Anne Kelly (00:00:12):
Hey friends, welcome to Art in the Raw Conversations with creative people. Tonight I’m excited to introduce you to Art Dealer and Gallerist Katherine Couturier. If this is your first time watching, you might be wondering who I am. In a nutshell, I’m someone that’s been in love with art and music basically my entire life. I’ve now been working in the professional art world for about 15 years now, and I started Art in the Raw about halfway through 2020 to keep people connected and inspired. If you see value in that, consider subscribing and telling like-minded friends. If you’d like a little bit more information about the show or tonight’s guest, take a look at the description below. Welcome Catherine.
Catherine Couturier (00:00:57):
Thanks, Ann. I’m excited.
Anne Kelly (00:00:59):
It’s been too long. Good to see you. You
Catherine Couturier (00:01:01):
Anne Kelly (00:01:02):
Tell people where you are. I
Catherine Couturier (00:01:03):
Am at my house in Houston, Texas. Houston is fantastic. It’s just we’re getting into that season where it’s the weather and the mosquitoes and the flooding and that part’s the bad part. But everything else about Houston is fantastic.
Anne Kelly (00:01:18):
And your gallery
Catherine Couturier (00:01:19):
And my gallery, world renowned Catherine CU Gallery <laugh> located in lovely Houston, Texas where I’m not currently because it’s eight o’clock at night. Otherwise you would see me sitting in my gallery where I am about half my day every day, seven days a
Anne Kelly (00:01:34):
Week. So you have owned the gallery for 14 years.
Catherine Couturier (00:01:39):
Anne Kelly (00:01:40):
Didn’t sleep for the first three years. You owned it.
Catherine Couturier (00:01:43):
You, that’s what I always tell people. Anytime someone talks about wanting to open a gallery or o any small business, I say, I did not sleep for three years. Like I woke up panicked about something, just couldn’t rest, couldn’t, couldn’t turn it off at all. And if you can’t handle that kind of stress and worry and life, then small business ownership is not for you. After the first three years, I thought I at least kind of knew what I was doing enough to be able to settle into it. It did not mean that I did not still wake up and panic at 3:00 AM but I would be able to say, it’s gonna be all right. It’s been okay the last three years. It’s gonna be fun tomorrow, don’t worry so much. So I can kind of ride the wave a little bit better than I could at the beginning.
But it’s tough. I mean, not just the gallery business, but I think any small business cash flow is a big deal in the gallery business, as I’m sure you know, because it’s a luxury good. It’s not something people are gonna buy necessarily with any regularity. So there’s absolutely no way to know on the first of the month what I’m gonna sell or if I’m gonna sell anything, how much I’m gonna sell. There’s just no way. And so for someone like me who’s very type A and likes a plan and to stick to the plan, that kind of uncertainty month to month. But now I understand the bigger picture and I can, I can handle it relying on myself in knowing that it’s gonna be fine and that if there’s a problem I can figure it out. And I’ve figured out every other problem is business is definitely a feast or famine business. And I think anybody that’s been in it for a while, if you are at the feast, you know the famines right around the corner, so definitely are, are paying attention, you know, to money on a very regular basis. A lot more than I wish we had too. I’m sure probably most business owners wish they could do kind of the, the great parts and the fun parts and the really fulfilling parts instead of sitting there and paying bills.
Anne Kelly (00:03:34):
So obviously you love it, you’re still doing it. There, there is that kind of perception that that people who own galleries work in galleries. It’s just this totally romantic thing. And we’re all just out in black cocktail dresses, drinking champagne with, with artists and clients. There, there are those aspects to it, but you’re, you’re doing everything right.
Catherine Couturier (00:03:58):
Exactly. I mean it’s, you know, back in the day, cause I worked in a gallery for about nine years before I owned one, but people would always go, oh, you work in a gallery like Charlotte on Sex in the City. And I was like, she’s independently wealthy, she’s an intern and she’s never at work. And that is not anybody I know in the gallery business, gallery business is vaguely ruined by Parker Poseys amazing portrayal of every anxious, neurotic New York Gallery owner who always wears scarves and has coffee and you know, black dresses and is like, I’m leaving for therapy. Goodbye. You know, reality of the gallery businesses is something I told my husband the other day, he was at the gallery helping, and he’d cut his finger and he was like, do you have a Band-aid? And I was like, a band-Aid. This is the art business. You put a paper towel and a piece of tape and you move on. Like if we had to stop every time we cut ourselves on glass or a frame or matte board or, I mean, you have to just roll with that. You have to expect that you literally will bleed at this job.
Anne Kelly (00:05:00):
So wanna bleed on the mat board. Right,
Catherine Couturier (00:05:02):
Exactly. You have to get that blood real quick away from the artist
Anne Kelly (00:05:05):
Catherine Couturier (00:05:06):
Which is why there’s always some kind of like cloth or something, you know, to clean and you just get masking tape or you know, painters tape or whatever’s handy and, and you just gotta move on.
Anne Kelly (00:05:16):
You’re selling art, bleeding, packing things. Fixing things.
Catherine Couturier (00:05:22):
Yeah, I definitely, I fixed the toilet at least once a year. I mean that whenever anybody thinks that all I do is sit around being glamorous, I’m like, oh, if only. But that being said, this is a fantastic business. I love pretty much everything about my job.
Anne Kelly (00:05:37):
And, and as part of that story, you, you basically raised your, your two children in the gallery.
Catherine Couturier (00:05:43):
My son’s almost 16, so I can pretty much put that he survived it. My daughter’s about to be eight, so, and we’ll see if she can, if I can keep her alive a little bit longer. But yeah, I mean I, I’ve had so many girlfriends that after I did it where I was kind of working full-time and had the children full-time have tried it because of course that’s a, a fantastic thing to think you could manage. And they’ve all quit, um, pretty darn quick because it’s insane. It’s completely crazy. I did it because I didn’t feel like I had a choice. And I think mm-hmm <affirmative> people in general, but especially women, can do pretty much anything if we feel like we don’t have a choice. Because there were eight years between my kids, I had very much romanticized what it had been like with Andre there.
And then my little stinker bell came along and she was a terrible baby, like terrible. And I was so stressed out and I was like, I don’t remember it being like this with Andre at all, but of course it was. Every one of my collectors basically has been handed a baby with a dirty diaper, has seen me breastfeed, has literally I’ve gone, okay, do you wanna get the print out or do you wanna hold the baby because you have to choose one <laugh>. Um, it’s a good way to kind of keep things in perspective, focus on what’s important to get done in a day and realize what things you are gonna have to let go have to give someone else to do. Or the things that you know, you could make yourself crazy about that maybe really aren’t that important when you’re having to choose between a screaming baby and you know, tweaking that blog post for the fifth time, you kind of go, you know what?
The blog’s fine. Like to think at least that it’s given my kids maybe a little better understanding of what it, what goes into owning a business. It’s hard. You do have to work, but also it teaches them things like what not to touch. You know, they can walk into basically anyone’s space and just inherently know, okay, I’m not gonna go over there. And they get exposed to tons of great art and they’ve met so many neat people and they’ve been given really amazing photographs by artists and they are living their best life as my hair all falls out.
