8 Black Art Advisors Transforming the Art Market from the Inside
Alaina Simone worked at several galleries, including G. R. N’Namdi Gallery, before climbing up to artist liaison, curator, and board member. She approaches her interdisciplinary career with reverence and respect for the artists she works with and the clients to whom she sells, and draws on her own artistic training. “I grew up taking drawing, painting, piano, and dance classes as a child,” she said.
Simone has many roles, serving as a consultant for artists, galleries, and institutions while also writing, producing, and managing brand collaborations. Ruminating on what initially drew her to the art world, she cited her move to New York in 2006 and her first curatorial effort—a Howardena Pindell exhibition at G. R. N’Namdi in 2006—as pivotal moments in her career. The Pindell show featured the artist’s characteristic, monumental abstractions addressing both deeply personal and political topics. “The show received critically acclaimed reviews and was written up by the New York Times,” she recalled. “After that, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere, and I wanted to stay in New York City and live my dreams.”
Now Simone is focused on breaking down the barriers that have prevented new collectors from accessing art directly from artists and galleries, and speaking honestly about the persistent problems within the industry that are holding back change. “In the end, it is not about Blackness. It’s about ‘greenness,’” she said. “This is a business. The market romanticizes how galleries deal with art consultants. It’s not about community; it is about commodities.”
Too often, Simone said, Black artists leave Black-owned galleries to sign with larger, blue-chip galleries. This creates a destructive cycle for Black gallerists who invest in and nurture artists early on only to see them leave as their careers and markets take off. “It would be nice if more Black creators and consultants were able to benefit from art by Black artists since they are selling our culture in the process,” she said. “Generally, once an artist gets to a certain level, consultants are either marginalized or pushed out of the conversations.”
As Simone sees it, staying committed to Black gallerists and other champions of their work is in the interest of the Black artists who themselves have been systematically left out of the art world and oftentimes erased from the pages of art history. “Artists hold more power than they realize,” she explained.