Gallery owner Kenise Barnes discusses the pros and cons of being a working woman in the art world, as well as the challenges of balancing work with family life. Barnes also delves into a number of business topics, from the difficulties of commissions to the duties of a supportive gallerist.
“I love when I get a collector and the woman has a big job and is a total equal partner. Unfortunately, the economics drive this disparity in power across the board. And I think that happens, if you can make the extension, to curators, and gallerists, and women in business in general. Someone coming into your business might perceive that this business is not your primary income, or perhaps this is something you do only because you love it.”
Kenise Barnes is a curator and the director and owner of Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont, New York. Born in the central New York town of Skaneateles, Barnes has been interested in art since she was a child. She took many art classes in high school, earned a degree in Fine Arts from Cazenovia College, NY, and studied at the University for the Arts, Philadelphia before transferring to Temple University to pursue a degree in Women’s Studies. After graduating, Barnes moved to New York City and began working at the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She joined Christie’s after being headhunted by the auction house, eventually rising to the position of specialist in charge of contemporary art at Christie’s East. After five years with Christie’s Barnes left the company and, after a brief period volunteering in the Museum of Modern Art’s education department, left the city to start a family. After two years she began exhibiting and dealing art in her suburban town, which quickly led to the establishment of Kenise Barnes Fine Art in 1994. Today the 2600 square foot gallery represents many artists, including a significant number of women.