Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Growing when others are shrinking

Editor's Note: This is the first in our occasional series of profiles of people who are finding success through approaches that defy the conventional wisdom.

Lisa Cooper and Joan Daidone have been slowly growing their art consulting business for several years now. This past winter, in the middle of the "Great Recession," they opened a brick-and-mortar gallery. At a moment when so many galleries are pulling down their huge garage doors and turning off the track lights, it's really refreshing and encouraging to see two smart women betting on the upside.

Unlike hedge funds, derivatives, or bundled and securatized mortgages, art isn't going anywhere. Art is integral to our very humanity and it has always been and will always be. In fact, I'm guessing that my modest art collection is holding its value far better than my 401(k). It wouldn't take much, right?

Of course that's not why we collect art and it's not why we make art.

Art as a touch stone for positive change is at the very heart of Lisa and Joan's mission. I met them at last year's Affordable Art Fair and we had a lengthy conversation about art's capacity to help us find meaning in our daily lives. It was very fitting to have the conversation at a venue designed to foster new collectors. They're very passionate about it--and they donate a percentage of their proceeds to two art-related charities. They know what they're talking about when it comes to art and they definitely walk the walk.

Good intentions are all well and good but they don't amount to much without a solid business plan. That's what is so exciting about their trajectory: they have been very careful and methodical. They started with art parties and appointment-only residential viewings. They added a few art fairs to their portfolio, which makes sense given the high percentage of revenue most galleries pick up on the art fair circuit. Now they have taken the next logical step, which is to open a brick-and-mortar gallery with regular hours. But they've been careful and smart about it: the space is in Riverdale and it's not huge. They have their overhead very much under control.

It is a smart combination of ambitious courage with an extremely humble and incremental approach that matches their mission of changing the world one work of art at a time.

They're growing when others are shrinking and you can only wish them the greatest success.

I have a feeling they'll do pretty well.

1 comment:

joniwriter said...

Thank you Peter for your kind words and support. We'll be at the Affordable Art Fair again in May this year. Come visit us. For info visit www.elisatucciart.com

Joan & Lisa