Sunday, September 27, 2020

Heather James Fine Art

When I came into the art trade, my gallery dealt in a wide range of art including drawings, sculpture, paintings, and decorative arts but they were limited to continental Europe mainly Germany and France.  Also, limited to the 13th through the 18th century with an emphasis of 1500 to 1800.  Then there was an era of specialization such as dealers only dealing in the 17th century Dutch & Flemish art, so I steered the gallery to concentrate on 18th century France, but still in several media.  Now it seems that the tide may again be shifting to a wider range of art.

I became interested in the Heather James Fine Art gallery when I started receiving their emails which showed a great variety of material but always maintaining a high degree of quality.  Many of the emails had modern and then American art and then an Old Master thrown in… suddenly an announcement of an exhibition of photographs of Native Americans by Edward S. Curtis. Here is one of the old masters, a portrait by Jean Baptiste Greuze of Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux oil on panel c. 1790.

Juxtaposed with the Greuze was a Deborah Butterfield, the sculptor who specializes in life-sized horses constructed of various materials.  I remember sending the email to my wife making a negative comment about the artist and getting this reply, “I still like her work.” As my regular readers know my wife was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum and developed the field of what was then called 20th-century decorative arts. As sculpture, this Butterfield would have been beyond her purview, but I learned she had always found Butterfield’s constructions engaging. That is what makes the art world interesting with endless things to talk about.

The Heather James dealership was founded in 1996 in a small California Arts town, Palm Desert by a wife and husband team, Heather Sacre and James Carona hence the name Heather James.  My contact at the gallery was Montana Alexander who joined the gallery in 2013 and became a partner in 2017.  She was also the individual who helped expand the gallery beyond Palm Desert.  They now also have galleries in New York, San Francisco, Montecito and Jackson Hole with a total of 50 employees.  These include individuals, called “consultants”, who are full time and work with their clients regionally, specifically in Los Angeles, New Port Beach, Austin, New Orleans and Basel, Switzerland.

Heather & James (left) and Montana Alexander (right)

I also asked what the philosophy of the gallery was and in part, I was told, “art is for everyone and not just the chosen few.”  though some of the art they sell must cost a pretty penny, they sell drawings and photographs which are usually of a less expensive nature.  I do not want anybody to just trust what they read about a gallery but check it out as I did for Heather James.  First, I phoned a friend in San Francisco and asked if he had heard of the gallery saying that I was impressed and got the response back, “What’s not to like”.  Then I corresponded with a friend at a gallery of American art in New York and she said, “We do many things with them as they seem to have the entire nation on their email blasts.   they sure know how to market …  with a knack for finding pretty paintings and big names and they have what seems to us deep, deep pockets.”  Aside from their great mailing list, I found another big change from my active days in an art gallery.  In one case, when I asked a question, I was told I would hear from their Director of Technology!  If my father were still around, he would be staring at me asking what that meant!

To leave you with some diverse images, here is an Alexander Calder mobile and a Fernando Botero marble sculpture from the gallery.

Heather James has certainly mastered the adaptation of high-level art dealing with the 21st century.  See for yourself ...

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