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Jennifer Schwartz Gallery


New CSA Photographs Shipped (Plus: how do we pick the photographers?)

If you were one of the lucky fifty who snagged a share of the first Crusade Supported Art (CSA) round, start checking your mailbox. The second shipment of prints are heading your way! And if you didn't pull the trigger quickly enough (the shares sold out in two days), here's a peek at what postal workers around the country are delivering.

What is this CSA you may be asking? This should explain it:

Back to the art! This Kerry Mansfield photograph was one of the two just sent to shareholders.

from Kerry Mansfield's "Expired" series

from Kerry Mansfield's "Expired" series

I have been asked a lot about how the photographers are selected for the CSA. Fortunately, I see a lot of photography! Between portfolio reviews, online resources and photography festivals, I am able to keep a running list of photographers to watch and hopefully work with. (Have I told you I love my job?) 

Kerry Mansfield is a photographer I originally saw on Fraction Magazine and then met at a small portfolio review in San Francisco. As a result, I began representing her at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery. Since closing the gallery at the end of 2013, I still keep close watch on my people, and Kerry is a superstar. I mean, just look at this insert she included with her CSA photograph:

I first met Jennifer Greenburg in Lishui, China in 2011. I was one of the curators for a photography festival there, and Jennifer was an artist one of the other curators put in the show. But it wasn't until last year at Filter Photo Festival in Chicago that I got a deeper look at her work. She gave a fantastic artist talk at Schneider Gallery, who was doing a big exhibit of her Revising History project (the same project this CSA photograph is part of). The work is clever and fun and technically exceptional. From her project description, "Revising History is a series of manufactured images that I have created by replacing the individuals in vintage found-negatives with images of myself". I have loved working with her (she's the blond below).

Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagon West Party, 2014  by Jennifer Greenburg

Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagon West Party, 2014 by Jennifer Greenburg

If you missed the first two photographs, check them out here. And if you want to get in on the action for the next CSA round, keep your eyes (and inbox) peeled next month. Not on our email list? Shame. Run and do that here.



Atlanta Gallery Owner Takes New Focus to Promote Photography

Atlanta Gallery Owner Takes New Focus to Promote Photography by Howard Pousner December 22, 2013

Jennifer Schwartz has shown herself to be an out-of-the-box thinker since opening her self-named gallery in 2009.


Then she literally got out of the box, closing her Westside space last year in favor of pop-up shows and, most ambitiously, undertaking a tour to 10 American cities in a VW bus-turned-gallery on wheels this spring. The idea of the Kickstarter-funded Crusade for Collecting Tour was to recruit a new generation of art collectors by taking the photography to them rather than waiting inside a bricks-and-mortar space hoping someone might visit.

Now Schwartz is on to a new photography crusade. She has announced that she is shutting down operations of the for-profit Jennifer Schwartz Gallery by the end of the year and launching a non-profit, Crusade for Art.

Its mission, according to a recent announcement: “to build artists’ capacity to create demand for their work.”

Schwartz said the Crusade for Art will take a two-pronged approach: mentoring photographers to achieve higher levels of creative and professional development; and “incubating” solutions to connect them with audiences.

Crusade for Art’s programs will include:

  • Crusade Engagement Grant, an annual $10,000 award that will be given to an individual artist or artist group with the most innovative plan for increasing his/their audience and collector support. Applications are to open in March.
  • A CSA (Crusade Supported Art program), modeled on agricultural CSAs and similar to WonderRoot’s successful art CSA program. Fifty “shareholders” will invest $350 each to commission six photographers to create an image in editions of 50. Shareholders will receive two original, signed photographs in the mail three times yearly.
  • Fee-base mentoring as well as six-month mentorship programs awarded to 10 photographers per year through a competitive application process.
  • Crusade chapters being established in cities including Chicago, Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore.

“I will still be doing my favorite things — working with photographers and developing programs to create demand for art — in this new venture,” Schwartz told the AJC, “but I will miss working one on one with new collectors.”