Anne Kelly (00:07:38):
I would say one thing I admire and appreciate about you is you approach this art world thing as a very real person. I
Catherine Couturier (00:07:47):
Really appreciate that because it, it definitely is, part of it is that my personality is such that I don’t think I can basically hide it under a bushel anyway <laugh>. Like I might as well just lean into it. But also I, one of the things I really hate about the art world is the kind of inherent snobbery of it and the elitism. And I’m really, really anti that just in every aspect of my life. Which of course is funny, right? Because I’m an art dealer for God’s sakes, who speaks French. I mean like, how much more like ridiculous could I be while I’m going, oh my God, stop being such a snob. But it, it really does stop a lot of people from getting into the business and it stops people from just thinking they can walk in the door of a gallery and go look at art.
Like why they should not be intimidated. It’s a store at the end of the day, like yes, we’ve got bigger aspirations and we wanna help our artists grow these great careers and build good collections for our clients. But at the end of the day, the doors are open, come in and look at the work that’s on the wall and don’t be worried and don’t think you have to whisper. Like unless you’re saying something you literally don’t want me to hear, cuz maybe you’re like talking shit about me, like whisper. But otherwise you can just say something out loud, <laugh> just, I’m just gonna sit at my desk and work. So I, I definitely try to k stay as kind of welcoming and open and things like that as I can be. And really that is just my nature. But I also think it would be, it would do everybody good if we could kind of get over ourselves a little bit in the art
Anne Kelly (00:09:15):
World. I personally think it’s fun when people don’t know a lot about art and have questions, but a lot of people are really uncomfortable with that. So I would imagine your general nature would be helpful in kind of just calming people and and making them feel welcome.
Catherine Couturier (00:09:31):
I’ve been told that one of my collectors I’ve had for a long time, we were at a iPad, which is the photography, the biggest photography fair in these states. So when people come in the gallery or someone comes in the booth, they say, if I can help you let me know basically I’m not gonna bother you if you don’t need anything and I’m just gonna go do work and I’m not gonna hover around you or whatever. But anyway, so I said, if I can help you let me know. And that was it. And she told me about a year later after she bought all these things that that is why she bought some things from me. She said that she was so sick of going into galleries not being helped, not even being spoken to all this stuff. And I was like, yes, but I say that to everybody.
She’s like, yes, but you meant it. And I was like, of course I meant it. It’s my job <laugh> like it’s my job. Um, but she said, you know, she went on a big rant and she’s very fancy and you know, from the east coast and she said she was just sick of that overall kind of, you know, um, that nature that makes you feel snubbed a little bit. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, because she definitely took it personally and I said, oh honey, I mean I walk into galleries all the time and don’t get helped and I am an art dealer. Um, so, you know, you gotta take it with grain of salt. But yeah, I think that everybody would just be happier if it could just be a more inclusive world. That being said, sometimes if you walk into a gallery and the person doesn’t ask to help you, it’s because they don’t know how to, because a lot of times they’re kind of babysitters and they don’t actually know what to do if you have a question or they’re new or you know, whatever. That happens sometimes too. But in general, I know some people just wanna be left alone. I mean, they really don’t wanna feel bothered. So I just say, if I can help you let me know, otherwise have fun. So
Anne Kelly (00:11:10):
I have run into a lot of people that are into street art, so this giant mural and they get really into it, but the same person, if they’re gonna go into a space where art is encapsulated in black frames, in white mats, it’s just this whole other vibe and people are not comfortable. I would like to see that change.
Catherine Couturier (00:11:30):
Yeah. And I think part of that is because just a price. I think that people assume that everything in a gallery is a million dollars and of course it’s not. I mean, I put labels on the wall that have prices on them. I have labels on the prints and the bins that have prices on ’em. There’s prices on my website. It takes out a lot of that part of it because a lot of people, at least in the south or we were very much, you know, brought up to not talk about money, to have to ask those questions feels embarrassing as though either I’m supposed to already know how much stuff is or maybe, you know, I’m unsophisticated if I, you know, don’t, if I have a budget, maybe this is wrong. And it’s like absolutely not, you know, that things have value and it has to be something that you want, you know, for that price.
But at the end of the day you can still get a really great photograph for a thousand dollars or less. Um, which is not true in any other mediums. That’s a big selling point for photography for sure. But I’ve noticed I’m in a, a strip with like 10 other galleries on a couple of blocks. When we used to have big openings, more people would congregate in my gallery than they would in the other galleries. And I never quite knew why, because it wasn’t that my space was the biggest or the most inviting or anything like that. But I think people don’t feel as intimidated by photography because even if they go, oh wait, maybe I’m supposed to get something from this picture of a tree and oh my God, maybe I’m stupid cuz that’s how people feel in galleries mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But they can still rest assured that that is a picture of a tree. <laugh> <laugh>. They don’t have to feel dumb. And so, you know, I again ha getting people to, to relax about that stuff and not feel quite so judged is definitely something I would like to continue to do.
Anne Kelly (00:13:08):
But you have a philosophy that you’re not necessarily selling, that you’re presenting work that you believe in and, and educating people about it as well, which has always been my ideal mission. I feel like the educational component is important and if people love it and they have that connection and they can afford it, they will buy it. So I I love that you’ve just spelled that out there. And I, I think all of that is important and also contributes to just people feeling comfortable.
Catherine Couturier (00:13:36):
Yeah, I mean, I always say that I don’t sell people art, I just facilitate a sale. I mean that if they have questions I can answer them and, and there usually are a lot of questions when you’re, you know, buying anything that’s important to you or expensive or anything like that. But that there’s nothing pushy about me at all because I don’t want people to go home and not be happy with what they’ve got. Um, the downside to that is I never get work back. So if a piece sells out, I’m like calling my clients, do you wanna sell this? And they’re like, no, we love it. Darn. But I, but I do like that and people sometimes ask me too many questions just because they’re not confident enough and they’re collecting yet and they’ll say stuff like, oh well I really like these two.
Which one do you like better? I go, not my house. Like, and they go, no, but but tell me what you do. I said, I’d just buy both <laugh> because unfortunately for my house and my budget, I would just buy both. But I, I don’t want people to go home and be unhappy and it be on what I did at all. You shouldn’t push people into buying something, number one, that’s expensive. But number two, it’s the post to add to their life. It’s supposed to make them happy, um, or fulfilled or challenged or something. And it doesn’t need to be what I like, it needs to be what you like. I, I mean basically I like everything that’s in the gallery so you know that I wouldn’t have put my name behind it if I didn’t like it already.
Anne Kelly (00:14:51):
It is a very personal experience and the reason one piece might resonate with me and go home with me versus you might be a very different and maybe personal thing.
Catherine Couturier (00:15:01):
We all just like what we like. And I tell people that a lot too because I get, you know, people who again have these kind of excuses or they’re, you know, for they’re feeling embarrassed about whatever it is. Oh well I don’t know anything about art and you know, I just like what I like and I go, okay cool, well here’s the short answer to all of that. There is good art and there is bad art that’s not completely subjective. Certain things are good, certain things are bad. But within the good parts we all like what we like. A lot of us like the exact same things, which is why certain things get really expensive or sell out or become famous. But in general, I mean I can like print A and a can like print B or we can both like print a and the great thing about photography is we can both buy it. Um, because there’s more than one. I love that kind of democratic aspect of buying photography over other medium as well. The kind of, everybody can be all kumbaya and happy and <laugh> like a positive experience for everybody.
