10 minutes with Joel Sager


Joel Sager, new owner of PS:Gallery spends a few minutes answering questions.

Congratulations on reaching your campaign goal! It must be exciting to know how much support you have from the community. Care to comment?

Thank you.  We not only reached our goal, but also surpassed it.  We’re overwhelmingly pleased with the outcome.  The staff worked endlessly, and we are so thankful to this community for validating our hard work.  It’s a testament to how much people care about not only the gallery, but also the vibrant visual arts of Columbia.  

There must have been a great turnout for the celebration on July 13th.

Yes, great turnout!  I think everyone felt invested in the success of the campaign and was there to share in that celebration.  Also, having some custom Sparky’s ice cream flavors, Pizza tree, Sycamore, and lots of wine doesn’t hurt attendance.  It was a great evening.  The great thing about our opening receptions in general is that they’re not snooty, highbrow events.  In addition to emphasizing great new artwork, they are a great social event to boot.  

Upon entering the gallery, one quickly notices the salon-style hanging of your work. Where did the idea come from? As far as gallery layout, are you making any other changes?

One of my favorite museums is the Barnes Foundation in PA, particularly when it was in the original estate which I had the opportunity to visit on a couple of occasions. It not only exhibits the majority of its collection in the salon style, but also incorporates important furniture design pieces in conjunction.  The result is a much more hospitable experience that makes you realize you are in a home that just happens to also be a museum.  I wanted a similar experience for this exhibit given the community’s hand in keeping the gallery’s doors open.  It’s no easy task to hang salon-style.  Work can become too cluttered and over-stimulating, not to mention the fact that it takes a particular style of framing presentation and subject matter.  This just seemed to fit and make sense.  And the homey yet artful feel was the perfect homage to Barnes.

Any other plans for the gallery? For example, in your Indiegogo video, you state that you want to bring in challenging works. Could you elaborate?

Absolutely.  One of the challenges of owning a commercial gallery (as opposed to a nonprofit) is that it is ultimately a retail business, but at the same time you want to bring in work that challenges the perceptions of what art is, and can be. I don’t think these are mutually exclusive.  No one wants to see boring artwork.  It’s like many things: there is more reward when you’re intellectually challenged and consequently a deeper connection with that art is established.  I just plan to continue to explore this relationship between viewer and art, and think it is the most satisfying.

Joel Sager, the gallery owner, how will wearing this new hat affect your painting? 

Ideally, not at all.  I’m an early riser, so I devote my mornings to painting.  I am working on various projects and plan to have new bodies of work regularly on exhibit.  I knew taking ownership of the gallery would be time consuming, but I wouldn’t have done it if it meant giving up my first true love: painting.   


Will you preserve the name? 

We are working closely with Woodruff-Sweitzer on a rebranding campaign.  They are absolutely brilliant and fantastic and, along with the public, have given tons of good ideas with regard to name.  That said, the unveiling of our new logo and identity will be announced in the coming weeks.  We’re trying to spread out the excitement so our heads don’t explode.

I presume that the gallery books artists months in advance. How much say did you have in this show?

Yes, typically we’re booked out about a year in advance.  Consequently, this exhibit still has Jennifer Perlow’s curatorial influence.  So, it was nice to feel like we still had that part of her with us, considering she couldn’t be here in person.  The forthcoming exhibits will be more and more exclusively my curatorship ultimately, although we will most definitely maintain the relationships we’ve established with artists who’ve exhibited in the past.  My goal is to build on those fantastic artists who have defined us, and introduce new artists to further our distinction.

I like the artists you have included into this exhibit but it seems like there are less than usual…

We actually have the same amount of work.  I conscientiously hung fewer pieces on the gallery floor (I tend to like plenty of breathing room between artwork) and have the remaining works readily available on our beautiful customized movable wall system.  More negative space between the artwork allows the viewer to appreciate an individual piece without any other conflicting visual information. Through a broader lens, I have actually increased the number of exhibits we’ll have per annum from 4 to 6.  So, what this means is we’ll be exhibiting more work from more artists than before, and keeping fresh work up on the walls for our friends and patrons who are in on a regular basis.

Thank you!


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