetic. But also have boundaries. 

What does community engagement in the arts look like for you? How do you think this has changed during quarantine?           

This is an interesting question, because community engagement appears so fundamentally different in the three major cities I’ve lived in (Boston, Austin, and Atlanta). Many collectives and spaces are emerging in Atlanta to fill gaps institutionally and in terms of professional and collegial support. If anything, I think artists have more time to sharpen their career by spending more time identifying their audience and the spaces they wish to be in, and scholars and curators are dealing obviously with the many throes of a rough economy, too.

Most definitely, the conversations people have now that art spaces have timed tickets are different–everyone’s concerned about their livelihood and the livelihood of careers in the many, many art worlds around us. 

What are some of your favorite organizations/groups that you think are doing great work for their local arts community?

Black Women in the Visual Arts, of course, co-founded by Lauren Jackson-Harris and Daricia Mia DeMarr. They have quite the robust social media presence; TILA Studios, which is a member-led group for Black women artists in the city is doing good work. Dr. Fahamu Pecou’s ADAMA, or African Diaspora Art Museum, has held some wonderful social media events that highlight creatives and very important figures to the fabric of the artworld locally and worldwide.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art has built a commendable legacy over the years of highlighting important work, curatorial and scholarly interventions. Southern Fried Queer Pride is a wonderful source of arts and music in Atlanta. In June they reached their goal of $55K to have a brick and mortar space, and after checking their GoFundMe, so many believe in its cause and their programming that they’re now at $122K. I regret that I must limit this so as to finish it, but Atlanta has so much to offer right now for very entrepreneurial and inventive ways of organizing and being a group in the local arts community. 

Any additional thoughts? 
Does anyone end this with a quote? I suspect I’ve already exceeded the word count. So to simplify things, this quote from nayyirah waheed’s book of poems, salt., always inspires me: “trust your work.”

Allison Gee, Fine Art Appraiser
Allison Gee Fine Art Appraisals

How have you managed to stay engaged with your community during quarantine? Any advice for members in doing so?

I prefer one-on-one communications, so I have spent a lot of time emailing, texting and directly speaking with my community on the phone.  I also have been sending hand-written notes, and I have found that folks really enjoy receiving actual mail in their snail mail! 

What does community engagement in the arts look like for you? How do you think this has changed during quarantine?

My normal community engagement included gallery and museum openings, lectures and fundraisers.  I also traveled for appraisal conferences and educational courses, and I had my own speaking engagements.

My calendar used to be very full, and it has definitely taken time to adjust to our new reality.  I think that the most important thing now is to be present for my community, and that presence takes on different forms for different individuals, galleries or institutions.  For example, I receive many calls from collectors who want to sell their art.  I can refer these collectors to specific gallerists or auction houses who are part of my community and do my small part in helping to support these businesses.

What are some of your favorite organizations/groups that you think are doing great work for their local arts community?
I have been blown away by the responses of ArtTable, my appraisal organizations, ASA and ISA, and many museums such as the Phoenix Art Museum for their immediate and thoughtful approaches to keep us all going when it seemed as though the world might actually stop.  ArtTable never missed a beat and found ways to seamlessly translate all services and benefits from the organization to virtual reality.    

More than that though, you also developed creative and informative ways to keep the community engaged.  ArtTable’s Member Mondays are something that I have really enjoyed.  I love reading all of the stories of these fierce women who ArtTable has profiled.  These are members who I probably never would have had the opportunity to meet in real life, so it’s nice knowing that they are out there in the universe making their own mark.

Susan McCalmont
Founder/Director, Objet Trouvé

How have you managed to stay engaged with your community during quarantine? Any advice for members in doing so?

I opened my new gallery, Objets Trouvé in Oklahoma City, November 9th, and then closed to the public a short four months later on March 9th with the advent of Covid-19.