Anne Kelly (00:15:57):
I always defer to, I know it when I see it in terms of art that I love that I maybe gonna collect or or just have in the gallery. And I’ve run into a lot of people that want things to be more reason. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> than that. But, but I really strongly feel if you see it, you feel it, you know it. Do you agree with that?
Catherine Couturier (00:16:18):
Oh completely. I’ve definitely had people, again, usually it’s kind of when they’re new to collecting or they’re just indecisive by nature and they’ll go, oh well I don’t know. I mean like, I mean I like this one but like, is there anything else I need to know? I said, you can just like it because it’s pretty like we all like beautiful things. Like it doesn’t actually have to be anything else. I mean I think art schools in kind of the seventies and eighties really did a big disservice to a lot of artists making them basically think they have to have this entire concept to begin with. Well then you’ve got people who’ve spent so much time on concept they forgot to make actually good art that looks good or is well presented or is well created and it doesn’t have to be all of that.
I mean, you know, when I have artists go, oh, I’m working on my artist statement, I’m like, I don’t care about artist statements at all. I say that, you know, you need to make the work you’re gonna make and the art historians can figure it out. It’s not like Monet or Van Gogh or even Michelangelo were sitting around being like, Hmm, what is my motivation? What is my concept? Before I even pick up a pen, they’re making art. Cause they had to make art and, and I think we would, again, that kind of gets out that inherent like elitism that everything has to be so important. You can just like it, you can even look at it and go, I don’t even know why I like it, but I like it. Great. You should have it. Put it on your wall if it makes you happy.
Anne Kelly (00:17:41):
And I think that can also be really kind of inhibiting for the maker of the art as well. We are not working with artists that are just all over the place. But when you get so wrapped up into perhaps your artist’s statement in this concept and it’s not just coming from that artist, then there there’s something kind of broken there.
Catherine Couturier (00:17:58):
Uh, totally agree. And I, I think that also is one of the reasons, and rightfully so, that galleries are kind of mocked <laugh> and I mean, I was an art history major too, so you know, art historians in general and art critics like we’re about the same age. So you may have watched designing women back in the day versus great episode where the, the friends go to an art opening and there’s just a blank pedestal and Julia puts her purse down on it and then everyone runs around going, oh my god, it’s genius. I have to have it. What’s the price? I’ll pay 10,000, I’ll pay a hundred million. You know, whatever. I, I mean there is some of that That’s true. You know, when you do see something very, very simple and they’ve come up with such an elaborate backstory. But what I always tell people is, if I can’t get what you’re going for by looking at it, then it either wasn’t the right, you didn’t do the, you didn’t do something right because either you made up the artist statement, which is fine by me <laugh> cuz I don’t care about them. Or you were going for something and it failed because I should be able to look at it and see it. You’ve got a photograph and it needs this much explanation on the wall next to it. I’m not interested. It, it needs to be a visual thing. This is a visual medium.
Anne Kelly (00:19:05):
I always say I wanna see it, feel it, and then if I read the statement and it adds to that, that’s even better. But if the statement is necessary yeah, something, something’s missing there.
Catherine Couturier (00:19:16):
Exactly. If I literally can’t tell what you’re going for at all, then you failed. I mean I’m, I’m pretty sharp, so if I can’t get it then maybe it’s cuz it’s not there. It’s also people. I think a lot of times when they are coming up with a concept or a theme or you know, whatever you really wanna call it for their work, a lot of times they, they put as much pressure on themselves to be sophisticated as these collectors do. And I’m kind of like, everybody can just relax. Like you can go out and take pictures of trees that are really beautiful because you really like pictures of trees that are really beautiful and that’s what you like to see and that’s what you like to make and that’s what you like to do. You should go do that. It doesn’t have to be any deeper than that.
And you know, even when I go to museums and I’m at museums a lot, a lot of the stuff you look and you go, it’s really beautiful. Even if Mane has had this, you know, huge history in art and we can all piece together things. Sometimes he just painted the pretty thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with liking things that are beautiful. The idea that people think that that means they’re not a sophisticated, not as smart or something like that. I’m like, that is not true at all. Not at all. Most of what I have in my house is I kind of look around even the ones that do have tons of backstory and do, you know, have a big concept to them or you know, whatever it is, they’re beautiful. I like beautiful things and that’s not just an art that’s in every aspect of my life. Again, it goes back to that, that idea of just, there’re being too much pressure for people kind of to perform and be sophisticated and, and it’s just snobbery and it’s like everybody should just like what they like and be happy. And artists too, you know, make what you wanna make. You don’t have to worry about it that much.
Anne Kelly (00:20:57):
Exactly. I’ve been asked by artists, what should I make that would be more a saleable. Exactly. And I hate that question. That’s the worst question. That’s like
Catherine Couturier (00:21:06):
Anne Kelly (00:21:07):
That’s like, are why are you even trying to be an artist? Exactly
Catherine Couturier (00:21:10):
Like you wanna sell Volkswagens? Not mm-hmm <affirmative> sobs sobbing a car anymore. I don’t know, I don’t know anything about cars. Um, but you would wanna sell the popular thing. Like I get that say, oh, I can’t sell this work. And they’ll go, oh, what can you sell? Maybe I can. And I’m like, no, no, no <laugh>, it’s not how it works. But also, I mean, good luck finding an our dealer who knows what they’re gonna be able to sell that year. I mean, I always say on December 31st, I can tell you what I’m gonna sell in 2022, but until then I have no idea. I just have to put up work that I think is really good and that I think my clients alike because I do, um, run the collection of a few of my collectors. And so I know in general what’s gonna appeal, but that’s also why certain collectors come to me is because they like my eye.
So my eye is definitely on everything in the gallery. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s my name on that label. It’s my name on the door. I have to be able to kind of stand behind it. That is my taste. That being said, there’s stuff all the time that I see and I buy for myself that I don’t, that are artists I don’t represent because I don’t think I can sell ’em and it doesn’t do the artist any good to be on my walls. If I can’t sell the work, I’m able to sell it to myself. But that’s not my job. You know, my job’s to, to help artists have a good career and help collectors build their collections really is the, the job.
Anne Kelly (00:22:24):
And you also work in both contemporary vintage, you have a kind of a preferred way of working when it comes to that?
Catherine Couturier (00:22:31):
No, and it’s so cyclical. I mean, you know, during the Pandemic for really the first, yeah, the first two kind of solid years or year and a half, I was getting no inquiries about any kind of the mid-century street photography that I have or anything kind of vintage or, you know, pre, you know, 2000 really. And people were really just looking for really, really contemporary stuff. This year it’s been completely different. I’m, I’m still mostly selling contemporary, but I’m getting a lot of inquiries about older work. So I never really know one day the next, I mean, I think it’s on my website because I’ve said this a lot of times, but people say, you know, what do you specialize in? And I say photography and they say, what kind of photography? And I say good photography. I don’t have to be in that much of a box.
