Art & Business: This Private Fine Art Consultant Finds Her Well-Off Clients Unusual Works
Galen Cheney's "China No. 9," 2015, highlights the painter's versatility, in this case with rice, bamboo papers, and paint.
Jacquelyn Herold at home in front of Galen Cheney's "Pressing the Flesh," mixed media on canvas, 2015. (Photo Brooke Fletcher)
Galen Cheney's "The Night They Dipped Their Toes In," an oil on canvas from 2014. The fiery abstractions of this mid-career Vermont painter have caught the art adviser's attention and are among her stable.
Big break: Herold was tapped by Dallas designer Elle Cole, who selected a painting by Ryan Cobourn, "Leo 2," 2014, for The 2016 Hampton Designer Showhouse. (Courtesy Traditional Home)
Margery Amdur's "Amass #11," 2014. The artist is a wizard with unexpected materials — cosmetic sponges and pigment. She's also among the most promising in Herold's lineup, recently completing a commission for the U.S. Art in Embassies program.
Another sculptural creation by Herold's artist Margery Amdur — "Amass #6," 2013.
Rebecca Howdeshell's "Eight Plus Two," 2014. The Dallas artist, known for obsessive embroidered felt work, is among the contemporary talents Herold showcases via her art biz, a melding of a private gallery and consulting service.
A detail from Fort Worth-based Stephen Battle's "Being — Study 5," 2016.
Stephen Battle's "On Our Own Time," 2016. Herold reps the ab ex painter, whose lyrical compositions evoke both figure and landscape.
Andrea Myers' "Cliffhanger, 2012, possesses a quirky, tactile quality. It's formed from collaged fabric on plaster and wood. Myers is one of the talents Herold represents.
Herold's very first major art acquisition — a towering pair of life-size ceramic figures by Mavis McClure. Acquired from an auction house, they still have pride of place in her dining room.
The art adviser cites Musée d'Orsay as the ultimate museum inspiration, dating back to her student days at SMU. She says, "You know how people ask what would your last meal be? My last museum would be the d’Orsay."
For our first Art & Business story we spoke to Jacquelyn Herold the founder/owner/director of Herold Fine Art, a contemporary advisory service based in Dallas. We quizzed the candid private consultant about her unlikely — yet successful — trajectory in today’s volatile art market.
First encounter with the visual world. I wasn’t one of those children carted around to museums or gallery openings with my parents. Growing up [though], we had some unusual art pieces. My mom taught me to be unafraid to buy what you like, even if it’s a little quirky.
And I did study abroad in France. I saved to go to Paris during spring breaks my junior and senior year at SMU. It struck me how art was so much a part of a European’s life. I left with the idea that we are entitled to quotidian beauty, not as a luxury, but as a necessity to living an enriched life.
Your practice. I work closely with individuals, along with interior designers, architects, and art consultants.
On how you personally live with art. Somewhat irreverently — with herding dogs who love to catch balls, a son who has boys over who’re rowdy and love to play. I love art, but I don’t revere or tip-toed around it.
Your mantra. The things around you should bring you pleasure.
I don’t buy art for investment. There are a lot of great people in Dallas who can help you with that. And that’s not my thing. To me art is not a commodity. It creates a feeling that becomes a part of your life.
When there’s that kind of connection, it doesn’t matter the pedigree, the resale potential, what you paid or its worth; the art has become a part of who you are and is integrated in your identity even. That’s the goal — what I chase for myself and a client.
Your trajectory in the art biz. My first job out of school was in commercial real estate. I hated it so much I quit without any idea of what I was going to do next. After that, I taught freshman through AP French at Jesuit (again without any training, just a love of French and a good accent) which led to a few years of teaching. I had stopped working several years even prior to having my son, but once he was born, I became full-time mom.
Initially, I was buying a lot at auction which provided a background to quickly learn about what was current in the art world as well getting an immediate crash course on how to ship and bring works in.
When people came over to my house, they began asking me how I acquired my art, where I was getting it, or about the artists. Cliché as this sounds, it never even dawned on me to pursue art as a career. I was at home with a preschooler at the time. One night, my husband and I were out to dinner with another couple, and my friend said, “Why don’t you do this for a living?
That was a light bulb moment. I called an artist I’d been following and made what I had no idea at the time was a studio visit.
I left that meeting with a few rolled-up canvases in the trunk of my car and sold a 70” x 84” canvas that first week. When that happened, I knew I was in.
Slowly, art was shown to friends and friends of friends. Then, someone called me because they had been at a party and loved what they had seen above the mantle in the living room —we did a commission piece from that. Another client told their neighbor about me and suggested I help them. I wasn’t advertising. I liked the old-fashioned word-of-mouth referral thing. It was old school.
Opening date. I consider it to be January 2016 when my website launched — and when Herold Fine Art became official.
Business model. Sometimes I wish I had more of road map to follow, but that’s also what makes it so exhilarating. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I have to be creative while in the art world. It’s all just from my gut, hard work, and persistence.
Challenges. Being able to do it all. There are artists to talk to, invoices to write, people to meet with, relationships to forge, pieces to frame …
Why you do it. The most gratifying thing to me is to have a client truly respond to a work. You can literally see it on their face when that connection occurs.
