We had the good fortune of connecting with Alix Sloan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alix, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
I think any business owner is faced with tough decisions regularly. But if I had to choose one that really stands out, it would be the decision to close my brick-and-mortar gallery space in New York. From establishing myself in a new city, to raising the money, to finding the space and doing extensive renovations with the help of many wonderful friends, so much hard work and love went into getting the doors open. And for the four years we were there, it was a truly amazing place with fantastic shows and great energy. Then I was hit with a huge rent hike and no clue what to do. I really had to look at my options. I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to be able to swing the increase. My overhead was already tough to manage, and I didn’t want to sacrifice the integrity of the program just to make the rent. But I felt like if I closed, I would be failing the artists, and the community that had supported me. I worried what people would think. Also, my identity was so closely tied to Sloan Fine Art, I didn’t know who I would be without it and that terrified me. In the end, practicality won out. I decided to close with the goal to reopen in another location as soon as possible. I couldn’t imagine going through finding and opening a new space again, but I’d done it once so I figured I could do it again. I’d already been conducting more than half of my sales online and was fortunate that many terrific artists were still willing to work with me. So, I was able to stay afloat, catch my breath and regroup. Then something interesting happened. With more time and less stress, my life immediately began unfolding in totally different and unexpected ways. I started writing again which had always been my form of creative expression. I began collaborating more with other gallerists, doing fewer shows in different ways. I even met my husband within those first few months of closing. Eventually, I wrote “Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists,” to help artists navigate the business side of the arts. It includes advice from over forty artists and arts professionals who were happy to share their experience to help others. That was a really rewarding project. I started teaching and creating online courses and that was an exciting way to continue to engage with artists. It wasn’t all great. I certainly took a few bad turns. And there are still things I miss about having my own place. But I’ve found a really good balance. And the quality people, those who truly were my friends and colleagues, still are, even if during these strange times we can’t always connect as easily. At the time that decision really did feel like the end of the world. But in reality it was just the beginning of the next adventure.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I enjoy having several projects going at once. I find it keeps me inspired and interested. If I hit a wall with one, I can switch gears and work on another. I try to curate 1-3 shows per year. I have multiple writing projects going from co-writing a series of middle grade novels to ghost writing cozy mysteries to copywriting for various clients. I’m also working on some new online courses.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
LA is such a great place to live and host visitors because there really is something for everyone. You can custom tailor activities based on pretty much anyone’s interests. So, any suggestions would really depend on the friend. For an outdoorsy guest there’s a day at the beach or hiking in Griffith Park. For art friends it’s just a matter of checking galleries and museums for shows. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a weird and wonderful place that seems to always be a hit with everyone. It has been closed due to COVID-19. I hope they re-open. Magnolia Park in Burbank is a great little strip with thrift stores and cafes. It reminds me a little of Melrose Avenue way back in the day. I took my teenage niece when she visited in 2019. Hank’s, in Toluca Lake, has the best bagels I’ve had in LA. And don’t forget, for the science fiction fans, a trip to Vasquez Rocks, the filming location for so many movies and episodes of Star Trek, is just a short drive away.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is going to sound corny but there are so many people, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of a vibrant and engaging community of artists and arts professionals all over the world. Since returning to LA, I’ve been lucky to be welcomed back by friends and colleagues all the way back to high school. My New York friend-family is always just a phone call away. And I never forget how fortunate I am to be part of a close knit, creative and supportive family including my husband, parents, siblings and their families. But if I had to call out just one person, specifically in the arts, it would be Billy Shire, legendary visionary and proprietor of Wacko and La Luz de Jesus Gallery – which is an absolute must stop for anyone who hasn’t been, by the way. Billy taught me everything I needed to get started from how to hang and light art to the importance of making sure the artists get paid first. He has enormous loyalty and integrity and is just an all-around good person.