I mean, if you’re in New York and there’s 70 other photography galleries, you gotta find your, your little spot. I was the only photography gallery in Houston for a long time and now there’s um, two more. But we have, we deal in very different types of work. The other two are both strictly contemporary, but that thrills me. I I mean, I think the rising tide raises all boats and I am super glad that there’s other photography galleries in town. But yeah, no, I like all of it. I think it’s nice to be able to do all of it because as opposed to if I were dealing in paintings or sculptures, you, you can’t kind of buy a bunch of things and stick ’em in drawers. So photography really lends to having just a lot more physical pieces in a collection and a lot more pieces in the gallery. So it’s fun. I mean, it’s fun to go out and try to find things for collectors. It’s very fun when someone comes in to sell me something that I actually want some of the, the haggling and the negotiation stuff. Like, that’s kind of fun too, because I’m a bit younger than a lot of the dealers and there definitely are people who think they can get over on me and I’m like, welcome to try <laugh>. Like, have fun with that.
Anne Kelly (00:24:21):
You, you might be younger, but the number of hours you’ve spent in that industry, knowing that medium I’m sure exceeds most people that walk in the door. So, so there’s always that weird ageism thing sometimes.
Catherine Couturier (00:24:38):
Well, and it’s sexist too, um, to a certain extent. You know, I’m used to that. I mean, I started doing this when I was 22 and I’m 44, so literally half my life I’ve been sued at the exact same desk. I mean, there’s something great about that, you know. But one of my clients was in not that long ago, and he said something, some compli point, he’s like, oh, you’re really good at this. And I said, oh, thanks honey. And he goes, and it’s a good thing because if you couldn’t do this, I mean, you’re not, you’re not like qualified to do anything else. And I was like, what? I mean, yes I am. He goes, no, you’ve only worked for yourself for like 20 years, nobody would hire you to do anything. And I was like, no. But I, and I realized, oh my God, he’s totally right. I have got to keep this going <laugh>, because I mean, what else have I done? You know, and like what could this translate to, okay, I’m really good at art installation. I’m just gonna be an art installer.
Anne Kelly (00:25:22):
Art installers make a lot of money. But on top of that I’m gonna disagree. As a creative person, I think you would take what you know and you would translate it and you would do something else with it. That’s my opinion. Very sweet. That’s my opinion.
Catherine Couturier (00:25:35):
So that’s very sweet of you. I always say that, that I would just send an email to like all my collectors and be like, hi, I need a job. Does anybody have one? Um, I also tell my husband I would do that if I were single. I would just send out an email and be like, look, I haven’t dated since I was 20. Um, don’t really know what to do. Don’t really wanna put a bunch of effort into this. So if you’ve ever thought it was cute, please send an email to email@example.com <laugh> to be in the About Us section. There’s be a pull down that just had me be six stats, name of my children, amount I, I want my mortgage, you know, all the important things for a second marriage,
Anne Kelly (00:26:12):
The dog’s name.
Catherine Couturier (00:26:14):
Oh, my husband gets the dog if we get divorced. The dog’s known <laugh> dog’s name is Lubi after, um, a chain of cafeterias in Texas called Luby’s. Um, side note about Lubies. So if anybody, I dunno if you ever watched King of the Hill, the niece, you know her name’s Luann Platter. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So a Luann platter is actually a plate at Luby’s cafeteria. So that’s definitely a Texas joke. There’s a lot of Texas jokes in that that nobody’s gonna get if you’re not from here. And that’s one of ’em. Cuz I always order a Luann platter when I go to to Luby’s. So when that show first came out and that was her name, we all died laughing <laugh>.
Anne Kelly (00:26:50):
Well, well when I come visit we’ll have to go and, and maybe we’ll take the dog
Catherine Couturier (00:26:56):
<laugh>. Okay, I’m gonna let you go in first <laugh>.
Anne Kelly (00:27:00):
But I read somewhere or heard somewhere that you were looking for non-crazy artists.
Catherine Couturier (00:27:06):
<laugh>. I did not know that was in print, but I definitely would say that, I mean that, you know, I, when artists are like, what’s advice you could give to artists if they wanna have a career? I’m like, okay. I mean, I have just a few points. Number one always is if you want this to be your job, you have to treat it like a job. You cannot, that idea that everybody’s like flaky and just wakes in, you know, wakes up whenever they feel like it and you know, just splits around that is not true for any successful artist. They get up, they work their eight hours, they go to studio, they, they come out, they, they work every day. Um, or at least by days a week. And you have to, because if you don’t, you’re just not gonna, you’re not gonna get anywhere as an artist or in any job, right?
So treat it like a job. Another thing is when you’re approaching a gallery doing submissions, whatever it is, again, treat it like a job. <laugh> don’t call me and be super rude on the phone. I mean, it’s a job interview at the end of the day, you know, we’re gonna be working together. But the other thing is yes, don’t be crazy. Don’t be hard to work with that. Even though my artists are not usually in Houston, they’re definitely not like right down the block. You have to work really closely when if y’all can’t get along, it’s just not gonna be a good fit. Because I mean, I had an artist once. I said I was selling a lot of the work and I had to send it back because every time I even saw the artist pop up on Instagram, the hair on the back of my neck was standing up.
I was that stressed about that relationship and the artist was just super, super, super needy calling me, you know, on Sunday and saying, Hey, I can you do you have five minutes? And I’m like, sure. And then would keep me on the phone for three hours. I mean that, I was kind of like, I cannot do those. I would keep somebody a lot longer just because I liked ’em, even if I wasn’t selling their work. And I will send your work back so fast if you’re a pain. Um, it’s just not worth it. There’s so many good artists out there and there’s just only so many time, like hours in the day and there’s only so many years in my life and I’m not gonna waste them being really upset because of, of one relationship.
Anne Kelly (00:29:05):
Well, and the fact of the matter is these do, these are serious long-term relationships.
Catherine Couturier (00:29:10):
Now you don’t wanna have a bad breakup or anything like that. And I, I really haven’t had any of those, but I can also spot ’em usually now, I mean at the beginning I was such a purist, I was like, the art is the only thing that matters, blah, blah, blah. You learn real quick. That’s not true. Things like, is the artist going to get me what I need to complete a sale on time? You know, if they say they’re gonna ship it, do they ship it? Is it gonna arrive damaged? Is it, you know, that they just fall off the face of the planet and don’t even respond to emails for a month at a time? You know, like those are the kind of things when it’s the dog.
Anne Kelly (00:29:44):
Well cuz that makes you look bad if, but
Catherine Couturier (00:29:46):
Yeah, no, cuz you can’t throw your artist under the bus either. And so, I mean, that happened a couple of years ago, or I guess right before the pandemic, so maybe three years ago the artist just had not done what they said they were gonna do, but collector kept saying, I don’t understand why you’re telling me these things that are ultimately not happening. And I’m like, I also don’t understand why, that’s why that’s what I’m telling you. I am doing the best I can with the information I’ve been given. And I’m really sorry because again, it’s, it’s my job to protect my artist’s reputation as well. So I can’t just point fingers at them either. I just have to say, you know what, my name’s on the invoice, it’s my fault. Yeah. And that’s fine. I don’t have any ego, so it doesn’t bother me a bit.
