It’s time to celebrate the 1st anniversary of OSGS Ortiz-Smykla|Gallery Studio! For this special milestone, The Rickie Report takes a close look at what makes this gallery such a beacon for art buyers, art lovers and artists alike. In this article we celebrate the artists and the initiatives of owners Evelyn and Jonathon Ortiz-Smykla. Stop by during their Open House! Details and interview are here.
Ortiz Smykla Gallery Studio
Invites You to Celebrate
Friday, March 28th 6-9 pm
500 Northwood Road W.Palm Beach, FL
Currently on exhibit at OSGS are: Ilene Adams, Dianne Bernstein, Claudia Bloch, Sheree Blum, Marie-Claude Desorcy, Gail Erickson, Luke Gardner, Jeff Green, Henri Louis Hirschfeld, Irene Jalowayski, Helen Kagan, Robin Kimball, Ian Levinson, Lew Mayer, Jonathon Ortiz-Smykla, Molly Potter, John Rachell, Jim Rigg, Tim Rivers, Julie Roberts, Elayna Toby Singer, Ebba TinWin and Steve Wallace.
TRR: As OSGS celebrates its first anniversary opening in Northwood, can you take us through the process from your initial thoughts to actually opening?
It comes as a surprise to both Jonathon and me that the year has sped by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday we were contemplating the thought of a gallery and working together on the project. Where to begin, cost, location, and business plan were all questions we posed to each other and our spouses. This was, after all, a family affair and one that would impact us all. Evelyn just hit retirement and Jonathon was at a crossroads with his professional outlook. This new venture seemed to fit our paths.
Months prior to my retirement from the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals kept me very busy with the idea of a gallery. With a masters degree in Library Science specializing in archives and conservation, I had already worked in a business library as well as corporate, special and university libraries. I had researched the venture we would be undertaking and knew that selling art would not be easy.
We both knew that we had something special to contribute to the world of art. Jonathon holds the masters degree in landscape architecture from Auburn and worked with firms in Montgomery, Atlanta and West Palm Beach. He also created his own art (painting, rock posters, screen printing and photography), exhibited in several galleries, and accepted commissions (his art even appears on race cars!). Before becoming a librarian I earned my undergraduate degree in art history from the University of Alabama. I painted and created fiber arts. My knowledge of modern art is so extensive that years ago on a visit to the Birmingham Museum of Art I even discovered that one of Rauschenberg’s works was hung the wrong way!
Showing no fear and only enthusiasm we set forth the task of doing our research on what it takes to run a gallery in today’s market. With tenacity, love of art, empathy, and courage mixed with fearless wonder we did our leg work. We read such books as Making It in the Art World: New Approaches to Galleries, Shows, and Raising Money, by Brainard Carey. We did our literature research by reading articles, looking at multiple business plans and contacting SCORE here in West Palm Beach. We trained with a custom framer and attended workshops to learn and hone our skills in custom framing. We visited several different locations, in particular, those that Jonathon felt had the most potential for creative arts and growth. We joined the Chamber of Commerce and took advantage of the many workshops and lectures as well as opportunities for networking.
Still, art is a hard sell, and takes a lot of creativity and working in tandem with artists and the art community. So while we located our current location and went about the business of renovating the space, Jonathon went to work on our web page and social media. I took on the arduous task of getting licenses, security, insurance and tax needs necessary to run a business, as well as teaching myself how to operate an online bookkeeping system. We did our homework and researched different operating contracts for exhibiting artists before deciding on what we felt would be beneficial to both the artist and us.
Art is not only a ‘hard sell’ but we opened our doors when the economy was (and is still is) suffering from the economic downturn. The business model we developed has worked for us so far. We are still a ‘new’ business and it will definitely take more time to establish our roots, but we are on the right path.
We started our space with an empty shell that needed a lot of work. After making a number of renovations and improvements, we designed many floorplans before deciding on a one that worked best for our spatial experience. Our end result matched our vision within the walls we had.
Eventually we got to a point where we needed to send out ‘calls to artists’ that may want to exhibit with us. We have been very fortunate in having talented artists approach us and allow us to exhibit incredibly excellent diverse art.
The Rickie Report was crucial in shining a light on our new venture with artists across the Palm Beaches. That was really an early cornerstone of our success. Without The Rickie Report we would not have been able to bring talented artists into our gallery in such a short period of time. Those artists provided a lot of feedback and insight that we took seriously and used to help build our vision as well.
TRR: How have you integrated into the community?
The idea of giving back to others is not new to us because we are suddenly business owners. Our family has always given back in many different ways. The online art auction we sponsored in February with all proceeds benefitting Place of Hope is a recent example. Our artists supported us and donated beautiful pieces to the auction.
Last summer we initiated Bring Your Own Chair Lecture Series (BYOC). This initiative offers free lectures by our exhibiting artists to the community in order to learn more about art, different mediums/techniques, and what it takes to create, experiment, and have fun with art, either through educational training or self training. Through BYOC we’ve made art more approachable and not so far fetched to the community.
ArtSynery was another way we integrated into the community in our first year of business. Aside from our individual artists and exhibitions, ArtSynergy allowed us to reach beyond the Northwood Village corridor. We cannot put into words how exciting it was for us to have been a direct part of ArtPalmBeach. That our gallery and our exhibited artists were awarded a prestigious opportunity to exhibit in that art fair! That was followed by seeing more of our artists represented in the American International Fine Art Fair.
We worked very hard with the other gallery owners in Northwood to reach new goals and to establish Northwood as an art destination for West Palm Beach. We helped establish the Second Saturday Art Walks as well as our own gallery exhibitions. Essentially we’re not just juggling our own business affairs but also helping to see that Northwood turns the corner and becomes something better as well.
TRR: What are the most important things we should know about OSGS?
- We are here to share the experience of beauty, creativity and wonder.
- We hope to bring joy and pride to the community.
- We are neighbors and friends to all that enter or pass our doors.
- We want OSGS to be a venue where artists can exhibit their works to further their exposure.
- We want the community to know that we Custom Frame for the Public!!! Yes, this is a priority for us as a business because it brings in critical funding for OSGS to stay afloat. Persons have come in for framing and walked out with art from our gallery.
- We work hard to find new ways to bring exposure to both OSGS and Northwood Village. We are a young business and we are trying new things, most of them for the first time.
- We encourage any artist looking for gallery representation to contact us. We consider every artist that approaches us.
TRR: What are your goals for the coming year?
- Slow and steady is our mantra. We know baby steps is the best way to move forward.
- We would like to offer more receptions, continue with our BYOC summer lecture series, continue to offer our assistance to non-profits, and expand our framing business.
- We want to continue to work on our gallery and be proud of what we have accomplished together as a team.
- We want to connect art with other businesses in Northwood. Merging food, art, fashion and the like will be the best way to ensure positive growth — make each and every day the best day to shop and dine Northwood.
TRR: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
We come from a long line of service providers, dream makers, and putting others first, so keep an eye on us.
Something to keep an eye on – Our Website! We are currently revamping our website and hope to launch the new version OSGS 2.0 within the next few weeks! It will include all you need to know about OSGS and our exhibiting artists but we will also be offering purchasing options on all items currently on exhibit through the website. www.OSGSart.com
As always, ‘Like’ us on Facebook and follow each and every step as we grow well into the future. Stay up-to-date with all of OSGS events.
…And We Custom Frame for the Public!!
We are always looking for artists seeking representation. Please email us if you are interested. We have options for exhibition space and reception opportunities.
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Rickie Leiter, Publisher
The Rickie Report
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420