She expects individual donations to fuel the non-profit’s launch and plans to solicit corporate donations and grants. While she awaits official 501c(3) status declaration from the IRS, the crusade is able to accept donations through fiscal sponsor New York Foundation for the Arts. To find out more:


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Linking Art Purchases to Special Occasions

Last week I held another Art Circle, a program I love where a small group of people get together to learn about fine art photography and collecting in a laid back and fun way. One of the things that came up in our conversation was how a lot of people like to buy art on vacation, to remind them of a really great trip or experience.  I have thought about this a lot over the years, because Atlanta is not a tourist town, and we do not benefit from that type of art buying.  Also because, even though I buy art seemingly around the clock, my husband and I do tend to buy more when we are away.  We even bought a photograph at the AIPAD fair in New York. . . from a gallery based in Atlanta.  We were having a great time in the city, and money somehow feels easier to part with on vacation.

I've been wondering, how can we make art buying its own memorable experience?  And what non-traveling occasions could be marked by the purchase of a special piece of art?

Last year a couple approached me with an idea.  They were engaged, and they wanted to register for a photograph. Guests to the wedding would be able to give them money to go toward the purchase of a piece of art they selected. From there, they plan to purchase a new piece every year to mark their anniversary.

So how can we get more people to register for art or think about buying art to mark a special occasion or anniversary?  Websites where you can purchase original art online should consider adding a registry function.  Galleries - offer this service to your collectors.  Let's do this!

Looking for help creating your own innovative ideas to connect new audiences to your work?  That's what Crusade for Art is all about.  Read more here.

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Good Morning Atlanta, Hello Inspiration

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of being a guest on "Good Morning Atlanta", a live podcast series on Atlanta Business Radio X, hosted by the awesome Dana Barrett.  Last year I was on a show about art and ethics on the same program, and this time the other guests and I discussed art, religion, and meaningful work.  I love everything about these juxtapositions.  Yesterday before we went live on the air, one of the other guests, writer Jeffrey Small told us about his journey from real estate businessman to novelist.  He said he realized there was a difference between success and significance, and he realized that he wasn't being fulfilled in fundamental ways by his success as a businessman.  Isn't that why we make art?  To be fulfilled and find significance?  And isn't that what we are hoping to give to others through our art?  I think sometimes we get can caught up in thinking dollar signs signal success, and of course sales are important for all kinds of reasons, but being a part of this podcast inspired me to think about focusing on the core of it all and letting success come from within. Click here to listen to the podcast.


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Curation Combats Image-Saturation

I talk a lot about collecting - do it! buy original art! art is awesome!  But there are a lot of perceptual barriers to actually making that first purchase. One is the overwhelming amount of art out there.  This article addresses the explosion of online art buying websites that offer art at affordable prices.  With so many choices, how do you know what is good?  Some sites sell original work, and some sell mass-produced art.  Most claim to sell limited editions, but if a photograph has an edition of 200 in one size and 500 in another, I don't consider that limited, collectible, and an image that could potentially increase in value in the same way as a photograph with an edition of 10, 15 or 25.  And now with 20x200, arguably the pioneer of online art buying, in a very public and massive state of flux, the confusion grows.

If you are new to looking at and buying art, you are most likely not confident in your taste yet.  You have probably not studied art or art history, and you do not need to - but without a context to put the images you are looking at in and without a lot of experience looking at work, you haven't learned what you like and why you like it.  That is where strong curation and relationships with gallerists or dealers you trust can be so important.

A good gallerist will work with you and guide you through this process.  A  lot of people are interested in art and want art for their walls, but need to have some time to see work and feel confident about what they like and don't like.  I love talking to these people - we pull out images, look at work online, make connections between the pieces they are drawn to, talk about the photographers who created them, what the work is about, why it speaks to them. . . until they begin to circle back to the images that really stick for them.  Then they can make a purchase and feel good about it - they love it, and they know why, and because they trust the relationship and the caliber of work the gallery shows, they feel confident about the quality of the piece and that the artist who created it is committed and talented.

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Pop-Up and Soar!

It's no secret that I think pop-ups are a fun, innovative and engaging way to attract new audiences to art. Creating a show in a unique location that suits the work and adds to a full experience around art makes a memory. It also creates a sense of urgency to be there - this is a one-time event, and the experience will not ever be recreated. This past weekend Jennifer Schwartz Gallery put on a show called SOAR - a group exhibition of photography, co-curated by Jennifer Schwartz and Amy Miller (executive director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography). This was an evening of flight, and one for the record books -

SOAR was an absolutely magical night. The photography and origami birds and sweet white lights came together in the space in the most beautiful way. Thank you to everyone who came out and shared in the fantasy. . .

