Monday, June 7, 2010

St. Louis native will help find the Next Great Artist'

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn might have been born to judge Bravo's "Work of Art," a reality-competition search for "The Next Great Artist." The St. Louis native, daughter of gallery owner Ronald Greenberg and author-art educator Jan Greenberg, has been surrounded by art her entire life.
Artists, too. When she was a child, famous artists often stayed at the Greenberg home while showing their work in St. Louis.
"I didn't realize this was anything out of the ordinary," she says.
In retrospect, though, not every kid spends an evening in the powder room with Andy Warhol.
This was 1976, and Jeanne was 9 or 10. Preparing for an exhibit at the Greenberg Gallery, then in Clayton, Warhol "sent his Purple Mao wallpaper and told my father to paper the gallery with it, that it would be the entire exhibit."
While talking Warhol into putting up other pieces as well, Ronald Greenberg "brought some of the paper home and wallpapered our downstairs powder room with it." When the Greenbergs gave a party for Warhol, "I spent the evening with him in that powder room as he signed Campbell's soup cans. He drew me a banana, the Velvet Underground banana. He was a lovely, shy man."
Rohatyn graduated from Mary Institute in 1985 and studied art history at Vassar College, doing graduate work at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. After working as a curator, traveling the world to help assemble major exhibitions of contemporary art, she settled down in New York and became an art adviser and art dealer.
Today, her Salon94 offers a "furnished domestic environment" for exhibiting the work of emerging and midcareer artists. Upstairs on Manhattan's Upper East Side is her actual home, where she lives with husband Nicholas Rohatyn and their three children. A second Salon94 is open, with a third due in September.
Busy balancing work and family, Rohatyn hadn't seen any of Bravo's reality-competition shows when old friend Andy Cohen asked her to advise on a new one.
At first, she just helped with problem-solving, but she was so good at it that Cohen, Bravo's senior vice president of programming and production, asked her to join the judging panel for the show, alongside gallery owner Bill Powers and New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz.
The role feels natural, Rohatyn says.
"It's what I do every day - judge art," she says. "We're just doing it in front of cameras."
She's excited about the level of talent in the 14 competitors, who range from painters to print makers to people using materials in innovative ways.
"Looking at art is typically very private," Rohatyn says. "The experience is a personal one. But here, we're all sharing our ideas out loud, and the television viewers will have their opinions, too."
"Work of Art" will also give viewers insight into how art is made, Rohatyn says: "Normally, we're not invited into the process, but here, we're welcomed in to see the process, the frustrations, the mistakes - and the positives that come out of it all."

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