How Three Strangers Came Together During COVID for an “Explosive” Partnership
Being a painter is a lonely profession by its very nature: painting during the last two years of pandemic isolation posed specific challenges, but also opportunities. Thanks to Instagram, Zoom, YouTube, and the human need for others, a new gallery has been formed in these unusual circumstances.
It started when Ithaca-based abstract artist Barbara Mink had been following a few painters whose styles and output were similar to hers: large scale, bold, painterly abstracts ( as Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”) Barbara has a successful home gallery but little online traffic from her website. COVID isolation and cancelled art shows meant a dearth of conversation about not only technique but making a living as a painter, marketing, and all those exchanges that we used to take for granted.
She reached out to several women artists on Instagram whose work she admired as well as an art writer, to see if they wanted to meet on Zoom and talk. They did, and the monthly confabs were a great way to make virtual friends and peers.
Then Collage artist, Susan Washington had an idea.
Susan, who has a background in the New York fashion industry, lived and worked as a collage artist and painter in the Poconos. She had hosted a now-retired online gallery called NITRO and in the Spring of 2021 when she relocated to Baltimore, thought it might be worth reviving an online space in order to move into gallery aggregators like Artsy. She contacted another member of the group, Canadian Abstract Artist, Lori Mirabelli based in Toronto, who had a lot of experience in online and brick-and-mortar galleries, to sound out the idea. Lori contacted Barbara, and the three started to work on the new Nitro Gallery.
Lori had been in the social worker field for many years, but once she retired has devoted her time not only to painting but to learning everything there was to know about SEO rankings, keywords, and general online marketing skills.
The three women bring different skills to the table on top of producing beautiful abstract fine art: Barbara is a communications professional; Susan is an entrepreneur and widely networked; and Lori is an expert in online marketing and international sales. But most of all they share an entrepreneurial spirit, they’re “closers”, and are generous with expertise and support.
The brick-and-mortar Nitro Gallery will be based in part of a revived Baltimore industrial building and open to the public by appointment, but the artists’ work will be featured extensively on www.nitrogallery.com.