If you've admired Christopher West's curating at the Dean Johnson Gallery in the past, and if you're wondering what he's doing now that he's left that venue, then you'll be pleased to hear that he's got a new job at Dan Ripley's Antique Helper as an Acquisitions Associate Specializing in Fine Art and 20th Century Design.
West is no stranger to Antique Helper, having run the Indianapolis Contemporary Art + Design Auction with Mindy Taylor Ross back in June, 2010. This Antique Helper auction featured around 150 contemporary artworks and showcased the works of locally-based — and nationally recognized — artists and designers.
West has been at many auctions — as an attendee. "I attended auctions all over the world in New York and London and car auctions in the Midwest," he says. (He attended car auctions with his father, who is an avid car collector.) But the 2010 auction at Antique Helper was his first time working behind the scenes.
West is an IU grad, with a major in Business Marketing and minor in Art History. His first gallery job out of college was with the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, where he worked with the well-known artists Joel Shapiro and Kiki Smith. West became curator of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) in 2004. Over his five-year tenure, he curated shows by such noteworthy artists as the photographer Jen Davis and the Israeli artist, designer and architect Ron Arad.
After leaving iMOCA in 2009, West established his own gallery — Christopher West Presents — in a small box-shaped space in the back of the Dean Johnson Gallery. The artists he showcased were often conceptual and always cutting edge. This gallery was much appreciated by those in the arts community, although there was sometimes a "huh?" factor for visitors uninitiated in the contemporary visual arts scene.
However, most visitors had no trouble appreciating the gallery space within the Dean Johnson Gallery proper, which West also curated, and which featured more accessible work that often had a functional aspect (Nick Allman's wall-smashing "Arco Lamp" for example).
In his position as an Acquisitions Associate, West will be seeking out a mix of local and out-of-state artists and designers. West sees his new job as a continuation of what he's done previously as a curator. "It's heavily involved in the arts and design for which I have a passion," he says.
West also believes that his new position, in addition to giving him a steady income, will put him in a stronger position once he reopens Christopher West Presents (in a venue yet to be determined).
"I think that Dan [Ripley] is going to allow me expand my network and allow Christopher West Presents to remain more focused and not compromise and be able to show fewer shows per year. Four to six shows per year but artists I really want to focus on... I didn't just want the focus to be on sales at the gallery. I wanted the focus to be on furthering artists' careers," he says.