ASK THE ARTSPERTS by Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Dear Artsperts,
What is something about running an art gallery that may not be readily apparent?


Dear Uncovered,

Kristine installs a large work by Mally Khorasantchi

A few years back there was a reality show following the “Gallerinas” of New York City. The term “Gallerinas” describes the young, often female interns, fresh out of college with degrees in Art History who take entry-level positions at New York Galleries. In one episode, a young gallerina was asked to help uncrate a large shipment of works. This particular gallerina also happened to be the daughter of a major collector. She looked at the Gallery director and replied, “Ugh, do you know who my father is?” After which she walked away to allow others to do the manual labor.

When we first came back into our family art gallery nine years ago, we often would joke with our own father using this line when a big shipment of artwork arrived, or an exhibition needed to be changed. Of course, this was in full humor as our gallery is a small business, with no gallerina interns. In fact, everyday is all-hands-on-deck. Plus, it is something we both enjoy…and saves on gym memberships too. So, to answer the question, one aspect of running a gallery that may not be readily apparent is how much manual labor is involved in our work.

Large shipments come to us often in wood crates on pallets and delivered outside our gallery. If rain is an issue, we set up a pop tent to provide cover. We change exhibitions in the Gallery each month. This typically takes us two days to complete with all three of us, Bill, Kristine and Juliana, working throughout the day. We also happily retrieve more works out of the racks in our backroom storage upon request. Somehow getting works out is always easier than putting them back in. It remains a mystery how easily artwork fills in the space when a painting is removed. We then deliver and install the works in private homes once they are purchased. We build boxes and wrap purchased works to ship to clients or to loan to museum exhibitions. We load artwork in our van and move works between our two galleries.

Juliana uncrates a large shipment from Hunt Slonem.

For works that are beyond our abilities, for example, stone sculptures that weigh over 200 lbs, we call in extra hands and muscles. Timothy Stready and his family at Cleveland Bass Movers have helped us out for over 40 years. We also will call on Murray Collette of ArtMove LLC when paintings are too big for our van. He and his team help us to install large works of art over 100’ in homes.

A lot of this manual labor is done before we open and on our “days off”. Our regular hours in season are 11-5 Tuesday through Saturday. However, you will often find us in the gallery working and inevitably sweating during our off hours. This is the less than glamorous side of running an art gallery, but then again, we aren’t gallerinas.

The Artsperts  599 NINTH STREET NORTH SUITE 309 | NAPLES, FL 34102 | 239.261.2637

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