Each week CGN interviews a local art dealer to discuss the ins and outs of running a gallery in the city of Chicago. This week we caught up with Victor Armendariz of Gallery Victor Armendariz.
Current Position: Owner/Director of Gallery Victor Armendariz
Hometown: Born, Chicago IL. Grew up on the central coast of California.
Previous Occupation: Assistant Director at Ann Nathan Gallery (1997-2017)
Favorites from this week:
Restaurant: Daisy’s Chicago, 2523 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647—a friend (and one of our young collectors) is a chef at Daisy’s
Read: Currently listening to The Great Courses lecture on the Romantic Poets on Audible
Music: Spotify playlist of Iron & Wine, Folk, The Cure and Soft Moon, and Barbra Streisand on Fridays.
Chicago Gallery News: Tell us about your background and how you started Gallery Victor Armendariz?
Victor Armendariz: I began working for the venerable Ann Nathan in 1997 after being introduced to her by her daughter Betsy Nathan (Pagoda Red). I was 27 and immediately fell in love with the gallery business. When Ann announced her retirement in mid 2016, I knew that opening my own gallery was the next step. My husband Christopher Clark and I opened Gallery Victor Armendariz in March of 2017. We have had five exhibitions in our new space.
CGN: How do you sum up your program in one sentence?
VA: We present work in a variety of media and genres, with a strong emphasis on figurative paintings and sculpture and studio furniture. We strive to identify work that reflects a high degree of technical skill. We also believe that art should be exciting and accessible and we attempt to create exhibitions that reflect that belief.
CGN: Share a typical day in the life.
VA: Unpredictability is typical. My days start early at home where I check emails, social media, and catch up on everything left over from the day before. But once I get into the office the day can go haywire—there is never a set script. When someone walks through the door, they become my priority.
CGN: Share some successes as well as challenges from this year.
VA: I feel very grateful that we could get the gallery open in March of this year. Simply getting the business up and running was both our greatest success and biggest challenge. It would not have happened without a huge team effort on the part of my husband/business partner, my colleague Julie Danilek, the group of artists we represent who have placed so much trust in our new venture, an extremely supportive group of friends, family, collectors and members of the art community. We are extraordinarily proud to be part of the Chicago art community.
CGN: What are some unique aspects about running this type of business, also more specifically, operating in Chicago?
VA: This is a business based on love and want, not need. It is our job to present works that provoke people’s imaginations. Drawing the audience into the gallery is a challenge. People lead busy lives—we must work on capturing their attention. The next generation of collectors will require more and unique ways of getting their attention and we are excited about trying new ways to do that.
CGN: Your gallery focuses on figurative works, can you touch on what draws you to this area of the market?
VA: I studied English Literature in college and have always been drawn to narrative. I like to look at a piece of artwork that speaks to me in ways that I don’t necessarily understand at first. I like to create a narrative in my head—a narrative that sometimes changes over time as my appreciation for the artwork grows. When I look at an artist’s work, this is what I search for – a compelling narrative.
CGN: What is your thought process on appealing to young collectors? This said, any words of wisdom to those potential new collectors?
VA: Our gallery has an area called The Studio—which includes drawings, sketches, prints, and formative works from artists we represent and some new artists. Everything in the Studio is accessibly priced and it provides a way for younger collectors and new collectors to grow their collections. Most importantly, new collectors need to trust their own instincts. Collect work that speaks to you, excites you, and that you want to live with.
CGN: Favorite cultural pursuit outside of the art world?
VA: My husband and I enjoy board game meet-ups from time to time.
CGN: Favorite work of public art in Chicago?
VA: “Cloud Gate”— (The Bean by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park), which is such an amazing ambassador for our city and the perfect representation of what public art should be.
CGN: Artists you admire most.
VA: I have so much respect for living artists who are working hard to get their work out into the world. When an artist shows me their work, I try always to remember that they are showing me a piece of themselves and try to give them the full attention that it deserves.
CGN: What's coming up next at the gallery?
VA: We will be participating in the SOFA Chicago 2017 Exhibition at Navy Pier and having a sculptural show called 3-D at the gallery—followed by a December show of The Studio in the gallery along with a mix of art and some fundraising to give back to the community at the holidays.
Victor Armendariz is the Owner and Director of Gallery Victor Armendariz in Chicago. For more information about the gallery please visit: Gallery Victor Armendariz.
Photo credit: Carolyn Variano