LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- What started with a pop-up exhibition in a defunct auto parts store in Mamaroneck has turned into a full-fledged business -- 22 years and counting -- for Kenise Barnes of Kenise Barnes Fine Art and Consulting Inc .
The Larchmont resident credits her success to steely determination.
Said Barnes: "In a real way this is what sustained the business not only through the financial crisis but before that, in the wake of 9/11, and through an assortment of other personal and financial challenges."
A former specialist in charge of Contemporary Art at Christie's East in Manhattan, Barnes, then a young mother new to Westchester, built her company as a small part-time consulting business for friends.
But with so much word of mouth -- and interest -- she soon outgrew her home office. Thanks to money from the pop-up she eventually moved to a small space on Palmer Avenue in Larchmont and later, in 2013, to her current spot further up the street.
And though it was never her intention to mount exhibitions or maintain inventory, it immediately became evident that that portion of the business was necessary. "The essential nature of art is experiential and it is vital to see work in person," explained Barnes.
"Even now with digital images and the ability to relay information in a split second or Photoshop images into our collectors' boardrooms and living rooms, nothing replaces seeing art in person."
So, she began to curate shows. Before long she had a gallery -- located just a mile from her home -- which suited her ad hoc business model (and life as a mom).
With her growing reputation -- from both the collector and art side -- she soon found herself both consulting, hosting exhibits, and representing a wealth of artists from around the country. It's a job she takes both seriously -- often working 60 hour-plus weeks -- as well as finds immensely gratifying.
Still, after 22 years in business, she said most folks don't know the depth of her program. Nor are they aware she has a huge on-site warehouse on her gallery's lower level where she inventories more than 2,000 works of art by 50-plus artists at all times.
At her space in Larchmont she mounts 10 (ish) exhibitions a year. Of particular note: A celebration of the 50th anniversary of "The Summer of Love" with an exhibition of the same title that will open on July 13.
Among her consulting gigs -- working with auction houses and with collectors -- she also helps purchase art for the permanent collections of area hospitals, including Memorial Sloane Kettering, Montefiore Medical Center, White Plains Hospital, New York Presbyterian, and NYU Langone Medical Center.
Barnes credits her enthusiastic and dedicated staff to her success and the many arms of her business. She also loves the buzz and energy of art in the tristate area and the many wonderful collectors she's discovered in Westchester.
"What began small idea in a convenient location has sustained my love of art and artists for more than two decades," she said.
"I love walking in Larchmont in the evenings and catching glimpses of our beautiful paintings in their homes or being told how much enjoyment art brings our collectors every day."
Kenise Barnes Fine Art Consulting Inc. is at 1947 Palmer Ave, (914) 834-8077, www.kbfa.com/ .
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