Artist Spotlight: Daniel Herr

Daniel Herr, White Nights, Oil, chalk pastel, and collage on canvas, 56 x 56 in. Image courtesy of Lindsay Comstock.

Daniel Herr is an abstract painter whose expressive brushstrokes and vibrant colors combine to create dynamic landscape imagery. Originally from California, Herr has done numerous residencies internationally, completed his MFA at Boston University, and is currently living and working in Brooklyn, NY. His nomadic lifestyle lends itself to his artwork’s focus on place, where one comes from, and where one feels at home. His memories and experiences with places provide reference to his work. This is specifically visible in his piece, White Nights, currently on view at Abigail Ogilvy gallery until October 28th.

Herr reflects back to when he created the painting, “There was a bridge I used to walk across at night to my apartment in Cambridge from my studio in grad school. I loved the idea that I could wake up, walk over the river to go to work, walk back at night.” The nighttime view was mostly mundane institutional buildings, but at night they seemed to have a magic to them. The river was frozen solid all winter, and as he passed over the bridge Herr kept thinking about Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh, and the idea of creating his own personal version of the painting.

Daniel Herr. Brooklyn, NY. Image courtesy of Lindsay Comstock.

In regards to titling his pieces, he adds whimsy to his work by using what he describes as “absurd phrases”.  These phrases usually have a narrative quality to them, mirroring the story like aspects of his pieces. He explains, “I like the idea that the picture can tell a story, even if not a beginning, middle, and end. It's more like a title to a poem: it references something specific that the poem isn't saying directly.” Indeed, his art is a visual poetry: expressive, emotional, and sometimes ambiguous. Embracing this ambiguity, he describes his paintings as similar to multiple exposures, superimposed on top of each other.

He continues to expand on the energetic feeling of his paintings in what he is currently working on by creating a series of medium-scale paintings based on watercolor and quick sketches.


Daniel Herr received his MFA from Boston University in 2011 and his BA from the University of California, Davis in 2004. Herr has completed artist residencies around the world including the Molten Capital residency at Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile, Estudio Nónmada in Barcelona, Spain, and the Artist Colony residency at the Inside–Out Art Museum in Beijing, China. Herr’s work is now apart of the Inside–Out Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as having been exhibited in the United States and Chile. Daniel Herr lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Herr is currently part of a group exhibition at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Nocturne, on view from 10/3 to 10/28.

Small Business Spotlight: DoubWorks

Custom stretcher bars built in Joshua Doub's workshop. Photo courtesy of  DoubWorks Instagram

Custom stretcher bars built in Joshua Doub's workshop. Photo courtesy of DoubWorks Instagram

At Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, we like to consider the quality of the work our artists are producing in a holistic manner. Our artists place heavy importance of each detail that goes into creating their work, from the caliber of the paint to the stretcher bars that support the canvas. Stretchers are the foundation of a painting: their quality dictates its longevity and durability. For this reason, we were thrilled when we learned about DoubWorks a few years back.

DoubWorks is a small business founded in 2013 in Royalston, Massachusetts, dedicated to creating handcrafted artist materials. They build each product from scratch, creating high-quality stretchers. Primarily, they build custom stretcher bars - including uniquely shaped surfaces, such as circles or ellipses. Their stretcher bars are made of poplar, which is stronger than pine but weighs about the same. Poplar also grows on the east coast not too far from the shop, making it an environmentally friendly choice. All of the stretchers are milled completely in-house to assure straightness. Because of DoubWorks’ exceptional process of handcrafting products from the rough lumber to the finished item, their artist materials have become highly sought after by artists across the country. One of our own artists, Natalia Wróbel, uses DoubWorks for her canvases to ensure that her abstract oil paintings have the support and durability they deserve.

Natalia Wróbel using DoubWorks for her canvases

Founder Joshua Doub was first inspired to start DoubWorks when he desired higher quality canvases for his own work. Out of this need, the business grew organically as Josh began making and selling his custom canvases to other artists. Josh designed and built his entire workshop from the ground up, even harvesting the lumber from trees cut on the property. Josh worked with a master timber framer to construct the workshop's wooden frame and with the help of friends and family. His business is 100% powered by solar energy!

As you can tell, creating quality stretcher bars is its own art form!

Visit their website for more information:

Photo courtesy of Doubworks Instragram

The Contemporary Curator

As defined by the dictionary, a curator is, “a keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.” In the contemporary art world however, we take a different perspective on the roles and responsibilities that this job entails. As described by David Guerra, Director of AREA Gallery and our March 2016 curator of Dualisms, “A curator is a selector and a facilitator, but most importantly, is a connected author of critical narratives that creates social and cultural value.”

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

Installation View: The Awakening, November 2017

At Abigail Ogilvy gallery, owner and director Abigail Ogilvy Ryan and Assistant Director, Allyson Boli, typically take on the curatorial role, discovering new artwork that has yet to be exhibited and discussed in the Boston area. We seek out new points of view through guest curators, such as David Guerra (Dualisms), Meredyth Hyatt Moses (An Eclectic View), and Todd Pavlisko (Fuse). This coming February 2018, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is inviting curators, artists, and collectives to offer a new vision for our gallery, a crucial part of cultivating diverse perspectives in contemporary art.

Whether in a large museum or a small gallery, four things are crucial to the curatorial profession today: the preserving, selecting, connecting, and arranging of art. Every exhibition is more than just the artwork on a wall—it is a long and detailed process.

