ISSUE 2 | VOLUME 6 | September-October 2013    

Ideas, Stories, Events and Careers

Good Market? No Eye Contact!

The old adage is that if you are snubbed by the chilly gallery receptionist then it must be a booming art market holds true for many gallery visitors today, and has become a cliché. But what may generate laughs on "Ab Fab" or "Gallery Girls" may hurt business in real life.

The staff at the desk is often quite literally the face of the gallery, the first person collectors and the public see and reflects the culture of the organization. Bored, alienated, unresponsive and underpaid staff members are not likely to give clients and the public a positive experience no matter how amazing and significant the exhibition on view may be.

Some gallery owners, however, are changing the equation. Our client, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, wanted to ensure that anyone entering their Chelsea Gallery would feel immediately welcome and be greeted by a staff member who is positive and knowledgeable about the Gallery, its programs and artists - so they created the front desk position of Client & Visitor Services Associate. Even the title of the position reflects a high level of engagement and responsiveness. We are pleased that we recently placed Suzanne Smeaton in that role; she brings a wealth of art world knowledge and accomplishments to the Gallery. Formerly gallery director at Eli Wilner & Company, Suzanne helped pioneer the study and connoisseurship of American period frames and is acknowledged as an organized, personable, articulate professional who forges excellent relationships with clients, staff and management. This unique and enlightened approach to hiring ensures an informative and meaningful experience and inspires dialogue with clients as well as curators, artists, critics and the public. An engaged and proactive employee is essential and builds value on both sides of the front desk. It's just good business!


Our new series Client/Candidate examines job search and recruitment questions from both sides of the equation!

client candidate

Working with a Recruitment Firm: Why, When, How:

WHY: Client

  • An agency that understands the arts & culture industry can be your recruitment partner for everything from refining the position description to negotiating compensation
  • An agency reviews resumes and performs initial interviews, focusing on top-level candidates and keeping the resume pool a reasonable size
  • An agency takes references and verifies resume details so that the candidates you see are pre-vetted
  • An agency is vital for managing a confidential search — for whatever reason you need to do so

WHY: Candidate

  • An agency can match you up with specific opportunities based on your employment profile, level of experience and interests
  • An agency can assist you with the interview process: how to best present yourself and your resume
  • An agency can advocate for you, interacting with and providing feedback from the potential employer
  • An agency can assist you in negotiating compensation and other incentives

WHEN: Client

  • Time-driven searches move faster with an agency to create an almost immediate resume pool and a structure for the search as a whole
  • Budget-conscious organizations can work with an agency on a contingency basis — the placement fee is due only if you hire a candidate presented to you by the agency
  • Consider a reputable agency who understands your needs as a source of advice and help

WHEN: Candidate

  • It's always a good idea to establish a relationship with an agency even if you're not looking at present
  • An agency can alert you to opportunities that are not published in the usual online and other job sources
  • Work with an agency sensitive to the arts & culture industry and to your aspirations for your career

HOW: Client

  • Contact several agencies to understand their practices, fees and how they recruit candidates — and if they understand your business
  • Discuss the job description, benefits, range of compensation and details on incentives and provide a list of contacts who will be managing the search
  • Clarify any issues related to the search: is it confidential, are there possible internal candidates, could the role involve more than one hire, do we need to restructure roles or departments
  • Review a timeline for the search that will allow for some flexibility but which will keep the process moving forward

HOW: Candidate

  • Send the agency a resume, cover letter and contact information for at least 3 references
  • Let the recruiters know what specific job you're applying for; or, if there is no specific position listed that suits, what sorts of jobs you'd be most interested in that match your experience and your goals
  • Be transparent about your current situation, expectations and where and how you are conducting your job search overall

A list of notable news, openings and programs for September and October.


We Work with the Best!

Kudos to our clients who were deemed one of the "500 Best Galleries Worldwide" in Art Info's International Arts & Culture Newsletter, August 26, 2013:

Sean Kelly
Galerie Lelong
Hirschl & Adler
Lehmann Maupin
Marianne Boesky
Mnuchin Gallery
Paul Kasmin
Marian Goodman

Secrets of 6 East 39th Street...Stickley and Us!

Thomas & Associates, Inc., has long believed in location as the cornerstone of a solid business presence in New York...and as it turns out, our own offices are located in a major landmark in the history of American architecture and décor!

6 East 39th Street is a remarkable "Chicago School" building developed by the designer and architect Gustav Stickley as the Craftsman Building, combining offices and department store space. Our offices are located on the 12th floor of this dignified circa 1913 building, where a full floor restaurant in the Craftsman style was previously located. Read more about the building here:

Famed for his creation of an aesthetic that stressed natural materials, abstract or minimal decoration and bold geometric forms, Stickley was a contemporary of other major American proto-modernists, such as the architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. His furniture was extremely popular in the 1890s and shares characteristics with similar designs by Wright and the Brothers Greene in Pasadena, CA. His own home in Morris Plains, NJ, is open as a museum of architecture and decorative art:

The striking interior shown in the linked article no longer exists, but the 100-year old Craftsman Building is still a reminder of a time when the neighborhood was full of architect's offices and art galleries and was advertised as THE place to shop in Manhattan. Thanks to Tim Gleason, furniture, decorative arts and Stickley expert, for revealing our historic location to us. Who knew?


About Thomas & Associates, Inc. /
Celebrating our 10th Anniversary serving the global arts community, Thomas & Associates, Inc. is an innovative firm with offices in New York City that offers staffing, consulting, career services and training programs for museums, non-profit organizations, and arts and culture businesses nationwide. In addition to permanent placement and executive search, Thomas & Associates also provides temporary and interim personnel at all levels and has recently launched its career advisory division and outplacement services to address the needs of arts and culture professionals everywhere.

Please contact us at 212-779-7059, or visit our website at for more information on our firm and our services.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Thomas & Associates, Inc. | 40 West 37th Street - Penthouse A, New York, NY 10018
Phone 212.779.7059 | email