Arty Lab : Share with us your experience as the Founder and director of Stet Gallery!
Gary Yeh : Right after I took an art history class in high school, I was driven to be more engaged and involved with the arts. It was one thing to study a painting and another to try to sell one. I got together with a friend that summer and decided to start an art gallery. Granted it was only online, but we showed artwork from local students – most of whom were our friends. It was always exciting to add another artist to our list. I vividly remember staying up late many nights editing photos and realigning them on our website editor every time a new artist “joined” our gallery. We were lucky to meet a local art gallery that offered us a 10-day show in-between exhibitions. You might say I peaked in high school! But it was great experience installing a show, holding an opening, and tracking sales.
Stet Gallery was also rooted in education. Other than the brief exhibition, the bulk of what we did was actually writing articles and helping others discover artists that didn’t have the cachet of Picasso or van Gogh. My friend and I were the art geeks at school and we certainly proved it even more writing about obscure, contemporary artists. In retrospect, I think it was a pivotal moment for myself because that’s still a value I hold today and how I intend ArtDrunk to grow – keeping to this mission of democratizing art.
Arty Lab : I've seen that you worked in the world of finance for more than 1 year. Did you establish a link between art and finance, and can you tell us more about that?
Gary Yeh : Establishing a link between art and finance came naturally by way of collecting. While I don’t collect art as an investment, it’s impossible not to think about the financial gains and losses that can come with it. I imagine most collectors keep that in the back of their mind. With me, that sense of “picking winners” from a financial perspective is heightened because I’m working with such a small budget. It takes a good year or two to save up for the right painting. There are countless artists on my wish list and if I miss the mark on an acquisition, there’s the stress that I could have spent that money better on another artist. I’m forced to be highly deliberate with my collecting – which is not such a bad thing.
The world of art investing, art funds, and new art exchanges is fascinating, but for another time…
Arty Lab : You are from Asia, how do you explain the rise of the art market in this area and how do you predict its future?
Gary Yeh : My parents are from Taiwan, but I was born in the U.S. I’ve only been back a few times, but being Asian myself has led to finding an appreciation for Asian art and the market that has boomed around it. The easy answer is that China has seen an immense growth in wealth, leading to more disposable income and the pursuit of alternative asset classes to store that wealth. The other side of the equation is a desire to revive culture following the Cultural Revolution. We’re seeing interest in art across the board – antiquities, traditional ink paintings, and contemporary art. I always take the position that the most important art of a time is the art that is most representative of its time or most forward-looking. With this view, Contemporary Chinese art is still well undervalued by the West. With major galleries like Zwirner and Hauser & Writh starting to add Asian artists to their roster and opening up Hong Kong outposts, I think the next few years will be particularly exciting for this market and area of collecting.