360 view – ready to open!






Art Circle: Creating Collectors One Circle at a Time

A few months ago I was having coffee with a woman I had recently met.  It was our second date, and we were crushing over cool handbags and job envy.  She was really interested in my gallery and the Crusade and my mission to get younger people with cool handbags and awesome jobs excited about art.  She had just moved into a condo and had lots of white walls but not a lot of confidence about what she should put on them. The more we talked, the more she wanted to see art and get my opinion on her walls.  For our third date we hung out at her place and thought about what should go on all of those bare walls.  It may have been my best date ever – so fun.  She also felt that a lot of her friends were in the same position, and that’s when the Art Circle idea was officially born.

Last week we met at the gallery with wine, chocolate-covered toffee popcorn (and some healthier snacks not nearly as exciting), and a group of her girlfriends.  It was like book club, but without the homework.  We talked about art, and specifically photography.  I told them my story and how I started collecting art.  I told them stories behind the photographs on the walls.  We spoke about what we were drawn to, what we were unsure about, and asked questions about all kinds of things.

Next time they want to meet at my house to see my collection, how I’ve decided to hang the art, and to hear about the stories behind the images I love.  Um, hello perfect night!

Once the Art Circle idea was formed, everyone I spoke to wanted to circle up their own friends for a go.   The other night I had a more formal Art Circle at a collector’s house.  He felt his friends would feel more comfortable doing the first one at his place, and although he wanted it to be laid-back and casual, when we were chatting on the phone about final details, he jumped at the chance to have me give my full-on Crusade talk, powerpoint and all.

So the vibe was different, but just as amazing.  Everyone was so curious about the photographs and the artists behind them and the embarrassing missteps I took when I started collecting art.  All of this time I have been saying that people would be interested in art and in becoming collectors if they had an introduction to it that was unintimidating, interesting and fun – and Art Circle seems to be proving my point.

Circle up people.  It’s the best.

About Art Circle

Art Circle is an opportunity for a small group of friends to regularly get together and explore art.  Learn what you like, why you like it, and how an engagement with art can make life more beautiful.  Whether your last foray into the art world was finger-painting or you consider yourself a seasoned collector, Art Circle is night with friends, wine, and interesting conversation.

Looking for help creating your own innovative ideas to connect new audiences to your work? That's what Crusade for Art is all about.  Read more here.



How Not to Submit to a Gallery (part 2)

I tend to review gallery submissions in groups (read: either when I have a chunk of spare time to devote to it or when they have piled to a critical mass on my desk and can no longer be ignored).  Since I was taking a five hour flight to Oregon to lead a photographic retreat all about positioning yourself in the best way to get the most impactful exposure for your work, I figured it was a good time to dig in. I recently wrote this post on how to submit to a gallery (and how not to), so all of these do's and don'ts were already top of mind when I opened the first package.  Oh horror.  My biggest pet peeve - an unmarked disc in a cardboard mailer.  What was most striking though was that of all the submissions I reviewed on that flight, the one that was by far the least impressive in presentation (no note, no intro letter on paper or on the disc, a CV that looked and read like a student's, and just three jpegs with no explanation or artist statement) was from the most experienced person (a professor at an arts university).

Another person sent in a submission and apologized at the top of his CV for not having a gallery-worthy CV.  If you hear nothing else, hear this - it's all in the positioning.  First off, he had some solid exhibition experience.  Second, that is not the end-all, be-all.  If you are new to the game, spin that in your favor.  You are a new discovery!  Strong work, ripe for the picking!

Here is an example of how spin can be your best friend:

The other day I asked my son (he's eight years old) to feed the dogs.  He says, "but mom, I fed the dogs yesterday".  I say, "Jonah - I am giving you an exclusive opportunity to feed the dogs.  I haven't asked anyone else - just you.  Feeding the dogs is the most fun thing to do."  He says, "but I don't think feeding the dogs is very fun".  And I say, "Jonah, it's so fun.  I think you may be doing it wrong."  He says, "Ok, I'll try again".

