This week we chat with Michele Amicucci who is the Registrar for the KAWS studio in Brooklyn, New York. In the past, Michele has been a registrar for Gagosian Gallery and Jack Shainman Gallery. She is from the Philadelphia area where she also worked at Wexler Gallery and a private collection. Michele has a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in art history and a master’s degree from University of the Arts in museum studies. We loved talking to Michele and we hope you love reading her Frank Talk!
What was your first job in the Arts?
When I finished grad school, I was a collections manager for a private collection, with properties in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Florida. I basically travelled where she travelled and made sure her art was where she was.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
There are a lot of interesting personalities you have to work with in the art world!
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
Always- I have a drawing I made when I was in grade school where I said I wanted to move to New York and work at a gallery.
What do you do now?
I am the Registrar for Brian Donnelly aka KAWS.
Where are you from?
New Jersey, right outside of Philadelphia.
What is the arts community like there?
Philly has world renowned art museums and a small gallery community.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
It was a wonderful place to grow up- I had some of the best museums at my fingertips.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Keep good relationships with contacts you meet- they can help you get that dream job in the future.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
In 2015, I worked on a Francis Bacon show at Gagosian- every crate literally just fit through the door and we had tons of couriers so there was never a dull moment. I also recently helped install KAWS, WHAT PARTY, at Seagram’s Plaza which was pretty amazing to be a part of.
What has been a challenge for you?
Art Fairs! I am a very organized person and with art fairs, everything is last minute and chaotic. You need to learn to roll with the punches and yelling gallery directors.
What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?
Every morning I write a fresh “to do” list.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
When I was a collections manager for a private collection, I had to also transport the owner’s parrot, Fred, when I travelled. He was constantly trying to bite me from his cage and flipped out on airplanes. He also danced to Biggie Smalls.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
I hope I am a good employee! I just always put forth my best effort. A good boss tells you what needs to be done but also listens.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
Being a team player.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace? Any good tips for a giving a great interview?
I always bring a typed-up list of questions to interviews. I think you are interviewing the prospective company as well.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
No job is too small. When I worked at Gagosian, I remember one of the top directors sitting at a front desk to help answer the phones. It is important to be willing and eager to go beyond your job description.
Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share?
Take a break and laugh if something is funny!
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
I did not see a lot due to the pandemic but Peter Saul at New Museum was pretty good.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
What artwork is in your home office?
I have a signed photo of Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian to Star Wars Fans), a print by Paul Meleschnig, and paintings by my 3-year-old.
What is your go to snack in quarantine? And your go to soundtrack?
Taralli and some good old Grateful Dead.