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Last year, Jessica Silverman celebrated the 10 year anniversary of her eponymous gallery in San Francisco. A leader in the city’s contemporary art scene, her roster of artists includes names like Judy Chicago, Isaac Julien, Woody De Othello, Nicole Wermers, and more.
Whitewaller checked in with Silverman about what she’s up to this week, as well as her personal approach to the role as gallerist.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about your current show at the gallery, Claudia Wieser’s “Forum”?
JESSICA SILVERMAN: This will be Claudia Wieser’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast. I have long been a fan of her meticulous, modernist aesthetic and her ritualistic sensibility, which is in conversation with artists like Hilma af Klint. She’s making site-specific wallpaper as well as new hand-painted ceramic sculptures, hand-painted wooden objects and abstract drawings.
WW: What are you planning to present at FOG Design + Art?
JS: For FOG Design+Art 2019, we have planned a curated booth featuring a sensuous and thought-provoking range of new works, including bas-relief, mixed media wall sculptures by Nicole Wermers, photographs by John Houck, and new resin sculptures by Matthew Angelo Harrison. We’ll also being showing Andrea Bowers and possibly the legendary feminist Judy Chicago.
WW: What have fairs like FOG and Untitled brought to San Francisco over the past few years?
JS: It certainly brings more dealers, collectors and interior designers to San Francisco. It’s a distinctive moment in San Francisco’s seasons and its focus on design makes me think about our program in a different way. I have enjoyed exhibiting artists that are relevant to both art and design during the FOG fair. Wieser, for example, trained as a blacksmith and has a wonderfully adventurous attitude to materials. She also has a nuanced appreciation of the history of design from the Vienna Secession through the Bauhaus to the present.
WW: Your grandparents were big collectors. How did growing up around that prepare you for your role as a gallerist and interacting with collectors?
JS: Growing up close to collectors gave me an understanding of the specificity of people’s obsessions and the feeling that they can’t live without particular objects. I have a lot of patience and take great pleasure in helping people build collections that accurately reflect their aspirations and cultural values.
WW: How would you describe your ideal relationship with the artists you represent?
JS: I love being a confidante, editor and collaborator. I studied art and enjoyed making things before I became a curator. When there is open dialogue between gallery and artist, great things can be achieved.
WW: You’ve said that when you first opened, you were told many times you should instead have opened a space in L.A. What made you committed to San Francisco? What did you see that others couldn’t?
JS: To begin with, I love it here. I have always disliked going backwards and somehow, going back to L.A. seemed like giving up on San Francisco. Also, I am a bit contrary, so when everyone is doing one thing, I am prone to do something else. Plus, I trusted my instincts more than those of others, who told me I was crazy. I am so relieved that I stuck it out!
WW: The gallery celebrated 10 years over the summer. What does that kind of milestone mean for you?
JS: It means a tremendous amount. I will always remember the magical week of anniversary celebrations with artists, friends and family. Thankfully, even after ten years, it also feels like it’s just the beginning.
WW: Outside the fairs this week, what are you excited to see in San Francisco?
JS: I haven’t thought that far ahead! Take a walk on the beach with my dog? In the USA in 2019, I very much look forward to Judy Chicago’s “Atmosphere” performance in Miami at the end of February. It is only her sixth of this kind in 50 years and will be comprised of colored smoke and fireworks in South Beach. It will be epic, unforgettable and not to be missed. I am also really excited to host San Francisco-based artist Davina Semo’s first solo exhibition at the gallery in March 2019.