There you have it folks.

But back to the first impression (no unmarked discs in cardboard mailers!!), here is a submission that impressed me before I even saw the work:

Great logo (that fits the character of the work), intro letter, awesome branded cd envelope, and a postcard with her signature image on it.  I had a solid vibe of the work and a great impression of her as a professional, committed artist before I even put the disc in my computer.  We have a call set up for next week.

And that's how to submit to a gallery!

Looking for help getting a submission packet together?  Read more here.



How To Submit To A Gallery (or how not to. . .)

I often get asked how to submit work to a gallery in a way that will be effective (seen by the gallery owner or director) and how to follow-up without being pushy.  And a while back, I posted this picture on facebook as an example of how not to submit to a gallery.

Just a few days later, I received this submission, which made me long for the origami-style wrapping of the former.  The cd just rolled out of the envelope onto my desk.  I was concerned I may be getting punked with a computer virus.

So if these fall solidly into the category of how not to submit, what is going to make your submission stand out in a good way?

Think backwards.  What is the end result you are looking for?  You want the gallery to be impressed with your work and want to feature it in a show or better yet, represent you.  So let me ask you this – with all of the amazing photography out there, would a gallery want to work with someone who is professional, thoughtful and organized or someone who sharpies their name on a cd and throws it into a cardboard mailer?

I am looking for a great working relationship with my photographers.  I am also looking for people who live and breathe their work.  I want you to want it, and I want you to sell it to me.  That’s the only way I can sell you to someone else.

Be thoughtful.  Put together a package that will impress the gallery with its presentation as much as its content.  I would love to read a letter, see an artist statement and bio and possibly a small print before I ever put a disc into my computer.  This example below was fun (which fit the work) and didn’t include a disc, just a link to her website (which I went right to and even tweeted about that day).

As for follow-up, I think touching base a month later by email to see if the gallery has had a chance to review the work you sent is appropriate.  If you met with the gallery in person either at a portfolio review or in their physical space (always preferred, always more impactful and memorable), a hand-written thank you note right after the meeting is appreciated and shows you respect their time and insight.

After the initial contact, many photographers add me to their newsletter mailing list, which is a good way to keep people abreast of new things that are happening with your work.  One photographer I reviewed at a portfolio review a year and a half ago sends me a beautiful card with a small print inside (her latest, typically) every 4-6 months to touch base.  It is thoughtful, professional, and shows she is committed to her work.  And ultimately, I ended up working with her.  Now that’s how to submit to a gallery.

More:  How Not to Submit to a Gallery, Part 2

Looking for help getting a submission packet together?  Read more here.



Ideas Are Not Proprietary

At least, not in my world-view. If we are out there, trying to do good, trying to make a difference, then why wouldn’t we want other people to adopt our successful ideas and programs and cast the goodness net wider? A friend (who is by far the most genuinely altruistic do-gooder I know) just told me about a situation where an adaptation of a few similar ideas around the country resulted in a kick-ass program to support local artists in this person’s hometown. But the originator of one of the inspiration programs is claiming the idea was stolen and wants to be credited publicly. Really? This is where our time and energy should be spent? On glorifying the egos of some instead of working to actually impact change. It makes my heart hurt.

So in the spirit of sharing, here are the ins and outs of a program I think has been really successful in Atlanta and could easily be adapted in other cities. It does not have to be organized by a gallery – any group of artists could coordinate the same program, and I hope you do. What’s good for one is good for all. At least, in my world-view.

Walk Away With Art (from a JSG blog post on February 3, 2012, click here for original post with pictures and the Atlanta Business Chronicle write-up):

If you have known me for more than five minutes, you probably know that I breathe ideas. Inside my head is a scary place to be, and if a big one comes, you best jump on board or jump out of the way, because it’s going to come at you like a steam engine.

Walk Away With Art (or WAWA as we’ve affectionately been calling it) was one of those big ones. In thinking about how to encourage people who haven’t been thinking about art to engage with it and become collectors, I wanted to develop a few “branded” events at the gallery to work toward this goal. ArtFeast was one idea, and we held the first one a few weeks ago to great fanfare. But WAWA was the idea bomb.

