AN INTERVIEW WITH SARA ROBERTSON - JB GALLERY
Sara Robertson recently opened JB Gallery in Loomis, CA, with the goal of bringing more arts to the Placer County community.
The gallery features a selective variety of national artists, including some California-based artists. I’m honored to have several of my pieces on display at the gallery and have enjoyed getting to know Sara and her husband, Scot, who live part time in Loomis each year. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Sara and learned a little more about her journey, her gallery concept, and thoughts on how to select artwork for your home or business. Here are some excerpts from the interview…
Maria: Sara, thank you for taking the time to share with us today! Your life has been a busy one over the last year, with your continued work at galleries in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, opening a new gallery in Loomis, and getting married. Tell us a little about your background and how you got into the art world.
Sara: 2022 was a very full and fun year! My career has certainly evolved over the last 45 years. I consider myself a general designer but I started as a Landscape Architect. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Cornell and a Master’s Degree from Harvard. I practiced in a few architecture firms in Boston, and when my first child was born I started a partnership that operated for 17 years, shifted to a sole practice for 10 years. But all that time my personal interest was public art. When I turned 50 I decided to follow my dream and be directly involved in the art world (I come from a family of artists); so I enrolled in the Arts Administration Master’s Program at Boston University. When I graduated I worked for, and with, a variety of performing and visual arts non-profits which segued into working in private art galleries. For the last 15 years I have split my time between a gallery in Boston and one on Martha’s Vineyard.
Maria: You call yourself a “part time” resident of Loomis, CA, living here half of the year and in Martha’s Vineyard for the other half. What attracted you to the area and what led you to open an art gallery here?
Sara: Well, it sounds corny, but I followed a guy who captured my heart. He has a daughter who is a student at Del Oro High School here in Loomis, so we decided to spend part of each year here, to be with her as she finishes up high school.
Maria: JB Gallery has such an amazing selection of work by national artists, which is a great addition to the Sacramento area arts scene. Can you tell us about some of the main artists that are in the gallery?
Sara: Thank you for commenting on the selection, they are amazing artists and I feel really honored to represent them. Interestingly many of the artists are from California and several are local – and I really love being able to share this with visitors! I’ve worked with many of the artists for years through the Boston gallery I felt it was important to have a range of work – 2D, 3D, original and limited edition. And I wanted to include a selection of “wearable art” as well. Curating a range of artwork and a range of price points was critical to making the gallery feel inclusive and approachable.
Several of the artists are my personal favorites, people whose work I actually own too. There are a few artists who I was fortunately directed to – such as you (Maria Marriott) for photography and Mike Riegel for sculpture. Both of you are local and brought a needed range to the work exhibited in the gallery.
I felt there were too few places locally to see and buy great artwork, such as what you’d encounter in some of the San Francisco galleries, and it felt like a good opportunity to open a different type of gallery here.
"BUY WHAT YOU LOVE."
Maria: Art can be such a subjective taste; and I think it isn’t really possible to make blanket statements about what is “good” or not because interpretations and emotions often drive someone’s affinity for a certain piece of art. But you work as an art consultant, helping people pick out the perfect pieces of art for their homes; and you have a lot of experience from years managing galleries. How do you go about advising someone in selecting the artwork that best fits them and their lifestyle?
Sara: This is such an important question and comes up a lot. It is truly a process when you are helping someone select art. Of course, sometimes someone comes in and immediately falls in love at first sight – and this is really the best situation because at the end of the day art is about being in love with the piece. If someone asks me about buying art as an investment my only answer is to buy what you love. Sounds simple but it is very true.
Maria: You’ve studied art administration, so you have a solid understanding of art and the business of art. With all the history and quantity of art and artists, it can seem a little intimidating to someone who appreciates art and wants to learn a little more about collecting. How can someone who is interested in learning more about art start to develop their appreciation and understanding? Have you come across any good resources?
Sara: The irony about art being intimidating is that artists are generally so sensitive and so eager to have their work seen! The best advice I have for someone interested in learning about art is to get out and see as many examples as you can. Go to museums and galleries and art fairs to see professional and amateur artists - and try to push yourself to go see artwork which you might not like or that makes you uncomfortable.
Also, whenever possible try to talk to the artists themselves and ask as many questions as possible about why and how they do their work. It’s great to narrow down what you like, but try to keep an open mind. There are also some great documentaries on artists on YouTube and Netflix.
I find that, beyond the purely visual aspect of every piece, there is always the story behind it - and learning the story adds so much context to the artwork.
Maria: If you could have any piece of art in the world on display in your house, what would it be?
Sara: Hmmmm – this is a tough one – I’m not sure I would ever be able to have just one piece.
Maria: Sara, thank you so much for your time, answering my questions, and all of the interesting information you’ve provided. Do you have any final thoughts for us as we wrap up today?
Sara: There are two important people who need recognition and mention here for inspiring and helping me take JB gallery from an idea to a real place. The first is my husband, Scot Tiesing, who encouraged me, pushed me and helped me make the physical space happen. Scot shares my passion for art - he’s a woodworker and artist himself with a keen eye for design and the know-how to transform a space. The second is my mom, Jeannine Boynton, who the gallery is named for. She passed away in sept ‘21 at 92 from Alzheimer’s. She was an ardent art lover and patron of the arts and instilled in me, as a child, a lasting love for art.
Thank you for the questions – this has been a great dialogue. We are having frequent events at the gallery, including wine tastings and other gatherings, which you can learn about by calling or contacting us through the website. We’d love to see as many people as possible stop by.
I encourage you to take the time to visit JB Gallery in downtown Loomis, CA and meet Sara. She has curated a great selection of art from national contemporary artists that you wouldn’t normally encounter in Placer County. Even better, let me know when you are stopping by so I can (possibly) meet you there.
All the best,
An equestrian for most of her life, Maria combines her passion for horses with her art and the desire to bring public awareness to the American wild horses. Maria Marriott Photography is a proud supporter of several non-profit organizations that tirelessly work to ensure the well-being of the American mustangs.