Katharine T. Carter & Associates has a long established history in marketing artists and launching careers. Recently Jen Dragon joined this company as the Associate Director of Special Projects at Katharine T. Carter & Associates, overseeing the social media and digital marketing division. Given the huge shift to online galleries because of the health concern I thought it was timely to speak to Jen about this exciting synergy.
Kathleen Cullen: Tell us how you first came to know Katharine T. Carter and when the collaboration became an idea.
Jen Dragon: Before I started working with Katharine, I had a brick-and-mortar gallery in Saugerties called Cross Contemporary Art. I first heard of Katharine before we met as she has an impressive reputation in the artmarketing field. One day, an art critic was visiting the gallery and needed a ride to her office in Kinderhook to see an artist's work. I volunteered to drive him as an excuse to meet her. On our visit, she insisted we drive nearby to visit Jack Shainman’s School as well as Art Omi. About a year after that magical afternoon, I decided to close my gallery space and take on curatorial projects and digital marketing for my artists. Coincidently, I heard she was looking for a new associate, and I applied. I have been with KTC since Sept. 2019. KTC was interested in my consulting with her company to build on-line marketing strategies that would be indispensable for her clients. This collaboration culminated in the co-creation of Cross Contemporary Partners
KC: In this collaboration, given the strengths of both your backgrounds, what do you feel the mission of this division of your company will be? And how will that be different from other programs and services you offer?
JD: Katharine has a solid background in guiding artists' careers, securing exhibitions in museums and other non-profit spaces, as well as building their reputations in the art world. My skills are different. I understand how to grow the artist's "digital footprint" through social media. Our mission remains the same: serving the career growth of our artist clients through the multiple platforms in our toolbox. For Katharine, it is her 35 year relationships with curators, her knowledge and practiced eye; for me, it is my background in Online Marketing and experience as a gallerist. It is the combination of our respective talents that provides artists with a complete 21st Century marketing strategy.
KC: Given the change in the art world with the recent pandemic, what is the business model of the new company? How is this different from what you had originally intended?
JD: The Pandemic has created a sense of urgency. By launching Cross Contemporary Partners, the new division at Katharine T. Carter & Associates, we effectively address the current challenges faced by the art world and its sudden shift to the internet. This was the ideal moment to develop Cross Contemporary Partners because technology and new ideas are emerging daily which offer elegant viewing rooms, 3-D galleries, virtual studio visits via Zoom, and Instagram LIVE… and we plan to incorporate this and much more into what we do for artists! However, we intend to maintain the tactile aspect of marketing: utilizing elegant catalogues with essays by leading art critics and curators, providing high quality color reproduction, supportive written correspondence in a highly professional presentation delivered directly to art professionals across the country as a prelude to the actual art installation in a museum. This traditional approach has led to securing over 1000 exhibitions nationwide.
KC: Together you have unique perspectives at both curating and marketing. Going forward, given that it's now a collaboration, how will you select the artists that you represent and still maintain your individual voices?
JD: We generally see eye-to-eye on almost everything regarding aesthetics and marketing logistics. Katharine has is an encyclopedic knowledge of artists and their work, museum directors and curators, and more often than not, knows them personally. Her team of Associates is comprised of leading critics, curators, designers, videographers and technicians working in tandem to achieve desired results; my skillset is more connected to the nuts and blots of art handling and installation, gallery management and using digital marketing to promote artist events. Where we dovetail is in the effectiveness of our presentation formats and marketing focus: hitting the high notes respectively as we draw attention to our artists and their work. Katharine knows how to tangibly guide their careers and I know how to digitally support events, engaging audiences for exhibitions, and creating gallery interest for potential representation and sales.
KC: Indulge us with a show that you would love to do without concerns of social distancing or economics? Please provide us with the details?
JD: Ideally, we would love to curate an exhibition of our Cross Contemporary Partners artists: Anne Hieronymus, Sol Hill, Kaethe Kauffman, Victoria Lowe, Deborah Masters, John Lyon Paul, Nancy Macko, Francie Lyshak, Robert Mango, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, and Martin Weinstein in a huge industrial building with 20 foot high ceilings. But because of the pandemic, we are instead installing their work in our new 3-D virtual gallery space hosted by Kunstmatrix in Berlin which realistically replicates the look and feel of the actual gallery or museum experience. To prepare for the CCP launch and our new 3-D gallery space, we have been curating an online exhibition fundraiser for the Woodstock Film Festival. For 24 years, the WFF has been the lynchpin for arts and culture in our region contributing over time more than 250 million dollars to sustaining economic viability in our area. If we lose this event, we lose a lot! Katharine and I have reached out to every painter, sculptor and printmaker we know to create an online benefit sale. Our artists responded to our call and have generously donated amazing work to support the festival, and more art just keeps coming! You can visit the growing exhibition listings on Artsy here: http://bit.ly/wffbenefit20 and we will launch the virtual 3-D gallery on June 19th.
I have the utmost respect for Katherine T. Carter and her associates, all top notch. First met her in Northampton, MA in the early '90's at Hart Gallery for a talk and followed by a studio visit also did an excursion to NYC galleries another time. I've used what she taught me now for decades.
Jen, I've been following you since Millicent Young exhibited at your gallery. It seems your timing couldn't have been better with the need for quality virtual exhibitions.
It may be time to reconnect, so glad Jen you working with her organization.