These days, on Friday evenings in cities across the country, hundreds of artists pull open the heavy, industrial doors of warehouses and factory buildings-turned- studios to welcome the arts community for open views of their work. But back in the late eighties and early nineties, this was unheard of. Artists relied almost entirely on galleries for their livelihoods—to select, show, and sell their work.
It was 1989, and Wallace had enjoyed a successful decade showing in galleries from Chicago to Houston to New Orleans. One of the most high profile was the Ruth Siegal Gallery in New York. Following the success of a group exhibition at the gallery which included a number of Wallace’s works, Siegal took the artist on full time, and began planning a focus exhibition around his work. “It was such an exciting time,” he recalls. “I felt the momentum; I knew I was at the edge of something.”
One morning, he received a call. Ruth Siegal, the 73 year old owner, was closing down the gallery. Wallace recalls her telling him that if she were ten years younger, she’d love the opportunity to work with him. She felt it would be a four year project to launch his career and establish him in the industry. Unfortunately, it was a project she didn’t have the energy to take on.
Devastated and frustrated, Wallace remembers, “I realized then that I needed to control my own destiny. I couldn’t be at the mercy of galleries for the rest of my career. I had to show my own work.”
Return soon to read the next installment of the Story of Studio 2846, or subscribe on the right to receive updates as they're posted.