In Profile

Peter Colon

BY Sarah Schmerler, May 1, 2016

There are so many relationships that make the art world go ‘round – client-gallery, gallery-artist, curator-gallery, artist’s estate-curator. Some people see these roles as having clear borders; others, like DC Moore’s associate director and photography specialist Peter Colon, see them as being more porous and organic – an ecosystem in which the needs of all are openly, and symbiotically, met. “A gallery creates an identity for an artist in a way that is different from what an artist can do for him or herself. And each gallery, in turn, has its own identity. There are so many personalities, and each one is so specific, how do you benefit each other? I’m not a theorist; I’m not an art historian; but I believe it’s important to pay very close attention to what you’re writing and saying about the work. The key to keeping long-term relationships is to communicate very clearly, and to be honest with everyone, including yourself, about who you are.”

Colon grew up in Peekskill, New York, a twin, and the youngest in a family of five. The household was not necessarily artistic, but his mother (a pediatric nurse) and father (a mechanical engineer) supported Colon’s “creative making,” as well as his year abroad in high school in Japan. College, at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, in upstate New York, was the site of his real artistic discovery. Arriving with the intention of pursuing Asian studies, Colon took what he thought would be an easy studio class – Introduction to Drawing – and found it the most challenging of all. Nicholas H. Ruth, department chair (who would become a lifelong mentor), saw his worth. “I just want to tell you there’s going to be place for you in the art world,” he told Colon, “representing artists, including ones like me.”

Upon graduation, Colon got his first big break at Candace Dwan Gallery (then Candace Perich), where he helped to publish Finnish photographer Pentti Sammallahti’s first major monograph with Nazraeli Press. After pursuing a certificate in Project Management (PMP) at Boston University, Colon resumed gallery work: first came two years at Boston’s oldest gallery, Alpha Gallery, then a shift to the West Coast, where he was an associate at John Berggruen Gallery from 2005 to 2006. From 2006 until it closed in 2009, he was associate registrar at Hackett-Freedman. His former boss, Jaden Van Ekeren, recommended Colon to Fraenkel Gallery (Colon and Van Ekeren correspond by handwritten postcard every week, to this day), and Colon spent 2009 to 2013 at Fraenkel as artist liaison and project manager, doing extensive outreach to artists (Robert Adams and Katy Grannan, among them) and to other galleries – one of which was Matthew Marks, where he came to work in 2014 as associate director. A year and half ago, Colon came to DC Moore, a gallery known for its holdings of 20th-century painting. Prior to his arrival, the gallery had no point person for photography. Colon’s 46-photograph mini-retrospective of Ralph Eugene Meatyard (with whose estate Colon had long been liaising from his days at Fraenkel) helped put DC Moore on the map, photographically speaking. And on May 5, Colon will shepherd Duane Michaels’s debut of Sequences & Talking Pictures, a show of the artist’s first-ever films as well as 18 x 24-inch color chromogenic photographs. “Duane is really taking risks with this new body of work,” says Colon. “And we’re taking risks, too.”