Alaina Simone worked in several galleries, including the GR N’Namdi gallery, before becoming an artist liaison officer, curator and member of the board of directors. She approaches her interdisciplinary career with reverence and respect for the artists she works with and the clients she sells to, and draws on her own artistic training. “I grew up taking drawing, painting, piano and dance lessons as a kid,” she said.
Now Simone focuses on breaking down the barriers that have prevented new collectors from accessing art directly from artists and galleries, and speaks honestly about the ongoing issues within the industry that are holding back change. “Ultimately, it’s not about blackness. It’s about ‘greenness,’” she says. “It’s a business. The market idealizes how galleries deal with art consultants. It’s not about community; it’s about raw materials.
Too often, Simone said, black artists leave black-owned galleries to sign with larger, top-notch galleries. This creates a destructive cycle for black gallery owners who invest in and nurture artists early on only to see them leave as their careers and markets take off. “It would be nice if more black creators and consultants could benefit from the art of black artists, because they sell our culture in the process,” she said. “Generally, once an artist reaches a certain level, consultants are either sidelined or left out of conversations.”
According to Simone, remaining attached to black gallery owners and other champions of their work is in the interest of black artists who have themselves been systematically excluded from the art world and often erased from the pages of art history. “Artists hold more power than they realize,” she explained.