Today I’d like to introduce you to the bold story of Accesso Galleria, the art gallery born in Pietrasanta in 2011 by the will of American Brad Brubaker and British Paul Feakes.
With a name that is precisely a programmatic declaration of intent, not just a saying, and ten years of work upon its shoulders, Accesso Galleria is among the liveliest realities of an already very animated scene in Pietrasanta, most notably now, as Collectors Night is upon us.
In love with Tuscany and contemporary art, the duo of gallery owners offers artistic research with an international character and accessible to all spaces, tastes and budgets.
Links and insights below the interview.
How did your path with contemporary art begin?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: It started over 20 years ago when my husband and I were living in the United Kingdom. We started visiting galleries and fairs and our interest took off.
After we bought our first large painting (a figurative oil painting by Tomas Watson), I became fascinated by how Watson (whom we now represent) was able to paint the human figure in a way that seemed so real; that it was coming off the canvas. It seemed to me the only way I would be able to understand it was to do it so I began taking drawing courses in London which I did for many years.
What are the major differences between your context of origin and the Italian panorama in terms of widespread perception of the contemporary?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: That is hard to say. Before opening Accesso in 2011, I had zero experience working in a gallery let alone having a gallery. Everything about running a gallery was new to me from Day One.
I think the strength in that is that I had no constrictions of how a gallery “should” do something. We just did it how it seemed best to do.
Why setting up a contemporary art gallery in Pietrasanta?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: When we decided to open a gallery, we were living in Florence and friends from there had introduced us to Pietrasanta; I was immediately fascinated by it. We were looking for potential spaces in Florence but nothing seemed right. It was then my husband suggested we do a pop-up gallery in Pietrasanta in the summer of 2011 and see how it goes. After looking into it a bit more, we decided Pietrasanta was the better place to start a new gallery so that is what we did. The first season went very well so we decided to make it a permanent venture.
The name of the gallery is highly significant. Let’s talk about it!
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: It has always been our belief that the art we exhibit has to be just that….”accessible”. This can be in many forms from its size, its subject or even its price. We have works that can be in a home of someone buying their first piece to works that can enter into important collections or museums. But what works is that all of these things are shown next to one another so everyone can “access” this art.
Furthermore, it has been fundamental that we “like” the art in the gallery. We always say we want to have art in the gallery that we would want to have at home. Somehow, I feel that this adds to the accessiblity of the gallery.
Can you make an assessment of the first 10 years of activity, between difficulties, satisfactions and new challenges?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: There definitely have been many challenges along the way but also great satisfaction. Looking back, it was probably a bit insane to open an art gallery in 2011 when Italy was in a very difficult financial situation. The fact is though, this was never a consideration and we just went on with our plans to do what we wanted to do. Sometimes I remember that and feel that if the gallery can work in difficult times like that as well as a global pandemic, then something really is working with what we do.
The most satisfying part of my work is two-fold. One is finding a new artist, working with them and putting on a show with their work and the public responds very positively. It’s wonderful to share this joy with the artist. The other great satisfaction I have is meeting people who become clients and then friends. The gallery has introduced me to some fascinating people and taken me to amazing places.
Can you talk about “Guarda oltre” (Look beyond), the exhibition presently at your gallery until 01 August 2021, showcasing painting by Luca Moscariello and sculpture by Kelly Robert?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: It’s a show of which I am very proud. The show presents for the first time both of these artists in the gallery. I like the show because visually it is very strong and has a huge impact at the first sight with lots of strong colors. However, like the title of the show says, the works make you stop and look at them more closely; they do not give away everything at the first glance. You get drawn into them and your eye then moves around the pieces following a line or the shadows.
Luca’s paintings are packed with strong color and the three-dimensionality of the works makes them feel they are coming out into the space. Kelly’s works too are vivid and bold but the figures are soft and rolling like a landscape.
I felt it was a gamble having the two artists with these powerful colors showing together but as soon as we started installing it…..I knew it was going to be great.
What about your future projects?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: Right now I have a few ideas of things I want to do next year in the gallery but nothing yet concrete. A big focus for the autumn and winter will be to increase our presentation of works and artists on various online platforms.
To wrap up, what are your dreams for the future of contemporary art, also related to these pandemic times?
Brad Brubaker, Accesso Galleria: That the artists just keep producing great works and that they do not listen the voices who say that contemporary art will face a challenge after the pandemic. Block out that noise and get to the studio!
– GUARDA OLTRE, works by Luca Moscariello and Kelly Robert, from 26 June to 30 July 2021, Accesso Galleria, Pietrasanta (press release)