Claudia Martinez Reardon, co-curator at the Lower East Side gallery, End of Century, is the ultimate Gallery Girl and Brooklynite. Bravo's new TV show, Gallery Girls (premiering August 13th), chronicles her gallery life in NYC with her two best friends, in addition to a group of girls from the Upper East Side. Read on for Claudia's perspective on what it's like to be followed around by cameras, be in business with friends, and a sure-fire way to pick up an art-loving gallery girl.
Girls are funny creatures. I learned a lot about myself, and how I interact with them.
To start off, can you familiarize us with what Gallery Girls is all about?
Gallery Girls is about girls living and working in New York City and the art industry, but it’s also about our lives outside of the art world — everything that feeds into real New York life. I think that's what makes the show so interesting, because we haven’t seen something like that yet. We’ve seen the more romantic aspects of living in New York, which certainly exists — it’s a very romantic city — but there’s also a lot of hard work, struggle, and competition that goes into life here. Gallery Girls captures all of it. It’s about our relationships with our jobs, friends, boyfriends, and parents. It’s a really dynamic show.
Speaking of your relationship with your job, could you explain what you do in the NYC art scene?
I book and curate the art shows at the End of Century gallery in the Lower East Side. That means scouting out artists and figuring out new and interesting shows. I give artists a lot of freedom, functioning as a creative collaborator and outside opinion. I really trust the eyes of the artists in structuring their exhibitions. Having an opportunity to create something that isn’t so commercially driven is really rare, and that’s what I love about being at End of Century in particular.
How did you get started in the art industry? Is it something you’ve always wanted to get into?
I always, always, always wanted to work in art. My first internship was at Matthew Mark’s gallery, and it was so funny — they weren’t even looking for an intern, but I bantered my way in. I did anything they would let me do: I organized the supply closets, and I re-alphabetized the books, because I was so excited to be tangentially a part of their shows. They were doing an amazing Jasper Johns show when I first started, and it was life-changing. From there, I went to Gagosian Gallery, all while I was still in college. I would go to class then go to my internship. I was super-focused, and I always knew that I was going to work in contemporary art. Working on the high end of it was lovely, and as a reaction to it, I got very interested in emerging artists, too. I was interested in what’s going on with people in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, because I didn’t see a lot of galleries giving these people a place to show their work, which was sort of how End of Century happened.
How did you get involved with Gallery Girls?
I met one of the producers on the very first pilot, strangely and randomly. I filmed a pilot with him, and he met some of my other close friends, Angela and Chantal, who are also on the show. We were all a little group, and they got to know our personalities and lifestyle. It blew up from there.
What was it like all of a sudden having cameras in your life?
It was totally bizarre. You go from being completely private to somebody who is being watched all the time. It’s a strange experience, but I got used to it. The first month is strange, but then you get close to everyone you’re working with. You learn a lot about yourself through the process, which is an interesting part of it.
We are trying to make sure that our space is how we want to present ourselves to a whole new audience of people. We want everybody to feel welcome.
You mentioned that some of the girls are your close friends, but what about the other girls on the show?
What’s so interesting about the show is that we have a group of girls who I would not have met otherwise; they lead a very, very different life from me. We ended up meeting through the Eli Klein gallery. It adds a new layer to the show, because you see these different groups of people doing their thing, whether from Brooklyn or Manhattan. Although we're the same age and all interested in and working in art, we have our differences. In the end, we're all focused women living in the city.
Where do you like to go out in NYC?
I’m loving the Wythe Hotel these days. I’ve moved in there, basically. It’s in Williamsburg. There’s a restaurant on the ground floor called Reynards, which is really delicious. A friend of mine does a DJ set there every Sunday. I’m totally a Brooklynite.
What was the biggest surprise for you during the show?
I learned a lot about my friendships and the dynamics between girls — how they can be positive and how they can be negative. Girls are funny creatures. I learned a lot about myself, and how I interact with them. I run this business with my two friends, and that adds another layer to it. We are all so young, and it’s not personal, it’s business. But when you’re with your best friends, it’s all personal. You learn so much about yourself, and how to handle different situations. I feel really lucky to have experienced that through the show.
What are you doing to prepare for the increased traffic in the gallery after Gallery Girls premieres?
We've been talking about that a lot. The answer is getting different types of work and mediums into the gallery. I’m focusing on getting lots of books. I love food right now, so I have been reaching out to a lot of food publications. I’m interested in the crossover between contemporary art and fine food, which you get to see in the show. We are trying to make sure that our space is the way we want it to be for a whole new audience of people. We want everybody to feel welcome.
We have to ask — got any tips or solid pick-up lines for getting a gallery girl?
I would suggest knowing at least something about the artist being shown at the gallery. The girl's going to wonder if you're at all interested in the art. Just go for it.