Craig Krull is the owner of Craig Krull Gallery, located at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA.
When did you first fall in love with the arts? My Mom is an artist, so that is where my interests began. As a young person, I would sit in her studio having long conversations while she made art. It was engaging, meditative, peaceful and quietly bonding. Her love of Pre-Columbian art opened my eyes to that work and to art in general, then it just became a voracious appetite to see and learn about all the arts...Minoan and Manet were first loves.
What was the catalyst for establishing your gallery? Studying art history in college, I was considering teaching, writing, museum work or galleries. When I became director at Ace Gallery in 1985, I started meeting key figures in the artworld on a daily basis and knew this was my future. (Billy Wilder walked in on my first day). Owning one's own gallery allows for one's personal vision to be manifested more immediately than in a museum context. No need to ask permission.
Your exhibits have a focus on “place oriented” works. Can you explain why this theme is particularly relevant to you, and the kind of response you wish to evoke in your audience? I have always been drawn to places. One of the first questions that I ask an artist is where they are from, where they have been, where they are now.
The poet, Gary Snyder said, "Our place is part of what we are."
Our climate, community, daily travel patterns, language, culture, historical contexts all combine and sometimes become reflected in who we are and what we make and do.
What do you find most rewarding about the curation process? Curating is rewarding because it affords the opportunity to draw linkages between artists and ideas. One of the great pleasures in operating a gallery is the installation process, deciding what goes where and how unforeseen dialogues start happening between artworks.
A couple of recent curated group exhibitions that I organized included "Narrative Painting in Los Angeles" and "of rope and chain her bones are made." Read the exhibition statements on my website. Beyond assembling artists and works around a specific theme, these exhibitions also were the basis of a couple dozen new friendships and even new gallery representation of several artists.
What are some of the challenges that you face running a gallery? There are challenges every day. Representing 65 artists who I want nothing more than to please and expose their work to the world is a full time psychological, diplomatic, and inventive process, and constantly thinking about collectors and museums that the work would connect with. Although that part is fully rewarding... The challenging parts can usually be the mundane daily logistics of things like shipping and following up on requests or "favors" from all corners of the art world. One of my mottos is that every situation is different. Every exhibition, every sale, every transaction in the gallery is unique and characterized by its own special context, which of course makes it wonderful, but sometimes challenging because there is no one approach to anything.
How do you discover the artists that you showcase- do you seek them out or do they come to you? It just happens. If one is curious and has an open mind, the opportunities are boundless. What I do not have is an agenda, or checklist or wishlist, or set of criteria, and I certainly do not hunt - discovery is the right word. And yes, they come to me as well, and that has been going on for years... Luckily they still come, so hopefully that means I am still relevant, but the hardest part of my job has always been saying no to hundreds of artists. The artists that I have represented over the years are like family, so beginning a relationship with an artist goes much deeper than "business."
Do you have future plans for Craig Krull Gallery beyond what it is today? I have been doing this since high school, and operating my own gallery for over 31 years (28 at Bergamot Station). Probably because I like "place", I also like the consistency of my location. Being a native Angeleno and showing LA artists in LA is important to me. I will continue to explore the rapidly expanding art community of Southern California with no other goal in mind but that.