On a Tuesday night in October, Annette Fox circles around her gallery reception, chatting with guests as they sip wine and murmur appreciatively about the mixed media canvases on the walls by the Connecticut-based artist, Elizabeth Gourlay.
Though many of the guests hail from the art world, this is not a trendy gallery party in Chelsea or the Lower East Side. Rather, this party is taking place in Fox’s spacious apartment on West End Avenue, out of which she runs her gallery and salon, Fox Gallery NYC.
“It’s a very different experience here than gallery hopping or being in a museum,” Fox says. “It’s much more intimate, and the art kind of asks you to really look at it.”
Fox wanted to start a salon like this ever since she was a child, visiting galleries in brownstones on the Upper East Side that she mistakenly believed were homes. “I was always thinking, ‘they’re so lucky they get to live with this stuff.’ ” Though she hosted smaller gallery shows in her former home in Westchester, Fox says that when she moved to her current apartment, she noticed that the moldings on the walls “were screaming” for art, and so she decided to start doing the gallery again.
Fox, who worked for a number of years at Sotheby’s and Phillip’s auction houses, is also an art consultant for collectors, helping them negotiate the higher-end secondary art market (or art that has been sold before and therefore is worth more money). But at her own gallery, Fox’s focus is on bringing attention to contemporary artists (like Gourlay) who are not yet household names. She plans her gallery shows twice a year and uses her vast network of contacts in the art world to draw attention to artists she feels deserve recognition and success.
These works can be great investment opportunities for first-time art buyers who may be interested in starting a collection but are hesitant to spend too much money on their initial purchases. The most expensive piece at Gourlay’s show, for instance, is $12,000.
Seeing the art cozily situated in Fox’s apartment makes it easier for prospective buyers to imagine what it would look like in their own homes. “I love the atmosphere of these shows,” says Eric Kuzmuk, a friend of Fox’s who was perched on the sofa in the living room during the reception. “The art is being shown in a way that reflects how I would show it myself.”
Because Fox lives with the art for the four months the show is up, she admits that she selects artists’ work that will match the rest of her decor. “I think it’s almost a subconscious decision, because I know my apartment, I know what’s going to work.”
As for what her husband, David, thinks of it, “He has veto power,” she grins. “But I can usually argue my point pretty effectively.”