• Address: 167 Payne Street, Dallas, TX 75207
  • Owner/Director: Hanh Ho

Hanh Ho (H): Art = ideas.  I wanted to work with ideas.  I want to nurture these ideas from the first point of entry into culture (an exhibition to the public) into history (the museum).  No one in the art eco-system has this responsibility like a gallerist does.

H: I would have changed some of the decisions I made my first year.  You learn from mistakes.  There’s no education that can compete with real-life experience. Every entrepreneur has the equivalent of a PhD in managing people and resources.

H: The job of a gallerist is 99% hidden.  No one sees the pre-planning involved for a single exhibition, from conception of the artist’s ideas, refinement of the concept and narrative, fabrication, logistics for shipping, installation setbacks, press and marketing due diligence – salesmanship to the public, to collectors, to other gallerists, to the artists – to archival concerns.  A gallery helps secure resources to bring an idea (in the artist’s imagination) into its final form (an exhibition) and we translate it to a new audience. Most viewers don’t realize the intense mental and manual labor involved to produce an exhibition.  Gallerists don’t fall into this profession to be in the spotlight.

H: Curious people.  Curiosity is the heart of all the world’s discoveries.  People who see/collect/support with their eyes instead of their ears.

H: Each space is tied to a founder.  It’s not the space.  It’s a person.  Zaha Hadid wasn’t a gallerist, per se, but she had a vision and firm of people behind her.  Her death resonated with me.  She was quoted in the NYTimes: “I am non-European, I don’t do conventional work and I am a woman. On the one hand all of these things together make it easier – but on the other hand it is very difficult.”

I wouldn’t dare to compare my acumen nor talents to Hadid’s, but I can sympathize, as I am a non-traditional Texan. I am the child of immigrants.  I am a woman, and I don’t show what the city is used to seeing or buying (local or secondary markets).  I’m intellectually-curious and my tastes are indicative of my experience and studies Stateside and abroad.  The gallery is somewhat research-driven — by our artists’ interests, so working hard mentally comes naturally for my staff and I.  We like being challenged.  But to remain emotionally-resilient because we are different, that’s hard.  Resolving emotions (yours and other peoples) and changing minds, that is for grown-ups.

H: Probably Oscar Berglund’s Somewhere in Between.  Feedback from people.  As you mature, the market tells you.  But you have to listen acutely and closely to learn.

H: My gallery is a destination, so we welcome all visitors.  On the rare occasion, we get a few individuals who are hostile to abstract or nonobjective art.  They mistake it for self-appointed elitism. Because we show emerging art, my staff is trained to articulate ideas embedded in each exhibition.  We offer tours to people who come in.  The gallery is supposed to connect the artist to her supporters.  We don’t want to undermine that connection. These are new ideas, often being introduced to the US for the first time.  We want to bridge-build to supporters.

H: My MFA was a second childhood.  I have more in common with my stable of artists because they all were formally educated, like I was.  We all share a universal language.  This language of art transcends gender, ethnicity, age, location…  I understand this language because I studied many of the systems of thoughts they did.

Sometimes, people find the rare brilliant artist who didn’t have a formal education to disprove the value of a graduate degree in art, as a whole.  This is a logical fallacy, where the exception is used to make a generalization. Most artists showing in significant contemporary art galleries have a formal education, if not a graduate degree. We respect attorneys, doctors, engineers when they have formal educations, why not art practitioners?  Sometimes, people without finance degrees make off very well in the stock market.  That doesn’t mean a finance degree is meaningless.

One caveat: grad school doesn’t make for good art.  Curiosity makes for good art. The motive/foundation must be sound.  But a formal education tends to make it better.

Briana Williams