The ramp-up to the gallery opening, and throughout the first four months of operation, we connected our cadre of consigned local artists with collectors, community artists and supporters primarily through opening events and artist talks. During the next four months of total quarantine, I organized weekly Friday zoom conversations for the consigned artists. Quickly, the artists asked if other artist friends could join and before long we had a wide network of international artists, arts organization professionals and educators engaged in stimulating conversations.

These zoom conversations were so successful due to long-term relationships and trust between many of the presenters and facilitators. We had scheduled an exhibition in April with work by a Northern Irish artist who had planned to ship her work and be with us in person for two weeks conducting workshops and studio visits with our artists. The first zoom meetings were actually very informal zoom studio visits between the Irish artist and our consigned artists conducted as though she was here with us. Lasting relationships and conversations have been forged now between Northern Ireland artists and Oklahoma artists.

The most unexpected and creative outcome for us was a major digital pivot during lockdown to sell art and engage with collectors on three digital platforms, virtual viewing rooms and through an aggressive social media strategy to share and build support. We also found interest from some of the international artists who had joined our conversation network to consign with us and now have a larger roster of amazing artists!

What does community engagement in the arts look like for you? How do you think this has changed during quarantine?

I think that community engagement in the arts is built on the foundation of relationships between the artists creating the work and those who love and appreciate the artists and their creations, and the impact these creations have on us individually and corporately in our shared environments.

During the Covid lockdown, our normal outlets for these engagements in the form of gallery openings, First Friday gallery walks, installations, museum exhibition openings and gallery visits were all shut down and closed to us. So, the opportunity to intentionally create online, and in open spaces, safe spaces for conversation and engagement, has forced us to communicate and learn differently. Hopefully, all of these newly created avenues for conversation and expression will be open to us post-Covid

What are some of your favorite organizations/groups that you think are doing great work for their local arts community?

Financial support for our non-profit arts organizations is always a concern and in a fragile economic environment, it’s even more difficult for arts and cultural entities to find stability. Many years ago, a united fund for the non-profit arts organizations in central Oklahoma was created to both provide annual operation and endowment support for those organizations. The Allied Arts Foundation is one of my favorite organizations providing core support for these organizations.

I also believe strongly in the work of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition that provides education and growth opportunities for visual artists in the state

Any additional thoughts?

Although this has been a difficult time of isolation for everyone, I believe that many are realizing how important their creativity is — it’s really become a lifeline for many looking introspectively at developing new thoughts and ideas and looking externally at how to implement and share those ideas to make a difference in the world!

I lost a dear friend and mentor last week, Sir Ken Robinson, who led a global movement for the importance of creativity in our daily lives. He encouraged us all to unite through creative endeavors and across diverse lines to listen, learn, and share our ideas with one another to come up with new solutions to our shared community issues.

In honor of Sir Ken, I encourage us all to make a new commitment to ‘Creativity’ and our place in sharing our creative thoughts and work with others to re-create our worlds!

**Sir Ken Robinson was author of “The Element,” “Out of Our Minds,” and was recognized as the number one TED talk speaker of all time with his talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” He passed away on August 21, 2020 in London.

Joining ArtTable During the Pandemic

Alexia-Zoe Hirschtritt
Owner + Appraiser, AZH Appraisals

What made you join ArtTable?

I started with ArtTable as a mentee in 2016 with the mentor x mentee program here in the Florida chapter. I so enjoyed meeting all the fabulous members and learning from female art professionals but unfortunately it was only for 1 year. After that I tried to go to events accessible to me but there were only a few. I began working as an appraiser assistant in the meantime. Now that I have gained more experience as an art business professional I decided it was time to join and apply for membership. I applied during quarantine because I wanted to stay connected to the network. 

What role do you think networking organizations should play during this time? How can they serve a continuing resource?

I think during this time networking organizations need to continue to stay connected and current so we don’t feel alone. 

What, if any, ArtTable programs/initiatives have you most enjoyed or admired?

