Every week, Paris in New York will interview a French person who has a successful career in New York City.
Brigitte Saint-Ouen moved to New York 14 years ago. Initially, she was working as director of marketing for Wally Findlay Gallery on 57th Street. After more than a decade, Brigitte decided to create her own gallery, Gramercy 32 Fine Arts to provide a more customized service to corporations, decorators and private collectors. The Gallery specializes in European paintings of fine quality art work spanning 16th century Masters to 21st century. Over the past three years, Brigitte has organized numerous events to promote French painters. 2006 was a fantastic year when Gramercy 32 Fine Arts became the only guest gallery to stage an art exhibit at Sotheby’s. It spanned an entire floor for five days.
How do you sell Art?
I created a huge network of contacts along my 15 years in the business and I communicate with collectors all the time. I send a lot of brochures, personal letters, and I make a lot of phone contact. I also create a lot of events in New York and Miami. I have a monthly Newsletter with information about the gallery, the art scene, and a talkative section about my social life.
To increase my contact list, I am going out four to five times a week to cocktails or events where I make connections. I have now more than 7.000 names in my mailing list.
Being French does that makes any difference for your clients?
I would say it opens doors. People are more willing to talk with me because I am French.
But when I started working with Wally Findlay Gallery, there was always a colleague to ask what I did understand from the meeting to make sure that I listened to the new rules and wasn’t going to do it my own way. My philosophy was and still is: Everything is possible. I always try to find a solution to a problem.
During the French bashing, it was not easy. Nobody had interest in purchasing French artists. So I decided to diversify and I launched a new Photography department at the gallery. I represent an American artist and in collaboration with Kodak we just signed to represent an English photographer in the USA.
Where to meet French people in New York ?
I would say one of the best opportunities is the French Tuesdays (www.frenchtuesdays.com), where we network and dance in a new place every two weeks. Then if you are free during the day, you might want to join Accueil New York, which is planning lots of activities for French Expatriates (www.accueilnewyork.com).
Is it easy to meet French Natives in Manhattan ?
There are actually two types of French in New York. The one who are working in an American company and that you would have hard time to meet because they working long hours.
The other category is the French who are still attached to their country. They haven’t cut the ombilical cord yet. They stay between French people in small and close group. At first they might appear cold but they warm up as soon as you break the ice. They love inviting you for dinner in their house. Get ready to invit them back...that's the rules !
Tell me more about this French artist you have been promoting lately ?
Danielle Le Bricquir ? She is fantastic. She creates very colorful folkloric paintings based on old French legends from Brittany. She loves working with children. Gramercy 32 Fine Arts was able to accompany her to some of the most prestigious private schools in New York City, but what really affected her was the Master Class she gave at P.S.333, a public school in the Bronx. There, she spent time drawing and painting with 6 to 8 year old kids. It was an amazing experience!
Do you have another French artist that you would like to talk bout ?
Right now I have some paintings from Thierry Le Baler. He is influenced by the Nabis, a group of young avant-garde Parisian artists, who in the 1890s developed a decorative and Synthetist style.
His paintings are a study in color. He often repeats the same landscape a number of times with different palettes, exploring mood, tone and emotion.
I would like to invite you to visit my web site, www.32finearts.com . My gallery offers a concierge service. I am very grateful for this interview.
Gramercy 32 Fine Arts
32 Gramercy Park South, suite 15d
New York, NY 10003