A Chance Encounter Turns into a Winning Day

When did you last have a chance encounter that lead to a rediscovery and a winning day?

I recently had one following a fitness class on the Upper East Side. I ran into Michelle Edelman, whom I did not recognize at first glance. She asked, “Do I know you?” and indeed I did. Michelle shared a common frustration of many New Yorkers---trying to find enough time to simply work out. Happy in the fact that we had both accomplished that, she invited me to an upcoming opening at The Edelman Arts Gallery featuring artist Doug Argue.

I gladly accepted the invitation and mentioned my NYC Building Art Curation program. She and her husband share a similar interest in helping emerging artists. They have been actively supporting artists with great promise, who may already have gallery representation, but could benefit from further collaborative partnerships and broader exposure.

A current example of the Edelmans' efforts to promote artists is reflected in a collaboration with the Durst Organization at One World Trade Center. A joint development project of the Durst Organization and the Port Authority. The 1,776-foot tall tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with three million square feet of office space. (There is still space available at $75/rsf.) As a philanthropic, family-owned company that actively supports the arts, the Durst Organization are working with the Edelmans to create an on-site "gallery" to display contemporary artwork in the main lobby of the building and in the 63rd floor conference space.


As I stepped off the elevator to join the Edelmans' for lunch at their East Side townhouse - I had a nearly cosmic spatial experience as my eyes were accosted by "Genesis" Argue's painting appeared to nearly burst from the room and reach right through the double-height ceiling! It turns out the Edelmans were not only showing Doug's work at their gallery but throughout their home--they are active collectors of his work as well as friends.

When I visited the Edelman Arts gallery opening, I was pleasantly surprised to find the art of Doug Argue. I had first encountered him while taking a group to see a show being curated by a real estate client Cynthia Reeves (for whom I was helping look for pop-up gallery space) at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. En route, I passed by Doug Argue's studio where he was intensely preparing for his upcoming show with The Haunch of Venison Gallery, NYC. Since closed as Christie's decided owning a gallery was conflicted, actually I believe their clients helped make their mind up.

Over lunch, we discussed the importance of supporting emerging artists, and they kindly offered to help supply artwork for my NYC Building Art Curation program. I work with landlords who are open to showing art in their lobbies and common areas and working with corporate tenants looking to buy or consign artwork for their office space.


Sitting in the dainty lunch dining area with the illustrious Asher Edelman, it was fun to imagine how he might have inspired the character Gordon Gekko. According to Stanley Weiser, the screen writer of Oliver Stone's "Wall Street", who changed the movie script so that Gekko collected art after seeing Edelman's art-filled apartment in a magazine back in the 1980s. It's reported (but I forgot to confirm) that Stone and Michael Douglas actually did shadow Edelman at work while preparing for the film. Asher did comment on how he agreed- as an art financier - that the high-end art market reflects the financial markets and that it is "becoming inflated and lacking transparency" as evidenced by the recent auctions at Chrisie's and Sotheby's.

However, the man I spent time with could not have been further from the ruthless Wall Street tycoon portrayed in "Wall Street". He was extremely gracious and interested along with Michelle, who offered numerous creative and business suggestions on how to advance my effort to get art into Manhattan office buildings.As we sipped green tea he told me that his efforts to place art in places like One World Trade Center "would never be a money maker for me" but gave him great pleasure in terms of helping expose more people to art in public places, that is just not "branded art."

Michelle recounted a charming story about the thriving and talented artistic community in Sortland, a town in the northern part of her native Norway she recently visited. There is an outdoor art project that is literally "painting the town blue." Seems the love of art has no geographic boundaries.


After lunch, I walked through the art gallery again, admiring Doug Argue's Works on Paper. Asher popped in and said, "How would you like to own one?" My eyes lit up as he pulled one out of the draw and made a notation in the ledger as he asked for my card.

As he handed me Doug Argue's print number 39/100, I smiled and commented “why that’s almost half of 69” with some deliberate double meaning. Asher - still the astute former Wall Street professional pointed out the error of my mathematical calculation while appreciating my humor. He went on to recount a story that his late wise grandfather had told him about “the birds and the bees” eluding to men “...women really just want the same things we want” – while Doug Argue’s work is neither overtly masculine nor feminine, I still will read between the lines and enjoy the explosive energy his work conveys.

Now, I ask you, how might you turn a chance meeting into a future opportunity?

Any Thoughts?

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