40 years ago, Nina Freudenheim, began a lifetime devotion to the arts by opening up an art gallery here in Buffalo. She began collecting art after she was married to her husband. They would take frequent trips to New York City, where they were educated by the dealers, whom she mentioned at that time were much more considerate, and they would visit artist’s studios. It was when she was visiting with the artists that she felt gratified, and became sensitive towards the commitment that the artists had with their work, their willingness to sacrifice in order to create. These moments changed her perspective, and she began to realize that she could help these artists.
When her youngest turned 7, Nina felt that she could begin to spend her time focusing on a career. With a background in fashion and advertising, but no formal arts training, she opened the Nina Freudenheim Gallery, over on Franklin St. in the gymnasium at the old location of the St. Mary’s School. After 15 years of inhabiting that space, she moved for a short while into an old grain mill on Niagara St., that she renovated and installed giant windows, which provided the artwork with natural light and the guests with an amazing view. Due to unforeseen issues with the landlord, Nina had to uproot her gallery after only being there for a year, and moved to 229 Delaware Ave., which she also renovated to fit her needs and remained there for 11 years. Currently, you can find Nina over at the Lenox Hotel, in a beautiful first floor space, just past the lobby on the left.
Nina represents both regional and national artists at her space in Buffalo. By doing so, she feels that she is providing the local artists with exposure to new styles and techniques created by artists that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and insomuch she is giving her represented artists’ access to a greater audience. With new contemporary galleries opening here in Buffalo, Nina felt that the “Competition is a good thing for the area when multiple spaces are showing good work.” In any business, competition is a positive thing for a community. With more places to visit, one is potentially being exposed to a variety of works by different artists, while the bar within the trade is consistently being raised upwards.
Being a gallerist is not an easy career to jump into. It takes lots of planning and time, and you need to be able to develop relationships and build a network. The gallerist needs to foster their relationship with the artists, help them acquire exhibitions in other cities, take their work to art fairs and most importantly sell their work. In order to do that you must have time. One should have their doors open to the public daily, go out to functions in the evenings and on weekends, where you can meet people to build a base (collectors, audience, artist roster). You need to be alert, because you never know who you will meet, but you also need to remember to live your life, because what if we only have one.
Another important factor in being a gallerist, is that first and foremost you must educate your audience. Holding artist talks is a great way for the public to get to know the artist you are showing. What better way to connect to someone’s work then to hear them speak about it. To get people in the door, you need to have a reputation and be active in your community, let people know what you’re up to, and sometimes this can happen in the real-mail announcements. I know so many people that treasure receiving any mail that is not considered junk. As for art fairs, this is a necessary evil, because this is where business is done. If you want to make an income you need to invest in the fairs. You also need to have a solid presence on the Internet. Draw in your audience by leaving an impression on them that brings them to your space. Most sells occur after you’ve developed a relationship with your potential client, so keep in mind that to build your audience takes time, so don’t rush yourself, Nina has been around for 40 years! I think we can all learn something from her.
For those of you that may not be an art lover yet, here are a few tips from Nina to help you develop a relationship to art:
- Look– Visit your local art and cultural spaces and spend time in person looking at the work in front of you instead of at your phone.
- Be Patient– Give yourself ample time to process what you see and revisit works that strike your fancy. Who knows, maybe it will end up in your living room.
- Don’t Be Intimidated– The great thing about art is that there truly is no right answer. You are not solving a math problem, you are looking at something that should invigorate, inspire and intrigue you.
- Develop Your Eye– When visiting new cities, I encourage you to check out their art galleries and museums and expand your vision.
Nina’s current show features works on paper and paintings by “first rate local artists”, Kyle Butler, Joan Linder and Michael Stefura. If you’ve never visited this space or have not seen the show, I recommend a trip. The photorealism drawings by Michael Stefura are to die for, and they are only $900 a piece-that’s a steal! This show is up through January 21, 2016, and you can visit the space, Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm, or you can contact Nina at (716) 882-5777 or email@example.com to make an appointment. You won’t be disappointed. Her gallery feels like you are walking into a slice of the Big Apple, right here in Buffalo. Nina Freudenheim Gallery, is located at 140 North Street, Buffalo, New York 14201.
Photos: Michael Stefura Untitled Works, charcoal on stonehenge paper, 2015