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  • Victoria Hood, Founder


Art Advisor Emily McElwreath on Curation, Dedication, and Persistence

The latest exhibition, Every Love Has Its Landscape, is Emily McElwreath’s curatorial debut at Standard Space gallery. The new show features the works of partners: photographer Katherine March Driscoll and painter Kyle Nilan. Its meaning is love, and, as Emily states, the viewer is drawn to the collaboration because, “Katherine and Kyle are lovers. Their love feels rooted. Almost familial. Uncomplicated, organic, charged by each season.”

Emily McElwreath is equipped with over eighteen years of experience as an adviser, independent curator, art educator, and brand consultant. She is the founder of McElwreath Art Advisory and the host and CEO of The Art Career Podcast. Thanks to her time as Director of Communications and Education at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Emily demonstrates the unique ability to understand the art world from both the point of view of the artist and the audience. Building relationships with artists continues to be Emily’s main focus, frequenting studio visits, connecting artists with collectors, and building partnerships within the art community.

To understand her curatorial process, Pamplemousse PR's Founder Victoria Hood sat-down with Emily to discuss her artistic journey from childhood visits to The Metropolitan Museum to advising collectors through her thirst for knowledge. Read on and discover why love, most importantly, has been the driving force.

Let’s start from the beginning, what was your first impactful memory of art?

My first impactful memory of art was visiting The Met with my father. My dad was passionate about all art forms and had a broad knowledge of art history that he always shared with me. He worked on Wall Street in the 80's and demonstrated a unique juxtaposition of art and business in his personality that was always intriguing. Rothko, Modigliani, Kahlo, Munch, Warhol, Duchamp, and Agnes Martin were among the first artists I was exposed to. By the time I got to college it was certain that I would major in Art History. It was in my DNA. Later, I was able to combine both art and business while growing my career, as, I, too, am driven equally by both.

Rather than becoming an artist, you chose to be an art advisor, educator, and curator. Could you tell us about this personal choice and journey? 

Making art is a hobby of mine. To call yourself an artist you must HAVE to make art on a regular basis. I HAVE to be around art in order to survive. A true artist has to make it in order to survive. I’m also a realist and know that I am much better at facilitating creatives partnerships, building a podcast, curating shows, and educating than making a painting. My art work is very good, its not great, and I really only want to focus on great if I’m making a career out of it. I couldn't be happier landing on this end of things in the art world. There aren’t enough professions that facilitate supporting artists so I am lucky to be in the position I am.

How do you balance the challenges of entrepreneurship and the complexities of the art world? 

Ha! I don’t know if I do balance them! Being an entrepreneur is complicated. Its a marathon, not a sprint, and you have to be in it for the long haul. It takes dedication, patience, and an enormous amount of grit.

The complexities of the art world pose certain challenges and you need to be able to navigate the waters of on a continual basis. Staying current on market trends, through social media analytics, museums and exhibition openings, etc..., is must as while simultaneously staying authentic.

There’s a ton of money in our industry and its easy to get swept away chasing that instead of focusing on what your real magnetic drive is. If money comes as a result of that, wonderful. Integrity is everything.

You have recently collaborated with Standard Space to curate the exhibition, Every Love Has Its Landscape? What was the catalyst for this group show?

I love Katheryn and Kyles work and have had a relationship with it for quite some time. I always thought they spoke to one another - almost as if the bodies of work were kindred spirits. When Theo Coulombe, Founder of Standard Space, asked me to curate a show, this body of work was the first exhibition idea that came to mind. What’s more, I happen to personally love these two artists and consider them good friends. It was a win win all around.

What is your favorite piece by Kyle and your favorite piece by Katherine in the show? Why?

Katheryn’s photograph, View From the Wreck (Life's a Beach), captures the soul of upstate NY perfectly.

Looking back, I remember seeing a photograph of Katherine’s a decade ago. It was of her home town in Rochester, NY. During this time I was spending most of my money traveling to different places in upstate New York each weekend. I couldn’t get enough. It was as if Katherine was one of the first to capture the feeling of this land for me. Each photograph made me ache. Every landscape has a spirit.

Kyle’s work on paper is so unique in its monochromatic approach to landscape and communicates an almost cinematic still.

I met Kyle after meeting Katherine, and that very day we found ourselves in his home studio. My eyes darted to a painting of a blue deer that seemed to have its origins in longing, or what Solnit refers to as “the blue of distance.” I had never encountered an almost completely monochromatic painting that had such an effect on me. Informally, the term “blue” comes from an old English word for melancholy or sadness.

What advice would you give to artists starting out in their careers?

Don’t try to make art your career unless you want it more than anything else in the world. The overnight success stories are rarely overnight success stories. Stay focused. Surround yourself with people that challenge you and are involved with the art community. Opportunities are granted as a result of relationships between artists far more than cold calling galleries.

What advice would you give a buyer starting their first art collection? 

It’s ok to want to invest in art but make sure you are only buying what you love. Love all else, have respect for the artists, and acknowledge that they are the ones at the center of the ecosystem, not the buyer or gallerist. 

I am biased but I believe that using an art advisor is always a good idea. Do your research and make sure whoever you work with has a great deal of experience so they can not only help in acquiring but also educate you on everything you need to know about the artist and the current market. 

Kyle and Katherine's works are a perfect example of a great place to start if you're interested in collecting. They are both seasoned artists whose works are just beginning to gain popularity in the art market. No doubt, these prices will increase in the future so its a great idea to get ahead of the curve with works such as these. Both bodies of work are not only aesthetically beautiful but also invite a larger conversation. To become intimate with a work of art in your home is a special experience that everyone should have. Let's all move past decorative art and bring a bit more depth to our homes while simultaneously supporting our artists.


Every Love Has Its Landscape

Curated by: Emily McElwreath 

April 5th - May 5th, 2024

Standard Space

147 Main Street, Sharon, CT 06069

T: +1 917-627-3261

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