Emily McElwreath is equipped with over seventeen years of experience as an adviser, independent curator and art educator; she also boasts a background in sales. Thanks to her time as Director of Communications and Education at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Emily demonstrates the unique ability to understand the art world from both the point of view of the artist and the audience. This skill is continually perfected through extensive involvement in art education: throughout her career, Emily has organized multiple programs, lectures, and panels, featuring distinguished artists, on university campuses and leading NYC venues, in addition to lecturing herself at Sotheby’s Education. Emily has worked on blockbuster exhibitions including Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel and Nate Lowman at The Brant Foundation, as well as lecturing at top NYC museums including The Whitney and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most recently, Emily has curated multiple exhibitions with leading emerging artists and is now co-director of Pegasus Prints Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Building relationships with artists continues to be Emily’s main focus, frequenting studio visits, connecting artists with collectors, and building partnerships within the art community. With an MA from Purchase College in Art History with a Concentration in Contemporary Art Criticism and an Art Business Certification from Christie’s Education, Emily McElwreath possesses diverse, real-world experience and formal academic training.
What was your first job in the Arts and what was the most useful or important thing you learned in that experience?
I was an art teacher for grades 6-8. I had moved down to Palm Beach directly after grad school and it was the first job that became available. Because it was a private school I didn’t need an education degree. It taught me how much I loved education and how much I respect middle school teachers as one year was quite enough for me.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career in the arts. My father introduced me to the art world at a very young age and there was nowhere I felt more alive than inside a museum.
What do you do now?
I am the founder of McElwreath Art Advisory, co-director of Pegasus Gallery and director of The Art Career, an ecosystem built to support emerging artists, launching Spring 2022.
Can you tell us a little more about The Art Career?
The Art Career LLC is an interactive ecosystem providing emerging artists and arts entrepreneurs with educational content and career opportunities. Through a combination of online courses, a podcast, multimedia libraries, and memberships, The Art Career will teach artists how to contextualize their art through a business lens. By providing an equitable, streamlined opportunity to know their value and market through an individual and institutional wide scale, this multifaceted online arts platform will cater to the individual needs of its varied participants.
In addition to platform content, The Art Career will provide exhibition opportunities, lecture series, critiques and facilitate immersive educational and networking events to proliferate results for artists, presenters and investors. Coming Spring 2022. Podcast launch, Winter 2022.
Where are you from and what is the arts community like there?
Born in NYC and raised in Greenwich, CT. The importance of growing up in a town only a quick train ride to the city afforded me with every opportunity to immerse myself in what NY had to offer growing up.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
To quote Warhol, “Art is anything you can get away with” Create your own path, be inventive, take risks. Big risks. Have plan B that you can lean on while building your plan A. And remember, the market is unregulated. Make your own rules.
What is one of the greatest accomplishments in your career so far? And what has been a challenge?
My greatest accomplishment is sustaining entrepreneurship. It was terrifying leaving a salaried job to work on my own. I do not have a trust fund and there have been pockets of time that I have been very poor. It’s the price you pay for not having to answer to anyone and there isn’t a day that goes by that it isn’t worth it to me. So, greatest accomplishment and biggest challenge. It is absolutely true that it takes a number of years before a business becomes successful and that is if it doesn’t go under. I am proud to say that I have been completely self-sustaining, having never borrowed money from anyone or taken a loan out. I am proud of that. The art world is filled with extremely wealthy kids that make it look super easy to launch a company, open a gallery, throw the art party of the year, etc, but it is so important to remember that this isn’t done without an enormous amount of money.
What do you think defines a good employee? And what defines a good boss?
A good employee is hungry to learn and is never late. Tardiness is a huge no no for me. A good boss leads by example and has boundaries regarding close personal relationships with employees. Or is able to separate the two very well.
What is your advice for making yourself stand out in the workplace? Any good tips for giving a great interview?
Prepare for 3 times the amount of time you think you need. Know EVERYTHING about the person you are interviewing with. And under no circumstance be late.
What artwork is in your home office?
Elliot Greenwald, Jennifer Caviola, Doodookaka, an Elizabeth Peyton etching, Jeila Gueramian, Emily Marie Miller.
What aspect of the art world in 2022 are you most excited about?
It’s coming back. Feeling a sense of community again after a long two years.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Change the ways things are done. Work more as a community. Demand certain rights for living artists.
What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
Arcmanoro Niles at Lehmann Maupin and Jenna Gribbon at Frederick and Freiser
How do you think the art world can become more transparent?
By people being more honest with one another. Lets lose the elitist mentality and all support one another.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
(Yes, all women)