The Art of the Interview: Badir McCleary, Art Consulting

Badir McCleary, an Alumni of Sotheby's Art Institute, is an art consultant and curator. His new enterprise, Art Above Reality, is getting off the ground. He focuses on the Vision, History and People and the purpose he set for himself. Read our latest interview with curator and art consultant Badir McCleary and his inspiring latest enterprise!

Your platform mention being an arts agency that focuses on vision, history, and people – can you tell us more about your vision for your art agency?
Vision, History and People. Those are the three points that connect what I call the ABCs of the art world. Artists, Businesses and Collectors. Every one of them has a vision for their creation. Whether it be a masterpiece in the form of a painting or sculpture, a prominent space that houses that creativity, or a budding collector looking to preserve those creations through history and time, being the guardian of these works. I also like to discuss the history of the objects, the market, and the collector’s engagement with the arts as a baseline of what services to provide and understand or even clarify their goals. The people are what matter. They are the most important part of that trifecta. Art is about emotions, experiences, and education. Humanity is continually rediscovered through its art-making. The way people create, collect, and experience work can really define a generation. 

What pivotal conversations do you hope to foster with artabovereality.art?
I hope to bring awareness to the creative side of arts and the business and collecting side which most people do not get to see. I have been fortunate to be on all sides of the art world triangle and have seen many best practices from artists, curators, gallerists, and collectors that I believe should be a part of a knowledge base on how to navigate the art world and art markets. 

There is a lot of content on your website, interviews, reviews, discussions and more – why do you feel that content creation is important? Do you qualify it of knowledge sharing or as an educational tool? 
Both! I am glad that you see that. One of the things that helped me grow as a consultant and advisor is being able to case study environments and pick out what works and what does not as far as it relates to my business goals. Then I look at how someone who knows nothing about art and wants to learn would search through a site like mine for that information. I wanted to it be easy to find and clear so that getting caught up and participating would not be as much of a learning curve when you just dive right in. By showing your firsthand experiences in the field, clients and appreciators alike would respect your perspective in the area because they have seen your work and are familiar with your success methods.  

Is there a project you are particularly attached to and why? 
I am working on developing a campus where art, technology, history, and education are the focus. Allowing space for subject matter experts to expand on ideas and create projects that not only look aesthetically pleasing but can be an asset to society. I hope to work with artists and institutions to bridge the gap and help build a pleasant working relationship between institutions and the working creative of all mediums. 

There are many services that your agency is offering – how do you all see them working together? Is there a connection in your mind between all of them? 
I have been blessed to work in many facets of the art world (as I mentioned earlier) and understand certain ABCs’ needs and milestone points (Artists, Business, Collection). I am ready to service clients’ needs the whole way or be a liaison to the services they need at the time. 

What is your favourite fair or art event in the Art World, and why?
Well, it used to be Art Basel Miami. Still, it has completely changed into Coachella or a party scene that ends up producing parties with bad, high priced art, and the opportunities because less and more expensive for the creators that should be participating. It is not about art anymore.

What is the most important thing that you learned since you started Gallery 38 in 2015?
That running a gallery is not just putting up objects in a white cube; it is an actual business. My initial reason for opening the space was to help our friends and artists we love to get shows. Over time, we had to quickly learn the responsibility and fiduciary duties that come with representing artists. You must understand where you are in the ecosystem and what you can provide. It is a humbling experience and leads me to go back to graduate school to refine my skills and add new ones so that I am better prepared to manage and assist in the development of artists and arts businesses. 

You elected to go to Sotheby’s Art Institute – how do you see your education? What did it bring you?
Access. In the art world, the access, unfortunately, lies in affiliation. Sotheby’s Institute of Art was a valuable experience as it allowed me to sharpen my skills. I was also introduced to the business side through accounting and finance through my professors, and that really opened my mind to seeing the gallery business in a new light. I also had the chance to live overseas (London) and study contemporary art and art history for half a year, which was one of the best times of my life.  

There are many words spoken and written about art schools and art education – so let me dig a little deeper in this. How do you see your first degree, in Internet Computing where you focused on e-commerce and digital trends working with your second degree a MA in Art Business?
It is amazing how those two worlds are really merging right now as blockchain and digital art are really taking the stage in the past year. NFT’s have become valuable products, and Virtual Galleries have become the main points of sale for many art businesses that have had to close their doors because of the pandemic. Both degrees prepare me immensely for competing in the space and assisting others in merging their business into a digital environment. 

Do you have one piece of advice for new collectors?
Buy what you love. That is always the right investment. Ask every question you have. Read articles about art and the market. 

Do you have one piece of advice for artists?
Do what is in your heart. Understand your audience. Seek out mentors. Read Art History. Read current events. Try everything. Understand what is happening around you. Network. 

You choose a .ART for your domain name, why was that important to you? What are the reasons behind that decision?
It changes people’s intentions and expectations of the content they are going to encounter on the site. I want visitors to the ArtAboveReality.art to know they are entering a creative space and should approach the content. Feeling free to include ideas on articles or exhibitions and be able to reach out with any comments or questions. The art domain is an addition to my website’s branding. 

What do you hope to see in 2021 in the art world?
Museums understanding what their roles are in the art ecosystem and properly identifying them, Incubator and Mid-Tier Galleries getting more press in major publications about emerging art programming, a reduction in the amount of Art Fairs but exhibiting higher quality programming, and collectors diversifying their collections with artists of all races, genders, career status, and price points. 


THE BLITZ  

  • The most significant influence in your life (person, theory, model…) My Mother. 
  • An object you can’t live without My MacBook. 
  • When I say “art”, what if your first thought?  Possibility. 
  • What is your idea of happiness? – An Opportunity. 
  • Your favourite art moment? – Way too many to single out. 
  • A myth you would like to debunk?That Balck Curators only curate Black focused exhibitions 
  • What should the art world be more of and less of? – More Inclusive, Less Commercial 

More about Badir

Badir McCleary is a full-service art consultant and curator focused on providing specialized professional art services emphasising Modern and Contemporary Art. He holds an M.A. in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art (Los Angeles and London) where he focused primarily on understanding and creating art markets. 

He assists in facilitating primary and secondary market art acquisitions and sales for beginning and seasoned collectors. He is an extension of his clients, providing strategy based on their personal goals, and simultaneously protecting their interests while preserving their privacy. 

With informative research and education through cultural exhibitions and timely strategy, he hopes to educate artists and patrons on a growing cultural marketplace and to introduce underrepresented neighbourhoods to fine art programming. 


Visit Badir’s .ART website to know more about Art Above Reality and follow him on social media @ArtAboveReality

evlyne Laurin
evlyne Laurin
From Creative Chaos Manager, a term she coined, she expanded her horizons as a Creative Legacy Advisor and Fine Art Appraiser. Her mission is to contribute to the arts and make as many artists succeed and flourish as possible. evlyne has the worst phobia of pigeons, loves the colour orange and sparkling water! Avid traveller and foodie, you can connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram.