As a sea of art dealers continues to swell the 300-plus ranks of New York's Chelsea gallery district, and while others up the ante in Brooklyn's Williamsburg and even Bushwick, private art dealer Blair Voltz Clarke's Upper East Side brownstone just blocks from the Park Avenue Armory, is a must-see for the art aficionado.
Clarke's partner in Voltz Clarke Gallery is her husband, Alistair Clarke, who previously was the senior vice president and worldwide head of Sotheby's English and European Furniture.
Featured artists include British painter Natasha Law and the eccentric 'dripper' Shane Bradford. An important Voltz Clarke Gallery exhibition had the art community's collective jaw dropping last year, thanks to New Orleans artist Bradley Sabin's sweeping installation in which the artist's vibrant red and golden ceramic flowers lined the gallery's walls. And in contrast, the gallery has presented the subtle paintings of Canadian Sara Genn whose selective use of palettes of taupes and lavenders offer a sense of quiet balance and tonal rhythm.
Expanding on her theme, Voltz Clarke's flagship Park Avenue townhouse gallery allows her to expand on her signature curatorial theme of presenting emerging talent in an unexpected venue filled with fine period furniture and antiques. Her uptown location keeps her near the gallery's core clientele and offers the chance to attract new ones from the nearby Carlyle and Mark Hotels.
"Both my clients and artists were anxious for new and different platforms," says Voltz Clarke who feverishly paces herself with mounting new exhibitions every six weeks.
When visiting the gallery, expect to see a pair of Louis XVI chairs flanking a Georgian console on which are Sèvres porcelain and silver pieces that complement cutting-edge works of art by Lisa Schulte.
"Contemporary art work exhibited in a mélange of antiques and period furniture is a smart way to present art, as art collectors often live with such staple pieces," adds Alistair Clarke.
This cross-period/cross-medium brand of élan has long defined the Clarke's Park Avenue home where you'll find an idiosyncratic Tracey Emin neon light installation paired with important 18th-century English furniture, and Natasha Law silhouettes hung directly above a Louis XV marquetry commode. Visitors include friends, art enthusiasts and aficionados such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenda Bailey, India Hicks, David Netto, and Condé Nast publisher Bill Wackermann.
When asked how does she choose artists and works for Voltz Clarke, Blair is thoughtful, "In these frenzied times, exceptional beauty, coupled with profound talent and rigorous technical virtuosity are what we look for."
The commitment of the husband and wife gallerists is also notable. The couple travels extensively in their search of new artists whose work will illuminate their Park Avenue salon. The quest can be arduous, but as Voltz Clarke states, "Staying nimble in the art world is what it's all about."