The Association of Women Art Dealers is pleased to welcome Maris Holopainen founder of Qube Gallery to AWAD’s Global Chapter. As is our practice with new members, we asked Maris to share some of her background and a bit about her business.
What year did year did your business start?
Qube Gallery was set up in 2010 in the Philippines. We are located in Cebu City, in central Philippines, in a busy export and tourism part of the country. Historically, it was the landing point of explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first man to circumnavigate the world in 1521, in search of the spice islands for Spain. The city was awarded by UNESCO as “creative city of design” in 2019.
The gallery started by accident: I was looking for a reputable art gallery in the city and was frustrated to realize in a city of our size (with a population of one million), we had no commercial galleries with calendaring, physical exhibit space, artist development programming, and professional systems. I was offered to purchase Qube Gallery in 2012 and we moved to a bigger more central position. With the help of some committed art directors, academics, and curators, we organically developed to where we are now.
What are your Specialisms?
While the initial motivation was to provide a venue for local contemporary artists, we quickly came to realize that, to truly aspire for a vibrant art milieu due to our archipelagic situation, it was necessary to incorporate into our program local, Philippine and international artists who somehow have ties to us.
What’s your professional background?
I studied economics in university in London and my early career was in consulting services, more in Human Resources. I took a “leave of absence” to be a full-time mother to my three children and a trailing expatriate housewife and we lived in Brisbane, Jakarta, Moscow, Almaty, and Manila in the span of 18 years. I returned to Cebu, where my mother is from, in 2008 and worked in the education sector, before focusing full time on the gallery in 2015. I was always exposed to art and the local art scene due to my family being passionate collectors and advocates for local artists so it was not difficult to dive head into this.
What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
I don’t think I would have done it if I knew how much work it entailed. It is sometimes easier to build from scratch than it is to renovate an existing structure! For me, it felt like a necessity to do: I felt the need to be able to contribute somehow to the community but more so, for myself! Now, the gallery has evolved and taken in a new partner, new staff and new artists. It’s taken on a life of its own.
What does your business offer, in terms of goods and services?
We have a main physical gallery in the center of the city where we have about 15 exhibits a year. We also collaborate with some commercial spaces in the country for public spaces. We try to join international art fairs on a regular basis, in Asia, in particular. However, this year, because our city has been under the strictest level of quarantine since March (for now, it looks like it will take us to mid-August), we have used this time to work on our online platform which we neglected in the past. We are still optimistic and are scheduling physical shows. We hope that our local market will be supportive especially as we have had no tourism and international visitors since March. Additionally we hope to reach out online to collectors who are looking at what’s coming out of the Philippines.
What excites you about having joined the Association of Women Art Dealers?
The sense of community. A collegial body to benchmark best practices and to learn new things and validate what we have learned from organic growth. I feel like it’s imperative to be part of a network especially during these times.
What brings you joy in your work?
Like anyone in the gallery business, the joy is when a deal has been made! And of course the steps building up to that – the little milestones – create so much joy. Ingress is always a highlight. Working with creatives is always inspiring. The art world seems to bring together such passionate people.
For more information about the gallery please visit www.qubegallery.ph