I have admired the breakfast meetings that take place in New York and would love to join one day. I have also enjoyed intimate artist talks that we have had here at the Florida chapter. The last in person meeting we had was in March and featured Cuban artist Maria Martinez-Canas; we had 10-12 attendees for an intimate presentation of her work and it was very special. 

Any Additional Thoughts?

My additional thoughts consist of trying to stay optimistic for the near future. I am currently just beginning my own appraisal practice while working part time for Bernice Steinbaum’s gallery, completing my accreditation with the ISA (intl society of appraisers) and also in the process of moving homes. Personally I have a lot going on in the sense of transitioning but I am grateful for not being in a tougher situation as many others I know are in. I hope to be able to e-meet more members of art table and hear their personal current situations as well.

Kamila Korbela
Owner and Paintings Conservator

What made you join ArtTable?

I followed the recommendation of my highly valued business connection Liza Shapiro. Our companies LA Art Labs and Cura have been working together successfully on conservation related projects for a longer time now and I very much value her opinion. She told me how much she benefited from Art Table and enjoyed the talks as well as networking events that are offered by ArtTable on a regular basis. 

What role do you think networking organizations should play during this time? How can they serve a continuing resource?

Staying connected is tricky in these times of social distancing. Networking organizations, such as ArtTable have the capability of taking conversations online and distributing content to a wider array of art professionals, which is much appreciated. More so now than ever before.

What, if any, ArtTable programs/initiatives have you most enjoyed or admired?

I so much enjoy the peek that is given into other professional directions within the art world. As a conservator with a conservation business, I am highly specialized and it is sometimes difficult to look beyond the realm that is mine. Having the insights that ArtTable offers allows me to navigate the art world better and make better decisions, especially when projects are more complex and involve several stakeholders.

Additional Thoughts?

As a conservation professional with particular strong ties to the contemporary art world and museum involvement, I have thus far greatly benefited from such insightful conversations into other art scene related fields that have taken place in the form of online events. A great resource and I am looking forward to partaking in more online events during this peculiar pause from social life. 

Heather Smith
Curator, Art at Work

What made you join ArtTable?

I joined ArtTable as I had noticed so many creative responses to quarantine and the entire new set up we all found ourselves surrounded in, and wanted to maintain and connect into that good energy! Reading about the background of ArtTable also encouraged me, plus the sense that ArtTable is a supportive organization and wanting to connect with like-minded curators, gallerists and more as we are all in this together.

What role do you think networking organizations should play during this time?

How can they serve a continuing resource?I believe sharing of course is the key to networking organizations, and in ArtTable’s programming, dialogues, reading lists and more, ArtTable by its very nature shares the work of a varied group of individuals. I have enjoyed learning about the publication Curatorial Activism and others! Continued reading lists and relevant articles is especially crucial now as so many art spaces look towards more consistent standards of equity. 

What, if any, ArtTable programs/initiatives have you most enjoyed or admired?

I enjoyed learning about KODA and the work of Klaudia Ofwona Draber, especially their resources such as Professional Development for Artists specifically their Public Art Proposals.

Corin M. Blust
Principal Appraiser, Willow Fine Arts

What made you join ArtTable?

In graduate school, I attended an ArtTable breakfast event in New York and I was struck by the supportive and collaborative energy of the group. It made a strong impression on me. I decided then that in the future, I would join the organization. When I relocated to Miami from New York in September 2019, I finally joined ArtTable. Even though I’ve been a member for less than a year, I’ve already met some wonderful and empowered women in the arts through the organization. 

What role do you think networking organizations should play during this time? How can they serve a continuing resource?

Virtual programming has been a great resource and comfort for me throughout this time, especially smaller events where attendees kept their cameras on and were encouraged to connect via an informal discussion.  Despite physical boundaries, networking organizations can still encourage a sense of community, foster diversity, and provide comfort during these wild times! 

