This week we sit down with the Co-Founders of Trotter&Sholer, Angie Phrasavath and Jenna Ferrey! Trotter&Sholer is a boutique art firm and gallery specializing in emerging contemporary artists. The gallery is located in New York City.
Angie Phrasavath is co-founder and the Director of Sales at Trotter&Sholer. She is also the Global Account Manager of Eazel, Inc., a robust art and technology platform that produces the highest-grade virtual experience tours and meaningful content for art environments around the world. Angie holds an M.A. in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, along with a B.A. in Art History and Political Science from James Madison University. Jenna Ferrey is co-founder and President of Trotter&Sholer. Jenna is also a consultant for the Richard Taittinger Gallery. Prior to moving to New York, Jenna studied religious diversity and multiculturalism at the University of Calgary in Canada. Jenna holds a PhD from the University of Calgary, CAN, an MPhil from the University of Birmingham, UK, an MA from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and a BA from the University of Ottawa, CAN.
Please enjoy reading Angie and Jenna’s Frank Talk below!
What was your first job in the Arts?
Jenna: I interned at Richard Taittinger Gallery. I still do part time consulting work with the gallery and love it.
Angie: I joined Eazel in November 2018 and have been with the company since.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
Jenna: I learned how a gallery works.
Angie: Working at a startup, whether it be a technology company or art gallery, takes time, dedication, and most importantly, passion. I learned how vital it is to be open minded and take risks, to challenge myself every day and reflect. I also learned how to listen. For example, hearing out my clients’ wants and needs as well as feedback.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
Jenna: I spent a long time in school! I studied religious diversity and multiculturalism in Canada and completed a PhD right before moving to New York. As I was finishing that program and trying to think about what my next move was, I knew I wanted a change. I have always loved art, but I never really saw a role for myself in the art world. I learned about the MA program at the Sotheby’s Institute and it offered a path into working in the arts.
Angie: I grew up with an aunt who was a painter and exposed me to the fine arts at a very young age. She was my first critic (albeit a harsh but constructive one for a toddler) when it came to creating art myself. It has always been a passion of mine, but I never truly considered myself to work within the arts until I enrolled in an Art History course my final year of university. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in the industry, and looking back I’m glad that I didn’t.
What do you do now?
Jenna: I run Trotter&Sholer with Angie Phrasavath and Elisabeth Johs.
Angie I work full-time at Eazel as the Global Growth and Account Manager. I am also a co-founder and Director of Sales for Trotter&Sholer.
Where are you from?
Jenna: I am from a small town called Drayton Valley in Canada. I was living in Calgary, Alberta before I moved to NYC.
Angie: Newport, Rhode Island.
What is the arts community like there?
Jenna: In Drayton Valley there was only one small local gallery combined with a coffee shop when I was growing up. There is a ton of talent in terms of music and performing arts but I didn’t have a lot of exposure to fine art. Calgary, however, has some great art programs! The public art in the city is amazing and the Glenbow museum and the Esker Foundation are two places I visit every time I go home.
Angie: There’s a strong community of creatives where I grew up. Artists and musicians are scattered everywhere. The historical preservation of Newport’s gilded mansions and museums, along with the island’s beautiful scenery, are truly sources of inspiration.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
Jenna: I am sensitive to the fact that not everyone has had the opportunity to learn about and live with art, so my favorite thing is to talk to brand new collectors, or people just learning that the art world is open to them. That is part of the inspiration for the affordable art program we run at Trotter&Sholer. We work with every artist we show to make sure that there is something available at a genuinely affordable price.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Jenna: Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. I think the art world can be so intimidating, but there are wonderful people who are willing to mentor and coach you. When we admit what we don’t know we get to learn.
Angie: There is no room for ego.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Jenna: Starting a gallery that, through sales, supports artists, during the pandemic.
Angie: That’s a toss-up! Either helping and watching Eazel grow globally or opening an art gallery with my closest friends.
What has been a challenge for you?
Jenna: I am a bit shy around strangers, so I find the social element of the art world intimidating. I am working on becoming a better networker and I am lucky to have Angie and Lizzie to help me with this!
What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?
Angie: Every day is so different for me. Working at two startups will guarantee that no single day will be the same.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
Angie: We work with artists. It’s always weird.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
Jenna: A good employee takes ownership of their tasks and a good boss will give the employee the space and trust they need to take that ownership.
Angie: Answer to both: mutual respect.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
Angie: Someone that can take constructive feedback well.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Angie: Do your research! Get coffee with someone with your “dream job” and ask for advice. Take notes and listen carefully. A handwritten note goes a long way.
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
Jenna: There was a show at Peter Blum Gallery by Nicholas Galanin called “Carry a Song / Disrupt an Anthem” that I haven’t stopped thinking about. People can still see it with the Eazel virtual tour on Peter Blum’s website.
Angie: Ascensions at Off Paradise.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Jenna: Nicholas Galanin, Louise Bourgoise, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Alex Janvier, and Marc Chagall.
Angie: Steven Parrino, Angel Otero, James Nares, Sarah Charlesworth, and Robert Rauschenberg.
What artwork is in your home office?
Jenna: We have some amazing pieces by Jack Mernin and Azzah Sultan in our apartment, which are a joy to look at every day!
Angie: Kimmy Quillin, Jack Mernin, and Esteban Cabeza de Baca.
What is your greatest WFH challenge? Or a WFH luxury you don’t want to lose ever again?
Jenna: Luckily now that we have our gallery space on Suffolk Street I don’t have to work from home very often.
Angie: I can’t work next to my bed. I will take a nap.
How do you think art can play a fundamental role in the world’s recovery?
Jenna: I think art is essential to understanding, storytelling, and cultural memory. Whether it be paintings or a TV show, creative work is the only real way to create understanding. I am very interested in the role narrative plays in cross-cultural communication have been thinking about that in terms of the art world.
Angie: While it’s no vaccine, it is nonetheless vital.
How has your current job adapted to the new virtual landscape? What do you think can be done better?
Jenna: We make sure to film all of our exhibitions with Eazel for archival purposes and so we can share them outside NYC!
Angie: Working at Eazel has helped me understand the importance of virtual reality to help the art world not only stay afloat, but to thrive in ways never before.
Since we are all at home and exploring more galleries and museums online, perhaps some for the first time, when the quarantine is lifted, what is your first art filled destination?
Jenna: I will go anywhere and see anything when we are allowed to go out again! I have been talking with Angie and Lizzie about a road trip to Marfa…
Angie: South Korea! It’s the top of my dream destination list.
It can be argued that the art world is finally forced to adopt and adapt technologies that have long been a part of other industries. Agree or Disagree?
Both: Wholeheartedly agree.
And finally, do you think the art world should be more transparent?