Nancy Zastudil recently made a big upgrade. She moved her gallery, Central Features Contemporary Art, from its original cozy space on a side street in Downtown Albuquerque to a vast, sleek, modern gallery right on Central Avenue, next to 516 ARTS and above Richard Levy Gallery, two longtime fixtures of New Mexico’s contemporary art scene. I went with my camera to visit her during the days leading up to and including her two grand re-opening events in February 2016.
Nancy Zastudil—Curator, Writer and Owner of Central Features Contemporary Art
“I currently identify our audience and artists as a group of people who want to harness the power of the aesthetic side of an ecologically and socially responsible life on Earth. I want Central Features to give examples of what that might look, feel and sound like.”
“Ideally, I see art venues (whether for-profit or nonprofit) as places where we can ask the weird, difficult, awkward questions about life, relationships, politics…all aspects of life. We may not always get clear or easy answers, but at least our curiosity is rewarded. I think this curiosity—asking honest questions and being open to a variety of answers/experiences—is a major factor in how communities are fostered.”
“At Central Features, I am selling something that requires expendable income: art. So, how do I address social or economic inequality or other complex issues within such a context of privilege? I approach this question by working with artists to identify potentially ‘saleable’ art, and trying to attract collectors to that art, while also providing a place to present/support non-commerical processes (research, experimentation, conversation, events). I hope to help create opportunities for both artists and a range of audiences to more deeply consider the value of art-making, lived experiences, our shared and individual challenges, and possible solutions.”
“The process of moving into our new space was great, thanks to Larry Bob Phillips (artist who also does great sheetrock work), Russell Bauer and Bradford Erickson—who all helped so much—Doug Lehman (my electrician), and Richard Levy. Many other people helped too. I couldn’t have done it without my partner Ian and his friends’ help.
I’m so thankful that as a member of Keshet’s KIIC program I was able to apply for funding through The Loan Fund. They were very friendly, came to see the space, and gave me an interest rate that is half of what a big bank offered me. I realized I needed a loan to move forward in the new location so it’s a calculated risk I’m happy to take.”
Nancy Zastudil’s Tips for Artists Seeking Galleries
- Visit the gallery(ies) you think you want to show at. Meet the gallerist. Talk with other artists who show there. Make every effort to understand how that gallery works with artists, become familiar with their exhibition program, and learn what kind of approach they take when it comes to representing artists.
- Ask questions about everything before signing or agreeing to anything.
- Promote the gallery you are working with whether or not you have ever had an exhibition there. For example, maybe you have work in inventory. Send friends and collectors to the gallery to see your work.
- Trust the gallerist when it comes to pricing.
- Rely solely on the gallery for sales. You are just as important to the process as they are.
- Try to pitch your work to a gallerist at an exhibition opening.
- Ask for an exhibition without first establishing a relationship with the gallery.
- Show the same work in the same town in more than one venue, at least not in a short timeframe.
How Microlenders Can Help Grow a Creative Venture
An Albuquerque-based microlender, The Loan Fund, has a special interest in helping creative entrepreneurs grow. They helped Nancy Zastudil with financing for the Central Features expansion, and are enthusiastic about helping other ventures in New Mexico’s burgeoning creative economy. Here’s a quick overview of how microlenders like The Loan Fund can help you if you need financial resources to grow a creative venture.
Creative entrepreneurs and artists often have an especially hard time finding sources of funding, either through loans or equity financing (i.e., investors who get an ownership share of your business in exchange for their investment). Traditional lenders such as commercial banks often won’t lend to your business until you have a successful track record. Venture capital firms are usually only interested in growth-oriented businesses that will generate a big return on their investment, quickly—say, five to ten times the investment within three to five years.
Every small business enterprise will need working capital or want to purchase equipment or materials at some point—and artists are no exception.
The good news is that there are alternative, nonprofit sources of funding that go by a number of different names, including community development banks (CDBs), community development loan funds (CDLFs), and credit unions. Some have been certified by the US Treasury as community development financial institutions (CDFIs). These microlenders tend to be incredibly helpful since they give not only money, but support and expertise to nurture your fledgling business in the forms of classes, workshops and one-on-one consulting help. To find a local community development financial institution, go to the CDFI Fund website at www.cdfifund.gov.
George Kenefic, the Director of Enterprise Empowerment at The Loan Fund, says, “Every small business enterprise will need working capital or want to purchase equipment or materials at some point—and artists are no exception. Microloans are the best alternative yet to high-rate credit cards, and provide immediate access to funds, unlike having to save up.”
Artists sometimes struggle with the concept of expanding their business. Kenefic offers some ideas: “Increased exposure to potential art buyers who will appreciate the artists’ work can be achieved through portfolio marketing and advertising, or gaining access to better display venues, or being able to attend influential shows and art festivals, for example. These initiatives require sufficient funds at the right time, which a loan can provide. If the money is used wisely, the benefit derived will more than cover the cost of borrowing.”
Kenefic also points out that there is an intimidation factor that The Loan Fund works hard to address. “Our process includes personal mentoring and consulting as part of becoming loan-ready. This service is offered to every client at no charge, in the amount and duration needed to address the individual’s concerns and needs.”
For more information about financing options with The Loan Fund, contact them by phone or email: 505-243-3196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature was developed in partnership with Pyragraph’s Sponsor, the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Center.