Chioma Ebinama interviews Stephanie Theodore of THEODORE:Art.
56B: Why did you choose 56 Bogart as you’re new location?
ST: I was in London for a couple of years and I came back [to New York] A client of mine, who is also a friend of mine had encouraged me to get back into the gallery business. I was just looking for an interesting neighborhood and inexpensive rent. As much as I am, indeed, a for-profit gallery, I want to make it a sustainable enterprise, which means keeping one’s fixed costs low. By doing that, it takes the pressure off artists. They can do the shows they want to do, as opposed to the shows that “Must sell god forbid they don’t!” I’ve already been through this. I had a gallery in the 90s. The kind of economic slow down we’re having now is similar, and also the contrast between the grand ole days of selling everything and selling nothing is also analogous to where we were in ’91 and ’92. A time like this is a really good time to take more chances, be more experimental, you just have to do it in a way that is economically sustainable.
56B: How do you feel about sharing an art space? There are so many other galleries in this building.
ST: It’s great! It makes it a destination. Contrast and variety are really what make a gallery scene, so the more the merrier. I mean I might be looked at as the old reactionary I’m afraid. But that’s okay, I think it just makes it better. Diversity can only make art better.
56B: I understand many of the artists you represent are from Europe, specifically the UK, what sort of unique perspective do you hope to bring to this art scene?
ST: That’s how it started. I went to grad school in London and was working with galleries and artists. I felt like they inspired me to give it a go. I’ve been without a gallery for 17 years. Now, I feel like I’m old enough and mature enough to do this and have control of the situation. I was giving a lot of artists their first shows and working with very young artists. But now the English artists are just the basis for getting me to do this again. I am also going to work with American artists who I feel are underexposed, who need a different context, or would like to be re-contextualized. Most of the artists I represent have been out of grad school for less than 5 years. They’re relatively emerging artists, but they’re all over the age of 30. I like late bloomers. I have a sympathy for people who are over 40 or 50 and not dead yet (…) and I like weird juxtapositions I love putting artists together where you wouldn’t expect them to be that’s my little fun.