Lesley Heller Q&A

Lesley Heller (b. 1961) Miami, Florida. Lives in Rye, NY and is a mother of two children (ages 17 and 20). She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, worked on Wall Street and in commercial banking, and five years later, received her M.A. in Arts Administration from Columbia University.

Her first job in the arts was as a Director’s assistant at Pace Gallery in NYC. A year and a half later, upon realizing that she wanted to create her own non-profit arts space, Lesley left Pace to establish The Work Space, located in the law offices of Dolgenos Newman & Cronin in Manhattan’s bustling SoHo district. She was the Director and Curator there for 10 years before opening her own commercial gallery on the Upper East Side in 2006. Since January 2010, the Lesley Heller Workspace has been located on the Lower East Side on Orchard Street.

Lesley Heller Workspace highlights the work of emerging and mid career artists through a program of concurrent solo and curated exhibitions in two separate spaces within the gallery. To further engage the art viewing public the gallery hosts public openings, artist talks, poetry readings and other events.

Lesley Heller is also an independent curator.


How did you get started in the art world?

I started as a modern dancer and went to Columbia University for a Masters in Arts Administration. My first job was at The Pace Gallery as a director's assistant.  I learned about art history and how galleries work while working at Pace.

What was the first art work you purchased?

I purchased a print by Joel Shapiro from Paula Cooper while in college.

What do you think about selling art online and the future of the art world?

Selling art on line is becoming increasingly popular but  I always encourage clients to see a work of art in person before making a final decision.  

Do you think selling art online will make galleries eventually obsolete or just more specialized?

I think that the two work hand in hand and are complementary.  Clients can get a first impression of a work of art on line, but should experience it in person before making a purchase.  Looking at a work of art on line does not give you the full feeling of the piece. Its surface and details and even the color are not the same as when seen in person.   

What advice would you give your emerging artists? 

They should spend a lot of time going to galleries and learning what each gallery's program is like before approaching a dealer to look at their work.

What is your advice to young collectors?

Young collectors should look at a lot of art before making a purchase as their eye will improve over time.  They should buy what they love as they will be living with it for a long time.

Do you think art websites provide a different platform that can't always be reached in a gallery or auction house?

It’s a great way for those interested in art to see what’s going on in other cities and perhaps for those intimidated by walking into a galley to begin to look at art.