HEATHER GAUDIO - FEMME DE FINE ARTS
The gallerist’s affinity with the world of art did not emerge in a vacuum. “One of my grandfathers was an oil executive and the other was a physician, and received his BFA in sculpture, but both were coincidentally regionally-respected fine artists. I grew up working in their art studios…so maybe I should give them credit for my earliest appreciation of art. But it was also the encouragement and influence of my strong grandmothers, who were both well-traveled, educated and art collectors. And my mother’s constant support also got me focused on culture and the arts. I spent a year in Italy in college and studied at the fine arts academy Scuola Lorenzo de Medici in Florence. I took my first real drawing class in Donatello’s studio, and traveled around getting to see the great museums of Europe. It was life changing for me!”, Heather recalls fondly. “…Although a big part of what I learned was that I was better at critiquing art than creating it! I was not the one kept up at night with the compulsion to create. I was the one arriving at the studio first thing in the morning to evaluate what other artists had done. When I graduated with a major in Fine Art from the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico, I knew the art business was my destiny…even though my father, a stockbroker, said it was ‘the most impractical idea of all time’.”
In 2015, when Sally Kaltman, the owner Sallea Antiques on the corner of Elm and South decided she was going to retire after 40 years in business, she reached out to Heather to ensure that the prized location would go to another female-owned enterprise. “Of course, it was another giant leap of faith, but we jumped at the opportunity,” Heather states. Since then, the gallery has built a strong business and represents a diverse collection of artists from all over the world. To date, they have curated over 60 exhibitions and have participated in over 10 art fairs, nationally and internationally. “We favor artwork that we consider to be ‘well executed’ and are proud to show a wide variety of art that is created in meaningfully different ways. We love working with artists who use very different techniques. Most of the work we represent is ‘process-based’, which means the artists use common materials to create uncommonly beautiful objects,” Heather explains. “You can see this type of methodology in Jessica Drenk’s work, where she uses wax and books to make carvings that look like feathers. Or Martin Kline’s, who uses a brush to apply encaustic, a wax-based paint, to build texture into the surface of his paintings, and then often casts the actual painting into bronze or stainless-steel sculptures. Other artists push the boundaries of the materials, such as Jae Ko who combines traditional Sumi inks with adding machine paper to create stunning sculptures and installations. Kathleen Jacobs wraps canvases on tree trunks, rubbing and applying paint over a period of months, making a record of not only the bark markings but the outdoor elements as well. Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery will include works by Valéria Nascimento and Lucas Ferreira who work in porcelain ceramic, and paintings by British artist Ian McKeever.
“We don’t approach things in business with being women as our mindset, but it probably does inform and explain some of our ethos. Coming up in the business, every boss I had, and every boss’s boss, was a man. Women served as ‘gallerinas’, supposed to ‘grace’ the sales floor in order to entertain the customers. …At HGFA, we cherish the shared experience we’ve had growing our business in our local community and with our international clientele, and we’re honored to serve as role models for other women in business. We advocate being true to your vision, no matter how unconventional it may be, and we encourage the young women we mentor to do so boldly! We like to say young women should be directed to build STEAM, rather than just go into STEM, with the ‘Arts’ seeming to be a natural for what has long been considered a male dominated field.”