While I didn’t paint or create any artwork, I feel a part of the process because I am bridging those worlds of a creation to its home. When someone buys a piece, it is going to be with them in their lives, possibly lasting beyond a marriage or being handed down to kids.
Qualities you seek in your talent pool. Herold Fine Art developed from an interest in promoting artists who are not represented in our area.
I only represent artists I have sought out by virtue of owning or wanting to own their work. That’s my barometer. Plain and simple.
What I show is not based on what I think the market wants, but what speaks to me.
Beyond that, all artworks offered are under $15,000 and original. No photography. No prints. No conceptual art. Several years ago I was at an art fair and a piece being shown was a white piece of paper with the word “fuck” written in different sizes about ten times. I love (using) that word, but writing it on a sheet of paper is not artistry to me. Also, I don’t think that art needs to be the price of a car to be great.
Talents you’re tracking. If it’s someone iconic — Kiki Smith. Richard Serra (lucky enough to see while in Chelsea this summer, show extended, very fortuitous, not planned). Or Thomas Houseago. Nick Cave. There are a few people I don’t show who I really admire — Ana Teresa Barboza Gubo and Zhi Qi Ni to name a few. Oh, and Meg Hitchcock. I think what she’s doing is just beautiful and extremely relevant.
My peeps: Margery Amdur is beyond amazing. She’s taking cosmetic sponges and elevating them in the same way that Tara Donovan exalts pencils. (A U.S. ambassador loves Margery’s work. The embassy got a piece and there’s been a request for a second work that’s being made. She’s leaving for Latvia next month to install.)
Rebecca Howdeshell is in Dallas. She sews layers and layers of stitches onto industrial felt. Her work is informed by geological formations. It’s all in white — the thread, the felt. It’s impactful.
Andrea Myers is a textile artist. She creates both wall-mounted and three-dimensional fabric collage work that is vibrant, bold, and lusciously tactile.
Galen Cheney. I’m obsessed. I brought in three pieces of hers to show and bought two of them. She’s creating a lot of new mixed media work. Taking older paintings, ripping them up, then assembling them into new collage pieces, really compelling and unique. After a residency in Shenzhen, her work has been influenced by China’s cultural associations with paper.
Stephen Battle. His paper works are spectacular. He’s Twombly, inspired by nature.
These are people on my speed dial. I love it when I call my artists and their first words are “Yo! What up?” I’m very lucky. I love what I do. It’s meaningful to me.
Typical day. My niche is unusual in that I don’t typically troll art fairs or show in them. I don’t really do the gallery circuit like openings and talks, and I don’t have a commercial space. For those reasons, I’m really not “out there” mainstream-wise, and I like it that way. No office to go to.
I sit at my dining room table and work. I make calls in the car in line for carpool. There is no typical day. I spend a lot of time doing basic administrative work like inventories and talking to my artists. I go to homes when working with individuals or meet with interior designers at their client’s home or their office. Sometimes I’m at the framer. And since I’m just starting out, I also give presentations.
What’s next. Focusing on U.S. artists and also ideally would like to hone in on more local talent, particularly within the Metroplex.
Eventually, I would like to place some public art, but I think that’s down the road as I become more seasoned.
Museum Inspirations: Local – I will always love the Kimbell, but The Modern is such a great addition to Fort Worth, it’s probably my new favorite. It’s a good size, they have great exhibits, and it’s so great to just be able to pop-in and see works by Robert Motherwell, Morris Louis, Agnes Martin, Clifford Still, Joan Mitchell, and, of course, Joseph Havel’s The Drape.
Continental U.S. — The Parrish Museum is fantastic. The collection, the way the building is laid-out, and the landscape itself. I love how it’s wholly integrated and just an all-inclusive experience.
World-wide — it’s by no means original, but I’m still a sucker for Musée d’Orsay. I speak French and feel very comfortable in Paris. I find the d’Orsay classic and just everything you want a museum to be. The skylights, an old train station, Impressionistic masterpieces, being in Paris, you’re overlooking the Seine — it just doesn’t get any better than that! You know how people ask what would your last meal be? My last museum would be the d’Orsay.
Parting thought. Could I have done what I’m doing 15 years ago — short answer – hell no.
Ultimately, I would not have a business without the internet. As I mentioned, I found my way to this through auctions (a lot online – I didn’t hop on a plane every time I bid) and discovered artists online. Fifteen or even 10 years ago my business would not have happened. That being said, the crux of my business is through connections — connecting with people, pulling pieces ideally a client connects with, and keeping at it.
So while I wouldn’t be here without technology, what I promote, how I promote, and how I feel about it is all heart.
First acquisition. And do you still own it?
My first big purchase was pair of very large ceramic figures. One was 89 inches tall, the other 91 inches. They’re pretty massive. They had been in northern Europe. That was a great learning experience for me getting those big things to Dallas. When I received them, I immediately called a local gallery to come to the house to check them out and encouraged them to represent this artist. In hindsight, I was already thinking like a dealer.
Buying segued to researching artists. I’d be online for hours and into the night. Particular artists kept popping up on my radar. Sometimes they’d ask me how I found them. Often I couldn’t even remember what led me to them. I was so in the maze. But, I found them — those are the artists I now represent.