A ‘matchmaker’ for art
While Julie Baker, 35, isn’t a practicing artist herself, she calls herself a hands-on art dealer. Her job, she says, is to play matchmaker between the producer of art and the consumer of art.
As such she ends up helping hands-on artists stay in business.
Her gallery in Grass Valley is a place where contemporary (new work by living artists) paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and photography ranging from $100 to $10,000 are displayed on consignment.
Baker came to art very early in life, picking up the love of art “by osmosis” from her family-owned advertising and design firm in New York.
Interning at galleries as a student in high school and then college, she got a job at a gallery that sold Picassos, then moved on to the prestigious Christie’s Auction House. “Art is in my blood,” says Baker. “I’m truly passionate about it.”
Her good eye for art has captured the work of local artist Erin Noel, for example – an environmental lawyer who also paints abstracts. “Her work,” says Baker, “is abstract and full of geometric shapes, planes of color, bright colors; it’s textural and rhythmic. And it sells here.” Noel is one of the 25 artists, from local to international, that the gallery shows.
So what’s a New York City woman doing here in western Nevada County? Baker and her husband Richard decided that once children came along (they have two) they’d move to a place where they felt happier raising them.
It helped that Richard is the 5th generation of a local family. So four years ago they moved across the continent, and last November opened the gallery.
Because of her connections in the art world, Baker is in daily contact with artists worldwide. This can be especially valuable to the customer who wants something particular. “After we get a sense of a client, we are on the lookout for what they like or have asked for. If a person isn’t yet ready to buy a piece, we’ll bring it to their house to see where, or even if, it fits.”
This customer service is greatly enhanced by having on staff a gallery director who is an interior designer as well – Susan Mann. She’ll show you work that might not even be out on display, so ask if you don’t see what you want. The gallery will hang art in clients’ homes throughout California.
Baker, who will visit her artists’ studios and give feedback if requested, has some great views on the symbiotic relationship of artists and dealers.
Her advice to artists is:
1. Know what a dealer likes, and shows, before submitting your work. Baker, for example, resonates to abstracts; thus a traditional watercolor of flowers wouldn’t fit. This works both ways, of course, because an artist has to find the gallery that works for him or her as well.
2. Expose yourself to what’s happening beyond the local scene – San Francisco and Sacramento is a good start. A Web site she recommends is http://www.artnet.com
3. Professionalism counts. “Work hard, be passionate about your work and be genuine.”
4. Keep making your art. “It can be tricky, living by your art, but do art that you feel you must do, not just what sells.”
“Most gratifying to me is when we make a sale and can call the artist to tell them. That’s the awesome part of being an art dealer.”
Julie Baker Fine Art
120 No. Auburn, Suite 100, Grass Valley
Phone: (530) 273-0910
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5 and by appointment
On the web: http://www.juliebakerfineart.com
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