Tiffany Benincasa, principal at C. Parker Gallery, the United States. Photo © Courtesy of the gallery

What is your gallery about and describe your vision and your role there?

I established the Gallery a decade ago, with a mission to connect art lovers, homeowners, and collectors to artists with a value-added approach that sets us apart. This is our 10th anniversary season of art, and C. Parker Gallery will be announcing a series of new initiatives and special programming to honor this milestone.

I am often told that my professional background sets us apart in the art world, in valuable ways that can be elusive to most gallery owners. I was originally in the Manhattan finance world (as a former Wall Street executive at UBS Investment Bank, J.P. Morgan & Co., and D.E Shaw & Co.).

My unique background serving investors, corporate leaders, and financial clients brings a different approach to the art equation, and many of these people are now art collectors and clients of the Gallery. They love this attention to service. These relationships I successfully forged with high-value customers, through my years on Wall Street, are also valuable to our artists.

Red Curtain, by Cristina Mittermeier, 2021, Galapagos

Our roster of artists tells me that this sets us apart from other galleries, because of these types of clients from the world of finance that I bring to the table ― people who trusted me for decades, steering financial portfolios for families and institutions. Transferring this success to the Gallery for the past decade has been one of the most rewarding and treasured experiences of my life.

One of the new initiatives we rolled out for our 10th-anniversary programming has been centered on the exhibition featuring Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier ― they are two of the world’s most celebrated nature photographers/conservationists of our generation. For their exhibition, the Gallery is honored to partner with the Town of Greenwich’s Conservation Commission, the Greenwich Shellfish Commission, and the Greenwich Point Conservancy: three prominent ecological leadership groups in the Tri-State area.

We also worked with the SoundWaters education initiative for this show, and are grateful for the support of Bank of America for the artists’ lecture event at the Bruce Museum. Together with this new alliance of community leaders, we are able to successfully extend the reach and visibility of these artists and their work, and their vital message through art to protect the planet. We will be announcing more initiatives with this strategic alliance of conservation commissions as the Gallery enters its second decade.

Ice Waterfall, by Paul Nicklen, 2014, Svalbard Norway

Can you describe your approach to curating exhibitions and selecting artists to feature in your gallery?

My passion has always been art. I love being a bridge for clients who know they want art in their living or corporate space but aren’t quite certain about how to go about doing it. We all relate to art in different ways, whether it is a specific artist, medium, or style. I listen carefully to what objectives clients have. I help provide knowledge and transparency to the art buying process.

I wanted to create an engaging and value-added business (similar to my successful career on Wall Street). People want to understand the art business more, but to many, it can seem to be a very opaque landscape that they don’t know how to navigate. My intention is to help clients learn more about the art world so that they can make more confident decisions, and to continue to establish our Gallery’s impeccable reputation for integrity. We also strive for our collectors, and our artists, to have some fun along the way!

My gallery came about because I’m a passionate art collector, a lifelong student, and someone who likes to create and share new knowledge. Many of our Gallery shows feature artists whose works I fell in love with, and I wanted to share their stories. I appreciate artists who are creating amazing work, and at the same time are giving back and making our world a better place.

Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier these world-famous artists/conservation champions have created some of the most iconic wildlife images of our modern-day culture. They are internationally acclaimed for harnessing the majestic beauty of their images to inspire change on our planet, via their 12 million followers worldwide. Their nature photographs are included in some of the world’s most important private collections and have been featured by major national media including National Geographic and TIME Magazine.

Gallery installation, Mira Lehr exhibition

Exhibiting their work during our tenth anniversary year provided an incredible opportunity to witness the beauty of nature in an intimate and personal way, to share their important message, and join their mission advocating for greater conservation and environmental awareness.

Mira Lehr is an artist that I knew I wanted to present to our clients. Her career spanned seven decades, from the 1950s to her recent passing in January of 2023. I had the honor of presenting the final exhibition that Lehr personally participated in. I was thrilled to have been invited by Lehr to her home studio in Miami Beach during Art Basel in December of 2022 so that together we could select which paintings she would show at our exhibition in Greenwich in 2023.

Our show featured some of the last paintings she ever created. Lehr was an incredible woman and a pioneer in what was mainly a male-dominated industry. The New York Times referred to Mira Lehr as an eco-feminist artist, and as “The Godmother of Miami’s Art Scene”.

She co-founded in 1961 one of the country’s first-ever artist co-ops for women artists, which was something completely unheard of sixty years ago. Her passion for using her art to raise awareness about climate change goes all the way back to 1969 when Lehr was one of only two artists selected by Buckminster Fuller for his visionary World Game project in New York (this was a year before the very first Earth Day).

Orion’s Belt, by Mira Lehr, 2023 (one of the last paintings the artist ever completed)

How do you balance the commercial aspects of running a successful gallery with your passion for promoting and supporting artists and their work?

I think my prior work experience helped a lot. Working on a global financial trading desk prepared me well to be able to make a difference in a way that is unique in the art world. I have been told that this might be one of my superpowers. I love what I do – all aspects. I enjoy both the business element of the gallery, alongside the creative side of curating exhibitions and connecting our artists with collectors. 

I think my enthusiasm and energy for both sides of the business make it all stand out more. I love it when an experienced collector comes in and we are able to connect them with new artists they love. We also get to help first-time collectors who have lived with empty walls because they don’t know how to navigate the art market. Helping them curate an exquisite collection of which they are quite proud, as am I, provides a great element of satisfaction.

What role do you see technology playing in the future of the art world and the gallery experience?

Great question for me, as my background in the financial world, was deeply immersed in the technological side, from my first job working at D. E. Shaw to my role on the quantitative desks at JP Morgan and UBS. Our renowned financial teams were always proud to bring new technologies to the forefront of the financial markets.

Technology is already playing such an important role in the art world and the gallery experience and will continue to do so. I think while it augments and enhances the gallery experience in new ways, tech cannot totally replace the in-person gallery experience.

Parenthod, by Paul Nicklen, 2011, Ross Sea, Antartica

We are experiential beings, so a traditional gallery remains important for people to find their own personal connection whether it be the image, texture, brushstrokes, the interplay with different mediums and light, or meeting the artist at an opening reception and sharing the group experience among other art lovers viewing the exhibition together.

In the overall art market, we will continue to see technology’s expansion in the digital art market – including digital installations, and the realms of augmented and virtual realities. I feel confident that somehow artists will creatively lead the way across these new pathways, and via the artists’ creativity this is how we will all benefit the most.

How do you stay current on industry trends and developments, and what resources do you turn to for inspiration and guidance in your role as a gallery owner?

I love reading, so I avidly read everything I can… books by art critics, press coverage, and news editorials about the marketplace and about the art world. I seek out trends that are occurring across all different types of verticals too, as a way to look ahead and see how they might influence the art market and art-buying behaviors.

I am always incorporating new information, and willing to learn. My joy of learning helps me be more inquisitive, and to continue questioning ― it is always important to listen to my clients and to learn from them as well.

I think being a woman business owner and having traveled an unconventional path to the art world, this means that I bring a new perspective to the business. Taking the bold step ten years ago of pivoting to working with art full-time has enriched my life in ways I could never have imagined.

The Traveler, by Cristina Mittermeier, 2020, Bahamas
Astrapia, by Cristina Mittermeier, 2016, Papua, New Guinea

I am so grateful to be able to work with artists and collectors. They continue to impact the way I look at the world. For me, art is the key that opens new doorways in my life.

Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist Twitter  Instagram


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