Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Ivester.
Kevin, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was always drawn to the arts and philosophy. I attended Endicott College in Massachusetts where I studied philosophy and studio art. During my years in school and afterwards I worked in galleries, auction houses, picture frame shops, art restoration companies and art installation and logistics companies. I had the opportunity to see and think about the arts from many perspectives. By the time I arrived in Austin in 2015 I had decided my goal was to open my own art gallery.
After 5 years living in Austin, I signed a lease on my dream space in East Austin’s Canopy Creative Complex, stepped away from the gallery I had been directing for nearly the entire time I had been in Austin, and I fully committed myself to Ivester Contemporary. During the time spent preparing to open the gallery, an additional space within Canopy also became available and I signed a lease for a custom picture frame shop across the parking lot from the gallery. The combination of an art gallery and a picture frame shop allow me to be self-sufficient and offer more services to the artists and collectors I work with.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I’ve been extremely lucky. My relationships with my family and friends have given me the support and confidence that was necessary to take my chances opening my own businesses. That said, nothing comes easily and I worked through plenty of obstacles. It’s difficult to pin point a single obstacle along the way among the delays and confusion that transpired due to COVID, but self-doubt and uncertainty were always the hardest to overcome. I try to consistently check in, and remind myself that sincerity and drive can make anything possible.
We’ve been impressed with Ivester Contemporary and East Side Picture Framing, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I opened two businesses last year that I find to be compatible; Ivester Contemporary and East Side Picture Framing. Ivester Contemporary is a 1,600 sq. ft art gallery that represents Texas artists and features two exhibition spaces. The Main Exhibition Space is catered to artwork that visitors can easily connect with and eventually take home so that they can continue to enjoy. The work in the Main Exhibition Space displays artwork that we often see in commercial art galleries like paintings and drawings.
In contrast, our Project Space is a designated area for slightly more experimental artwork that may be a bit more challenging and less “collectable”, like video art, installation art, and performance art. The Project Space is an area for visitors to step away from any perceived pressures to purchase artwork, and instead focus on the values and ideas that the artist is trying to communicate. I hope between these two spaces, which display two simultaneous but distinct exhibitions, there will always be something for everyone to connect with and have an experience that enriches their relationship to the arts. Our ability to curate and present two exhibitions simultaneously will ensure every visitor leaves with an experience they’ll remember each time they visit.
East Side Picture Framing is a custom picture frame shop that specializes in museum quality and full conservation picture framing options for fine art of all sizes and mediums. We have the ability to frame paper, canvas, fabric, mirrors, and any other object you’d like to display proudly. We offer thousands of picture framing options, but find it essential to make the designing process easy for our visitors. A major reason why I felt comfortable opening this business is due to my frame shop manager, Ryan Huseman, who helped me layout the shop floor plan during the renovation of the physical space to make workflow effortless and unlock the ability to handle any job. Ryan has over a decade experience working in shops and his expertise helping our visitors find the right framing solution for their artwork and passion adhering to the newest standards of conservation make the shop as successful as it has been thus far. In the past year, we’ve been lucky enough to add two more picture framers who also care deeply about the arts and I’m blown away with the quality of work they produce.
Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
The arts are all about support and collaboration. The point of an art gallery, in my opinion, is to promote the artists that I represent, help them reach a wider audience, and move on to the next step in their careers. In order for an artist to excel in their field, they must build a strong resume and accumulate press, as well as cultural relevance. Partnership with an art gallery is one of the ways that this goal can become possible. In turn, art galleries become more reputable by partnering with artists who have been validated via strong resumes and accumulated press and cultural relevance they work with.
The art gallery/artist partnership should always be symbiotic. Art galleries and artists collaborate to grow together. Collectors and patrons of the arts are also essential supporters and collaborators that art relies on. In addition to building their relevance, it is also essential that artists’ work is seen, understood, and collected to be loved. The act of collecting artwork does not only fill the collector’s home with beautiful work, but the collector becomes an important part of the art world and part of the conversation. Ideas and artists that are collected are compensated for their work, and validated. These ideas are shared with collector’s friends and families and the conversation grows exponentially. I always encourage those around me to collect artwork. Not necessarily from my own gallery, but from any gallery or any artist that they truly connect with.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Website: ivestercontemporary.com and eastsidepictureframing.com
- Instagram: @ivester_contemporary and @eastsidepictureframing
- Facebook: facebook.com/IvesterContemporary
Ryan Thayer Davis