Let’s just fess up and get it out of the way – art can be a daunting element of any interior design project. Whether you’re a seasoned interior designer or simply a novice collector, it’s a big, scary world out there with an overwhelming array of options.
But here’s a little secret – pass the buck. Now, I don’t mean remove yourself from the game or hunt entirely but simply figure out a way to align yourself with art professionals who can cut through the clutter and help you navigate the process in an honest, thoughtful, and inspiring manner. And as I have traversed my way through the Bay Area interior design world, one of the most commonly heard names in this regard has been ArtHaus.
Led by gallerists James Bacchi and Annette Schutz, ArtHaus is a contemporary art gallery located in SOMA and is beloved by many local interior designers as well as by the general art buying public at large. (Look no further than their being voted Best Art Gallery in the Bay Area by the Bay Area A-List.)
I was recently granted the honor of speaking with James about the secrets to their success and got some inside tips on their top artists, trends, and events in the Bay Area and beyond. Here is what he had to say:
I SPY: Congratulations on the 2014 Best Art Gallery award from the Bay Area A-List! If you were to be one of your clients for a minute, what would you say factored into your decision to vote for ArtHaus?
Thank you, Blye. 2014 marks the third time ArtHaus has been voted BEST ART GALLERY in the Bay Area. As Co-owners and Gallerists, Annette Schutz and I are honored and extremely grateful for the continued support of our collectors, artists, colleagues and the Bay Area/New York Design Communities.
As a long time collector, stepping into a client’s shoes is quite comfortable. Acquiring art is personal, emotional and gratifying. Having visited many, many galleries over the years I’ve encountered everything from being completely ignored to being asked if I wanted to be helped before I wanted to be asked.
ArtHaus provides an experience both Annette and I seek as collectors. We are personable, informative and passionate about what we do and especially what we choose to show. I would say that less than 5% of our collectors are one time clients. For us it is all about providing a connection between the viewer and the work, and all the after services that go with that such as framing and installation consultations, and keeping our collectors updated on the artists they follow. Our collectors sense all that we’ve done for the last 18 years to create the ArtHaus experience, and they like that. ArtHaus has my vote!
I SPY: ArtHaus is one of the Bay Area’s top art destinations for interior designers. What is it about ArtHaus that makes it such a magnet for the design community (beside gorgeous art, of course!)?
The Bay Area and New York Design Communities continue to be vital to our business plan. We’ve assumed the roles of designers in ICONS OF DESIGN and numerous Bay Area Designer Showcases, and recently were invited by Coupar Consulting to present THE FINE ART OF DESIGN, a lecture on how to incorporate fine art in design projects, during the San Francisco Design Center’s DESIGN WEEK.
While designers’ needs for their clients are most often site specific, Annette and I introduce a variety of options for each area needing to be addressed. We are sensitive to budget, schedule and the overall aesthetic of the project. Here again, we are extremely service oriented. From on-location visits, to meetings with the client to discuss their collecting goals and overseeing framing consultations and professional installation.
But I do believe it is the art that draws designers to ArtHaus. We focus on New York and Bay Area Artists, offering a glimpse of what’s happening on both coasts. Our collection is contemporary, diverse, and accessible. We pay strong attention to a variety of media including: paintings, works on paper, photography and sculpture. On the price spectrum we are mid-range, and the majority of work is museum-quality – meaning that works by most ArtHaus Gallery and Guest Artists have been featured in museum exhibitions and/or permanent collections. This is a comfortable base line, especially for new collectors.
I SPY: Who are some of the artists on your roster that you are most excited about right now?
There are four artists I am most excited about at this moment. They are: Carolyn Meyer, Jhina Alvarado, John Wood and Chris Schiavo. Right now, these particular artists are offering something new in their signature styles, taking their work another step further.
For the past few years, Carolyn Meyer has flipped back and forth from explosive color to monochromatic cityscapes. Now she is using bold reds and blues as under paintings with monochromatic overlays – lifting and scratching her surfaces as she transposes the streets of San Francisco and New York to canvas. In a word, these paintings are stunning!
In her current one woman show, UP CLOSE and PERSONAL, at ArtHaus, Jhina Alvarado refrains from banning the eyes of her vintage characters by simply not showing the eyes at all. The blank backgrounds of her earlier works are now adorned with retro wall paper patterns in translucent shades of color. At her opening, one collector described the experience as “walking into a room filled with complete joy.”
And then there’s artist John Wood, the most recent addition to the ArtHaus stable of artists, whose work Annette and I became familiar with through Art For AIDS. He is a true Mix Master. His works are packed with a variety of media from oil and graphite to crayon and pastel – all on paper, mounted on panel with a cold wax varnish surface that is truly sumptuous.
Finally, New York artist/film maker Chris Schiavo and her infamous BACKYARD SERIES – a photography project she worked on from the mid 1980’s – 1990’s.
Here she physically staged backyards in Queens, NY and straight forwardly photographed over 30 tableaus transforming childlike memories into some of the best work I’ve seen to date. While FIDO, an image that has been featured in more than 30 publications, and printed in an edition of 15, is a collector favorite, others from the series are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I am particularly taken by her use of Kodak indoor film outside just to see how she could stretch its capabilities in some of these images.
I SPY: What are some of the trends that you are currently seeing in the Bay Area art world?
Two trends are: A major increase in public art about to be seen in the Bay Area. With more than 40 cranes gracing our skyline, expect to see a significant rise in outdoor sculpture and installation art over the next three years.
Secondly, that mobile photography is becoming recognized as a legitimate art form by the art world. In 2012, ArtHaus hosted the first International Mobile Photo Awards Exhibition, founded by Canadian photographer/ film maker Daniel Berman. The call for entries generated more than 2200 submissions from 114 countries. Images entered had to be photographed, manipulated and submitted by mobile phones. Since then, Mobile Photo Exhibitions have been featured in galleries and art centers worldwide. The Mobile Photo Awards was a featured exhibitor at the recent Silicon Valley Art Fair, and TIME MAGAZINE recently did a feature on iphoneography.
I SPY: Are there any upcoming events in San Francisco or elsewhere where we might see ArtHaus?
Upcoming: A Pop-Up Gallery at CODE SALON here in the city, a sequel to THE FINE ART OF DESIGN – presented by ArtHaus and Coupar Consulting, the upcoming 18th Annual Art for AIDS Auction, featuring many works donated by ArtHaus Gallery and Guest Artists, and artMRKT 2015.
I SPY: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us…and add another vote for ArtHaus from i spy!
Featured image by Pamela Durnham
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