“I was fortunate to have family in the art business,” said Vaadia, who runs the Slate Art Gallery in Williamsburg. “I apprenticed with my mother. She worked with a Picasso dealer. And I helped her in the evenings in the 80’s.”
Vaadia’s mother worked in commercial art, which meant they were involved in the resale market for high-profile artists, but Vaadia always wanted to branch out and begin featuring contemporary artists.
Along with a consulting business on the side and three years in retail art on Madison Avenue, Vaadia felt that she had the experience to move on to something new. But her husband, renowned sculptor Boaz Vaadia, gave her the push.
Her husband told her that she had learned every aspect of the business and that she should open her own gallery. “My husband purchased a building to house his museum pieces in one place and he told me that he wasn’t using the front of the building,” Vaadia said.
Vaadia contacted longtime friend and associate, Martha Henry, and together they decided to open the Slate Gallery on weekends.
Vaadia says that to be involved in the art business, you have to love what you do, above everything else. “Especially when you’re showing emerging artists, you do it because you love it,” she said. “With the hours you spend and the money you make, sometimes it can feel like volunteering.”
Vaadia said that she breaks it down to interns so that they understand that in the art world, especially in this economy, you must find joy in what you do.
And she said that there is a misconception that only the struggling or emerging artist has to make sacrifices. She said that both the artist and the gallery owner have to work together in circumstances that aren’t your “normal nine-to-five job at all.”
When Vaadia takes a vacation and gets away from the job, she makes it her business to still go seek out art. “Work and vacation is the same thing,” she said. “There is an art fair in Miami called Bazzle. My husband and I look at art all day when we’re down there.”
Vaadia cautions that art in New York City is in danger. “I don’t see the same possibilities that I did 30 years ago. The affordable living and studio space isn’t the same. It’s something that needs to be addressed. After all, what would New York City be without culture?”