May 26, 2011
Aspen Times features gallery director, Jay Magidson
Former Aspen gallery owner changes gears … and says it’s a good thing
The Aspen Times
Jay Magidson, director of the Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt. Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times
BASALT — For 18 years, Jay Magidson existed near the upper rings of the contemporary art world. He had a gallery in downtown Aspen that bore his name — Magidson Fine Art. Magidson matched nationally known artists with collectors who could spend five figures on a piece of art.
Magidson’s circumstances have changed considerably since he closed Magidson Fine Art, in 2008. He still directs a gallery — only the name outside is not his own, but that of Ann Korologos, the gallery’s owner. His work address is in Basalt, not Aspen. Instead of dealing in contemporary art, Magidson works with traditional imagery of the American West — cows, Indians, mountain landscapes.
Perhaps the most dramatic shift is that he is no longer the big boss. Where he once answered to no one regarding his roster of artists or the direction of the gallery, Magidson now buys into the vision of Korologos, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor who only recently got into the business of selling art.
“I miss being the dictator — you’ve got to be honest about that,” he said one rainy afternoon at the Ann Korologos Gallery, which he has been directing for two years. “When it’s all yours, you don’t have to ask anybody. But it’s good to have somebody slow down the process. You get to fix the mistakes before they are mistakes.”
The decision to shut Magidson Fine Art seems to have been made with some degree of haste. Magidson notes that, as the recession began, he was probably the first Aspen business to go down. And he had no idea what was next in his career.
In Magidson’s eyes, this was no mistake. For one thing, the move downvalley has cut the commuting time from his home in Missouri Heights significantly — a major relief for the married father of two. The extra time has also been spent on writing a sci-fi novel that he has been in the works for years; Magidson vows it will be published no later than October.
On the professional side, Magidson has taken a sanguine view of the changes. He has expanded his knowledge of art, gained a newfound sense of what a gallery can offer, and learned the art of team play. And after occupying a relatively cramped space during the Magidson Fine Art years, he has a deep appreciation for the roomy dimensions of the Ann Korologos Gallery, located in the former Town Center Booksellers building.
“It’s a momentous improvement,” the 51-year-old said of the overall changes. “It’s amazing how much better it is. It’s funny how life smacks you around and then gives you a little gift.”
To be continued…