An Interview with a Dealer: Bert Green
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 Bert Green of Bert Green Fine Art.
Gallery: Bert Green Fine Art
Name: Bert Green
Previous occupations: graphic designer, nonprofit curator, art supply store manager
Hometown: New York City
CGN: How did you become an art dealer?
Bert Green: I started organizing independent art shows right after college in the East Village in New York in the early 80s, and did a series of jobs with nonprofit organizations for the subsequent decades in New York and San Francisco. That work led me to decide to open a gallery when I moved to Los Angeles, where rent was affordable, in 1999.
CGN: Describe your gallery’s program in one sentence.
BG: Bert Green Fine Art represents and exhibits emerging and mid-career artists and publishes original limited edition prints.
CGN: What's the first thing you do each morning when you get to the gallery?
BG: Update our website, Artsy page, and social media accounts.
CGN: Thumbs up or down on art fairs?
BG: I hate art fairs but they are a necessary evil in small quantities. I am convinced they are really thinly disguised real estate operations and do not provide any real service to the art world.
CGN: Artists you admire but don't represent?
BG: Cauleen Smith, Wafaaa Bilal, Christian Rex van Minnen
CGN: Best sale you ever had?
BG: Limited edition letterpress print I published with Ed Ruscha, which sold out in 11 days to collectors all around the world.
CGN: What advice would you share with new or young collectors?
BG: Buy what you love and can afford. By following your nose you can build a collection that can grow into a wonderful asset and provide a significant boost to your quality of life.
CGN: What major successes have you had this year? What about challenges?
BG: Our print publishing program is in its fourth year and the quantity and quality of artists participating is continuing to grow.
CGN: How do you view working as an art dealer in Chicago?
BG: I love living in Chicago and thrive on its vitality. However, having been located in multiple cities over the past decades, I have found that physical location is way less important than it used to be. My gallery deals with collectors all around the country and the world, and few if any ever step through the door. Transitioning the business to the Internet has been the greatest challenge of the last decade, but I think we have managed to be successful doing that.
CGN: What is your favorite interest outside of the art world?
BG: Swimming and travel.
CGN: What is your favorite work of public art in Chicago?
BG: The Cloud Gate (Anish Kapoor). It is across the street from my gallery and never fails to amaze. I think it is one of the most successful pieces of public art in the world, because it manages to be both a crowd pleaser and a profound object of contemplation.
CGN: What’s coming up next at your gallery?
BG: In July/August we are showing Robert Horvath, painter and professor of art at Herron College in Indianapolis. The show is in association with Aron Packer Projects.
CGN: What five differences do you see between Chicago and Los Angeles?
- Both Chicago and LA have vibrant art scenes, which in many ways are more similar than different. Chicago has a more developed nonprofit support network and Los Angeles has a much larger number of artist communities.
- Chicago is urban and centralized and Los Angeles is multi-centric. The multi-centric model allows for many independent communities, but they often do not interact as fully as the communities in Chicago do.
- Both cities are very diverse, but they have a very different mix of ethnicities, so there is always something unexpected to discover in each city. Los Angeles has massive immigrant communities that act as satellite expat capitals for their respective nationalities. Chicago has smaller and more defined historical ethnicities, but they continue to expand and morph with new arrivals.
- Chicago is politically expedient while Los Angeles is often politically paralyzed.
- Weather (LOL).
Bert Green is the owner of Bert Green Fine Art located across from Millennium Park in Chicago. For more information about his gallery and upcoming exhibitions visit: Bert Green Fine Art.