So many art venues shut down during the pandemic.
Many of them undoubtedly mourned not only what might have been, but also the fact that there wasn't an opportunity for closure.
My guest for this episode of The Art Biz is Mai Wyn Schantz, artist and former gallerist. When she shuttered her gallery at the beginning of Covid, Mai Wyn was thrilled to be able to spend more time with her daughter.
But she hated to lose the relationships she had build over the years as the gallerist overseeing her eponymous space. Not only the relationships with her artists, but also the relationships with loyal collectors.
She needed closure, and she was determined to do right by her artists.
As soon as she felt it was safe, Mai Wyn organized a pop-up farewell exhibition with her artists. Her goal was to break even, which, as you'll hear, was far too conservative a goal. Her “little” pop-up was more successful than she dreamed of.
The success of the event is due to Mai Wyn's determination and commitment to the relationships she has nurtured throughout the years.
We discuss: the timing of the pop-up, the details for pulling it off, including the space she worked with, and what she learned from the experience. Mai Wyn is quite open about at least 3 things she would do differently next time. And they're BIG important things.
- Mai Wyn’s journey to finding her space in galleries. (1:42)
- Acting as a gallerist when you feel like an imposter. (6:11)
- Mai Wyn's deep concern for her stable of artists informed how she ran the gallery. (8:58)
- Reflections on the decision to close her gallery. (11:55)
- Celebrating the closure the proper way with a pop-up gallery. (16:16)
- Artist requirements for participation in the event. (25:42)
- How to promote a pop-up event across your network. (27:08)
- Handling inventory and sales in a pop-up gallery. (30:10)
- Playing the part of the hostess means hiring the right kind of help. (32:50)
- Lessons learned from this hugely successful pop-up. (42:51)
- Exceeding sales expectations by 1000%. (49:00)
- The relationships that make artists and gallerists succeed. (50:26)
- Mai Wyn gets real about what’s up next for her as a reborn artist. (52:22)
Mai Wyn Schantz Quotes
“The puzzle always comes together, and whatever I’m getting, we make it work.”
“It can be hard to talk about yourself, but when you're promoting somebody else's stuff it's really easy.
“If you're going to have a friend come in and help, you got to be selective about what skills they bring.”
“I was just hoping to break even on this show and we far surpassed what I thought we would sell.”
“We sold in four days what might take three or four months to sell in the gallery.”
“Too many artists struggle with relationships because we’re so used to doing everything by ourselves.”
About My Guest
Landscape and wildlife painter Mai Wyn Schantz developed a love of nature at an early age canoeing the lake country of the upper Midwest with her father. Since her introduction to the art world in 1999, Schantz has exhibited steadily, including solo and group exhibitions at commercial galleries, art centers and museums, notably the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Yellowstone Art Museum, and the Arvada Center in Colorado.
Beyond the studio, she remains an avid hiker spending her down time exploring trails along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and young daughter.
Follow Mai Wyn on Instagram: @maiwynfineart