9 Gorgeous Gals Taking The L.A. Art World By Storm!

As much as we love to incessantly snap locals striking a pose, we find nothing more alluring than a gal whose mind outshines even her look (or 'do, for that matter). That's why, for this week's dose of street style, we wanted to bring you a side of L.A. that's both aesthetic and academic — so obviously we looked to the city's ever-expanding artistic industry.
We found nine winsome gallery girls who can happily chat for hours about every art movement since the beginning of time — from surrealism to deco — and they know what they're talking about. Without further ado, meet the amazing curators, entrepreneurs, and fundraisers who are living the dream and rising to the top of the L.A. art-realm heap…in grand style, of course.
Advertisement
1 of 19
Sarah Watson, Senior Director at L & M Arts

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"I oversee every possible aspect of the gallery's operation, sales, programming, artist liasons, and more!"

How did you score your job?
"I had been working at and running galleries for the past 20 years. I was the former director of Gagosian in L.A. when the owners of L & M approached me."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"I love them all! But, mostly the ones given to me by artists such as the ink drawing by Cecily Brown, or the mask by Mark Grotjahn. I respect them both immensely as artists, but their works mean more to me because of the relationships they carry."

What artist would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"Cy Twombly — I named my son after him!"

Philip + Ina Dress, Cartier Bracelet, Sigerson Morrison Shoes
2 of 19
What's been your proudest moment yet?
"Helping build L & M from the ground up and working with artists who inspire me on a daily basis."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"I did an interview with the New York Times when I was a front desk girl at Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC. I mentioned that I wanted an invite to the MoMa garden party and they sent one along! Wonder what I should ask for now?"

What's the biggest perk of your job?
"Getting to see and help create great art, and to travel all over the globe to do it."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
"I thought I was an artist and enrolled in the RISD pre-college program. I learned that I very much wasn't an artist, but took my first art history course and that was it."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"Anyone I am serously looking at is already too expensive — at least for me!"
Advertisement
3 of 19
Heather Taylor, Co-Owner and Director at Taylor De Cordoba

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"Everything from planning exhibitions and managing relationships with my clients to opening mail and painting the walls. My normal day involves stopping by Surfas for a latte on my way to the office. Then, I have a quick meeting with my partner Alex and my assistant Lindsay, mapping out the week. Then we get to work — this involves client presentations, trips to the framers, press releases, event planning, studio visits, and client meetings."

How did you score your job?
"Lots of hard work!"

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"A vintage photograph by Helen Levitt."

What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"Catherine Opie, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, William Eggleston, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo."

Wren Dress, Clare Vivier Bag, Barneys Shoes, Prada Sunglasses, Eddie Borgo Earrings, Grace Lee Bracelet, Claude Morady Ring
4 of 19
What's been your proudest moment yet?
"Probably Frohawk Two Feathers' first solo museum show this past summer at the MCA Denver."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"In my early twenties I was the front desk girl at a gallery in Manhattan. I vividly remember running through the city, in the snow, in search of a dozen freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies for a VIP collector. Character-building moment!"

What's the biggest perk of your job?
"I have built a pretty enviable art collection thanks to the generosity of my artists."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style?
"I have been interested in weaving ever since learning about the Bauhaus Women Weavers in college and I finally took it up last summer. I've been making small wall hangings inspired by Sheila Hicks."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"Hadley Holliday — she is gaining real momentum with her gorgeous abstract acrylic paintings and the critics and collectors are taking notice."
5 of 19
Jordan Klein and Chelsea Neman, Co-Founders of The Tappan Collective

What exact duties do your roles encompass?
"Everything! When you start your own company, you are everyone from the art handler to the marketing team to the accountant. We spend most days at our Culver City gallery managing our website, curating shows, and planning pop-up events. We also constantly travel to meet new artists and visit studios."

How did you score your jobs?
"We created our own! After graduating from the University of Michigan, we both pursued careers in the art world. We realized many of our talented friends out of art school were struggling to exhibit and sell their work. We also met many aspiring collectors on a budget who couldn't access or afford exciting contemporary artwork. We decided to use the internet as a platform to effectively connect these two groups. We are now proud to support an incredible roster of up-and-coming artists and have sold artwork to an international audience who've gained entry into emerging art scenes."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
Chelsea: "A print by Sergio Moscona, an Argentine printmaker I apprenticed for while living in Buenos Aires."
Jordan: "The stunning mixed-media piece Popsicles by the Tappan artist Evan Robarts."

