Gallery for the 21st Century: A BoxHeart Perspective

Running, programming, and growing a contemporary art gallery in an ever-globalizing world is no small feat.

Luckily, when you have role models like Pittsburgh's BoxHeart Gallery to look to, the task seems much more manageable. This local gallery packs a global punch, maintaining a major online presence with heavy-hitter emerging artists and participating in art fairs from coast to coast (including last May's Superfine! in New York and both upcoming 2018 editions of Superfine! in NYC and DC.) We caught up with BoxHeart director Nicole Capozzi to get her take on becoming a force to be reckoned with on the international artscape, as well as the ins and outs of gallery life in 2018 and BoxHeart's role in co-curating the Heartlandia section at Superfine! DC this fall.

BoxHeart manages to present a diverse array of emerging contemporary artists, each with their own vocabulary, while maintaining a friendly and welcoming presence that's encouraging to casual and committed collectors alike. After their successful presentation at Superfine! NYC last May, BoxHeart has gone on to exhibit in the LA Art Show, Miami Art Week, as well as forthcoming editions of Superfine! in New York and Washington DC. Read below to learn how they leveraged their participation in Superfine! to build new markets and generate collector interest from coast to coast.

Install shot from BoxHeart's 2016 "Emergent Patterns" exhibition at their Pittsburgh gallery.

Install shot from BoxHeart's 2016 "Emergent Patterns" exhibition at their Pittsburgh gallery.

SF!: What are the biggest challenges you've faced as a growing gallery program that's branching out from a regional city to a more national/international landscape?

BH: I think the biggest challenge for any gallery program branching out into a national/international landscape is obtaining the resources necessary to do so. Finding reliable gallery attendants that can maintain the home base while away, finding artists that are working with your efforts, finding the means to include fair participation in the budget - these things take a long, long time to build. We’ve been in business for over 17 years. It took nearly 15 of those years to get to a place where we could even consider opportunities like participating in art fairs. Despite all this time and experience, it’s a big risk to invest in a fair, a platform like Artsy, or a new artist.


Note from SF!: For the first time ever, Superfine! is partnering with BoxHeart and Nicole to co-curate a section of Superfine! DC this fall. Entitled Heartlandia, the 13 gallery section is a survey of what's new and fresh in North American contemporary art, featuring galleries that defy conventions and hail from regional emerging art capitals.


SF!: What aspect(s) of curating Heartlandia at Superfine! DC are you most excited about?

BH: With Heartlandia, I’m most excited about having the opportunity to meet other like-minded gallery owners that are working to make a difference in the careers of their artists.


SF!: As a regional gallery similar to those that comprise Heartlandia, how does recognition by an international art publication (like Hi-Fructose, for example) impact your artists' sales/markets in Pittsburgh, online, and in fairs?

BH: Recognition for artists like Sara Catapano by Hi-Fructose is so much appreciated. This type of feature can validate what the artist is creating and allow an audience to respond to it. When you operate your artistic enterprise in a small city, there’s really not many publications paying attention to anything you do. The publications that do exist are not art-centric, and as a result, they only find value in stories about things like what neighborhood you happen to live in. This is another reason why fair participation is often extremely valuable. Arts publications may take a moment to attend a fair and find artwork and artists notable to write about. A reputable arts publication is not very likely to write about an exhibition in my gallery in Pittsburgh.


Check out Heartlandia on the Superfine! DC home page, and stay tuned to our newsletters for regular previews of the galleries making up this historic program.

Above: BoxHeart artist Daria Sandburg explaining her work to a new collector at Superfine! NYC 2017.

Above: BoxHeart artist Daria Sandburg explaining her work to a new collector at Superfine! NYC 2017.


SF!: What's the biggest advantage a gallery such as yours finds by participating in fairs?

BH: The biggest advantage I receive by participating in art fairs is the opportunity to meet a wider audience. It helps makes the public aware that my gallery or specific artists I’m exhibiting exist!


SF!: As a representative of emerging artists, what attributes, attitudes, and outlooks of an art collector excite you most?

BH: I’m very grateful for an audience that makes art a priority and - when they find something they love - are open to the idea of taking it home! Whether individuals from this audience identify as “art collectors” or not, if they took time from their busy schedule to visit an exhibition or attend a fair that’s really appreciated. And, if they stop for a moment with something, and think about it as theirs, that’s out-standing. That means they possess an understanding of the artistic process and its value.


SF!: What advice do you have for a new collector who's considering investing anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars by buying a piece of art at a fair?

BH: I advise anyone that is considering purchasing artwork to simply buy what they love!!


Catch BoxHeart Gallery at Superfine! NYC in Booth #25, and at the center of the Heartlandia section at Superfine! DC in Booth #55.


BoxHeart Gallery   Pittsburgh, PA

BoxHeart Gallery

Pittsburgh, PA

Want to join BoxHeart at Superfine! DC this fall? Click here to learn more about their Heartlandia co-curated section and how to apply.