“Jessica Silverman launches gallery in Tenderloin”
SF Gate/San Francisco Chronicle
Written by Catherine Bigelow, November 29, 2013
Full article here
Inside the glass-walled corner of Jessica Silverman Gallery, located on the ground floor of a Mercy Housing SRO in the lively yet louche Tenderloin, visitors will never spot a red dot next to a sold artwork.
That’s because Silverman, 30, a burgeoning art-world eminence and S.F. arts commissioner who founded her first gallery in 2003 as a student at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, believes those little dots distract from larger conversations about art itself.
Last weekend, when she christened her new gallery ( www.jessicasilvermangallery.com) with the inaugural U.S. exhibition “Of the Times and Other Historic Works” by London artist Amikam Toren, none were the wiser that half of his 14 artworks sold within 48 hours…
Silverman’s artists range in age and experience from emerging to midcareer. She’s constantly on the go, to global art fairs and studio visits, on the hunt for artists and collectors.
“I love the education aspect of art,” says Silverman. “I’m also in the business of building careers. So I’m very keen for the collector to understand the breadth of an artist’s practice. So if I sell a Toren piece, I want to make sure the buyer continues to support Toren when another piece becomes available.”
Most of the buyers for Toren’s work at the opening were a new, younger clientele. Which delighted Silverman, who, in June, participated with art consultant Sabrina Buell and gallerist John Berggruen on a Christie’s “Collecting 101” panel for tech titans.
“Of course, Silicon Valley types sit in front of computers all day – they don’t go to shows – and buy Warhol prints online,” she says. “The computer is also changing how art is created. But when you’re buying contemporary art, you need to experience the piece in person.”
Sans, of course, those dreaded dots.
“My grandfather once visited me at an art fair and assumed I hadn’t sold anything,” she recalls, with a laugh. “He asked, ‘Well, where are the red dots?’ So he went across the street to Walgreens to buy red stickers. I was mortified! But I had to leave them up until he left my booth.”
A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Silverman’s been immersed in art her entire life because of her dot-loving grandfather, Gilbert Silverman. His success in commercial development allowed him, and his wife, Lila, to amass one of the world’s largest, most important collections of Fluxus art which, in 2009, they donated to the Museum of Modern Art.
“I’m fascinated with the notion of collecting, that feeling of ‘can’t live without,’ ” Silverman says. “Most kids collect stamps or shells. I sought autographed things from people I admired – this is embarrassing now – like Drew Barrymore and Aerosmith T-shirts.”
At 18, she was creating her own art, which she traded for her first “must-have” piece – an edition box puzzle of the sky by Yoko Ono that Silverman still treasures.
Most artists never dream of becoming dealers or gallerists. But while studying painting in college, Silverman realized her aesthetic was on track for beauty but lacked concept.
“I couldn’t embed the critical, theoretical concerns and questions I had into the object I was creating,” she said. “And all I felt was a really big disconnect.”
Following graduation, she stepped through the looking glass to enroll at California College of the Arts, where she received her master’s degree in curatorial practice.
Once again, she couldn’t wait to experience the art world in real time. She opened her second gallery in Dogpatch while writing her thesis on collecting.
With the ink on her diploma barely dry, she opened her third, and most official, gallery on Sutter Street in 2007. But as her reputation among artists and collectors grew, that 700-square-foot space metaphorically shrank.
Silverman has spent the past 15 months scouring the city for a new space. But before landing just down the hill on Ellis Street in her light-filled 2,800-square-foot atelier, reimagined by designer Charles de Lisle, another opportunity arrived via renowned industrial designer Yves Béhar.
Béhar anchors the art world over in Portrero Hill, where his Fuseproject lab, in a graffiti-clad warehouse, is akin to the fanciful, but top-secret, factory of Willy Wonka.
However, this connector of culture realized the lobby of his lab was the perfect locale for the public to experience an intersection of design and art.
Choosing Silverman as his opening curator, the two launched Fused Space in June with “Formal Alchemy,” an exhibition of works by N. Dash, Nicole Wermers and Toren.
“In just a few hundred square feet, and with the correct curation, any space becomes a cultural space. I always remind my team that we’re not designers of things but designers of ideas,” enthused Béhar on their opening night. “And Jessica’s aesthetic here is inspiring for my team, myself and the community. It’s a true gift.”