Chelsea (Left): Dusen Dusen Dress, Jeffery Campbell Shoes, Vintage Rings, Emily Faith Collection Necklace
Jordan (Right): Vintage Dress, Emily Faith Collection Jewelry, Steve Madden Shoes
6 of 19
What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living rooms?
"Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter for both of us!"

What's been your proudest moment yet?
"Our first group art show and party to celebrate the launch of The Tappan Collective this past summer. All our friends and family were there to watch our virtual gallery become a reality."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"Working closely with our artists is constantly inspiring and exciting. Going on studio visits and spending time with such wonderful personalities is always fun and memorable!"
7 of 19
What's the biggest perk of your jobs?
"We love meeting and collaborating with friends and likeminded artists across all genres such as film, fashion, and music."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
Chelsea: "I create large-scale gestural abstract paintings and smaller collage work based on words and text."
Jordan: "I'm a graphic designer."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"Collect artwork by Tappan artist Michael Gittes now! He invented a unique and secret painting technique that produces intricate yet abstracted portraits that's in hot pursuit by major collectors across the country. Prints start at $100, or contact info@thetappancollective.com for available original works."
Advertisement
8 of 19
Abby Bangser, Director of Major Giving Programs at LACMA

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"I oversee and cultivate the growth of LACMA's patron groups. These groups provide significant funds for our general operating budget, as well as allow for the museum to purchase art our curators are interested in acquiring. As an encyclopedic museum, we have patron groups for a wide range of interests and we organize various events that connect our supporters with these subjects. In a given week, I might organize a cocktail event at a trustee's home, take a group to an emerging fashion designer or visual artist's studio, or tour one of LACMA's great exhibitions."

How did you score your job?
"I studied Art History at the University of Chicago and did a wide range of internships at contemporary art spaces, including SITE Santa Fe and the Renaissance Society. After graduating, I spent time at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice where I gained experience in all of the museum's general operations. In moving to New York, I wanted to continue with the Guggenheim network, and the right position happened to be in Development. It was at the Guggenheim that I worked with all of the museum's collectors' groups and became fascinated with connecting the appropriate art experience with a museum patron's interest. We would go to all of the most exciting artists studios, private collections, art fairs — everything. At LACMA, I have had the opportunity to continue with these types of experiences and connect with a dynamic art community that has come to mean quite a lot to me."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"I grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and would often go to the National Gallery of Art where I fell in love with Jean-Honoré Fragonard's Young Girl Reading. I'm lucky to have an abstract work by the really talented L.A.-based artist, Julian Hoeber, that references this painting through its palette."

Vanessa Bruno Dress, Manolo Blahnik Shoes, Necklace From Mexico City

Abby is photographed with Chris Burden's outdoor sculpture "Urban Light."
9 of 19
What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"How about taking over an entire living room? Last year during LACMA's California Design, 1930-1965: 'Living in a Modern Way' exhibition, we displayed all of the contents from the Eames House living room. I think that living room might be worth a right arm. Plus, I'm left-handed!"

What's been your proudest moment yet?
"I'm always very proud when I've contributed to raising funds for a project that means the world to a curator or artist I admire, and would not otherwise have been fully possible. I'm very grateful that I've had a part in these dreams becoming realities!"

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"Last year at LACMA's inaugural Art + Film Gala, which, needless to say, is an event full of some of the most gorgeous gowns imaginable, Alber Elbaz walked into dinner next to me and graciously complimented my dress. I was elated."
10 of 19
What's the biggest perk of your job?
"Meeting and getting to know fascinating people who are incredibly generous and committed to making LACMA one of the world's greatest museums."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
"No! Although, I'm rather particular about how I wrap gifts. I don't know if it exactly counts as art, but I'm very conscious of every decision that goes into presenting a gift. I never wrap anything without double-stick tape and have developed a collection of ribbons with varied textures and colors."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"Rather than following names, I would encourage new collectors to see and study as much as possible so they develop their own instincts and taste. You have to love what you collect."
11 of 19
Esther Kim Varet, Owner and Director of Various Small Fires Gallery

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"It encompasses everything from doing one-on-one studio visits with artists, conceiving and curating my shows, having lunch or coffee meetings with collectors, fielding questions and sending images to art advisors, curators, or art press about my represented artists and their shows, applying to and exhibiting at art fairs, corresponding with other dealers around the world who also exhibit my artists, making sure that the art work is getting produced in a timely manner for shows, writing essays and press releases for the show, and going out and making the rounds in the evenings at different art events to socialize with L.A. peers."

