Saturday, September 10, 2011

Interview with Cris Worley to celebrate the first anniversary of Cris Worley Fine Arts

I wanted to prepare a story to celebrate Cris Worley Fine Arts' first anniversary. So I met Cris at the gallery.  My eyes enjoyed playing across the colorful canvases of Ruben Nieto’s solo exhibition around us as we spoke: 

HC: Thanks for sitting down for an interview with me today, and congratulations on your first anniversary of having your own gallery.
CW: Thank you, thank you so much.  I’m so excited to be able to say I’m having my first anniversary.
HC: Well yeah!
CW: It’s great to be back in the saddle with my colleagues in the community.
HC: What led you to open your own gallery?
CW: After we closed PanAmerican ArtProjects Dallas at the end of 2009, I decided to start doing some consulting. So I started Cris Worley Fine Arts initially as an art consultant and advisory firm. I worked with individual clients and collectors with their individual needs. That was great. I loved doing that.  It is one of my favorite parts of my work – working with the collector. But at the same time, I really missed having that daily interaction with the artists.  I was still in close contact with several of the artists that I had been working with in the past, and I felt like I wanted to provide a forum for them to show their work because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about.  Having a gallery and having a face to the world. I love being able to point to the work and say ‘let me show you what’s it all about’ (she said smiling happily). 
CW: I’ve always enjoyed being a catalyst between the collector, or enthusiast, curator or the critic, what-have-you – and the artist. It’s very exciting to be a biographer, in a way, and tell the story of the artists and their art. I’m an Art Historian by education, and there will always be a bit of Art Historian inside me that sees the bigger picture.

at the grand opening of the gallery, September 2010

HC: So, here’s a personal business question….(she nods, I proceed) How has business been during this first year, which also happens to be one of the worst years in the US economy?
CW: That’s a good question, and I’m really pleased to say that it’s been extremely successful…better than I could have ever imagined. It’s not just monetary, but of course that plays a role because we have to keep the doors open (she smiles) and I’m grateful for the support I’ve had from the local community – be it collectors or all the other players at large. We really are a unit, we’re a group, and you know – facebook, and blogs such as this, all play a huge role in the success of the gallery’s business. So success is measured in so many different ways. There’s been a lot of good energy around this whole thing. It’s interesting – timing is everything. There’ve been earlier times in my life when it was a seedling idea to open a gallery space, but the timing wasn’t right. I have a lot of years of experience now behind me, over a decade, and you just kinda know when you’re ready. Things just align, and the alignment was there and so I just took a deep breath and jumped ‘out of the airplane’, and so far I’ve had a nice soft landing.

Cris Worley Fine Arts inaugural exhibition
 George Quartz, Maysey Craddock, and Rusty Scruby

 William Cannings

 Murielle White

 Isabelle Du Toit and Elliott Johnson

 Ludwig Schwarz, Charlotte Smith, and George Quartz

HC: Excellent.  You have an outstanding program of artists, my bias of course being for Rusty Scruby…
CW: of course (she gives me a wide grin)
HC: I am also very excited to see you exhibiting some of Harry Geffert’s bronze works. Do you have any plans to expand or rework your current programming?

Harry Geffert

CW: Yeah, and I don’t want to give too much away.  In terms of growth, I’ve kept the gallery small and it will continue to be small in size, but I don’t think it will be small in programming. As always, I look at a lot of artists work.  I do a lot of studio visits. I talk to a lot of people and I keep my eyes and ears open.  In that way there will always be expansion. If you want to talk nuts and bolts, I did a lot of group shows in my first year, and those will now parlay into more focused solo shows for the group of artists that I am working with. For the fall there is a really nice concentration of three artists, including Rusty Scruby in November and December, and Harry Geffert in October, and Charlotte Smith in September to kick off the Fall Gallery Walk.  Art fairs are always something that is a consideration.  In terms of expansion, another thing that I’m interested in is education in the programming.  And that may, at first, end up being a collaborative effort with the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas.
HC: And congratulations for becoming a new member of CADD.
CW: Yes, thank you. I was one of the charter members of CADD when I was under the blanket of PanAmerican ArtProjects Dallas. Being a part of the entity, I felt a lot of nurturing toward its creation and early growth.  And so I felt happy to be invited back, by my colleagues, as my own gallery. So thank you.

Cris Worley Fine Arts at the Dallas Art Fair January 2011
William Cannings' sculpture in front

HC: You just mentioned your experience with art fairs, and you participated in the Dallas Art Fair as Cris Worley Fine Arts this past January.  How would you compare your experience with the Dallas Art Fair with your past experience at art fairs outside of Dallas?

me visiting Cris in the PanAmerican ArtProjects booth
at Red Dot Fair Miami, 2007

CW: Well, doing an art fair in your own home town is like an extension of your own gallery and your own gallery openings, and it just feels really good. When you go out of town, and you are setting up shop so to speak, in these foreign countries, or in cities where you’re having to maneuver – which I mean, it can be great, there is a lot of excitement but also extreme uncertainty. It’s great to meet new people, did that too here in Dallas.  And that was also one of the wonderful things about doing the Dallas Art Fair - being in the larger context of the Dallas Art Fair, I met so many new wonderful, enthusiastic and cool people. But, you know, when you’re in another country or in a city other than your own, you’re supporting artists that people may or may not have ever heard of.  You have to expect a bit of a learning curve for people. You just expect that will become a relationship building that will evolve over time. In fact, this whole business is about evolving relationships.
HC: What’s on the horizon for Cris Worley Fine Arts?
CW: I am very interested in working with emerging, innovative, forward thinking artists, but I’m also interested in working with what I call the veteran artists who maybe value a different approach.  I also, at the same time, am interested in new methodologies, new ideas, new media in art, but I’m also extremely focused on technique and skill, and a bit of formalism. So you will continue to see those kind of things evolve here.  I think, for a large part, it will be up to the artists as well. So I’m really excited to continue a relationship with them. You know, the work is always the end result.  I am very honored to be a witness to the process of seeing a body of work come into existence.
HC: So to wrap up, you’ve got Charlotte Smith opening the season in September, followed by Harry Geffert in October into November and then Rusty Scruby closing out 2011….
CW: Yes, and then I have Paul Manes, Maysey Craddock and Murielle White for the spring time periods. I’m still working on January, I have several ideas I am considering.

Cris Worley Fine Arts first show for the 2011/2012 art season opens tonight with new works by Charlotte Smith. A catalog has been published with an essay by Catherine D. Anspon.

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