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Catharine Clark is the founder of Catharine Clark Gallery established in 1991 in San Francisco, CA. She represents artists working across media and programs a dedicated media room in conjunction with each exhibit. In 2015, she founded Box Blur, an initiative at the gallery that engages visual and performing arts in dialogue. Box Blur is fiscally sponsored by Dance Film SF, with whom the gallery collaborates annually for the SF Dance Film Festival.

In 2018, Catharine edited Floating Realities: The Art of Masami Teraoka published by California State University, Fullerton; in 2015, American Qur’an by Sandow Birk, published by Norton; in 2013 Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian, and in 2006, Ascending Chaos: The Art of Masami Teraoka 1966-2006, both published by Chronicle Books.

Catharine is a trustee for the Northern California Advocacy Group for the National Museum of Women in the Arts and has served on the advisory boards of San Francisco Arts Education Project, and as a trustee for ZER01, Recology, and SF Camerawork. In 2014, Catharine was honored with Arttable’s Northern California Chapter’s Award of Service to the Visual Arts and in 2017, she was recognized by Access Institute for her dedication to the arts. 

In our conversation, she shared what SF was like in the early 90s, how she became a curator and made it all work, how her career and the artists she represented grew, how the arts and culture landscape has changed in the region, what her and her peers are doing to try to preserve it, and her advice to younger people looking to start a gallery or movement. Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.

Show notes

In this episode, we talk about:

  • her journey from being raised by parents who encouraged involvement in the arts to studying art history and dancing for Penn Dance Company to a company in Bologna, Italy and beyond
  • how writing for a bilingual paper in the east bay led to her opening a gallery with another artist in Hayes Valley in 1991
  • how her first gallery was an alternative space and the full-time job she had to support it 
  • why businesses that get started in a recessionary economy (if they can get started) have a better chance of survival [related article
  • unique ways and opportunities she found to fund her gallery projects 
  • the SF scene 1989-1994
  • the loss of “nooks and crannies to get a start” in SF since 2013 
  • the effects of the ‘89 quake on the housing market 
  • why she advises young makers to go to cities that have been hard and out enough or are big enough to support a new creative endeavor 
  • how even at her level, she doesn’t know what will happen when her lease is up 
  • her idea to introduce a third tax class that supports businesses doing social good for the community 
  • invisible barriers that keep diverse audiences out of the art gallery community in SF
  • the roles privilege and capitalism play in today’s art industry 
  • the art of and passion for making connections as a gallerist 
  • the real issue with the lack of art education in schools 
  • the issues with a “limited pie” mindset 
  • what a gallerist does

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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