Gallerist on the Go
Siobhan Gavagan is a rising D.C. gallerist and formerly worked for Margery Goldberg. She is now with Susan Calloway at her elegant Georgetown space on Wisconsin Avenue. Siobhan’s energy, smarts, and charm make her a standout in the gallery scene.
What got you into the art business?
My family has always been involved in the arts. My father went to NYU for film and photography and has a great love for the arts, so we would always go to museums, foreign films, and the theatre growing up. I’m very fortunate to be working in the field that I studied in college as most people get art degrees and end up not doing anything related to art.
Do you hang out with an “art crowd?”
Not really, I have a couple of friends that are painters and musicians, but D.C. is such a political city, most of my friends work on the Hill or for NGOs. The art scene in D.C. is coming around and getting the younger crowd more involved, but it has a way to go.
What’s your favorite D.C. museum?
The National Portrait Gallery. I’m a big history buff so looking at all of the old portraits of great leaders is really exciting for me.
You’ve lived in a group house, what’s the inside scoop?
It was wild! I lived with nine roommates in Le Droit Park. It was like The Real World, but better. I found the house on Craigslist and went in not knowing anyone. I’ve made some amazing friends from that experience. We had friends that lived in other group houses so our group would always grow with new people moving in and out. There was a Fourth of July party that we threw that will go down in history!
How was it working for the legendary Margery Goldberg?
Margery is great. I started off interning at Zenith and eventually took on the role as gallery manager. The openings were always fun at Zenith and Margery knows how to throw a party and get other people excited about art.
What’s your commission on selling a picture?
The most I’ve made from a commission was around $600. It’s a great incentive to really go after a sale.
Who ever gets your first name spelled right?
I think my Mom and Dad are the only ones who get it right. I still have family who misspell my name on birthday and Christmas cards! I was always the kid in class who would sink down in their chair when the teacher was calling roll, Sio-Bahn Gava-Gon — they never could pronounce it right.
What about your own art, is it suffering or gaining by working in a gallery?
Sometimes I can get inspired from all of the beautiful work that surrounds me in the gallery, but other times it does get a bit draining.
What’s your day-to-day routine at Susan’s gallery?
My morning usually involves entering new sales into QuickBooks and updating the inventory. The gallery does custom framing so that takes up a great deal of time. Another big part of my day includes updating our website.
What’s your tip for a first time buyer?
Do some research on the artist. Also learn about their technique and read their resume. It’s an investment, so make sure you really love the piece. There is art out there for everyone and you don’t have to splurge on something expensive.