Read all about our Events Chair Andi Wollin’s experience interning at an art gallery in Newport, Rhode Island.
By: Andi Wollin
This summer I interned at a small gallery in Newport, Rhode Island. The owner of the gallery is a 50-year-old woman who curates the shows, designs jewelry, and operates the entire business on her own. She opened the gallery in 2005 and has been very successful ever since. Needless to say, she was very happy to have some extra hands this summer, her busiest season of the year.
The internship was only a few days a week with a 30-minute commute over two bridges. Although the internship was unpaid, the experience I gained is priceless. I have learned a lot about owning a small, successful business, the culture of Newport, how to sell expensive artwork, and how to interact with well-known artists and high-end clientele.
On a day-to-day basis there are a wide variety of tasks to be done, such as creating labels, making signs, entering receipt information into excel, delivering or picking up materials at the visitors center or bank, maintaining the gallery space, hanging artwork and creating displays. However, there were many occasions where I was left to attend the gallery myself, and at times, even open and close using the alarm system. I have also helped with host events and shows. During these times I learned how to answer questions about artists and discuss the artwork.
There are over 20 artists with work exhibited in the gallery, this includes painters, sculptors and jewelry makers. The owner is a jewelry maker herself. My favorite part of the internship was getting to know each individual artists’ style and work history. The artwork is beautiful and very different than what many would think when picturing a gallery in Newport. The owner avoids sailboats and the common beach scenes. She tries to show interesting and eclectic work that will attract all different kinds of people.
Overall, I learned a great deal about the behind the scenes of owning a small business. This internship has given me insight about the art industry, knowledge of how to run a gallery and the confidence to possibly start my own small business one day.