Director Ineke Zigrossi Celebrates 30 Years Showcasing Fine Art at Abbozzo Gallery

Now in its 30th year of operation, Abbozzo Gallery showcases regional and international, modern and contemporary works of art in a variety of mediums, including photography, painting, sculpture prints and editions. Also available are a range of fine art services, including consultation, installation, appraisal, and collection management. We had the pleasure of hearing from experienced Director, Ineke Zigrossi about the evolution of the gallery, and the type of work art enthusiasts can appreciate when visiting the space.

What initially inspired you to open a gallery?

It was actually quite simple. after looking for a career change, a long-time friend of mine had an art gallery and I was taken by a business that had so many creative aspects, without having to be a creative myself. I cannot draw or paint!

Since you’ve opened your doors, how have you seen the role of galleries evolving in the art world, and how do you continue to adapt to those changes?

We opened our doors 30 years ago. To me, galleries are expected to be more knowledgeable in all aspects of the marketing and promotion than they are historically used to. There weren’t “Social Media Managers” in the 90’s. The landscape of buying behaviours is also shifting dramatically and has seemed to accelerate into the world of online buying. We’ve begun to make use of different art market platforms and e-commerce such as artsy (an art specific e-commerce platform) instagram as a mode of connecting with collectors, and vastly improving our online web-store and marketing infrastructure. It used to be a lot more straightforward, you would have an opening and advertise it in the paper. Also now, everything is so much more transparent. Values of artworks are available to everyone through so many different platforms. It also continues to be very much a matter of relationships, not only with the collector, but the artists. We have put a lot of our resources to visibility on the web as there is an increasing amount of work sold online, but at the end of the day, nothing beats bricks and mortar and experiencing the work in person. Art doesn’t translate to digital image thumbnails and the aura of an artwork can never truly be reproduced mechanically. 

How do you choose the artists and artworks to showcase in your gallery, and what criteria do you use for selection?

Each artist comes with a different connection to the gallery. Some come to us via artwork submissions, some are suggested to us by different friends in the industry, be it artists, other gallerists, consultants, and even friends. That’s been shifting recently as we’re doing a lot more outreach to artists that we love and see online, like through Instagram. Once we accept an artist onto our roster, we continue to work with and promote the artist in any way we can: through exhibitions, marketing, and online presence, and in some cases provided career guidance. One of our artists, Naoko Matsubara, has been part of our gallery for the whole 30 years! We don’t have any particular criteria, and anyone can be an artist here as long as they 1) identify as a professional artist with a longtime commitment to their practice, and 2) they fit the aesthetic of our gallery (which includes many different artistic approaches). Fine Arts education always helps but some of our favourite artists are self-taught as well! Everyone who works in the gallery also collectively decides when taking on an artist that we all like the work and that’s a direction we want to head towards. 

The recent Group Exhibition Wavelengths featured work by Lola Erhart, Delfina Gómez Marestaing, Celia Lees, Fabiana Salomao, Steven K. Tucker, and David Wilstermann

What challenges have you faced as a gallery owner, and how have you overcome them?

The challenge is continuing to find a new audience that collects. People only have so much wall space and collectors have very particular tastes. We spend a lot of time educating our clients both in person and online. We also try to make it easier to buy, especially sometimes for younger buyers who are perhaps afraid of making the leap financially for some original works of art. If you love art, we always will do whatever we can to get you something you’ll cherish for a long time. We find things like trying out the work at home first and using payment plans can be helpful in making the process less daunting and more approachable. We’re always trying to make the whole process as accessible and un-intimidating as possible. Most of all, I love that owning an art gallery offers so many different experiences, from studio visits, consulting, curating, traveling to art fairs, exhibitions, promotions, even doing the paperwork. Being able to work for and with artists is truly a privilege I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Ineke expressed that the gallery is “devoted to creating an accessible and inviting space for first time buyers and seasoned collectors.” Abbozzo Gallery is the perfect place to start or add to an impressive art collection. Plan your visit to ABBOZZO GALLERY at 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 128, Toronto.