What, if any, ArtTable programs/initiatives have you most enjoyed or admired?

I recently started an appraisal and advisory business, Willow Fine Arts, together with my partner in New York, Audrey Horton. We found Hillary Buchfield’s candid comments during her AT Connect lecture about “starting up on your own” to be inspiring, enlightening and empowering. We also appreciated Hilary sharing her reading list after the lecture. 

Any additional thoughts?

I am proud to be an ArtTable member and I look forward to meeting more strong, brilliant, empowered and diverse women in the arts through this organization!

Social Media & the Art World

Karen Vidángos
Social Media Specialist at the
National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

How do you use social media in your work?
As a social media manager for the National Portrait Gallery, I educate and engage our audience through our collection.

Do you feel like social media is essential to your business nowadays?
Social media is absolutely essential. As a Smithsonian institution, it is our duty to provide our audience with access to the wonderful collection we have. Given our current times, we still have to maintain that mission and social media has been the perfect vehicle.

What are some pros & cons of using social media?
The pros are greater accessibility to opportunities, be it seeing art in other places, networking with other professionals, or being exposed to new ideas. The cons are the accessibility to the toxicity of bullying and trolls.

How do you feel the pandemic has affected the use of social media in the art world?
The pandemic has made the art world see how necessary being in line with today’s technology is and how far reaching it can be. Particularly with museums that tend to be behind on this front.

Overall, how do you feel about social media in the art world? Is it the selling platform of the future? Or will physical spaces always prevail?
I love seeing the art world use their social platforms with as much care as their brick and mortar institutions. It is inspiring to see art I might not be able to see otherwise (especially with travel restrictions now). Nothing compares to seeing a work in person, that is without a doubt vital to the experience of seeing art. That being said, social media is a vital part of casting a wide net to reach more people. You just don’t know who you might reach, who might be inspired, who might be invested in your work. There is so much to take advantage of in digital spaces. 

Hilary-Morgan Watt
Digital Engagement Manager
at Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum
and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Do you feel that social media is essential to the art world and your business nowadays?
I can’t imagine a business thriving without an active social media presence to speak to audiences. You’re expected to have a presence to share your story with the world, present transparently on your mission/ goals/ product, and to cultivate a community that you speak with regularly. Businesses and organizations thrive when the client/ audiences feels personally connected, and digital storytelling is one important way to build that relationship.

However, having an Instagram account isn’t enough. Social media can be your greatest strength or your biggest downfall; it takes vision, critical attention to detail, and creativity. You need someone skilled in communications, audience development, crisis management, and someone who keeps a pulse on the current state of the world; think of how much can change in just one day in this country.

How do you feel the pandemic has affected the use of social media in the art world?
The pandemic has been a bit of a whiplash effect for the art world. Social media is often underutilized by cultural organizations and museums (typically due to lack of resources and prioritization), and it has been a transformational moment to go from the panic of “We’ve lost our audiences?!” to realizing the potential reach of social media platforms.

This digital pivot was an awakening for many organizations, but also a bit of an ongoing frenzy of trying to think of what audiences could possibly want and need during such a challenging year. Do they want to be entertained, challenged, distracted, delighted, comforted? YES. All of the things we feel about art, we can still support online at a distance. It’s not about replacing an in-person encounter, it’s just another tool to share art and build a community around your organization. We’ve seen months of experimentation with interactive games, memes, photo challenges, behind-the-scenes features, online exhibits, and all at a variety of budget levels. I hope the digital storytelling and experimentation continues! With canceled exhibitions and projects, I’m seeing more artists selling directly on Instagram and releasing new limited series. We’re presented with more studio views than usual, with precious cameos of children and pets; obviously everyone is stuck at home. More importantly, there has been such a surge of artists donating works for fundraisers and leading the charge online to keep communities supported and recognized during a traumatic year. As ever, it feels like Yoko Ono’s classic quote, “Artists are going to be the metronome of this society.”

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