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I frequent galleries in Chelsea as often as my schedule allows. I had been warned off of this gallery in particular, despite the collection of diverse and interesting artists contained therein, by several friends who had apparently suffered unfortunate encounters while perusing the gallery's exhibits. They all named one culprit as the source of their disdain, gallery co-owner Ian Rubinstein. He plays Renfield to Claire Oliver's Lady Dracula. However, instead of scouring the floors for juicy insect morsels like his literary counterpart, he shadows any patron who enters the gallery and looks as if they have the means to negotiate a purchase. The intolerable Mr. Rubinstein followed me during my unexpectedly brief visit while peppering me with unsolicited comments about which pieces were "his favorites." Exasperated, I quickly left the gallery. I was drawn to several strong pieces in the show so against my better judgment, and armed with garlic and a crucifix, I returned several days later to find that only a lovely gallery assistant was on duty. She had the courtesy to allow me to travel through the gallery unmolested save for a cheery hello.
- constant staff turnover - shuts out photographers in gallery- unpleasant vibe, rude & abrasive- lots of artists have left or are unhappy+ great space-too bad
The middle two of your four complaints have not been my experience at all.
Although I would normally avoid venues that encourage anonymous criticism and backstabbing (in spite of how fun it is for everyone), I must respond to the nasty caricaturing of gallerist Claire Oliver. I know how difficult it is to accept a woman in a position of authority, but to reduce her and her marriage to a cartoon of blood sucking and intolerable enthusiasm for the kill, really gets my goat. Too bad we can't all be "lovely assistants" demurely posited behind the desk. As for the rest, I will just say it is one- sided. The gallery has been going through some growing pains and will move ahead with a strong program. The happy artists who show with Claire all wish her the best. Hold the garlic, please.
COG is rumored to be one of the Chelsea galleries unlikely to survive this current financial crisis. Their reputation on the street is terrible and the constant exodus of artists attests to their poor management style. As one of the NY art scene's few right-wing, arch-Republicans many will be pleased to see Claire sell her lease and move on. The gallery space is deserving of a dealer with a real program and a proven ability to sell work.
I work at a mid-level Chelsea gallery and the rumored demise of Claire Oliver Gallery has been growing with each passing day. Her artist roster has shrunk to a list of too young to know any better and so old they're frightened to test the free market. I am curious to see how this all plays out in the coming months.
UPDATE: From very reliable sources in the Hasidic landlord community. This gallery will close. The owner Claire Oliver is attempting to sell her once valuable, long term lease but is encountering few takers. Seems that Ms. Oliver has not received the memo on the economic downturn and is demanding top dollar. This will be a money loser for them unless they can cook up an appropriate pretext to sue their landlord. Being litigious in nature, most of us do not put it out of the realm of possibility. Most of her current artists are waiting to jump ship. The rest have nowhere to go.
I've had to deal with this gallery not as an artist but as a publisher. They would always say they wanted to advertise but never came through. After a while I realized they were doing this just to get press. A simple "no thank you or we don't have a budget" would have been enough. I can't stand people that lie to your face to further their career.
COG's had a couple of cool shows recently - emerging artist Kate Clark sold out her show of amazing sculptures and Janet Biggs' video installation was great. Not sure this is an appropriate forum to peddle rumors from "the landlord" community. Sounds like someone has an ax to grind - a landlord perhaps?
I found this Blog while Googling and was surprised by what is said of Claire and other dealers highlighted. Who are the malicious people that write on this Blog. I have known Claire Oliver since she opened on 20th Street, it sounds like none of you have even met her. I felt the need to stand up for Claire as I know many things stated here are untrue. 1) She is not selling the gallery space, you are wrong. I know they are suing their landlord not to get out of the lease but because the lower level of the gallery flooded twice with 6 inches of water when they first moved in. I heard many artists’ works were damaged or destroyed and the whole lower level needed to be rebuilt both times. 2) Claire’s artists don’t want to leave her. Artists like Judith Schaechter, AES+F, Sam Gibbons and Kate Clark continue to show and sell well in the gallery. When I went to the gallery to see Kate Clark’s show the week after it opened the pricelist showed all the works were sold. There were several artists that left or were pushed out over the past few years, sometimes things don’t work as planned. Growing pains are not always pretty. I am glad I stumbled across this Bolg to correct some erroneous attacks. 3) As for the Republican remark, you will have to ask her yourself. Is anyone really a Republican anymore?