Anne Kelly (00:30:25):
Yeah. But you wanna avoid being in that position
Catherine Couturier (00:30:28):
And you just have to kind of vibe. I mean that they kind of get what you’re about and they like you too. I mean that, you know, it’s not as though I haven’t gone plenty of times missing emails, but yeah, having personalities that are, that kind of click is good, but you have to be able to work together. So they need to be just like a good, a good team. And I’m, I’m really lucky. I mean, I have really fantastic artists who are really easy to work with. They make every day a joy. So I’m, I’m really, really lucky in that regard.
Anne Kelly (00:30:54):
Well, and it’s a pretty young medium, relatively, the fact that some of the people we work with know a lot of the original pioneers, the fact that we’re not that far removed. I I don’t know anybody that knew Monet firsthand. Right.
Catherine Couturier (00:31:10):
Or <laugh>. Exactly. That’s exactly it. I mean I would say most photography dealers knew Brett Weston for example. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Like not just some of them, but most of them, you know. Yeah. Most dealers have met Ansel Adams. I mean I was just, I’m a little too young for that but, so I know all the wild stories. I’ve heard some really excellent stories that are more things you tell at a bar about, um, you know, some of the real <laugh>, the really most influential people in the history of photography. Everybody ped around and, and that’s really neat.
Anne Kelly (00:31:41):
And I don’t deal as much with, with vintage work. I deal more with contemporary work. But what I think is really fun about vintage work is it, it almost becomes this exploration where a print surfaces and I don’t know what it is, but perhaps we know people that can key us in and little details of it. So it almost feels like this like treasure hunt
Catherine Couturier (00:32:03):
For sure. I have a great story about that from just like last week, Scott Chicago for Expo Chicago and there wasn’t tons and tons of photography there, but the photography that was there was just completely top notch. One of the things I found were these vintage black and whites ston photographs and eggleston’s, you know, really, really known for color work. But this was before he even made a big splash in color. My dealer friend said, these aren’t seventies prints, these are 1970 prints, which is just a whole nother part, you know, moment in his career. Anyway, I bought ’em from this great gallery that has a, an outpost in Memphis and one in Nashville called David Lus Gallery. And they’re these scenes and David said they were from a wedding that Eggleston had done these photographs at a wedding, had given these prints that he’d done right away.
So there’s vintages they can get to the bride. The marriage had soured and she sold them <laugh> because Eggleston got famous. Famous. So that’s how they kind of got back on the market. Well anyway, so then I kind of posted them on Instagram and an artist named Katherine Herb, they used to Memphis. She said, oh, I hope you got those from David Lusk. I know this woman who’s friends with that family. You have the people who got married. And I said, oh, can you gimme her information? So now I know all this stuff about the wedding, about the people that are in the pictures, all of that kind of stuff. It’s like the neatest thing when you can, when you can find out, you know? And then she was kinda like, I’m not sure which child this is. And then she was like, oh, my friend just posted on Facebook a picture of her little girl when she was little and it looks like the same girl and it’s an old picture of Eggleston’s, but it’s not that long ago. You know? So it’s, that stuff is so neat cuz it is like a treasure hub. That’s exactly what it is
Anne Kelly (00:33:47):
To be able to piece in those stories.
Catherine Couturier (00:33:49):
I mean, one of the reasons I like social media is that kind of interaction that you can do, you know, kind of engagement with people. I think a lot of people just think of it as you’re supposed to just send things out. But I don’t, I like of information flow in general, but I also, I like meeting people and everything else and seeing what everybody else is up to. But, and it’s, it’s paid off in this kind of storytelling a lot of times. Cuz again, I just like to like surround myself with people who n you know, are really experts and really, really smart and it’s amazing the things you’ll learn if you pay attention.
Anne Kelly (00:34:21):
And with social media too, I think, I mean that’s always something that’s suggested is engagement, but I also think sometimes people just try to engage because they hear that’s what’s gonna make them successful on that platform versus the people who are just naturally engaging. They’re the ones that do it right to keep
Catherine Couturier (00:34:39):
Things as light as possible. Again, I’m not good at faking, so I don’t think I could cover up my personal, like that aspect of myself. Even if I was trying, I don’t think I could do it. And I think that even though I try to keep the gallery’s Instagram account at Catherine Courier Gallery, I try to keep it, you know, pretty straight laced every now and then it goes a little off the rails. Especially if I put in pictures of my kids or things like that. Just because I, I just can’t be that uptight. I’m not good at it. I, I’m just not that straight-laced. I’m just not <laugh>
Anne Kelly (00:35:10):
Being real. I mean why not? Like what, what,
Catherine Couturier (00:35:14):
What are you scared of? I mean that’s, yeah, the way I say it, and I say this about my kids too, is that my kids are the exact same as they were when they were like two weeks old. I mean the exact same. So if we can maybe grow a little bit or expand but we really can’t change any of us, you might as well like just lean into it and say, well this is who I am <laugh>. Even if I wanted to change, I couldn’t, so might as well try to embrace it. You know, it’s not really that whole love yourself thing or anything like that, but it’s, you know, it’s a certain point where you can’t beat yourself up for being who you are anymore because there’s nothing any of us can do about it. And trying to hide that or fake, like that’s not who you are, is not gonna bring the right people to you. The artists that come to me, my clients that come to me, evil in the business friends, it is because of something that is inherently Katherine Cushier. Not any ears I’m putting on cuz I’m just not good at it. Just not good at it. I used to try a little bit because I’m from this really small town and I have this country accent. I used to think, oh, I need to like class it up. I’m from Crockett, Texas. I sound like I’m from Crockett, Texas. That’s okay.
Anne Kelly (00:36:24):
Another place I’ve never been
Catherine Couturier (00:36:27):
<laugh>. I’ll take you, they’ll let you in. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll show you the sights, which are numerous, as you can imagine, in a town of 7,000 people in East Texas
Anne Kelly (00:36:38):
Road trip. I read somewhere that, that you had noted that, that you couldn’t teach people to be collectors. That you’re either a collector or not a collector. Yeah.
Catherine Couturier (00:36:50):
That urge is just there. I was doing things when I was little, like, you know, six, seven years old, I was collecting bookmarks. I was, you know, had all these things and I would spend time, you know, organizing them and you know, kind of cataloging and all of those sorts of things. Some people, they just don’t wanna acquire anything. My mom’s kind of like that. I mean she, she definitely has art on the walls as far as really just owning a bunch of stuff. It’s just not her nature. Most of my collectors photography’s just one of the many things they collect. If that’s your, you know, your nature, that’s your nature with, with anything that interests you. I’m very lucky that my husband, while it was not specifically art, but he collects coins, he collects all sorts of things. So he understands the mentality and is supportive of it.
