Kesha Bruuce, Baang and Burne Contemporary Art director and mixed-media artist

As the world of art aims to redefine itself amidst an ever-expanding digital landscape one gallery appears to be ahead of the curve, Baang and Burne Contemporary Art.  Kesha Bruce, the gallery’s director, is rebelling against the traditional model of a gallery and creating a place where creative professionals are empowered, art lovers are engaged and meaningful relationships are built.

Bruce is effective in her role because she understands that art is about both the creative and the business side.

Rolling out spoke with Bruce about the importance of understanding the business aspects of running a gallery, why she avoids made-to-order works of art, how she ensures that each client she chooses to consult with is a good fit and more.

Some people feel that the audience is often alienated from the art world and that the focus is on exclusive collectors, curators and such.  So how do you actively engage the audience when it comes to art?

At our art openings every guest gets VIP treatment. We greet them personally and make sure they have the opportunity to meet and talk with the artist. What makes our events unique is that they’re designed to promote art by creating a fun and relaxed environment where people can have conversations and make real connections.

The role of gallery owner is powerful and can influence the art that is made.  Do you find artists seeking to get in your gallery by making art made to order?

At least once a week I get an email from a young artist, just starting out, asking me to visit their website. When I click over, I usually see a variety of portraits, landscapes, abstracts and photographs. Even if they happen to be well executed, I’m not interested in “variety.”  I want to see an artist’s specific artistic vision. Doing work on commission is fine, but in general, an artist needs to focus their energy on creating a strong, cohesive body of work that reflects their concerns and intellectual sensibility.

As a consultant how do you screen a prospective client to ensure that you can actually get them results?

Before I commit to taking on a new consulting client, I always make sure we’re a good fit. A positive attitude, the motivation to work hard, and the willingness to take 100 percent responsibility for their career trajectory are my minimum requirements.

The column, On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture entertainment and philanthropy in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of arts administration company, Souleo Enterprises LLC.