Collector's Conversation

Brought to You by Dallas Art Fair

Catherine D. Anspon
March 18, 2012

James Cope, gallery director of Marc Straus in New York City, takes questions from artist Libbie Masterson, exhibitions coordinator at Houston Center for Photography.

The Texas art community remembers you vividly from your days at The Goss-Michael Foundation. How did you get to GMF originally, and what led you from there to your current role at Marc Straus Gallery? I’m from the South of England, where I grew up skateboarding and traveling around the UK and Europe. From an early age, I was involved in organizing small exhibitions for my friends. I lived for a while in Edinburgh, where I got to become very good friends with a lot of artists who went the Glasgow School of Art. I used to travel a lot to the U.S. for skateboarding, mostly to San Francisco and Los Angeles, but also had a strong connection to Texas as well. I met George Michael and Kenny Goss right as they were opening The GMF, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. After several years at The GMF, I needed a new challenge, and it was time for me to move on. I had been planning on moving to NY for a while but was just waiting for the right opportunity, and that’s when I met Marc Straus.

Why are you exhibiting at the Dallas Art Fair 2012? Because I have a very strong connection to Dallas, and I feel that we have artists that people will respond well too. Dallas and Texas as a whole have such a strong tradition of supporting and collecting contemporary art. And it’s a good excuse for me to visit my friends and get a good margarita and Mexican food.

How will you be curating your booth at the Fair? Whose work will you bring that will resonate with Texas audiences and why?We will be bringing a selection of our gallery artists such as American painter John Newsom, who has a large Texas presence. American sculptor Michael Brown, German painter Marin Majic and German painter Marin Majic and Danish photographer Thomas Bangsted. I’m really excited to show Korean sculptor Jong Oh — he has never shown ever! His work is so elegant and poetic

How did you meet Marc, and what factors were behind your decision to go to New York and become a gallerist?  Through a gallerist friend Blaize Lehane, whom I’ve known for some time. It was a no-brainer for me to move to NY — it’s the center of the contemporary art world. I’ve spent a lot of time here, and it’s always felt like home. The idea of becoming a gallerist has always appealed to me, and when I ran a pop-up gallery with my friend Brian Gibb, it became obvious that this would be my next step.

What are the challenges of a being a director of a commercial gallery versus curating at a foundation? Are you still involved in a curatorial role? Are the rewards the same? The challenges are that you are doing more shows and are constantly having to re-invent yourself. And that you are only as good as your last show. You are having to always stay current and relevant, which is exciting to me. Yes, I am still involved curatorially; Marc and I work very closely on deciding whom we will show.

Please describe your stable at Marc Straus and how your gallery has made a mark for its self in the ecology of New York galleries? We have 14 artists from nine countries. It’s primarily an emerging program, with many of the artists never showing in NY before. This way it gives us a true original voice and helps us to contextualize our artists and the gallery. We purposefully didn’t poach from other galleries ... that would be too easy.

How would you describe the gallery’s aesthetic? From looking at the Web, there seems to be an implied interest in architecture (even in your painters) and a sense of a post-apocalyptic experience? We have a strong focus on painting, which I find myself being more drawn to at the moment. But that’s not to say we are a painting gallery, because we are not. We have several sculptures and a photographer on our roster too.

Is there something you look for when you add an artist to your roster? Is it in the work alone or in the person you meet at the studio? Will you be adding any Texans to your stable? When Marc and I are looking at an artist, we are firstly looking at the work, but it’s only natural to take into consideration who the artist is as a person. I think it has to be a combination of both. There are some great unrepresented artists in Texas! There are one or two I have my eye on.

What are you most excited about for 2012 in the international art world? What shows are down as your must-sees? Inspirations? Hmmm, not much really … Maybe the 2012 Olympics in London. There will be some great art on display for that.

What is your favorite aspect of your new role as gallerist? Getting to meet new people, doing studio visits with new artists, and working with a stable of artists of my generation that I can grow with.

If you could bring one person, place or thing from Dallas to NYC, what would it be? Ojedas Mexican Restaurant!!



April 13 – 15, 2012; Preview Gala April 12


Libbie Masterson; photo courtesy the artist

James Cope; photo courtesy Marc Straus Gallery, NYC