Brain gain: Sisters bring new gallery to Carmel

Elizabeth Garvey, sitting in the Garvey


Garvey's story unfolded in New York City, where she was immersed in the art

world, becoming co-director of the Schmidt Bingham Gallery in Midtown



sister, Catherine Simon, also went to New York City. Business and real estate

were her fortes. Eventually she took her abilities to Marin County, in northern



far this is your classic brain drain story. But there's a twist.


June, the sisters opened a temporary gallery in the Carmel Arts & Design

District called Garvey|Simon Art Access. They're home again, involved in a

creative enterprise that has found enough local traction for them to decide to

find to remain in their current space for at least the coming year.


and I are very good friends, as well as sisters," says Simon in the airy Magdalena

Gallery space the sisters are leasing for the summer while Magdalena is away in

Mexico. Currently on view is a show called Contemporary Abstraction, prints by three artists who

have had exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art: Tara Donovan, Ingrid

Calame and Dan Walsh.


would take me to art shows and galleries and it was so nice to go with someone

who's not intimidated by that world," Simon says about the introduction to the

art world that Garvey provided. "It felt like I had a shield. Then, when I

decided I wanted to start purchasing art, it became a really lovely process

where you begin to get these pieces in your home that become like parts of your

family. It's like you're involved with the art instead of just looking at it."


called Art Access for a reason," says Garvey who, in addition to being a

gallerist, worked the past ten years as a private art curator, advising clients

on how best to build their personal collections. "Even for me, you walk into a

big, white, sterile gallery and you get the stare-down from the 20-something

receptionist and there's this whole intimidation factor that I don't think

needs to be there. Some people like that game. It's like going past the velvet

rope at a club. But that's not what we're about.


we want to do is show people you can buy fine art, really high quality,

museum-quality art by artists who are nationally or internationally known. And

you can afford it."


organic process


has used her store of relationships with New York art dealers and artists'

representatives to stock Art Access with a focused selection of works on paper

by leading contemporary artists. "We're only interested in selling art that can

hang on a wall or that's an object," she says. "We're not interested in doing

the video or the installations, but to show people that many artists who do

installation-based work also do two-dimensional work, like Tara Donovan. That's

part of the access, to help people realize that even artists like that

frequently do drawings, works on paper, paintings."


sisters began thinking in terms of a partnership last year. Their initial

concept was to do temporary pop-up gallery shows, the first of which took place

in a redesigned home in New York City. When that venture worked, they began

looking for a way to build on its success. The burgeoning Main St. gallery

scene in Carmel caught their attention. Garvey was encouraged by the opening of

Evan Lurie's gallery, coupled with the extent of the suburban development she

saw on Indianapolis' north side.


are people on the upper eastside and Park Avenue," she says of arts patrons in

Manhattan, "who really don't want to go downtown to Chelsea. That's why there

are the 57th St. galleries and Madison Avenue, and there probably

always will be, because they want to stay in their uptown area. I imagine

that's true here, too."


to Garvey, Art Access has already become a magnet for people who are new to the

area. "The bulk of my mailing list is from people who just moved here in the

last year or so and have been looking for a gallery like this."


their original idea was to lease a gallery space for the summer and then move

on to the next project, the response to Art Access has been so encouraging the

sisters have decided to stay in Carmel for at least a year. "It's been an

organic process for us," says Simon. "We were going to do this temporary thing,

but since we've been here we've thought it makes sense [to establish a more

permanent location]. These are our roots. We're west coast/east coast, but

Indiana at heart. The gallery is still getting its legs, but we're feeling a

little more hopeful and excited than we thought we would."


adds: "I think that what we have to offer is something really fresh. Collectors

have come in and said, 'Wow, no one has done anything like this here.' I think

we can be a portal into the contemporary art scene."


insider's view


Access aims to provide visitors with an insider's view of that scene. To that

end, the gallery is outfitted with an iPad programmed with videos on each of

the artists being exhibited, as well as plenty of books to browse through on

the artists' works and programming bringing artists into the gallery. The

painter James Moore came from California to discuss his process as part of the

gallery's first show in June. David Morrison, head of printmaking at Herron

presented an overview on methods used to create works on paper at the end of



gallery has also found its range expanding. Garvey discovered the steel and

hardwood constructions by local artist Donald Mee and quickly incorporated

Mee's work into the Art Access mix. She envisions the creation of a Projects

Room dedicated to emerging local artists.


she maintains that championing the work of artists that have shown in New York

galleries is vital for establishing the gallery's market and value, she also

thinks Art Access can provide a platform for homegrown talents.


our vision of bringing well known artists with the finding of the new and fresh

– I would love to do both," she says.




Art Access


East Main St.






Hours: Wed.-Sat: 12-5, and by appointment


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