Although Claire Oliver is reviled in the gallery community, she does pay her artists which is more than you can say for many other galleries like Lux or Bellweather. She could never keep staff and now she cannot afford to. Take a look for yourself when you enter the gallery, there will be Claire sequestered in her glass display booth and poor, forever-dieting Ian scurrying from one secret food stash to another, but no staff. By the way, every show Claire has ever had she has claimed was sold out. So much so that it is an in-joke amongst all of the gallery artists. If those shows were selling like hot cakes as she claims then she wouldn't have sold out her cache of 19th century French drawings to keep the business afloat. Claire mistakes mere tolerance for affection and does not seem to realize that those rooting most enthusiastically for her demise, and posting very accurate updates on this blog, are the people she counts among her closest friends. The death watch continues.
I can’t decide if the vicious author of most of the posts above is a fired employee or an artist that couldn’t get a studio visit. Ouch. What made you so mad? I tried to purchase a Kate Clark for a collector I work with and was told none were available, who would turn away a sale in this economy? I am certain the show sold out or I would have a check in pocket now. I have purchased several things from Claire over the years and find your portrayal of her excessive and misleading. She and her husband really do give a shit about the art. I agree with the person above, this is obvious to anyone who meets them. Whoever you are I am certain Claire does not consider you one her closest as you state.
This blog's most vociferous defender of Claire Oliver Gallery is likely none other than Claire herself or the dreadful Ian (between bites of Ding Dongs.) She often rails against this blog in private conversations and has spoken of her efforts to plant rebuttals in the guise of "outraged collector/consultant." Most of us are enjoying her long-overdue comeuppance so you are correct in identifying the malice that permeates many of the posts. However, it does not belie the credibility of the posted information. Kate Clark did not sell out. It is a lie. It is no reflection upon her as an artist. She is quite good. However, Claire covers her failings as a gallerist by advancing the absurd claim that all of her shows sell out when asked about a specific artist. Tick tock, the death watch continues.
a close relative of mine worked forDrac & Renfield. Ian IS as depictedin the comments above. As for her.......pathetic.sincerely,former employee's dad
I feel a need to leave a comment to this posting…I think these blogs are meant to be productive and not so personal, it is one thing to have an open forum to discuss professional criticisms, but it is quite another to attack a gallery because of personal grudges. This is my experience as an artist represented by Claire Oliver Gallery.1. They keep an open dialogue, they are always interested and asking what I am doing in the studio and what new projects I am working on.2. They are interested in showing my work that is in multiple mediums: video, photography and sculpture.3. They pay me on time. 4. They reach out to create a relationship with the artist’s they represent and I respect them for this. I would like to also say that I am not posting as “anonymous”, but instead with my name.Thank you.
I was most impressed by the caliber of art when we visted and by the professionalism of the gallery staff.
"Another one jumped the fence" It is well known that a large number of artists have left/jumped the fence after working with this gallery. Maybe 20-25 in the last couple of years and with a small stable of artists that means a lot of turnover.They have a contract that is very one sided that no experienced artist would or should sign that doesn't permit an artist after leaving the gallery to show within _X_ amount of miles of the gallery for something like 5 years. Are they joking?Those that did sign believing that the gallery would fulfill many/any of their verbal promises leave as soon as the contract is up. Another just jumped the fence and that artist will be missed by the gallery as she garnered them good press, just like the one before her did.
CO over promises and under delivers when working with her artists. She has few decent collectors and has remained in business only because of her great location. Her location is quite good unfortunately she is not. Collectors who've worked with her once often refuse to work with her again because she (and her husband) are so unpleasant to work with. Her latest disgrace is to demand her artists pay for all or a portion of the booths at the few second tier art fairs she gains access to. Don't believe her promises of entry to any of the top tier fairs. This is not due to the caliber of her artists. It is due to how much she is despised in the NYC art community. She is and will always be an outsider. For artists thinking of joining her you might think twice as it will probably be a miserable experience and not get you any further in your career.
2011 and still around !!!! I guess all you haters can keep hating because Claire and Ian are still keeping up the good work they do ! they have many accomplished and relevant artists working.Sounds like good old fashioned jealousy! People move on and things change, artists are not always pleasent to work with either! If you dont like , then simply move on, but to hold a grudge this long sounds like some people have a very prsonal ax to grind ! Grow up !
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