Art business veteran Madeline Murphy Rabb shares tough-minded advice on how artists can help themselves.
“You don’t need to talk to artists, you need to be at openings, you need to follow people around. You’ve just got to figure out, ‘Who is my potential client and where do they hang out.’”
Madeline Murphy Rabb is the president of her own art advisory firm, Murphy Rabb, Inc (MRI). Born in 1945 in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Rabb began studying art in high school. She was encouraged by her father to study business and public administration at the University of Maryland, but after two years she left to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Rabb concentrated on painting and drawing, graduating with a BFA in 1966. She subsequently moved to Chicago, where she earned an MS in print making from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She worked as Assistant Director of Art and Production for Tuesday Publications, then took a hiatus during which she concentrated on her family and local politics. In 1977 she rejoined the private sector, taking a position as Vice President and Business Manager of Myra Everett Designs. The next year she became an account executive at Corporate Concierge, and in 1979 she opened Madeline Murphy Rabb Studio, a defined business for her own art practice. The City of Chicago tapped Rabb to serve as Executive Director of Fine Arts in 1983. After seven years in the position, Rabb left the city to work as a freelance art consultant. In 1992 she opened her current consulting business. She has worked with numerous public and corporate organizations, as well as private individuals. She is a longstanding expert on contemporary African American artists.