On Jennifer Perlow

Below is a business and personality profile on the co-owner and executive curator of Perlow-Stevens Gallery, Jennfer Perlow.  Written by a talented, and observant young J-school student, Elizabeth Trovall, the profile points out the charm and drive of Miss Perlow’s infectiously effervescent personality that so many of us know and love of the gallerist.  In her modesty, Jennifer would never post such a blog, and it is my honor to do so behind her back.  It is of equal honor to call her my friend, a privilege I’ve had for almost a decade.  I look forward to many more.  Love ya, JP.

-jOel SageR

A young couple walks through the doors of the Perlow-Stevens Gallery pushing a stroller. Immediately a blonde grinning woman rushes to greet the threesome, asking why she hasn’t them seen them in so long.

Jennifer Perlow, curator and owner of Columbia’s Perlow-Stevens Gallery, illuminates the room with the colorful vitality of the paintings stationed on the simple white walls. Her immense talent is evident to anyone who walks through the gallery doors, yet she insists she is not an artist.

“I am a creative person. I do not consider myself an artist. Part of why I do what I do is that I am in awe that these people can do this,” said Perlow, “everybody has gifts and talents that are theirs, something that they excel at that somebody else doesn’t.”

Perlow’s interest in art and the creative process sparked as a child living in Hungerford, Texas.

“When I was a kid my mom ran a craft shop and a ceramics studio,” said Perlow, “I think I really fell in love with the process. I think it was the first glimpse of wanting to be in a creative environment.”

However, Perlow’s life in art didn’t continue in college. She pursued a psychology degree in college, which she jokingly called useless, but admits, “the longer I am around the more I realize how much psychology plays into sales and business and customer service and pretty much all other aspects of life.”

In addition to business savvy, Perlow possesses the communication skills that help develop the art community in Columbia. “One of the great gifts of the gallery is all the people I have been able to meet and all the cool artists I now call my friends,” said Perlow.

Perlow attributes her ability to strike up conversations to childhood experience.

”We had a very interesting upbringing. The last time we moved back to Texas my parents lived and worked in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. It was an old high school campus. We lived there on the campus with the people who went to the center. There were about 250 residents at any given time,” said Perlow.

After a rather nomadic childhood and receiving a degree in psychology Perlow had no idea what she wanted to do out of college. Perlow said, “I sold copiers and it was not a fun job and it was a miserable existence. I asked myself what did I like about that job and what aspects of that were rewarding.” After each job after that, Perlow would ask herself the same questions, making continual improvement. At last, Perlow goes to work somewhere she finds few negative aspects. Through hard work, and a little luck Perlow found her passion. A challenging job that she has the talent to thrive and grow from.

“Every three months everything that’s on the walls comes down and all new goes up. It’s like solving a puzzle,” said Perlow, who initially worried about her responsibility to honor the artists’ voice. She quickly learned how to showcase the artists faithfully, while also developing a voice of her own. Her soul is infused in the gallery much like an artist’s soul is inherently infused in their paintings.

“It’s kind of like your children. Your children are your own beings, but yet they are you,” said Perlow, “the gallery is me. Every aspect of it I have touched, I have changed, I have influenced it. “

One of the galleries other important influences is Joel Sager, permanent artist and curator of the gallery, who spoke highly of Perlow’s skills as curator.

Sager said, “I think she has an extremely passionate love and appreciation for the arts and second of all she has good taste in artists, which not everyone has. Third she has a really good business sense and all of those things combined make her a really valuable asset to the idea of a private gallery that a city could have”.

Perhaps the most endearing facet of Jennifer Perlow is her down-to-earth attitude that supplements her talents. Perlow truly just wants people to experience art. Perlow said, “My goal is to get people to look at art. Just walk through the door. That’s it. Because I think the more you see, the more you know, the more you understand your personal tastes.”

Jennifer Perlow may not consider herself an artist, but her talents are fundamental to the local art community. She is a true mid-Missouri treasure, someone to be experienced, much like the art not hanging, but living on the PS: Gallery walls.

-by Elizabeth Trovall


1 Response to “On Jennifer Perlow”

  1. 1 CS:
    May 19, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Dude, that gallery owner sounds cool and she’s hot too!!!

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