Rebecca Smith, owner of Bellwether, the now defunct gallery specializing in emerging artists, had a tough year, but she’s found the fervor she once had for art in love, according to the New York Times Sheelah Kolhatkar who paints a bleak, gendered picture of the art world.
As Kolhatkar tells it, the gallerist did not fit in well: “Becky, 43, is not one of the blonde wisps usually seen working at chic Manhattan art spaces — she has a big head of curly black hair and chunky eyeglasses.” In other words, being neither anorexic nor invisible distinguished her from other women working in the field. This myth assumes only a certain strata of women can have any success as dealers and no gallerist would survive for any length of time at all if they actually met Kolhatkar’s description.
The writer then describes Smith’s success as almost wholly part of the boom. “Buying the work of unknown young artists was especially appealing to Wall Streeters,” pens Kolhatkar, “…It was an accessible way to start building an art collection and it offered the possibility of ‘discovering’ artists and making a fortune as their work shot up in value — not unlike the thrills of the stock market.” While the phenonmenon itself may be accurately relayed, in doing so the writer glosses over the work and success of Rebecca Smith’s gallery. As mentioned early on in the article, Smith may have owed money to artists — a poor business practice criticized by many in the art world — but that never negated her successes or dedication to the field. Certainly, a paragraph dedicated to a few career highlights past hiring staff would have rounded this piece out a little.
But as this story arc curves, we learn that Smith’s lost gallery isn’t so bad because she’s found love with an ex-Wall Street worker. And that makes any business woe better.