Here’s how it works – I invite seven of my photographers to give seven different images (one gives eight, making 50 total unique images) to pin up around the gallery. We sell 50 tickets, and everyone who has a ticket draws a number from 1 to 50 when they check in. All of the photographers are at the event and each have a few minutes to introduce themselves and talk a bit about their work. When everyone has had time to look around and decide which pieces are their favorites, we start calling numbers. We go in order from 1 to 50, and when we call a number, the person with that number goes up to their favorite piece, takes it off the wall, and is now a collector. Everyone walks away with art.

For me, an event like this works to build collecting on a lot of levels. At the most basic, it is an exciting and fun party. Great food, great cocktails, great art. People are coming into the gallery and having a really positive experience, making them more likely to attend future events.

Next, they are engaging with art in a meaningful way. Because everyone gets to take home a piece (original, signed), they are really looking at all of the photographs and figuring out what they are drawn to. I purposefully chose seven photographers with very different aesthetics, to show the wide range in photographic style and subject and to make sure there would be something appealing for each guest. They are looking and learning what they like.

Finally, they are having a unique opportunity to hear the artist speak about the work and meet them individually. So even if someone is not particularly drawn to a certain photographer’s work, hearing the photographer speak about it will still give a deeper appreciation and understanding. The opportunity to hear an artist passionately talk about their project and then make a personal connection to him or her is priceless and adds another level of connection to the photograph.

Leading up to the event, I was hoping and praying and having some anxiety dreaming that all of these pieces would fall into place and WAWA would come off as I intended. Success! Beyond success. Beyond my wildest dreams success.

People were blown away by the photography, the concept, the photographers themselves. While eating sushi and drinking the Westside Fizz, guests were milling about and getting a sense of their favorite photographs. Then after the photographers spoke, people wanted to have a few more minutes to take another look, and many people completely changed their minds after hearing the story behind the imagery.

Calling out the numbers was exciting, and sometimes when a piece was chosen, you could hear an “oh no!”. There were a few occasions where tackling another guest was proposed, but luckily we were able to generally discourage it (after all, all of these images are part of these photographers regular collections and very much for sale). Even though there were definitely some “favorite” images in the room, most people were drawn to very different work, so even people with higher numbers (meaning they were near the end to choose) ended up selecting one of their top choices.

After the selection process, most guests stayed and spoke to the photographer whose piece they ended up with, and the gallery was buzzing. People were excited, inspired. . . they were collectors, and they were loving it.

Looking for help creating your own innovative ideas to connect new audiences to your work?  That's what Crusade for Art is all about.  Read more here.



The Barber Shop: Old-fashioned hair spot or hippest art venue

An art show in a barber shop? That’s right. Clever, quirky and fun – a perfect fit for Heidi Lender’s work. The Heidi Lender show in New York City last Thursday was the first official run of the new gallery model we’ve adopted at JSG: one-night-only exhibitions in unique spaces that fit the artists’ work. And I have to say, we rocked it. (For more info on the JSG/Crusade connection - read here.)

Heidi and I met at the Neighborhood Cut & Shave at 2pm on the day of the opening. The first box of work (shipped up last week) was opened (with an old-fashioned straight blade no less – these barbers are not messing around) at 2:30pm. We quickly learned the walls were concrete or tile, and our only option was to use the screws already in place. Well, try that puzzle on for size. Lots of framed photographs, wanting to group them by series, only being able to use existing hardware – oh, and figuring all of this out while the barbers were actively cutting hair. It was insane. You know, how I like it.

So we climbed on barber chairs and ran around the neighborhood looking for acceptable wine cups and ice buckets and (Oh yeah! We almost forgot!) ingredients to make mojitos. Heidi will admit to being a little on the stressed side. Once I got my afternoon latte I was golden.

At 7pm (the start time for the show), the barbers were still snipping hair and shaving faces, potentially even giving a quick trim to one of our first guests, but the wine and mojitos were flowing right on time, and the work looked fantastic on the walls.

It was a packed house all night, with a regularly rotating flow of guests. I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, “An art show at a barber shop? I just had to come see this!” That’s right – we do it different and we do it crazy, and maybe that’s exactly what we all need.