Chellis Baird and Jim D’Amato on Being an Artist-Preneur

By Anna Mikaela Ekstrand Anna Mikaela Ekstrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on May 1, 2023

Artists Chellis Baird and Jim D’Amato have exhibited together in several group shows, and decided to keep the collaborative spirit going this year with two back-to-back shows, Rejuvenation and Reveberation. It’s no secret that artists wear many hats as creators, innovators and entrepreneurs. These two artists decided to take the creative process into their own hands by scouting out a location for each exhibition, selecting a curator and setting the shows in motion.

Working Together: Real Estate Company vs. Gallery

The first joint exhibition, Rejuvenation, was on view back in November in a unique residential space in Chelsea. This exhibition was a joint collaboration with well-established real estate company, Serhant. By selecting a residential space versus a gallery, this was the perfect opportunity to showcase the work in a more intimate setting. Rejuvenation laid the groundwork for Reverberation, and Reverberation exhibited never before seen works by Baird and D’Amato. Curated by Josh Campbell, the exhibition also spoke to the synergy between their two artistic styles, and exploration of bright vivid color (with a specific focus on the color red). Baird blurs the intersection of painting, sculpture and textiles by reconstructing handwoven canvases while D’Amato uses line and flat space to create intricate, biomorphic works.

Chellis Baird and Jim D'Amato
Installation view of Chellis Baird and Jim D’Amato’s exhibition “Rejuvenation.”
Chellis Baird Jim D'Amato Highline Nine
Installation view of Chellis Baird and Jim D’Amato’s exhibition “Reverberation.”
Installation view of Chellis Baird and Jim D’Amato’s exhibition “Reverberation.”

Although Reverberation closed recently at High Line Nine Gallery, this is the perfect example of how the art world continually shifts. Gone are the days where artists only have the option to show in traditional gallery spaces. It’s not unusual for the artist (or artists) to play just as large of an integrated role as the curator in the planning and execution of an exhibition.

Chellis Baird
Chellis Baird. “The Fold,” 2022. Cotton fabric, acrylic, wire, on archival birch panel.
Overcoming Challenges: Jim D’Amato reminds us, “being an artist also means being an entrepreneur”

“One of the greatest challenges of being an artist is the solitary aspect of an art practice. You spend most of your working hours completely alone physically and mentally. Without a gallery, the only team one has is what they create in their studio. However, being an independent artist allows you the opportunity to work with whomever you want. It’s both a challenge and a gift. There is an echo-like quality that appears when the works share a room. We decided to join forces and create a well curated, thoughtful two person show. We saw this as an opportunity where we could support each other, collaborate, and expand our horizons during the process.” says Baird.

Jim D’Amato’s work.
Jim D'Amato
Jim D’Amato in front of his work.

“But essentially, being an artist also means being an entrepreneur and small business owner. Two entrepreneurs collaborating (while retaining their independence, brand, etc.) creates many exciting challenges and opportunities. It’s a true collaboration from both an artistic and business sense,” says D’Amato.

“Do what is best for the work,” says Chellis Baird

Baird and D’Amato follow the same credo in their individual art practices: “do what is best for the work.” They are both very purposeful with their use of bright, vivid colors and the psychological implications behind those color choices. For those who didn’t have a chance to see the show at High Line Nine, Baird and D’Amato are working on several new opportunities.

See more of Chellis Baird’s work here and Jim D’Amato’s work here. In addition, Chellis Baird will be showing in FormAH Gallery’s booth at VOLTA Art Fair, New York May 17-21st, 2023.  

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By Anna Mikaela Ekstrand Anna Mikaela Ekstrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Anna Mikaela Ekstrand is a Grit Daily columnist, an art critic, and a cultural strategist. She is the founder of Cultbytes, an online art publication and culture-focused communications agency. She is also the Associate Director of The Immigrant Artist Biennial and is curating its 2023 edition. Anna Mikaela has held curatorial positions at the Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Arts and Design, Solomon R. Guggenheim, and Bard Graduate Center. She holds dual Master’s Degrees in Art and Design History from Stockholm University and Bard Graduate Center.

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