Nicole Wilkinson ’22

Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Spending my summer as an intern under the curator at Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery was a learning experience, to say the least. Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery, housed in San Francisco’s historical Dogpatch District, is one of the premier galleries in the Bay Area. But the gallery’s physical space is not as important as its people: Adrian Rosenfeld, whose role in the gallery is self-explanatory, as well as the gallery’s director, Sarah, and curator, Jodi, are why the gallery has been so successful in selling such high value art.

Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery has a different business model than most private galleries. Rather than representing a specific collection of artists, Adrian Rosenfeld collaborates with other galleries from around the world to put on artist exhibitions as well as acts as a consultant for other galleries. I felt as if I was privy to a world that I had never known existed, one of billionaire collectors and extravagant gallery openings, which had its positives and negatives.

Because the gallery team was so small, I felt I was given the opportunity to take on real responsibility. Over the course of the summer, I contributed in a variety of ways, from the most stereotypical “intern” tasks, like grabbing lunch for the group, to pioneering and seeing through my own projects, such as the re-organization and expansion of the gallery library. While I felt empowered as a member of the small team, I did not feel as if the work environment allowed for independence or creativity; every single small detail, from an Instagram caption to the arrangement of the bouquets at the exhibition opening, had to be cleared with Adrian, who is extremely detailed and particular.

One particularly rigorous and memorable aspect of my work for Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery included researching and reviewing gallery and museum exhibitions in the Bay Area, mainly to promote on the gallery’s various social media pages, but also to keep the gallery team up to date on all art and artists in the area. My weekly work schedule generally included Mondays spent “in the field” and Tuesday through Friday at the gallery. During those Mondays spent travelling around San Francisco and the area, I visited new museum exhibitions like Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again and gallery shows like Richard Prince: High Times, sometimes returning to the same show three or more times just to look at one piece that I couldn’t get off of my mind. I always took notes on the pieces that I was drawn to, took photos of the most visually stimulating pieces, and then consolidated the impressions swirling around in my head along with the information I had learned from brochures, show descriptions, and artist CVs, into short reviews that I sent to Jodi to be edited.

In hindsight, those Mondays and my relationship with Jodi were what I enjoyed the most during my internship. Every new exhibition or artist or area of the city was new and exciting, and I also noticed significant personal improvement as I developed the language necessary to write concise art reviews. I also felt I learned so much from and genuinely enjoyed my time with Jodi, who made it clear that any questions I thought of were welcome, whether or not we were in the same space together.

Other days, I was in the gallery library along with the rest of the team. My first project was to research and compile a document of all of the artists represented by the galleries we often collaborate with, which also happen to be the top international galleries—Gagosian, Matthew Marks, Sprüth Magers, to name a few—for the team to study. I compiled the contact information, current and future exhibitions, and location of all of the galleries and museums in the Bay Area in order to help grow a contemporary art scene comparable to that of New York. These early projects were yes, mindless and easy, but also great introductions into the commercial art world, which I essentially knew nothing about prior to the internship. Gradually, I was given more responsibility and longer-term projects.

Around the same time, the gallery began preparing for our summer exhibition of two Japanese American artists. The show—Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito—publically opened on June 28. It featured works spanning six decades of the artists’ careers. Working alongside colleagues like Donald Judd, Frank Stella, and Dan Flavin, Kuwayama and Naito were formative figures in the development of Minimalism and Op Art in the 1960s to 1970s, and continue to produce pieces to this day from their studio in New York. Asking why you’ve never heard of either of the artists? We will never know if this is because of the political climate of the time or the artists’ lack of self-promotion. I was involved in the preparation for the show; I delved through documents from the 1960s in order to build CVs for both artists, took photographs of the works when they arrived, Photoshopped various photos for the show preview and press release, and helped with the necessities of planning the exhibition opening.

My time at Adrian Rosenfeld Gallery taught me that, while I will never become an art dealer, I see a potential career as a curator. Working with Jodi and discussing her past gallery and museum shows, 
witnessing the installment of Tadaaki Kuwayama and Rakuko Naito and, later, conversations regarding the gallery’s next show, as well as the galleries I visited taught me that I love the creativity that belies the act of curating. I love pulling art historical knowledge, intuition about different works, and spatial awareness together to produce an exhibit. Because of this new curiosity, I will continue to take Art History classes at Williams and potentially pursue another internship in curating, this time maybe in a museum setting.

I would like to sincerely thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and Ms. Mary Richardson Anderson ’42 for sponsoring me with the Romeyn Everdell Internship. Your generosity gave me the opportunity to explore my budding passion in a professional setting. I feel beyond lucky for this experience and to have a new network of mentors and friends that I will have access to for the rest of my career. Thank you.