Hey, Artists. This is what a gallery owner wants to see | Backstage | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Hey, Artists. This is what a gallery owner wants to see

click to enlarge Hey, Artists. This is what a gallery owner wants to see
CP photo: Joie Knouse
Nicole Capozzi

Name: Nicole Capozzi, Bloomfield
Work: Owner and director of BoxHeart Gallery

How did you open BoxHeart?

This was a gallery. My husband, Joshua Hogan, and myself had shown here. It was closing. I said, “This is stupid, we’re delivering papers, selling real estate, cleaning beauty salons, we’re starving. If we’re going to starve, we might as well starve doing something that we love.” There was a [dropped] ceiling and a rug and one fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling and the landlord said, “You give me money, you stay.” And I was like, “Great, here you go.”

You’re a fine artist yourself?

I was but quit when we started this. 

Do you miss it?


How do you find the artists you represent?

An open-review process every summer where artists are able to submit just a link anywhere I can see work digitally. From that, I select a varying number of artists for representation or exhibition. Some years I don’t take anybody, some years a few. 

What are you looking for?

They first thing is, “Did they follow directions?” I’m a super open, friendly, wonderful person that will help in a million ways. I’m not even looking for professional photographs. I just want to see the art. There’s fricking amazingly talented people who do awesome art but only so many exhibitions in the schedule. Sometimes I’m looking at who could I pair for an interesting exhibit, or a local artist [I could pair] with a national or international artist. Then, by default, my clients coming to see the local show are going to get to see this other thing that they would never show up for otherwise.  

How does your own personal taste impact what you carry?

I’m looking at art last. I’m looking at, “Can they communicate with me openly? Can they turn in the materials I’m asking for? Will they show up on time?” All these other things before I get to the visual. And if that happens to be great too, then it’s like, “YES!”

Sometimes it’s the visual or the story that the artist is telling or something that resonates with you or that you really want to put out there for your audience to see. Because my husband is an abstract painter, we’ve always been kind of known as having a lot of abstract art. That’s pretty much true but at the same time, there’s also really just a wide variety of media and styles. 

click to enlarge Hey, Artists. This is what a gallery owner wants to see
CP photo: Joie Knouse
Nicole Capozzi

What’s your favorite part?

I get to just be in an environment of art that I create. Every month that changes. It really suits my personality to be able to, every 30 days, totally make a whole new thing, a whole new world that you can walk into, and I get to sit in it every day and work in it. 

What don’t you like?

The openings. They’re social gatherings for the artist, which are nice, but it doesn’t really work in the way that people work in the world. Sometimes it snows or people are busy. If you’re focused on this very small specific time frame that you think that all these people are going to rush in here for, you’re wrong. It’s a process that takes years, not days. 

What do people need to know about galleries that they don’t?

It’s OK to just come in and look. You are welcome any time, and it’s always different. You might hate one exhibition and love another. That is OK and you can even tell me that, but at least come in once or twice and just see it.