Exhibition A’s Bill Powers on Affordable Art
art is expensive. we know. we checked in with Bill Powers, a co-owner of online art gallery Exhibition A who is committed to making art buying less intimidating and more accessible. here, Powers talked to us about his first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his signature rose-tinted glasses and why you just might find paintings hidden at the back of his closet…
I opened Half Gallery in 2008 and then cofounded Exhibition A in 2010, but I had been writing about contemporary art since the late ’90s for publications like the New York Times, Details, Paper, Muse and Purple magazine.
Were you exposed to a lot of art as a kid?
My mom took me to see the King Tut show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was in third grade. Does that count?
Where did the name Exhibition A come from?
I was thinking about that Andy Warhol book A Novel—Google the cover image—and also the play on words with ‘exhibit A,’ the way they introduce evidence in bad courtroom dramas on TV.
You and your wife, Cynthia, are big collectors. How does that process work for the two of you? Do you both buy what you love? Or is it a compromise?
Cynthia went to art school in Chicago, so that’s her first love, even before fashion. In terms of collecting, I sometimes borrow a page from my friend Andy Spade’s playbook: he buys a painting and puts it in a closet until his wife finds it later…
Yes, that’s exactly right. Today, auction houses and major galleries often sell artwork off jpegs they email to collectors, which can be scary when you’re talking about a million-dollar John Currin painting, but less so if it’s a five-hundred-dollar print by Rene Ricard. Exhibition A makes art approachable without dumbing it down. We consider ourselves an online art adviser.
How do you approach the network of artists and people you work with on Exhibition A?
We like to mix in established talent with more emerging names to keep things fresh. I find that art fans in general have a deep curiosity, so I like to imagine that our base is down to discover new creative voices with us.
Tell us about a few artists you’ve featured on Exhibition A who have knocked it out of the park.
Aurel Schmidt has a big following already, but when her print of a flower in an empty beer can sold out in one day, I was shocked at the demand was for her work. Ditto with Wes Lang. My biggest honor to date was working on an Exhibition A print with Richard Prince, who’s been an art hero of mine from day one.
We do a new print once a week.
Which artists do you have coming up on Exhibition A that you’re personally excited about?
We are doing a multiple with Louis Eisner from the Still House Group. Louis is part of this gang in Red Hook of a dozen young artists who share studio space and really support each other. Louis is doing a paper mobile for us.
To learn more about Exhibition A, click here.