Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Art Dealer

Dina Brown has been a Los Angeles Art Dealer for more than 20 years. She opened Gallery Brown in West Hollywood in 2004 and the list of contemporary artists she's showcased includes Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Edward Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Jean Michel Basquiat and Shepard Fairey.

A typical day for Dina includes offering new work to collectors, providing feedback to artists, appraising private collections, packaging pieces for shipment and curating new exhibitions.

Dina advises new collectors to saturate themselves in what's going on, to go to museums, galleries, pop-up shows, street exhibitions...anywhere you find art. From there you buy what you love.  "There's nothing like finding a perfect art match for someone, knowing they are bringing home a piece of art they adore."

Part of Dina's job is to educate clients.  A common misconception among collectors, for example, is the belief that a low number in a print series is more valuable.  All numbers of an edition are of equal value unless a particular print is different in some unique way (color combination, pattern, etc.).

Dina works hard to assure the authenticity of a piece of art.  With certain artists, like Miro, a fake can be difficult to detect.  Dina relies on the catalogue raisonne of an artist.  This lists information like title, size, year, medium, markings, publisher and printer.  If details in the catalogue raisonne match the artwork, this increases the likelihood of authenticity though there are other factors involved.  Experience in determining if the paper and signature are correct are vitally important.

Price points for a piece of art are determined by supply and demand and the crucial factor "condition."  Many limited edition prints are fragile and can be easily damaged by mishandling, improper framing and exposure to sunlight.  "When buying art I routinely unframe the piece to check the condition first.  Unfortunately there are a lot of poor framers out there and many pieces are hinged or mounted improperly."

Dina loves working with emerging artists.  "I relish watching someone evolve and grow.  It's extremely inspiring."  In 2008, Dina began working with John Lurie, the noted indie film actor (Stranger Than Paradise) and experimental musician from the Lounge Lizards.  Dina curated an exhibition of Lurie's work called "The Invention Of Animals."  Lurie, who started painting in 2004, combines primitive styling with modern ideas and a sharp sense of humor.  (One of his pieces is called "The Spirits are trying to tell me something but it's really fucking vague.")

During Dina's two decades as an art dealer, the business has seen significant change.  "The ever shrinking middle-class, the housing crisis, the recession, all these things basically wiped out a whole segment of buyers of modestly priced investment grade art.  I used to have a lot of clients who bought work in the $3,000-$5,000 range.  Those clients are fewer now.  It's sad.

"I've watched a generational shift in who the buyer is.  Back in the early 90's I was selling to my parent's generation.  I'm now selling to my peers who are hugely influenced by street art.  This has absolutely influenced what I show.

"I've always loved Rothko and Pollock and Basquiat.  But I also love new artists like Gregory Siff and Alexander Yulish.  I'm fortunate as an art dealer to be exposed to new artists from all walks of life.  The ones that are an aesthetic and energetic match are the ones I move forward with.  Even after 20 years I can tell you my love of art is completely sustained."  (6" x 7", black ink print)

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