How did you score your job?
"After graduating from Yale in 2004, I went to work for established New York galleries such as Paula Cooper and Friedrich Petzel before heading to Columbia University to begin an Art History master’s program in Modern and Critical Theory. While a full-time student, I independently represented and showcased emerging artists at international art fairs. By the age of 24, I owned and operated my first ground-floor gallery with two partners on Vandam Street in New York City and simultaneously matriculated into the full-time PhD program at Columbia specializing in modern and contemporary art. Through a major fellowship from Columbia, I am currently completing dissertation research at LACMA and the Getty on late '60s California Conceptualism. I opened my gallery on Abbot Kinney in January dedicated to emerging artists and fresh curatorial ideas."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"I wouldn't say this is my most valuable piece of art, but it certainly is the most giving — I recently commissioned the rising art star and friend Alex Israel to do a 100-foot public art mural on the facade of my gallery building on Abbot Kinney. The mural has started to become a Venice icon and landmark in its own right, which has been an immensely rewarding project."

What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"Being a PhD candidate in addition to a gallerist, I have to admit that I'm a total history dork. So, The Death of Murat by Jacques-Louis David which has been credited by some art historians as the first modernist painting. I don't particularly love the image, let's be honest — it's of a dead dude in a bath tub! But, I'm in love with the story — how the painting was theatrically marched down the streets of Paris during the French Revolution as an iconic proclamation that art now was to serve the people. Off with those other guys' heads!"

Hermés Watch, Julie Nolan Necklace, Chicco Ruiz Shoes, Self-Made Dress
12 of 19
What's been your proudest moment yet?
"Getting over my irrational fear of the ocean by learning how to surf while at my actress friend Perrey Reeves' stunning yoga-slash-surf retreat in Costa Rica."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"There are so many! I think there are funny and memorable moments happening every day in the art world. I don't care how you ended up here — but the reality is that you're a part of the art world simply because you worship creativity and imagination. Now how awesome is that? A profession built around the most colorful parts of human output. When working with contemporary artists, I find myself problem solving all sorts of funny scenarios. For instance, how do you sell a sculpture with the artist's underwear and bodyhair still stuck on it from the wax casting of his leg? Or, are Lee Press-On Nails toxic? I think my dog swallowed one that fell off a painting in the gallery."

What's the biggest perk of your job?
"That it doesn't feel like work."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
"I used to be a painter, but I realized I'm much better at writing and talking about art than making it."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"Diego Singh, Anna Sew Hoy, and Alex Israel."
Advertisement
13 of 19
Eliza Osborne, Vice President and Auctioneer at Sotheby's

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"The best thing about my job is that every day is wildly different and always interesting. I can be speaking to a collector about something they may acquire, to a museum about something they may deaccession, to a charity about an upcoming event for which I will be the auctioneer — all of which are interesting and speak to the dynamic needs of those I work with."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"In New York, I love my Guy Wiggins painting with a view of Central Park. And, in L.A., I love my E.V. Day Mummiefied Barbies. Somehow they both speak to their cities!"

Vince Dress, Christian Louboutin Shoes, Ippolita Earrings, Tony Duquette Ring, Verdura Bracelet
14 of 19
Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"As an auctioneer, I have sold naming rights to airplanes and animals in a zoo; as someone who has worked in the industry for a long time, the amazing shift to a more and more global market and the still-increasing competition for truly great works. I have sold a slew of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I know the buyers will cherish, and at the same time been able to help a large number of diverse and worthy causes raise millions of dollars every year."

What's the biggest perk of your job?
"Seeing beautiful things every day and meeting incredible people who are fascinated by the things they collect."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"There are so many, but Made in L.A. showcased a number of local artists with enormous talent, some of whom are still very affordable."
15 of 19
Sonny Ruscha Bjornson, Gallery Assistant and Co-Events Manager at Gagosian Gallery

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"I'm an assistant, so a typical day could include any number of things. I answer the phones, send catalogs to clients, create the press binders and checklists for each show, and keep the gallery stocked with supplies. The closer it gets to an opening, the more hectic things become. I'm also the co-events manager, so I help organize our many events, openings, and dinners. I book the caterers and rentals and make sure everything runs smoothly and our clients and VIPs have a fabulous time."

How did you score your job?
"I studied fashion design and business in college, but was working in upstart contemporary galleries on the side. I found that I was really passionate about supporting artists and organizing exhibitions. When I graduated I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the art rather than the fashion world, and decided that an internship at Gagosian would be an excellent starting point. After interning for several months, my persistance and good timing landed me my job."

