After over 4 years in operation, Madrona Gallery has beaten the odds and managed to make a name for itself in the art market in Victoria, BC and across Canada. A large part of the success of the business is due to the drive of it's Owner/Director/Fearless Leader, Michael Warren. Before he flew to Toronto this week for auction season I sat down with him and asked him some questions about his love of art and business.
What motivated you to open an art gallery in Victoria, BC?
When I was in university studying art history I had two paths, I either wanted to manager a gallery or curate in a museum. At the time I was leaning towards institutional art. After graduation I started working in a commercial gallery and loved it. It opened my eyes to a side of the art world I was unfamiliar with, one that was directly connected to supporting artists and helping to foster a more vibrant arts community.
After this experience I knew I wanted to open a gallery one day.
After over 4 years of operation, how do you measure the success of the business? What goals do you have for the future?
I gauge the gallery's success through a number of factors. First by seeing an increased access to a greater level of programming. We just finished a show of important historic Canadian art with works by members of the group of seven, Emily Carr and others. Having an Carr hanging on the walls was definitely satisfying. Secondly, feedback from the community. When people walk in and tell me they love the show or are impressed with our passion for what we do, I feel great. Finally, by supporting the artists we represent to do what they love, create art. If I do well by them then I can continue to do what I love to do.
Who is your favourite artist (other than ones you represent)?
Hard to narrow it to only one. Andrew Valko for Canadian living , Yves Klein for historic international.
Madrona Gallery has an incredible collection of modern and historic Inuit pieces. What draws you to Inuit art?
Inuit art has been a passion of mine since I started working in a gallery in Whistler. It was my first experience working closely with this type of art and I was instantly drawn to it. I remember a large Nuna Parr piece that first caught my eye. From there I started putting time into researching everything I could find about Inuit art. Through research I discovered an amazing side of Canadian art that most people do not ever see. I love being able to show both the traditional and avant garde of Inuit art.
What book are you reading right now?
I'm reading the complete works of Emily Carr.
That's kind of predictable.
Interview by Theresa McFarland