Monday, March 4, 2013

Jennifer Schwartz

The Kiernan Gallery is very pleased to have Jennifer Schwartz as our juror for Open Water. Jennifer is a pioneer of the non-traditional gallery and well known for innovative approaches to establishing a new generation of art collectors. Her projects include The Ten, Crusade for Collecting, Roundtable Review, Walk Away With Art, and Art Feast. We have asked her a few questions about her projects and advice for emerging artists.

As owner of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, you curate group exhibitions with interesting and diverse themes. How do you think that impacts your approach as a juror for this type of exhibition where you are not seeking out artists, but rather looking through submitted work?
I love looking at new work and discovering photography I was not previously aware of.  It’s exciting and inspirational for me.
Jennifer Schwartz Gallery is a big proponent of bringing art to the people. Most notably, with your projects The Ten and Crusade for Collecting. Tell us more about how these projects came to be and their impact on the photography community.
I feel very strongly that there is a disconnect between the younger generations and buying original art. I created The Ten to encourage people to buy high-quality, exclusive, very-limited, signed photographs at an affordable price point – I call it the “gateway drug to larger collecting” – but I wanted to do more. I wanted to get out there and talk about this issue. We are all so over-saturated with information online, that I wanted to do something different to get people’s attention. 

I think a lot of people in the art world are blaming the economy, and certainly that doesn’t help, but I see it as a cultural issue. People don’t think twice about buying designer jeans or going out for coffee or spending money on a good meal. And I’m right there with them! Generationally, we care about the things in our world. We just haven’t considered adding art to that world. 

I think if you stopped someone who was about to buy a mass-produced canvas art piece at Z Gallery or Urban Outfitters and said, “Wouldn’t you rather spend the same money and buy something original? Wouldn’t you rather find something that you connected with and knew the story of? Wouldn’t you like to buy a piece of art that has value, both monetarily and to you personally?”, most people would stop and say that yes, of course they would. They just hadn’t thought about it like that before. 

I want people to think about it. I want people to know that they can afford real art and that being a collector just means buying an original piece and being thoughtful about that choice. There are a hundred million pieces of art that will match your throw pillows – buy one that matters to you.

I want to do something dramatic to get people to stop and listen. I want to bring art to the people, to get them excited about it and want to extend that excitement to start visiting their local galleries and museums. In my opinion, collecting photography sells itself. Once you start, once you connect to a photograph and are able to bring it fully into your life by hanging it in your home and personalizing your space, you won’t want to stop.

You have written a few excellent blog posts on how to/not to submit to a gallery. What is your advice on presentation and etiquette for those attending portfolio reviews?
It is so important to be professional, thoughtful and organized in every interaction around your photography.  It is not just your images that will make an impression, but you as the artist.

As a gallerist, you spend a lot of time promoting and developing the work of artists at various places in their careers. What does success in art mean to you?
Success in art can be defined in so many ways.  When I work with an artist, I ask them about their goals straight out.  Ideally, in a perfect world, what would you want your career to look like?  So many people think about this abstractly, but to actually get there, you need a concrete destination and a plan. 

The deadline to submit to Open Water is March 15. For more information and to submit your work visit

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