The Cognoscente: The Eye of Art Gallerist Jessica Silverman

The Cognoscente: The Eye of Art Gallerist Jessica Silverman

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Jessica Silverman opened her first art gallery while still a curatorial student at the California College of the Arts. Now she's one the brightest stars on the San Francisco art scene.


Silverman's 3,000-square-foot namesake gallery attracts both novice and serious collectors who appreciate her brilliantly unorthodox approach to art: Where youth is typically celebrated in the industry, Silverman showcases emerging artists of all ages. In her gallery, native Californian talent meet international buyers, just as global artists find new stateside devotees. The works are always adventurous and cerebral; the artists chosen for their willingness to push the boundaries of genre and medium.

As she prepared for the July 1 opening of “Synecdoche” (which will show works by Julie Beaufils, Vincent Fecteau, Henry Gunderson, Tony Lewis and B. Ingrid Olson), Silverman talked with 7x7 about the local art events on her calendar and how to buy art like a pro.

The best thing about working with artists is… learning about new concepts, mediums, and ideas. In most cases, the gallery focuses on a balance of thinking through concept in relationship to artistic practice. These vary from painting and sculpture to video and installation.

On my walls at home, you’ll see… artists I represent and those my partner, Sarah Thornton, and I have an affinity for: Cooper Jacoby, Mernet Larson, Hugh Scott-Douglas, Lorna Simpson, Julian Hoeber, Dashiell Manley, Erica Mahinay, Sydney Shen and Shannon Finley, to name a few.

My dream piece of art is… a 1985 six-by-six foot painting by Agnes Martin, from her PACE Gallery show titled “New Paintings.”

My signature style piece is… Martin Margiela jackets. I collect the label.

My last amazing meal was… The chilled squid ink noodles at Octavia on Bush Street. Beautiful space, delicious food, and an amazing all-female kitchen!

Go-to local getaway… Los Angeles, where I can catch up with artists, collectors, and family. While there, I make it a point to check in on new gallery shows and museum exhibitions.   

A recent find in San Francisco is… K.r.m. Mooney, an Oakland-based artist who has an upcoming solo exhibition at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, as well as a group show that I curated at Fused Space, opening July 16th.

When buying your first piece of art, consider… waiting a month to make sure the work remains lodged in your mind and captures your imagination.

I am looking forward to… FOG Design + Art, a really wonderful art fair that we participate in, which happens in January 2016 at Fort Mason. The fair includes renowned art and design galleries such as David Zwirner Gallery and Hostler Burrows.

An indulgence I would never give up is… dessert at the end of a meal.

If I could meet any artist in history it would be… Marcel Duchamp, the premier artist’s artist with one of the most innovative conceptual practices of our time, which continues to inspire and be relevant to artists working today.  

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