So, we're in Pittsburgh this week for the opening of an exhibition by one of our favorite artists, Firelei Báez at the Andy Warhol Museum. Firelei is an extraordinary young artist born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic who now works and lives in New York. Her medium includes intricate works on paper and sculpture exploring themes around women and their place within diasporic societies.
Firelei won critical acclaim for her powerful "Bloodlines" exhibit that dissects complex racial identities when it opened at The Perez Art Museum Miami last year. Now "Bloodlines" is at the Warhol Museum with shows at other museums coming up over the next 18 months.
Firelei is represented by the dynamic Wendi Norris, owner of her namesake gallery that has been established for 10 years in San Francisco. While managing a particularly hectic schedule with "Bloodlines" opening the very same evening, Wendi graciously found time to share with My Perfect World how she chose her path and achieved success in her field.
How did you become involved with the art world?
I started out as an art enthusiast, visiting many museum and gallery shows and reading voraciously. I became a collector having bought my first serious work of art when I was 28. I switched careers when I was in my mid-thirties, leaving years in the business/tech sectors to follow my passion - art, In owning a gallery, I'm able to marry my business acumen with my love of all that art offers.
Which types of artists do you represent?
I represent 22 artists and/or artist estates. There is certainly a global multi-cultural nature to the program. What sets my gallery apart is that I have an eclectic, inter-generational program and my clients and artists come from very diverse backgrounds. I have been globally-minded from the onset. I also represent a large percentage of powerful female artists. This isn't by design, however, but rather on merit - the way the world ought to run.
How did you discover Firelei and how do you go about nurturing her career?
I became familiar with her work through Franklin Sirmans, (he has since become the Director of Perez Art Museum Miami), during the Prospect.3 Biennial. Firelei also had a residency at the Headlands Center and their program director strongly encouraged me to meet her.
What are you looking for when considering representing an artist?
They must offer something truly distinctive, either conceptually, aesthetically or both. I also prefer artists whose values and goals are in line with mine - hard working, trustworthy and communicative.
Is your focus on contemporary early-career artists or do you represent mid-career artists too?
My program is comprised mostly on mid-career artists and some formidable modern, blue chip artists like Dorothea Tanning, Wolfgang Paalen and Leonora Carrington. I have been working with some of my artists when they were considered emerging, but over time and with substantial museum and critical credentials they've matured into mid-career artists.
Are your artists typically creating contemporary, conceptual or expressionist art?
My interests in life are eclectic, ranging from sports and politics, to food, poetry and economics. To that end, my artists express themselves across a range of ideas that may be conceptual, narrative or experiential in nature.
Thank you Wendi and congratulations on this spectacular "Bloodlines" exhibit!!
Gallery Wendi Norris, 161 Jessie Street, San Francisco, CA - wwwgallerywendinorris.com