I have been a bi- coastal art dealer for over 40 years. After working for a number of art dealers on both coasts, I opened my first Molly Barnes Gallery in Los Angeles in l967.I discovered John Baldessari, Mark Kostabi, Gronk, and a number of photo realists like Robert Cottingham….among others. With Baldessari, he wandered in to my gallery with a rather helps look – a few weeks prior to that my gallery had been burglarized so when he asked me to look at his slides, I immediately said yes!. Once I saw the work, which was mostly out of focus photographs and art expressions, I said “Yes” and showed him the following month. Last year he was the first living artist to have a show at the Met.
I come to New York from my gallery in L.A. every six weeks to do art lectures and to talk about art in my Brown Bag lunch series in the penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel. The event is at noon on Thursdays and Fridays and the event is free. People who want to learn about art from the well known speakers come year after year to hear them speak. Included in the talks have been art critics Clement Greenberg, Phong Bui and Hilton Krammer. Some painters have included, Philip Pearlstein, Walter Robinson, and Ashley Bickerton, and art dealers have included Andre Emmerich, Ivan Karp, and Joan Washburn.
I started collecting art as a child. Gertrude Stein said “If you are not rich you can only afford one passion – horses, art, or clothes.” With me it was art. My father worked in Hollywood for producer Hal Wallis,(Casablanca), and I saw what a passion Wallis had for collecting contemporary and impressionist art. I opened my first art gallery in l967 in L.A. and showed many artists from New York. I opened an art school for kids in Easthampton, Long Island in l970. I have been on radio for many years, reporting on art and was up for an Emmy Award for a show I produced on television for Falcoln Communications. Currently I have the Molly Barnes Gallery at Newspace in L.A. and am on the board of the Century City Arts Commission in California.
Art is not for everyone. It never has been, and it never will be, but if you love it like I do, I want to turn you on. – Molly Barnes