Preserving: An exhibition is usually based on a theme or topic. It is imperative that a curator chooses work that follows a central theme or starts a conversation with the viewer in some capacity. It is also important that the curator preserves the tradition and concept of the art. The challenge lies in showcasing the work to its fullest potential without glossing over the artist’s inscribed value. Whether a large group show, or a specific thematic exhibition, the curator should preserve the meaning of the artwork and ensure visitors can interact within the dialogue of the show.

Selecting: Once the theme or concept is established, the next step of a curator’s job is selecting the work. The curator can spends weeks, months, or even years during this phase of curation. They will contact artists and galleries, diligently visiting their studios or finding ways to view the work in person. This step includes immense research and discovery in order to learn about each artist’s background and portfolio. When the curator feels they have the right artists for their particular exhibition, they will begin discussions around getting the work to the exhibition space.

Connecting: Connecting the work to the art historical canon is another crucial element of curation. As the definition of contemporary art continues to expand, we must remember that all art is in some way a response to what came before it. The context of a piece must always be considered when building an exhibition. Once that connection is established, the curator will need to find a way to express this vision to visitors in the space.

Arranging: The final part of a curator’s job is to determine how the art they have selected will be arranged and displayed. Keeping the previous elements in mind, the curator must now utilize their own creativity in order to stay true to their theme and enable the art and the environment to become a cohesive experience and form a story. While many of us are used to the “white cube” model of experiencing an exhibition, there are hundreds of ways to display artwork in any given space.

Click to apply for February 2018 Curatorial Role

Art on the Vine: The New Collector's Toolbox

Starting your fine art collection can be an intimidating prospect. Walking into white-walled galleries and silent museums, where everyone already seems to know all of the lingo, can make the fine art world seem inaccessible.

When Jessica Stafford Davis began engaging in the art community, this is what she thought. Now, after spending years teaching herself about the fine arts world and becoming an experienced collector, Davis understands that art can be for anyone who seeks it out. In 2013, she founded The Agora Culture, an online platform dedicated to educating collectors with all levels of experience, and connecting them with the most promising up-and-coming artists of color.

The Agora Culture


A unique resource that The Agora Culture offers is classes on collecting: Art Basics 101. The course is designed to give new collectors a high-level instruction on the basics of engaging with the art community. It answers questions about viewing art: How should we interact with gallerists? What should we expect from a museum experience? What are some art fairs and Biennales worth attending? It opens a discussion about acquiring work once you’ve gotten a sense of what you want: How do we participate in an auction? How do we insure our purchases? What kinds of payment plans are offered by artists and galleries?

Jessica Stafford Davis, founder of The Agora Culture  Image Courtesy of The Agora Culture

Jessica Stafford Davis, founder of The Agora Culture
Image Courtesy of The Agora Culture

“Do your research,” Davis says immediately when asked about the most important advice for a new collector. “Read—there are great periodicals—Transition, ArtNews, Art in America, Art Forum. Use that to learn more about different artists and their practice.”

The Agora Culture is, in some ways, a research center in itself. If the course doesn’t answer all of your questions, its members are always available for one-on-ones. Part of Davis’ goals is to provide all of the knowledge she has accumulated open to everyone.


An important element Davis often found lacking in fine art communities was diversity. The lack of representation made certain spaces difficult for her to navigate. When she began The Agora Culture, she knew that it would be a space specifically for artists of color, so that she could put her resources into changing the climate and opening conversations about fine art to a larger demographic.

Art on the Vine 

This year, The Agora Culture launches its first ever major event, Art on the Vine, in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. It is a one-day, ticketed event taking place on August 16 from 1 – 8 pm. The event provides both an intimate art fair, with up-and-coming artists picked by The Agora Culture for their fresh successes and promising outlook, and a panel of seasoned collectors sharing their experiences.

Image Courtesy of Art on the Vine

Image Courtesy of Art on the Vine

Martha’s Vineyard

Davis chose Martha’s Vineyard for its active creative community, especially during its bustling summer months. She had vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard a few times and was impressed by its diversity and engagement. With its history of scholars, artists, and art collectors, it emerged as the ideal place to establish an annual event and a lasting relationship.

Talent on the Vine

The artists on the roster are all emerging talent sourced from all over the country. Nearly all have received MFA’s from premier arts institutions, and many have shown in museums, awarded fellowships and participated in residences. They are proud to feature work by artists such as Vanessa German, Mequitta Ahuja, David Antonio Cruz, Jamea Richmond Edwards—just to name a few. They are “investment-grade artists,”: artists whose work has a high potential of appreciation. Art on the Vine aims to connect these artists with collectors at the onset of their careers to form relationships that can benefit both artist and collector in the future.

Conversations About Collecting

The panel will feature two formidable collectors, with distinguished taste and experience:  Peggy Cooper Cafritz, a collector of African American fine art, and Bob and Faye Davidson, philanthropists and collectors of contemporary art. During this one-hour panel, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm, Cafritz and the Davidsons will share the wisdom they’ve gained in their years as collectors, and discuss the importance of supporting the arts.

The Residency

This is a completely non-profit event and all ticket proceeds will go towards the The Agora Culture’s AOTV Residency program, debuting in summer 2017 as a 4-week residency in Martha’s Vineyard. It will continue Art on the Vine’s relationship with the Martha’s Vineyard arts community and give one artist of color the opportunity to spend a month focused on their practice. 

 Art on the Vine will take place on Tuesday, August 16, from 1 – 8 pm. General and VIP Tickets are still available! Don’t miss this chance to participate in an open and informative  summer arts event.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016: Puloma Ghosh