I think the worst case scenario is basically if one person’s a collector and the other one is kind of an antico collector, there’s always gonna be clashes. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But my daughter earlier we were trying to change the sheet. She has this like loft bed and so we had to throw all of her stuffed animals onto the floor so we could change the sheet up above. And I said, oh my god, we call her stinker bell. I said, oh my god, stinker bell, you have got to get rid of some of these stuffies. It is awful. You can’t even see them because there’s so many. And she goes, I’m a collector Mama <laugh>. I said, you’re a hoarder. There’s a difference. She goes, I’m a collector <laugh>. I walked off and I thought she might be, she might, you know that. But that idea of how do I classify these things?
What do I need? What am I missing? What do I need to go actively look for? That’s just a collector mentality. You cannot teach that. You cannot. Um, a lot of times when people do start to really focus their collecting, it’s because they’ve got so much that they know that they, they have to stop buying everything they want because they’ll never run out of things to buy. Um, so usually then they say, okay, I’m gonna have to kind of focus up and, and do something, you know, with a little more purpose than just that. I like it. Great collections get built out of that, that thought pattern. So it’s always really neat to see when someone has kind of done a deep dive into whatever it is. I like pictures of people kissing. There’s a lot of things like that or you know, collections of children or collections of dogs or collections of whatever it may be.
It can be really, really interesting to look at art through that lens and see something where the subject matter maybe has something to do with each other, but, and to see the, the breadth, the collection when maybe a lemon is the only thing that ties it together but nothing else does. And be able to see how great photography is and how so many different artists can take the same subject matter and just present it in a completely different way. Say something completely different about the human experience. I love that. Love it. It’s really fun to, to go out and look for things that are that specific.
Anne Kelly (00:39:39):
So maybe they started their collection of just things they love. You could look at it and figure out what’s missing. If if it’s alphabetized, what’s missing between
Catherine Couturier (00:39:47):
Exactly what’s the k uh, yeah and I have a few collectors that I can all but buy for them without even asking because I know they’re eyes so well, I know exactly what they have. I know what they want, I know what they need, but also I just know what they like. And so it’s, it’s great when I do kind of stumble upon something and I can just text it to a client real quick and be like, oh my God, look what I just found. That’s again, that’s because I’ve worked with the same people for so long and that’s always really what I’m looking for in collectors is that kind of relationship. Same with artists, but I definitely like that, you know, getting to the point where I really do know them and, you know, know their eye and know their collection and know what they’re passionate about. That’s really fun. And I like that about all people anyway. Even if you’re not a collector, I like to, to figure out what makes people tick a little bit.
Anne Kelly (00:40:33):
So how about your current photo collection? You you’re living with photography all day at the gallery. There’s the photography you’ve selected for there and then for your clients, but the photography that makes it home with you, that’s, that’s a whole other level, right?
Catherine Couturier (00:40:49):
It has evolved so much and it changes so much depending on whether or not I’m making money, of course. But originally, you know, I had no money. I was working in a gallery business, I was 22 years old and I would find something I loved and I had, I mean literally had no money and so I’d ask the artist, can I pay you off $25 a month? Can I pay you, you know, $30 a month or whatever. And they would always say yes because they just could see that I really wanted it. And I think in general, artists, you know, they know the difference between whether or not you’re, you know, buying to stick it in a warehouse for an investment purpose or if you’re, you really want to wanna look at it. So yeah, I mean I, I have a, a big stack of Maggie Taylors and Maggie will tell you I paid all of them off a hundred dollars a month. <laugh>,
I sent, I sent my little checks for, you know, 12 months, 18 months, whatever it was. And so now, you know, once you become a gallery owner, people don’t wanna give you quite as long a payment plan, which is fine. But the last few years the gallery’s done well and I’ve been able to buy a couple of prints that really were on my wishlist for a really long time. The one that I was kind of like have always wanted. It was always my number one print and I bought it last year and it’s, I told my husband once I got it and put it on the wall, I was like, did I even want this? Or if I just wanted it for so long <laugh> that like, I’ve forgotten, like if I even liked it turns out I still do, but it’s also the, like I keep bringing up movies, but in um, the Princess Bride, one of the greatest movies of all time.
Agreed. Um, at the end of the movie, an ego Montoya has killed the six fingered man. <laugh>, he’s been in the revenge business for his entire life since he was like seven years old and now he doesn’t know what to do. That’s me now I’m kind of like, well I don’t know what I’m, what is my goal now? Like I, I’ve become this kind of, you know, existentialist of like what’s it all even mean now that I don’t have the number one photograph I want? But that was your conquest, huh? Yeah, I need a new conquest and it’s <laugh>. I still have like, I don’t know, 5,000 photographs I want, not exaggerating. So, um, I think I’ll probably pick another number one, it’s hard to say no sometimes to things and that’s the problem. If you are a collector in a dealer, it’s a constant struggle of just wanting to keep everything for yourself and then saying, okay, I can’t be good at my job.
I can’t keep my gallery going if I don’t sell things. But there’s been a couple of portraits the last couple years that have shown up that I know I could have sold to someone really quickly, but I was like mine, all mine, sorry it’s going home. But I buy a lot of contemporary work too. It’s definitely not mostly vintage, it’s not at this point, it’s not mostly black and white. I think that’s mostly where I started. I’d say it’s mostly color now, especially contemporary artists. Crazy about Maggie Taylor that I represent. I’ve bought quite a few. Patty Carroll who I represent last year I bought quite a few cause I cannot resist her. Sig Harvey who I think is just one of the best contemporary artists working right now. So those are what are right above my desk. So that’s fun. But I also, I mean I have little pieces that I bought at an art auction that are, you know, hanging in the hallway that I love just as much. I’m very lucky. I mean the being in this business is the only reason I’ve gone an art collection. That’s a big, big perk of working in the gallery business.
Anne Kelly (00:43:58):
Well you’re able to also live with the work
Catherine Couturier (00:44:00):
When you’ve stared at it already every single day for seven weeks while it was on the wall, you know, if you like it or not. Exactly. Um, so yeah, I mean we’re in a, a really good business and of course, you know, I get a bigger discount than I would if I were just Joe Schmid off the street. So that’s definitely as far as fringe benefits go to the gallery. I think that’s just about number one. Do
Anne Kelly (00:44:19):
You collect anything outside of photography?
Catherine Couturier (00:44:21):
I buy other forms of art a little bit. I don’t in general because number one it’s more expensive and I have a small house and I, I need to be very, very particular. But I just bought a couple of watercolors not that long ago actually. My framer’s a printmaker and she’s great. And so I’ve bought some of her stuff. As far as other things I, my house has flooded twice and after you lose basically all of your belongings a couple of times, your desire to own a lot, it, it lessens. So even things like, you know, I had a really good collection of first edition signed, you know, really important photography books and things like that. You know what, they’re hard to save in a flood. A lot of ’em got damaged. They’re incredibly hard to move. So that stopped. And I basically don’t buy books anymore.
