Most galleries are cash-strapped. Not knowing how or when pieces will sell, gallery owners tend to flock to developing neighborhoods where rent is still cheap enough to keep their business afloat while they await the right collector to purchase work they represent.
The Williams McCall Gallery is a little different. With its first location in one of Miami Beach's most expensive neighborhoods — South of Fifth — and an outpost to open in Coconut Grove next month, the owners don't seem to bat an eyelash at exorbitant real-estate prices. As the gallery, in collaboration with Frameworks, put the final touches on its second storefront, New Times sat down with owner Gail Williams to talk about one of South Florida's most anachronistic gallery spaces.
New Times: What was the initial impulse to partner with Frameworks to open of your second location?
Gail Williams: The partnership with Frameworks is a growth opportunity for us. Coconut Grove is one of the best neighborhoods in Miami. It has a strong arts community and is home to the largest fine arts festival in South Florida. Our partner, Frameworks, is a pillar of the community. They have served the community for over 20 years and were just named Small Business of the Year by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce. We were honored when they suggested we form an artistic alliance and open a second location in their newly designed space. It will be beautiful.
With galleries seeking cheaper rents in up-and-coming neighborhoods, how has Williams McCall stayed afloat in upscale locales?
We were fortunate to secure space in the South of Fifth neighborhood in 2011, just before the real-estate market started to rebound. The space had been vacant for a couple of years, so it was good timing. The Frameworks owners, Cris Sweeny and Claire Lardner, recently purchased the building where they have been renting in for over 20 years. Being able to effectively manage the real estate has been one of the keys to our success and is essential to our business model.
Our success can also be attributed to the quality and mix of our artists. And we are now offering the blue-chip works of Warhol and Katz. This has added another dimension to the gallery that has been positively received by our clients.
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What are some of the artists you're excited to bring to the Grove?
We are excited to bring the works of oil painter Madeliene Abling, who was just selected as the 2016 Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster artist. We will exhibit the paintings and photography of local favorites Lisa Remeny and Matt Stock. In addition, we will introduce a series of Cuban paintings by Laurence Young, a series of Florida paintings by John Dowd, and the collages and oil paintings of Joan Cobb Marsh, to name a few.
What are some of the major changes you've seen in the Miami Beach art scene in the past couple of years and in the city as a whole?
The Miami art scene is vibrant and growing. Art Basel, along with the satellite shows, has really transformed Miami Beach and the entire city into an international arts destination. In the South of Fifth neighborhood, we have seen our gallery become a gateway for new and experienced collectors seeking fine art for both investment and decorative purposes. We hope to establish that same relationship with the Grove.
Williams McCall Coconut Grove Gallery
Grand-opening party from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 6, at 3196 Commodore Plaza, 2nd Floor, Coconut Grove. For more information, call 786-359-4321 or visit williamsmccallgallery.com.