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How Featuring All Female Artists Is Changing the Landscape of the Art Gallery Business


I’m talking today with Jeffrey Lazos Ferns – Gallery Director at C Gallery Art in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gallery opened a coffee shop inside and I introduced myself to him and we could’ve talked all day! 

LAS110: How Featuring All Female Artists Is Changing the Landscape of the Art Gallery Business


I’m talking today with Jeffrey Lazos Ferns – Gallery Director at C Gallery Art in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gallery opened a coffee shop inside and I introduced myself to him and we could’ve talked all day! 

Jeffrey is a native Arizonan. He’s worked with DC Ranch Art in administration over 25 years. He mentions working under the “whole umbrella” of the arts. His passion is arts and culture with a focus at looking at art in the community and using art as a catalyst for positive change. There are many variations of art where you can use it to build bridges in society and within communities. 

Jeffrey’s current position as Gallery Director for C Gallery Art came to him while he was working in Administration and Communications for Arizona American Indian Tourism Association. The pandemic hit and he knew that it would take a while for the industry to fully recover. Charlene Falk, owner of the gallery had a very specific vision for the director position and he was chosen based on his past experience and the collective vision they had for the gallery.

The space used to be a realty office but the gallery has been in that space for a year. They closed for a month during the pandemic and then put together a plan and vision for the gallery in May and June. The idea as they move into their art season is to do public programs and build on the vision of being an arts and culture hub that features female artists. 

Who inspired you to show women’s artwork?
Jeffrey was raised by single mother who had eight kids, four of them being sisters. He describes her as a very feminist and strong woman that encompassed the values of a mother – love, family and caring. Jeffrey notes that throughout his many roles in his career in the arts that there’s always been a big presence of the patriarchy and even in the sub roles in museums a lot of women were running leadership roles but their art wasn’t being showcased. They would be really talented as artists but would take a position as an administrator because their work wasn’t valued; maybe not intentionally but old institutions weren’t able to look past those blocks for so long.

Jeffrey states, “Being connected to strong women my entire life I knew that this wasn’t what I should do, this is what I have to do. My mother, being a native woman of color, didn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t do anything. That mentality is what I see in so many extraordinary women artists.” 

“There is a certain mystique that women have that translates into their work . There’s a passion of mine wanting to bring their art to galleries and their passion of wanting their work to be taken to the next level. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.” 

What are your qualifications for presenting work in the gallery?
C Gallery puts art on their walls that communicates health, wellness and positivity. They look at where the artists are in their career and what they are painting. It’s important to see the work that drives and inspires them. They also look at their collectors to see if they’ll fit with the people that come in looking for specific pieces.

It’s also crucial to look at how passionate they are about art in general. Jeffrey says true artists get the sense of the unseen and use tools of music and dance to convey that as well. They’re engaged with the bigger world around them. The last thing they look at is if the gallery can see themselves having a long term relationship where both the gallery and the artist evolve over time. 

Who is your favorite famous artist? Why?
Jeffrey very easily answers: Yayoi Kusama, A Japanese installation artist. He describes her as a well rounded artist who calls her art “obsessional art.” You can see that her entire gallery installation would be a representation of what she sees. He says he loves Japanese design and art. Their art is usually a response to their cultural restrictions and feature explosions of color and symmetry. 

Have there been any challenges opening a female gallery?
Jeffrey states that thankfully the only challenge has been the current state of being in a pandemic. Otherwise, there has been a need for a female-focused gallery and it’s been rewarding. He mentions that lots of community members are glad they are doing this. Unless you were to look at all of the tags in the gallery you wouldn’t know that they’re all female artists. He says, “The art coming in is art. Other than the timing, it’s been a rewarding experience.”

The gallery’s original mission statement  is to “provide a platform and space for women artists internationally, locally and regionally and to promote their work.”  Jeffrey says, “A lot of the work we do is healing. What inspires the artists coming in is nature and women. Many of the artists coming in have gone through a period of distress and use art as a mechanism of healing. There’s a lot of healing energy under art. What’s also special is that abstract art is personal to the person looking at it. It can help people in many different ways”

How have you learned to work with difficult artists?
Jeffrey laughs and says, “I’ve got stories but we’d run out of time.” His background comes from corporate HR. He’s come in contact with plenty of challenging personalities and says the formula for success is this: raw honesty and grace. It’s beneficial for all parties if you approach someone with straightforward facts and make them see that their behavior isn’t an end all but it’s better to move through and away from that energy because it won’t help anyone involved. 

He also mentions his mother raising eight children all a year apart was amazing training to see how to handle different types of people. 

More on C Gallery 
The gallery rotates their displays six times a year and features artists for about two or three months at a time. After their art isn’t on the gallery walls anymore they work on promoting them online and through interactions with public art and the commercial side of things. They find it important to not just  “put you on the walls” but look at how to develop their relationship in a way that benefits the artist.

The five to ten year goals for the gallery are to develop the space as an arts and culture hub. Hopefully their gallery will become a destination for public programs as new residents come in. They are also looking at working with festivals coming to the area and their long-term goal is to make more of a philanthropic impact on the community. 

The gallery also has a plan to bring in monthly salons. Salons are intimate talks with people in the community. In October they have a gastroenterologist who volunteered as a doctor during covid in NYC and will be talking about how to prepare families and ourselves in this new way of health and wellness. They also have someone coming to have people forage local plants and herbs and have a tea and food tasting afterwards. Lastly, Jeffrey will be doing a salon at the end of the month focusing on sharing the history of the Day of the Dead and how to build an altar for the celebration. 

Advice for your younger self: 
“Looking at my life and my personal journey, I would say thank you for staying the course and allowing me to become the person who I am today .”

What excites you right now? 
“Women in leadership positions in every course of life. We are ready for a feminine energy to walk us into this next era. The feminine power is growing and moving into all leadership positions. It’s time for “mother” to take control. 

What are two things do you consider yourself to be very good at?

  1. Building community. I walk in many worlds- boardroom or a nonprofit working with the homeless. I understand and appreciate every aspect of humanity. We have a lot more in common than we think.

  2.  Taking care of myself. I worked hard but I took care of a lot of other things first. Now I’m appreciative about eating healthy, meditating, gardening and exploring this Jeffrey who doesn’t need to appear a certain way. I’m more focused on taking care of the health and wellness that’s inside of me.

If you could meet one person to have dinner with, who would it be?
“Dolly Parton. I’ve been following her since I was a teenager but I didn’t fall in love with her music at first. I’m a writer and I fell in love with her writing. Her lyrics are poems and tell a story. I appreciate that most people see the rhinestones and wigs but beneath her is a huge human being that does so much in her community. She’s quiet in terms of her prolific philanthropy and that mixed with her entertaining persona is intriguing to me. She maintains such a balance and she has a heart of gold. 

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Hello, I'm Jennifer Deputy

I am a writer, blogger, and traveler. Being creative and making things keep me happy is my life's motto.

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