I buy books to read, but I don’t buy books to, to collect. The first flood we didn’t know was gonna happen. The second flood, we were pretty sure cause it was like just monster hurricane that was coming. So I had taken the good books out of my bookshelves and put ’em on top so that if the water came up they’d be safe. But the water was in the house for so long that it wore at the wood of the bookshelf and collapsed the bookshelf. So everything still fell in the water. So I was like, okay, well when you lose kind of that much stuff, you realize how little stuff you actually care about. Now I just buy things I care about. And that’s mostly just art
Anne Kelly (00:45:42):
Catherine Couturier (00:45:44):
Yeah. Um, but my son started collecting art kind of during the, began the pandemic. We were doing this blog series called Safe in the Studio and I would get each of my artists to write about just what they were doing and they were trapped at home. And then they would show some recent pieces and for a week we’d give everybody a 20% discount if they bought one of those like three or four pieces. Super popular, really successful, loved doing it. So anyway, one of the artists who’d done that was Patty Carroll and she had this picture that, or has this picture that’s kind of a very blue room kind of flickering TV screen and you know, the figures kind of asleep slash dead in the chair. There’s popcorn ball like tipped over, you know, all over on the side of the floor. And my son, who was I guess 13 at the time, he goes, can we buy that?
And I said, yeah, honey, why? He goes, that’s what Covid feels like to me. So it’s right by where he plays video games in the house. So that’s the first thing he’s ever specifically asked me to buy. And I thought, oh, okay. Like he, he’s, he gets it. Like he, he gets that that owning art can add to your life and things like that. Um, he started a little collection of Buddhas. He, I don’t know, he’s really into guitar now, so he is got this whole thing that he’s doing with that. You know, my son seems to be doing at least mostly with a discerning eye, which is neat to see.
Anne Kelly (00:47:05):
I love that and I know that, I know and love that Pet Patty Carroll photograph might as well.
Catherine Couturier (00:47:11):
Anne Kelly (00:47:12):
Yeah, I mean that’s definitely the type of thing that if he was not raised in a gallery, I, I can’t imagine there’s many kids of his age making such requests from their mother, right?
Catherine Couturier (00:47:25):
Because they don’t, they don’t know that that’s even really an option. And he does that because of course, I’m constantly bringing things home, changing them. He actually helps install at the gallery at this point, so he understands that that is something that’s achieve, you know, attainable, achievable if you wanna buy these things. He has another couple of really great photographs, uh, artists have sent him because I, I do have such great friends in the business. Henry Hornstein sent him a, a photograph of buddy guy, the, um, blues musician. And because I took Andre to see buddy guy perform and buddy guy at one point, that has nothing to do with my job, except that this is cool and my job is cool. Buddy guy hops off the stage is playing in the crowd. This is, you know, one of the best guitarists of all time, 85 years old, jumps off the stage, walking through the crowd, walks right up to my son for some reason, plays at him, and then hands him his pick and then goes back up on stage.
I immediately was texting people who know kind of that blue scene and the folk scene and stuff like that. And one of ’em was Henry Hornstein. And so I was going to Boston for my consulting job the next week and he said, I have something for you. And I said, what is it? And he said, open it. And it was a, a picture he’d taken at a folk festival in, um, Philadelphia in 1969 of Buddy Guy for me to give my son. And I was like, that’s so cool. So Andre was like just completely blown away. As I said, you know, they’re, they’re living a very cool life. Same thing. I, you know, got something from an artist not long ago and the artist included this little dog picture for Charlotte, a k a stinker bell. But she was like, oh, I hope Stinker Bell likes this.
And I like, I like that they’re never gonna be intimidated to walk into a museum or a gallery. They’re never gonna think that, that they have to be dressed up or anything like that. They know that this is just something that a lot of people do. It’s a important thing to a lot of people. So, um, my dad collected art bef, he always says before he had children and we took all the money, but um, he was a teacher, so it’s not like there was any money to begin with. But my great-aunt was one of the first private dealers in Houston and she again was a school teacher, so this was just kind of a side gig. And she would sell my dad’s stuff at cost. So I grew up with art on the walls, even though I was in this little town in East Texas with two public school teachers for parents.
Again, I always knew that was something that, that you could do. I mean that I think a lot of people just don’t eat. It never even crosses their mind that they could buy art. They think that art is something that’s reserved for museums and they don’t understand that people are making it all the time. You can buy it yourself so it runs in the family for you as well. It does, at least on my dad’s side. But like, even my mom bought things over the years from the gallery. She actually bought a Patty Carroll two price increases ago and now decided she wanted a bigger one before the next price increase. So I’m, I’m like losing money hand over fist with this woman because she is, she thinks that at an incredibly good deal. So, um, yeah, it’s okay. I mean, again, my mom would not have grown up ever even considering buying art, but because she was living with us, that’s really neat to see.
I just sold two pieces to one of my collectors’ daughters when I met this collector. She was probably four mm-hmm. <affirmative> and she’s graduating from law school. It was just really neat to see how people do kind of grow into it. That being said, you can have one child that’ll completely go down that path and the other who won’t. I’ve got an artist who definitely, you know, had a very fancy lifestyle as her children were growing up and she’s lived all over the world and her kids have had really neat experiences. But she said that, you know, her son decorates in Timeless Home Depot <laugh>. So it’s, it doesn’t just always rub off. I mean you can expose people as much as you want, but, but sometimes either they just don’t value it or they just don’t get it or they just don’t have that kind of taste, you know?
Anne Kelly (00:51:07):
Right. I guess sometimes growing up with some around something, you either maybe you don’t appreciate it because you see it so much or they just get it
Catherine Couturier (00:51:17):
Right. And this collector’s daughter is not buying, she’s not interested in a single thing her father would be interested in and vice versa, which is also really neat. But she definitely knows that it’s something you can do, that you can actively be an art collector because of her dad. But there’s definitely a lot of things that my kids are just growing up understanding that I think a lot of kids don’t because of the gallery made the art installer comment earlier and you’re like, they make a lot of money. And I was like, yeah, that was one of the ways I paid most of my bills when I was younger. Cause I was making very, very little at the gallery. I didn’t own it yet. And I had clients that would pay me to install after work and I’d be be there with my little hammer. So as soon as my son could basically do fractions, I said, I gotta teach you how to do this cuz this is gonna give you a lot of booze money in college I guess. But it’s
Anne Kelly (00:52:06):
A great life skill. Um, incredibly installing, packing art. Yep. Framing art.
Catherine Couturier (00:52:12):
Yep. But also just it’s teaching him a lot of things for life. But it also, I’ve told people, if you can install art, you can basically build shelves for a cabinet. I mean it’s all, all these kind of three dimensional projects around the house all of a sudden it all just kind of clicks and makes sense. And, uh, my son’s a builder by nature, so he, he took to it really quickly, but I was like, these are the kind of skills that are gonna really, you know, come in handy your whole life. It’s not gonna be that you can, you know, explain to someone the difference between Monet and Mane. It’s that you can put a picture straight on the wall. I mean, that’s actually really a good thing that I can teach them. So he knows the Monet Manny thing too, but, you know.
Anne Kelly (00:52:55):
So you’ve mentioned movies a few times. Do you have say, a favorite of all time movie?
