Most established artists: “Nearly all of the artists we show at Selby Gallery have temperatures that are around normal, but we occasionally present exhibitions of historical importance that include works by painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators and designers who are no longer with us,” says gallery Director Kevin Dean. “Our primary mission, however, is to present the art of our time by artists from diverse backgrounds and stages in their careers.”
What the gallery looks for in an artist: “Museums reserve galleries for presenting temporary exhibitions, and Selby Gallery serves a similar function for the Ringling College of Art and Design,” says Dean. “My job is to curate shows or select traveling exhibitions that provide our students and the public an opportunity to see the work of artists who have achieved national and often international recognition for their work. Since we are an education-based facility, what can be learned from what we show is one of the most important factors considered when selecting an exhibition.”
Modern misconceptions: “Anyone who has been in any profession for as long as I’ve been involved with art and art education can relate numerous stories that highlight common misconceptions about what they do for a living,” says Dean. “Although artists often collaborate on projects, the act of creating art tends to be a solitary occupation, one that has spawned all manner of clichés and misconceptions, in part because of sensational stories about the lives of people such as Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. The bottom line for most artists is they have to understand and be able to navigate through the art world and, whether they like it or not, artists are like small businesses and have to operate like one, or live or work with somebody who can.”
The kind of art found in his home: Dean has been an artist for the past 38 years and has eclectic taste. “There are artists who are so successful they sell nearly everything they create,” says Dean, “however, most artists have the world’s largest collection of themselves and hang their work in their homes and studios along with pieces they traded for with artist friends.”
Why he’s cut out for this business: “As the musician and composer Frank Zappa used to say, ‘We are what we is,’” says Dean. “Artists tend to be what they ‘is’ or they wouldn’t develop the kind of dedication it takes to be willing to take the risks that are endemic to being an artist.”
Why this job is fulfilling: “Seeing something go from an idea or a feeling to a work of art that successfully expresses what motivates an artist to action is fulfilling,” says Dean, “(and) so is having someone understand and respond to it. That’s the purity of making art.”
Current show: “Treasures of the Frederic Remington Art Museum and Selections from the Southern Graphics Council” runs Aug. 13 through Sept. 11.
Owner: Selby Gallery is a division of Ringling College of Art and Design
Year established: 1986
Address: 2700 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Summer hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
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Stepping up to the plate
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