by Aaron Smith
A refreshing conversation with Ellen Chisdes Neuberg, Founder and owner of the Gallerie Chiz.
An international art gallery in Pittsburgh. How was this idea born?
My friends had often told me that I should open an art gallery and it was something that always interested me. I wanted to show art that was more than what the Pittsburghers normally see from their local artists, since this is a fairly small city.
What is the origin of the gallery name Chiz?
It’s simply my nickname. It comes from my maiden name, Chisdes. Everyone used to call me Chiz.
Which year did this adventure start?
1995, twenty-one years ago.
And you started from a very unique venue.
The space was a laundromat. It is 2,000 square feet organized in three levels. It was difficult, but fun, to transform it into an art gallery.
From the beginning to now, how has the art market changed?
Twenty years ago, there were many more galleries. It has become challenging to keep up with a more technically oriented society. We still believe, however, that there are buyers for good art.
What is your strategy to bring visitors and collectors to your gallery?
I personally choose each art piece that we exhibit. We have FirstFriday ArtWalks every month, and opening receptions for each show with live music, food, and lots of people. We offer a gift registry all year long and a membership opportunity during the first two months of each year. We have occasional artist demonstrations/talks as well. Our mailing list consists of approximately 6,000 people and we are active on social media too.
What are the featured artists that you represent?
Jacopo Degl’Innocenti from Italy. Jeonghan and Choonhyang Yun, originally from South Korea. Manuela Holban, originally from Romania. Masha Archer originally from the Ukraine. Alfonso De Windt from Aruba. These are a few of the international artists that we represent. We also represent many artists from the United States, including Daniel Belardinelli, Doreen Baskin, Peter Calaboyias, Bill Miller, and many more.
You told us that you personally choose each artist. Could you tell us an original meeting?
Par example, I met JAPA (Jacopo Degl’lnnocenti) in New York in front of the MoMA a few years ago and he has been showing his work here ever since. We carry his drawings, paintings, and “Imaginary People”. I also met Alfonso De Windt on a trip to Aruba many years ago. I was introduced to the work of Philippe Derville (now deceased) through a mutual friend from France when he had a show at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.
A real stroke of lightning. Do you exclusively carry fine art or are you open also to fashion and design?
We handle a lot of beautiful jewelry by many different artists, as well as other artist-designed wearable art. In addition, we carry handmade books, cards, and art furniture.
Projects for the future?
We are interested in doing more of what we have been doing these past 21 years. We are always seeking new people who make art as well as new ideas for future exhibitions and installations.