Frank Talks

Marina Gluckman – Director of Art Cake

Marina Gluckman - Director of Art Cake
Marina Gluckman - Director of Art Cake

Marina Gluckman is currently the Director at Art Cake, a new organization in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. In addition, Marina manages Cordy Ryman’s studio and is pursuing an M.A. in Art History at Hunter College, New York. Previously, she worked in the research department at David Zwirner. 

What was your first job in the Arts? 

While I was in college, I interned at the Salvador Dali Foundation in Figueres, Spain, where I assisted in bibliographic research for Dali’s catalogue raisonné of paintings. My first job in the arts out of college was in the research department at David Zwirner. I was fortunate to work with a wonderful research team for about six years.

What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?

My experience at David Zwirner helped me understand how to organize art exhibitions, both contemporary and historic shows. More generally, it greatly prepared me for navigating the art world. I will always be grateful for my experience working at the gallery.

Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?

Both of my parents work in the arts, so I have been surrounded by their world since childhood. However, it was in high school in Brooklyn in my Art History class with Jo-Ann Menchetti, who was also my painting teacher, when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the industry. It was also around this time that I figured out that I didn’t really have a future as a practicing artist, such as painter or a sculptor. ☺

What do you do now? 

I am the director of Art Cake, an arts organization and venue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Founded by artists in 2019, Art Cake is dedicated to providing space for production. I oversee the artist studio program on the second floor and organize and facilitate exhibition and productions on the ground floor. 

Art Cake features a flexible, multi-room exhibition and event space that can accommodate wide variety of events from art installations, film and photo shoots, to performance, and dinners. The revenue generated from renting the ground floor allows Art Cake to maintain a self-sustaining model in support of artists working in New York City. 

I also work in Cordy Ryman’s studio, and am currently writing my Master’s thesis on the artist Tom Clancy as part of the M.A. program in Art History at Hunter College in New York.

Where are you from? 

Lower Manhattan.

Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?

Definitely. In all ways.

What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?

One of the things that has stuck with me over the last couple of years is the idea that: “it is easier to be a critic than a creator.” It’s important to have an open mind and determination. I believe this approach helps form a creative, healthy environment which yields new ideas. I recently heard it again on a podcast with neuroscientist David Eagleman.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to do research for the Alice Neel exhibition, Uptown, curated by Hilton Als while I was working at David Zwirner. I helped gather information on the subjects in Neel’s portraits and locate paintings and ephemera that had been selected to include in the exhibition. Some of the paintings hadn’t been exhibited in decades and finding where they were and ultimately having them loaned to and on view in the show was incredibly rewarding.

While working at David Zwirner I was also very fortunate to co-curate with Jaime Schwartz a summer group exhibition featuring work by people who worked at the gallery. We visited dozens of artist’s studios throughout the city over the course of a couple of months. While this experience was informative, gratifying, and fun, it also sort of underlined some of the challenges that young artists in New York City face: 1. it is often difficult to find affordable studio space, and 2. to maintain a studio practice, usually one had to work more than one job. The same year of the group show I opened a studio and exhibition program called 6BASE. With only an undergrad degree in art history and architectural studies and no real background in business, my friends and family were very supportive of this new venture of mine. At 6BASE, I would invite artists, both local and international, to use the space as their studio for a month and present their work in an exhibition following their residency period. 6BASE operated out of an industrial warehouse in the South Bronx for three years, and ultimately led me to my current position at Art Cake. The mission of both organizations is similar: to provide affordable space for artists working in New York City.

What has been a challenge for you?

The skill of selling art doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. 

What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?

When I arrive at Art Cake, I always walk through the gallery space and the studio floor to check on the artists in residence. The building was recently renovated by Smith & Sauer who installed a really beautiful skylight in the main gallery. I like to spend some time in the natural light before sitting down at my desk.

I am also responsible for the maintenance of the building, which includes restocking bathroom and kitchen supplies daily. We are hoping to hire a part-time maintenance person in a year or so! 

What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?

One of my first internships was with the food and still life photographer Beth Galton. One of the shoots that I was assisting was for a popular chip company. For the shoot, dozens and dozens of boxes each with at least ten bags of chips were delivered to the studio. We had to sort the chips and select the best ones for the shoot. Once the shoot was completed, I had to deliver the twelve particular chips that were ultimately used in the shot back to the client’s Upper East Side apartment. I remember I wasn’t allowed to take the subway; I had to take a taxi in order to prevent any damage to the chips. Since then, my appreciation for the work that goes into visual advertisements and commercial photography has grown quite a bit.

What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?

A good employee is trustworthy, confident, and hardworking. They share incentive and understand the larger picture and overall mission of the company. Ideally, they are enthusiastically engaged while also able to contribute new ideas and work towards growth.

A good boss is trustworthy, communicative, and able to delegate responsibilities as needed.

What do you think makes a person hirable?

If they demonstrate commitment and are trustworthy. 

What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?

Gerhard Richter: Painting After All, curated by Sheena Wagstaff and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, at The Met Breuer.

I’m looking forward to seeing Carol Bove’s work installed outside The Met and the upcoming Alice Neel retrospective at The Met.

What artwork is in your home?

I feel fortunate that working with artists has led me to be surrounded by art in my home, including work by Ben Berlow, Keiran Brennan Hinton, Mauricio Cortes Ortega, Ryan Frank, Linnéa Gad, Alteronce Gumby, Blanca Guerrero, Meena Hasan, Brendan Loper, Cal Siegel, and prints by Wolfgang Tillmans and Lisa Yuskavage.

And finally, do you think the art world should be more transparent?

Yes.

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