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"Quite honestly, it's impossible for me to name my single most prized artwork, as each piece in my collection is invaluable to me. But, other than anything of my father's, I would say that the painting Pink Room by my husband-to-be Rives Granade would be among my very favorites. Bob Therrien also recently sent me the most beautiful little drawing in the mail that I rushed to the framer and is now hanging beside my bed."

What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"Off the top of my head, I would give my right arm for anything by Richter, Eggleston, Arbus, Chamberlain, Bacon, Freud, Cragg, Magritte, Mapplethorpe, Currin ... the list could go on and on! I would also die for one of those Robert Irwin florescent light pieces shown at L & M in Venice last year. I wouldn't mind a later Ken Price sculpture, either. I could spend hours studying the gorgeous surfaces he created."

Only Hearts Dress, Elizabeth and James Sandals, Tom Binns Earrings, Borgioni and Lee Brevard Rings
16 of 19
What's been your proudest moment yet?
"Other than getting my job, I'd say my proudest moment was when my father told me that he had a 'really great time' at one of the events I had helped organized at the gallery."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"One of the funnier moments was when I told a guard not to let Sterling Ruby into an exclusive dinner in honor of Urs Fischer because he didn't look anything like the pictures I'd seen of him online. He'd grown his hair much longer and was unrecognizable. I was humiliated when he told me who he was and explained that he was in fact invited to the party. He had a good sense of humor about it, which softened the blow."

What's the biggest perk of your job?
"I'd say the biggest job perk is my proximity to so many incredibly influential people. I've brushed shoulders with everyone from Mick Jagger to John Waters at openings and dinners. I also have a front-row seat to the installation of our shows, which can be such a treat. There's something surreal about seeing a massive Chamberlain sculpture all wrapped up in a crate."

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
"Although I have a built-in passion and appreciation for art, I definitely did not inherit any artistic abilities whatsoever. However, I will say that I'm an expert at taking Polariod pictures and loading photos onto Instagram."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"There are so many talented, emerging, and mid-career artists that I'd recommend a new collector invest in. I recently bought a couple of highly sentimental pieces by the London-based artist Debra Scacco who shows at one of my favorite new galleries, Marine Contemporary. A few years back I also discovered the work of painter Rives Granade and immediately knew I had to get my hands on one before they became unaffordable. Only later did I get a chance to meet Rives and am now marrying him. I would also recommend buying Greg Colson, who just had a show of his early works at Patrick Painter. His sculptures and drawings are perfectly playful and nostalgic. His brother, Jeff Colson, who shows at Ace, is an amazing artist, as well. If you're a slightly more 'advanced' collector, I would say grab a couple of Eggleston's before they cost more than a house."
17 of 19
Miranda Siegel, Gallery Assistant at Regen Projects

What exact duties does your role encompass?
"Everyday is different and exciting at the gallery. I sit at the front desk and greet all of the visitors, so I am the first person that people talk to and interact with. This can make for some very interesting conversations! In addition to this, I coordinate all of the gallery events, help arrange travel, and really help out wherever help is needed."

How did you score your job?
"I worked hard and got very lucky!"

What's your most prized piece of art you own?
"A painting that my boyfriend, Nate Wolf, painted for me."

3.1 Philip Lim Jumper, A.P.C. Shoes, Jonathan Berger Bracelet
18 of 19
What artists would you give your right arm to hang in your living room?
"I would love to have a Wolfgang Tillmans piece, specifically from his 'Freischwimmer' series."

What's been your proudest moment yet?
"I always feel super proud when everyone at the gallery comes together as a team and pulls off a really great show or opening. A lot of work goes into every show, and it feels awesome to see it all come to fruition."

Can you tell us the funniest or most memorable thing that has happened to you since gaining entrée to the art world?
"My most memorable experiences are definitely being around some of the greatest artists and watching them install their shows at the gallery."
19 of 19
What's the biggest perk of your job?
"Hanging out with the artists!"

Do you paint/sculpt/draw/etc.? If so, what's your medium and style? Ideal subject?
"Nope, I'm just an art lover."

Any burgeoning artists you'd recommend our readers should invest in now before the prices go through the roof?
"I recommend buying art that you love and that moves you. If it's something that you find special and really speaks to you, it's worth it."
Advertisement

More from Los Angeles

Watch

R29 Original Series