Catherine Couturier (00:53:02):
My son will tell you that. I say everything is my favorite of all time. I’ll go, oh my gosh, be quiet. This is my favorite song of all time. He’s like, okay, let’s add it to the list of mom’s favorite songs of all times, <laugh>. Um, that being said, I do have a few favorites. I mean, I would say that if I only had one favorite, it’d probably be Annie Mame, which I just watched not longer with my daughter for the first time. It’s great classic Rosalyn Russell, um, who’s one of my favorite actresses of all time. But the woman in it named Dennis is very, very reminiscent of my dad’s mom. It’s very much kind of partially a way I grew up, um, with this kind of eccentric part of the family that was very, very smart and educated and worldly. Uh, my family just shouldn’t have the money.
She got to have all that too. So great, great film. So I definitely like a lot of old movies like that. Um, but then also <laugh>, I watched a couple weeks ago, Arne when the kid, my husband and the kids were gone and I was all by myself, you know, for six hours and I didn’t have to be at work and I drank a bottle of wine and beaches and cried and it was wonderful. So I definitely have those <laugh> those favorites too. So I was like, okay, next time Fried Green Tomatoes cannot wait to just do all my favorite early nineties Cry Fest movies. I always say that one of the reasons that I even kind of considered being an art dealer was because it’s six degrees of separation, which was Will Smith’s first movie, stocker Channing, Donald Sutherland, stocker Channing, again, one of my absolute favorites, but I see this couple and they live in this fancy apartment in New York and they’re all wearing black and big jewelry and they’re having fancy dinner parties and everyone’s so smart and I’m just thinking, this is the life for me.
Crockett Texas in 1994. It was not, was not my life. I just knew that. And so they were private art dealers and I remember thinking, well that sounds okay, you know, let me figure out what that’s all about. So much college studied art history and, but I knew that I didn’t want to teach. And so I knew that, that I wanted to get into contemporary art in general and one form or another. But it’s funny because now when I watch that movie, they’re such snobs. They’re so, so, so elitist. Like they’re everything that I hate now about the, about the, the gallery business. It’s also, you know, they’re having this fancy party with these fancy people. They’re trying to get money for this painting. And I was so focused on how cool this whole thing was, this whole vibe and that they were living with this great art that I didn’t pay attention to.
The most important part of that movie, which is they’re having this thing because they are desperate for, I mean, they are desperate. Every their house of cards is about to come tumbling down. That’s what I should have noticed. I didn’t, I noticed Stocker Channing with a glass of wine and you know, a fantastic outfit on and I’d never been to New York. I mean I was 16. I think it was that idea that I could be kind of surrounded by people who liked the same things I do and that were smart and, you know, had big world views and knew about culture and language and food and wine and, and I got all that. I got all of that. I mean, I am surrounded by those people. And and you don’t have to be in New York for that. And you definitely don’t have to be a snob for that. I mean that those people are are out there just hanging out like I am.
Anne Kelly (00:56:15):
It’s interesting how watching the movie at different times takes on different meanings. Like, I’m just gonna go back to the fact that you mentioned the first time noticed how desperate those people were.
Catherine Couturier (00:56:25):
Right. But also my understanding of sophistication and manners and all of that stuff has changed. You know, that I see that all the name dropping they’re doing and stuff is actually horribly rude. I mean, that’s not Yeah. Sophisticated at all <laugh> to, to be that way. And I’m, I’m so turned off by those people in general, you know, that whole, oh, I was sitting around doing the New York Times crossword puzzle in a pen. Well, you don’t have to tell me that. You could just say you were sitting at home drinking coffee. Like, unless you’re trying to just constantly impress people. How, how movies and art actually changes as you change is always pretty fascinating. I mean, I’m, for the most part, everything I was buying in my twenties, I still love. But there’s definitely been things that have gone back to the gallery to be sold.
Just because as my life experience has changed, what I wanted to wake up and see in the morning changed. I mean, a good example is I had this piece called Mood Lifter by Maggie Taylor. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the title is a good, you know, positive thing. It’s called Mood Lifter, but it’s a, a person, she’s holding her head up like off of her shoulders. And so I was like, oh, isn’t that nice? The idea you can just wake up in the morning and just prick yourself up and you’re just gonna have this great day. Well then <laugh>, my son was born, my dad immediately died, then my boss died and all of a sudden I owned a gallery and just everything was so overwhelming all of a sudden when I would look at that, it looked like she was gonna throw her head at someone. It looked like that was becoming a weapon. <laugh> was mm-hmm. <affirmative> was, it was no longer mood lifter to me. It was like, let me see how many people I can knock out with my humongous head. So yeah, I mean it was easy for me to say, you know what, I might be bringing something to this that I was stop bringing previously. But that’s neat to watch too, you know, to, to kind of learn from that.
Anne Kelly (00:58:03):
I’ve noticed music can kind of take you back. It can transport you back to whatever time in your life you hear a song. Um, for sure. But I think art is the same way. Movies, it’s kind of a form of time travel, which I warned you I was gonna ask
Catherine Couturier (00:58:18):
You. You did. I’m very excited.
Anne Kelly (00:58:20):
If you could time travel and, and you have to pick now. Where, where are you going
Catherine Couturier (00:58:26):
If I go forward? Can I come back? If I go back, can I come back? Sure, yeah. Am I stuck forever?
Anne Kelly (00:58:31):
You’re, you’re not stuck. It’s just like a vacation.
Catherine Couturier (00:58:33):
How to say? I think I’d do a whole Bill and Ted’s thing, just like pop around randomly. Like just spin the dial and just see what, what shows up. Of course. I mean the easy answer would be 1920s Paris and you know, talk to James Joyce and have a drink with Hemingway and then, you know, beat Ezra Pound at tennis. Hard to not think. That would be kind of cool. What else would be an interesting time? I’m such a kind of indoorsy person. A lot of times when I think about olden days, all I think is that everything probably smelled really bad. <laugh>. Um, cause I mean <laugh>, I’m like a little too prissy, so I’m like, oh, okay, cool, let’s go see Michelangelo, you know, paint the Sistine Chaplain. I’m like, oh no deodorant. Everybody would be sweaty. No thanks. Like that doesn’t sound fun,
Anne Kelly (00:59:21):
<laugh>. Well, well thanks so much for joining us tonight, Catherine. Of
Catherine Couturier (00:59:25):
Course. I’m thrilled.
Anne Kelly (00:59:27):
Uh, do you have any shout outs?
Catherine Couturier (00:59:29):
Follow gallery on Instagram, sign up for our email list. Catherine cushier.com. Google’s gotten very good at spelling my name so you can just kind of halfass it and it’ll get you there. Facebook, Twitter, all of those things. Come see me at iPad, come see me in Houston. Um, I love meeting new people. See me an email. You’ll see that I can actually be charming. Um, believe it or not, or you can just wait till Anne comes and you can take a road trip to Crockett, Texas with us.
Anne Kelly (00:59:56):
I do make this little side show called Art in the Raw In the Wild. So,
Catherine Couturier (01:00:01):
Anne Kelly (01:00:03):
Good times. So anyways, thanks again for, for joining us, Katherine, and have a good night. And you too. Thanks for watching Art in the Raw. I hope you enjoyed meeting Katherine and hearing about her life as a gallerist and art dealer. If you enjoyed the episode, consider subscribing and telling like-minded fronts. Have a good night, y’all.
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