MCLA

Managing Galleries

08/03/2011

MCLA students majoring in art and arts management - as well as some recent graduates of those programs - are getting real-world experience this summer as they each run a gallery in the College's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) initiative, DownStreet Art.

According to Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA, the Associate Gallery Manager Program is a continuation of what's being taught in the classroom.

"We needed good, qualified staff - staff that wanted to run galleries," Secor said. "Not everybody wants to run a gallery and spend the day with art and artists. We were looking to find people who wanted to do this because, if they're excited about the art, they share that excitement with the consumer."

According to arts management major Jason Peabody '12 (pictured above) of Enfield, Conn., who manages the PRESS gallery, "This position has already provided me with astonishing connections for any aspiring arts manager. But one of the most valuable lessons that this position has weathered me through is what it takes to be a real life arts manager."

"MCLA is in the business of training arts managers, and that includes gallerists," Secor said. "It gave us a great opportunity to further our own students' education with hands-on experience in running a gallery."

As part of the program, the eight students and recent grads learn how to operate a gallery and all that entails. This includes art installation, production, working with artists, marketing, staffing, keeping to a budget and customer service.

The paid positions began two weeks before DownStreet Art opened in June. But before being given a gallery to run, the young managers were trained by some local experts.

"We brought in a great art installer to teach them how to install art. We brought in Leslie Ferrin (of Pittsfield's Ferrin Gallery) to teach them how to sell art. We brought in MCLA art professor Laura Christensen to teach them how to talk about art. We brought in local artist Joshua Fields to teach them how to market art on Web 3.0," Secor said.

Arts management major Lauren Sottile '12 (pictured right) of New Hartford, Conn., said the experience has helped "immensely" with her career goals.

"I plan to create or work with a program similar to DownStreet Art in eastern Massachusetts, or somewhere else I perceive as being in need of a more connected art community," Sottile explained. "As the associate gallery manager for Jarvis Rockwell at his gallery, Maya IV, I have already been able to meet so many people and to learn the day-to-day as well as the long term responsibilities of looking after and running a gallery."

"I am gaining a lot of valuable experience that I can carrying with me as I continue working in the arts," said of Shannon Cosselo '12 (pictured below) of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., also an arts management major. "I really enjoy being the associate gallery manager for XMALIA. My favorite part so far has been working with Ryder Cooley, the artist of the space, and talking with gallery visitors about her work."

According to Peabody, "The feeling of bringing art to the people, to the public and showing them why all of this is not only important, but essential, is one of the most exciting feelings I have ever experienced. ...  I feel like I'm doing more than just a job when our future walks through the doors of PRESS and a young child starts asking questions about everything they see."

"Working at Maya IV has been amazing," Sottile added. "I've learned so much more about gallery life, having to figure things out on my own rather than immediately asking for help. I am so proud of myself and of my supervisors at BCRC for the way this installation has come together."