Featured Gallery: Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art

Interview with Allyn Gallup to discuss Sarasota, art and the works presented within the gallery.

Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, located in Sarasota, Florida, is a leading gallery in Southwest Florida to view and purchase contemporary art.

What was your first encounter with the world of selling art?

I sold a Philip Pearlstein etching on the occasion of my opening reception in July of 1991 for, I think, $1000. We became good friends with the couple who bought it and they bought a lot more from me over the next ten or fifteen years. I don’t think I sold anything else for four or five months and I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into.

Is there some kind of philosophy behind your curatorial process? What kind of artists do you find yourself drawn to?

Generally speaking, we look for artists who have received some critical acclaim and have work in public collections but who aren’t so prominent that the prices achieved for their work puts it out of reach for Sarasota’s relatively conservative market. The work has to represent quality to us ( Sheila and me ) and we have to think that there’s a chance of selling it.

We’re drawn to artists with whom we think it will be easy and fun to work. In twenty years, we’ve severed relationships with only three artists. With two of them the issue was one of their pricing intransigence and with the third it was a a question of loyalty.

If the question is ” what kind of art do I find myself drawn to?”, the answer is that while I like lots of kinds of imagery e.g. figuration, narration, landscapes etc, I guess I’m most drawn to non objective things which display deft mark making and gestural strength.

What role does history play in what hangs on the walls of your gallery?

None or very little, except that I find blatant derivation objectionable.

What does it mean to be a gallerist in Sarasota? Why did you open a gallery in Sarasota?

To be a gallerist in Sarasota, it helps to be open minded, patient and have something for a variety of tastes while not compromising one’s aesthetic integrity. Also, a high tolerance for frustration helps a lot. I was drawn to Sarasota for the same reasons that cause so many others to come. I liked the west coast of Florida and Sarasota seemed to offer better opportunity than Tampa or Naples.

I can say that it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be when I started twenty years ago.

Do you have a particular medium you enjoy more than others?

Prints, I guess because I’m intrigued with the collaborative effort required and the technologies involved in working in different kinds of print media.

If you could own any work ever created which one would that be and why?

That’s tough, but maybe one of de Kooning’s women, or a Pollack, or a Rauschenberg “combine” , a David Smith, a Martin Puryear, or a recent Brice Marden. I work with David Shapiro and would love to own own of his big Savasans.

Sheila would opt for a Rothko or an Agnes Martin.

In general, there seems to be a split between the need to show museum quality work and the need to show work that you can sell in order to keep the doors open.  Can you comment on this?

Strive for excellence but you have to keep the doors open.

Has the collector base changed over the years?

There really are very, very few collectors defined as someone who will buy something without knowing where they are going to put it.

Over time, what do you feel contributed most to your perspective on art and culture?

First my father, who was influential insofar as he was interested in things cultural and artistic – visual art and music. While not a wealthy man, he nonetheless accumulated a very fine collection of ( mostly ) black and white  prints. Then my readings about art in magazines and books as well as my constant visits to galleries and  museums in other major cities, art fairs, and artists’ studios.  There a a lot of people who know much more about art than I do, and I savor discussion with museum professionals and academics.


Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art
1288 North Palm Avenue. Sarasota, FL
Telephone: 941-366-2454