The Association of Women Art Dealers would like to welcome new Global Chapter Member Christine O’Donnell owner and gallery manager of Beacon Gallery. The gallery is located on Harrison Ave in the SoWa area of Boston’s South End. It offers original art from the Boston area as well as around the globe. Beacon Gallery connects emerging and mid-career artists with new and established collectors and institutions. Beacon Gallery focuses on curating shows with an eye towards innovation, activism and social justice. The gallery was founded in 2017.
We wanted to get to know Christine a little better so we had a lovely interview with her about the gallery.
What’s your professional background and What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
My professional background is in Linguistics and Education. I originally majored in French in college and have a Master’s Degree in Teaching. I spent over 10 years in Europe and Asia, most of it teaching English to both native and non-native English speakers in international schools. During my time as an expatriate, I frequented the museums and galleries in Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore as often as I could, and art museums were usually my first stop at any destination.
This enthusiasm represented a passion for the arts and an unvoiced desire to curate artwork that I had nurtured since childhood, yet upon which I had never been able to act. When my family and I moved back to the United States in 2016 it seemed like as good a time as any to consider where I wanted to (re)focus my professional energy. Opening an art gallery seemed to be a natural fit for my interests, strengths, and knowledge. I came up with the concept for Beacon Gallery in July of 2017 and opened the doors in November. I haven’t looked back since!
What does your business offer, in terms of goods and services?
Beacon Gallery offers exciting programming throughout the year – we showcase contemporary art, but have shows ranging from solo conceptual shows to an annual group juried exhibition. Our focus is social justice, as that is a passion of mine and the subject of so much thought-provoking art. The nexus of art and social justice is where I see my background in education coming into play, as it seems I can’t help but “educate” visitors in some manner. In addition to showing art, the gallery offers art consulting services as well as installation through a partner business, workshops for artists, and we have some new services coming online later in 2020 as well!
What excites you about having joined the Association of Women Art Dealers?
While I work with artists and dealers across the gender spectrum, I love the idea of Women and Women-identifying Art Dealers working together to lift each other up. My gallery is in the SoWa neighborhood of Boston, and I am so lucky to be surrounded by dozens of other galleries, including some who have members of AWAD, such as the amazing Abigail Olgivy. I find that there is a camaraderie and support that we, as fellow art dealers, can offer each other, both near and far, and I look forward to being able to contribute to the sustained growth of our industry through my participation in AWAD.
What brings you joy in your work?
The curatorial process brings me absolute joy. Seeing an artist’s work and selecting art for a show is absolute bliss. I can get so excited about placing work in my space that I get goosebumps. I also relish writing about art, just for my own pleasure, and have a blog called thoughtsonart.com.
If you were a work of art, what piece would you be?
It’s hard to choose just one! I have so many pieces that represent different facets of my life. (Can I choose Tracy Emin’s My Bed, for the sheer mess that is having a 6 and 8 year old?) Having lived different “lives” and different careers before this one, I think it’s hard to sum me up with just one object. However, I think I would choose one of my all-time favorite pieces, Les Raboteurs de Parquet (“The Floor Planers”), by Gustave Caillebotte. I visited this painting every time I was at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and I could never get enough of it. Besides the beauty of Caillebotte’s artistry (the luminosity of the floor with the delicate wood shavings on top), this piece represents for me that hard work, in itself, can be beautiful.
Having my own business has meant working harder than I ever have in the past. However, my work running my own gallery has also been more rewarding than anything else I’ve ever done (other than parenthood!). Independence and seeing the fruits of one’s labor has been exceptionally gratifying, just as, physical labor can be or creating a piece of artwork is for an artist.