Q: Introduce yourself — who you are and what your gallery’s vision is?
A: I opened Jen Tough Gallery in the Bay Area of California in February 2017. We moved to Santa Fe, NM a month before the Covid shutdown, and unfortunately, the gallery was never able to open. Fast forward two years, and we’re now remodeling our new space in Santa Fe, with an expected opening in the spring of 2023!
We are thrilled to be running a new artist-focused business called AIR Studios (“AIR” stands for Artists in Residence) which are artist studio rentals by the week, with open studios each and every weekend. We were inspired by the origins of Canyon Road (the famous art gallery area of Santa Fe), which was created by dozens of artists opening their studios to the public. We believe that the future of art selling is changing to a more artist-centered model, and we want to help facilitate that with AIR Studios, where artists can meet and sell directly to the public. Our new building will also feature four exhibition spaces for Jen Tough Gallery, a sculpture garden, and more. We cannot wait for this new chapter!
Q: What is your background?
A: I was part of a very liberal, academic-focused family in a conservative area of Ohio, which helped me live up to my last name. I lived in Scotland as a kid, in Colorado for a bit to be a ski bum, and moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s. I have a BFA (general fine arts) from Ohio State University, attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati for foundation work and Parsons / The New School for study in West Africa. I am the former art director for Urban Outfitters, Warner Bros Records, and numerous magazines. My clients included a variety of creative work for Drew Carey and several years in branding and design for Nike.
Q: What is your work philosophy and how does that impact the gallery?
A: I am extremely work-focused and genuinely love working. I enjoy creating new things, working with artists, and watching them succeed. I’m not a big fan of the current gallery system with the top-tier mega galleries shutting out the vast majority of artists, dealers, and buyers, with only 1% being able to take part. Most of the money and authority have now stagnated at the top, leaving new talent shut out. I just can’t see this as being a good thing for society in the general long term. I believe that the time is right for artists to take back the selling and exhibiting process, and I hope that AIR Studios can help facilitate that by giving artists a beautiful place to create and show their work to the public.
Q: What artists and art styles do you represent?
A: I have a wide variety of art and artists that I exhibit and represent, from abstract expressionists like Sarah Boyts Yoder to photo collage work by Liz Steketee, to quirky drawings by Laura Klopfenstein. I like to have a diverse roster from artists all over the US.
Q: What artist(s) inspire you?
A: I’m always inspired by artists who persevere and keep working despite the enormous barriers now present, especially for emerging or “re-emerging” older artists. I also have art crushes on Robert Gober, Mark Bradford, Diane Arbus, Banksy, Amy Sherald, Joseph Beuys, Robert Motherwell and Jenny Holzer… too many to list!
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received?
A: I’ve received so much incredible wisdom from my dear friend Drew Carey over the years. Namely, stay optimistic, work hard and don’t look for shortcuts, and always be kind.
Q: When you are not working, where can we find you?
A: At an art event or museum, trying to grow things in NM soil, reading, exploring New Mexico, or hiking in gorgeous Santa Fe with my two dogs, daughter and husband.
Q: What does exhibiting at Red Dot Miami 2022 mean to you?
A: I’m super excited about this year’s Red Dot! After two years of shutdowns and limited travel, I think this fair is going to be incredible! I love exhibiting with Redwood Art Group because they are in my opinion, the most artist and gallery-friendly group running fairs today. I cannot wait!