An Interview with a Dealer: Catherine Edelman

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 Catherine Edelman of Catherine Edelman Gallery.

Gallery: Catherine Edelman Gallery
Name: Catherine Edelman
Age: 55
Previous occupation: only this
Hometown: New York City

Chicago Gallery News: Please describe your gallery’s program in one sentence.

Catherine Edelman: We show living photographers and photo-based mixed media works.

CGN: How did you become an art dealer? 

CE: By accident! I wanted to become a museum curator but after completing my MFA in photography, I decided I’d open a gallery for five years to gain business experience. After five years, I thought I’d have enough knowledge to then go into the curatorial side of the art world. One of my mentors told me to stay put. And I listened. On December 1 we will celebrate 30 years.

CGN: Your gallery focuses exclusively on photography. What attracted you to that medium?

CE: I originally studied metalsmithing but got frustrated that the medium demanded form and function over creativity. When I was in college at Philadelphia College of Art, a friend suggested I try photography. I repeated my sophomore year in college and became a photo major. Photography has the unique ability to record or alter reality, without sacrificing creativity. It was the perfect outlet for my interests.

CGN: What's the first thing you do each morning when you get to the gallery? 

CE: Make an espresso.

CGN: Thumbs up or down on art fairs?

CE: Thumbs way up!!

CGN: Artists you admire but don't represent?

CE: Christian Boltanski, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, August Sander.

CGN: What’s the best sale you ever had?

CE: I recently sold the entire estate of one of my artists to a major museum that will mount an exhibition and produce a definitive catalog on her work.

CGN: What major successes have you had this year? What about challenges?

CE: It’s been a tough year. My father passed away and my mother almost joined him. I’ve been more focused on my family than the business, but I have a great team at CEG who’ve allowed me to take the time needed to take care of things.

CGN: What is your biggest fear?

CE: That the young generation, who is not actively supporting the arts, fails to understand how crucial they are to the future of all art forms.

CGN: Who inspires you?

CE: For me it’s more of a what, not a who.

CGN: What is your favorite interest outside of the art world?

CE: Traveling and see new places.

CGN: What is your favorite work of public art in Chicago?

CE: Magdalena Abakanowicz’s piece (Agora) in Grant Park.

CGN: What’s coming up this fall at your gallery?

CE: Two young artists. In September/October we open with Liat Elbling (b. Ramat-Gan, Israel, 1980) followed by Bettina von Zwehl (b. Munich, 1971) in November/December. We also participate in Expo Chicago.

CGN: Where do you love to go to see art?


  1. Galleries wherever I travel
  2. Museums wherever I travel
  3. New York City
  4. The internet
  5. Photo festivals

Catherine Edelman  is the owner of Catherine Edelman Gallery located in River North in Chicago. For more information about her gallery visit: Catherine Edelman Gallery.