Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bernice Steinbaum Gallery


I’m from Miami and I had already visited Bernice Steinbaum Gallery a few times before, and at Art Basel 2010 she represented the artist Hung Liu, whose tapestries I stood in awe of. I knew that this was a gallery I was interested in working with and I just went online, found out who to contact and sent her an email. I contacted Johanna Moneserratte (Assistant Director) a few months prior to my arrival in Miami, and we agreed to schedule an interview with her and Juan Griego (Chief Preparator) when I was in town. Fast forward to summer and I had the interview. I believe I made a solid impression on them and as a result of that I started my internship the following week.

Since the gallery was closing I had the job of cleaning out the upstairs closet in which Bernice kept multiple copies of extensive catalogs on each of the gallery's artists, both former and present. Included in these catalogs were slides, articles, resumes, awards, family photos, letters to the artists from different organizations, you name it, it was in there. I had the pleasure of taking home a Miriam Shapiro catalog filled with “insider” information  like the line-ups and speech for an awards dinner Shapiro was presenting at with artists like Roy Lichtenstein; high quality photos and slides of her work, and well as posters and interviews. 

My direct supervisors were both Juan and Johanna. Although I was Juan’s intern throughout the closing of the gallery I did whatever we needed to get done. Juan’s job as Chief Preparator involves the handling of all work the gallery interacts with. He has to keep a strong relationship with the artists and has to learn the specifics of displaying each of their work within the gallery. Lighting, sound, kinetics, etc. For the more hands on part of my internship I learned some of the gallery standard ways of packing and shipping artwork, as well as some of the administrative duties and matters of press. I really enjoyed working with Juan and Johanna, they were funny and really just great energies to be around. The two of them had an educational history with each other, the both completed their undergraduate studies in art at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Every morning I would come in and make coffee and then we would all sit and chat. I really liked the casual but still professional atmosphere. As for responsibilities, I was only asked to be willing to work on anything, whether it was sending out a press blurb for the gallery or moving and wrapping work or ordering lunch. 

Bernice gave all of her interns extra assignments for the gallery. My assignment had to do with African masks and costume and drawing connections between the aspects of the traditions behind them and the way they have influenced the Western worlds ideals and styles within art and of course religion (because the two are so historically related). I produced a power point presentation as well as a visual piece, an adapted 18th century style European collar, with printed fabrics that represented each country involved (7: Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Benin, Zambia, Nigeria and Haiti). 


Another project I was involved with early on in my time there was a commission for several of the galleries artist. Bernice had been asking everyone in the gallery that day if anyone had a video camera, everyone said no but I volunteered mine. She then told me that there was a buyer interested in purchasing the work of a few artists in the gallery (Enrique Gomez de Molina, Cal Lane, Carol Prusa and Reynier Leyva Novo). I was asked to film the pieces in the gallery and to put together some kind of presentation. I put together a really wonderful power point complete with the videos, photos and titles for each artist and Bernice was really impressed. 


With this internship I am most proud of the relationship I’ve built with Bernice herself and her staff, through our interactions. I am very grateful to have worked with them and my only wish is that I still could. I believe Juan, Johanna, and Bernice enjoyed my company as an intern and I was informed multiple times of how impressed by my work they were. The biggest take away from this internship is my recommendation letter. I am so wonderfully excited to have it within my arsenal. A woman that has been a pioneer in the feminist art movement, who has had incredibly successful galleries in both New York and Miami, a woman who has made a household name for herself in the art world over the past 30 years says that I’m more than alright. This experience has helped incredibly. I got a taste of the kind of knowledge I have wanted to acquire and now I am so excited to experience more. I am hopeful for what the future has in store for me with internship opportunities because I know that a high recommendation from Bernice Steinbaum means quite a bit. As for my career goals, I want to immerse myself in my learning and really be a sponge. I know that no matter what, I will be using my creativity to its capacity to figure out what I need for myself as an artist and a student.

-Khadija Adell '15 Interdisciplinary Sculpture