Christie’s auction house in partnership with Passerelle will be hosting a pop-up exhibition the week of September 10 through the 18 in the city of Los Altos: a small community of fewer than 30,000 people, but has as of late become a contemporary creative hub. Offered a short-term rental by Passerelle of two exhibition spaces also rented to SFMOMA for their Los Altos projects last year, one of the main goals of this Christie’s exhibition, like with many other arts events along the peninsula, attempts to bridge between the gap between San Francisco arts and artists and the Silicon Valley technology businesses farther south. Along with an opening reception on September 10, Christie’s auction house will host a panel discussion on the proceeding Saturday morning with local arts professionals and collectors. San Francisco Art Enthusiast spoke with Charlie Adamski, Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist for Christie’s in San Francisco about this exciting project.
We sat down with her at a café in San Francisco’s Russian Hill district, where she related to us more about this special event, beginning with Christie’s presence in the Bay Area, as well as how the pop-up show came about. Although primarily recognized for its large art auctions in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza, Adamski tells us Christie’s has operated on the West Coast working with local collections and buyers and sellers since the early 1980s. As of late, says Adamski, exhibitions of artwork offered in New York have been occurring in the Bay Area regularly: “Christie’s has actually been touring art work out to the Bay Area on a bi-annual basis in line with our main season, contemporary art sales…We had an exhibition in April, partnering with Hedge Gallery in Jackson Square. We’ve been doing that for a few years.” There have also been Christie’s-organized exhibitions that have aimed to make meaningful connections with the Silicon Valley community: “We did a pop-up in Mountain View last summer at the Computer History Museum focused upon Andy Warhol and technology,” says Adamski.
Adamski also addressed the particular choice of exhibiting in Los Altos, as many within the art community will make some mindful connection with SFMOMA’s art installations within and around the same city less than a year ago. “Because of SFMOMA’s success there, and their large impact and warm reception, we thought this is a community that has an interest in art. It’s also a young community – it just felt right. It’s also a great partnership with Passerelle,” she says. Its proximity to the Silicon Valley community was evident as well: “Like anyone who’s busy, if you have it at your doorstep and after work one day you see there’s an art exhibition nearby, it’s more accessible. We’re trying to show how accessible Christie’s, and the greater art world, really is.” She also relates Christie’s has a history of being among the first to make connections with emerging art markets, and making arts accessible. “Most recently, Christie’s was the first auction house to have sales in Shanghai; we have also brought pop-up exhibitions to Hong Kong. Our interest in increasing West Coast presence is similar in that sense. We want to start a dialogue.”
The pop-up exhibition will include a wide range of artists from many backgrounds and interests; the most interesting aspect of this exhibition to Adamski is the many different processes used by the artists: “The Lichtenstein we are showing is actually an enameled piece on aluminum; another, by Korakrit Arunanondchai who’s showing at MOMA PS1 right now and currently has a lot of momentum behind his career, is made with bleached denim and gold paint; Jeff Elrod and Israel Lund are looking at technology: Lund’s taking photocopies that he’s blown up on to silkscreen, and then making work with those silkscreens with different colors. Jeff Elrod creates drawings in basic paint programs and then projects them onto canvases.” Others, Adamski explains, exemplify the ethos of the Silicon Valley community and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area. “Tracey Emin’s piece, “Be Faithful to Your Dreams,” to me, really screams the ethos of the Bay Area. I’ve been here for two years, was in New York for the last 6 beforehand, and I’ve never been in a place where people are so entrepreneurial and continually have new ideas… It’s such a positive, energized mentality and it’s cool we can bring that work out here with that message.” This variety of work, speaking to a deep breadth of not only conceptual ideas but also technical pioneering, gives the exhibition more accessibility to a wide array of audiences. “It’s nice to be able to show all these works in conjunction with each other, and show how they blend lines between blue-chip Post-War artists and cutting edge contemporary artists– it’s how people live with art,” Adamski points out. “It’s one of my favorite things about visiting collectors; seeing individuals who buy across mediums, time periods — it’s more realistic.”
Along with the exhibition, Christie’s will also host a panel discussion that aims to explore the many ideas that surround art collecting that will represent all different perspectives from auctions, galleries, art advisors, private collector, and museums: Laura Paulson, Chairman Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Janet Bishop, curator of Painting and Sculpture at SFMOMA, art advisor Sabrina Buell, gallery owner Claudia Altman-Siegel, and collector Ravin Agrawal. “It can be so overwhelming for a new collector; where do you start? We hope to address that with candid conversations, anecdotes, and sharing,” says Adamski. “At the end of the day, collecting is a very personal thing there’s no right or wrong. But that’s why all the different perspectives of the panelists are so important.” Using an example from the exhibition, Adamski says, “Five works [in the pop-up exhibition] are from the Marvin and Florence Gerstin Collection, Washington D.C.-based collectors. The Gerstins started collecting many years ago and their collection is an example of passionate collectors who have a long history of looking at art and engaging with artists. Their collection demonstrates to new collectors that you can’t just build an entire art collection overnight. It’s a labor of love, it takes many years, figuring out what you like and then acquiring work. It’s OK to start small. ”
Christie’s Pop Up Lost Altos will be at 359 & 242 State Street, Los Altos from September 10 through the 18, 2014
The discussion panel, “StART UP: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection” will take place at 242 State Street, September 13, 11-1pm
Find out more at: www.christies.com/losaltos