Appreciators of contemporary and fine arts, and the ever-vibrant local art scene, will be saddened to learn of the passing of gallerist, art advisor, consultant, and appraisal expert Nina Freudenheim. Nina was a friend to the local Buffalo art world in ways that would be hard to comprehend without knowing her professionally and personally. She was a gallerist that earned the respect of everyone in her field, not only because of her reputation as an art aficionado, but also due to her striking personality.
Nina Freudenheim Gallery, located in the Lenox Hotel Building on North Street, might not have been the largest gallery, but it is one of the most revered. Nina had an inherent taste for contemporary art, and would promote artists well ahead of their time. She was willing to take a chance on an artist, because she had a knack for knowing what to look for. Not only was that great for the emerging artists, it was also opportune for collectors who could get their hands on works before they were priced out of the market. Nina would also show artists’ works throughout their entire careers, from the time they bubbled up to the time when they were well established. I can only imagine what her Rolodex looked like.
It’s funny to think of Nina and her Rolodex, because I bet that’s what she was still using even in the modern day of computers. A few years back, Nina would send me notes asking how could she get information to me about upcoming shows? She was the first to admit that the newfangled tech ways of communicating, marketing, etc., were not in her wheelhouse. She was content to be dealing with people over the phone and in person, but at the same time she wanted to invite the younger generation of art fans into her world.
Talking to a few collectors who were fond of Nina – praising her for her longevity in the art world and her fortitude as a curator – there were two sentiments that struck me most. She had an eye for art, and she bonded with artists that she worked with. Over the course of her 45 year career, she became a lightning rod for artists who were “on their way”. And when they got to wherever it was they were going, they always remembered Nina as one of the savvy gallerists that took a chance with their works.
Nina was also a trusted gallerist in Buffalo. She had an uncanny knack of getting major collectors to divest their collections, thus allowing a new generation of collectors to fortify their own walls and book shelves. On top of that, Nina possessed a social conscience – she supported causes that impacted friends and artists. Art has the ability to bridge people together, to unify them in ways that might otherwise be impossible.
One of the biggest losses that we will experience with the passing of Nina is the loss of the knowledge that she possessed. She was able to connect with artists like no one else. Nearly half a century of networking, curating, and exhibiting can not be replaced. Her support for local artists was unparalleled. Her reputation, like her Rolodex, was gold.
Photo credit: Buffalo Spree – scanned from April 12th issue of the magazine | Photo by KC Kratt