March 27th, 2022
Any collector of Gallery MAR is likely to be well acquainted with our wonderful gallery owner, Maren Mullin. However, just as many of our collectors are likely to be familiar with our incredible gallery manager, Eileen Treasure. This year, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating and congratulating Eileen Treasure on 10 years at Gallery MAR.
We at Gallery MAR are lucky to have such a keen eye and bright spirit on our team. As a former Fine Art Consultant myself, I have had the privilege of working closely with Eileen for several years, and I can tell you, she is just as kind, good-humored, warm, and hard-working as she may seem.
In honor of this milestone, we sat down for an in-depth chat with our not-so-secret weapon to give you greater insight into what keeps Eileen motivated and inspired as our Gallery MAR Manager (Spoiler: it’s working with you, our collectors and artists!)
Veronica Vale: When did you first start working with Gallery MAR?
Eileen Treasure: I started on New Year’s Day 2012. It was so completely different back then. We were in a different location on Main Street. About 10 days after I started, Sundance started, so it was already a fun experience. Sundance was earlier in the year back then. I remember we were excited to see somebody kind of famous in the gallery at the time, but I don’t even remember who it was anymore. Before Sundance was even over, we were carrying everything up the street to the new gallery location.
Veronica Vale: Wow, so you were hired right during the transition to the new gallery space?
Eileen Treasure: Yes! It was exciting. We had Ron Russon there helping us out, and we were literally carrying glass on the sidewalk. Sundance was still going on, but it was not the crowded chaos it is now.
Veronica Vale: That’s quite a lot of excitement for your first couple of weeks! I suppose that makes you one of the only Fine Art Consultants to have worked in both spaces then. How did you like moving into that new space?
Eileen Treasure: Oh my gosh, it was amazing! I don’t know if you ever saw the old space, but it’s now home to Willie Holdman Photography. It’s a really nice space, but we were very limited in how many large scale pieces we could display. Changing to that new location was such a brilliant move on Maren’s part.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay too long that year. My husband, Don, got a new job that was going to take him to Tampa, Florida for 6 to 9 months. I decided that I would go with him, so I actually left the gallery late that summer and lived in Tampa for nine months. When I came back, Maren didn’t need any more staff at the time, but she promised to hire me back as soon as she did. So I actually helped out at another gallery on Main Street. Once Maren was hiring again though, I went straight back to Gallery MAR.
Veronica Vale: What do you think sets Gallery MAR apart from other galleries that you’ve seen and worked for?
Eileen Treasure: Well, it’s Maren. She stands head and shoulders above everyone else, in my opinion, with her collection of art — which is the foundation of any good gallery, but also with her integrity. She has such integrity with the way she treats artists. It’s incredible to see the way that she communicates with them and promotes them. As staff, we follow her lead. She also does not take on artists who are really difficult. All of our artists are great people. That is one of her firm lines in the sand.
Maren has refined the art of owning a gallery so well that almost every day, I get to see people walk in and have an almost physical, enlightened look on their face. They’ll tell us, “this is beautiful,” “this is different.”
I think one of the keys is we don’t pack the walls with art. There’s a lot to see, and there’s a lot to take in, but it’s not displayed in a way that overwhelms. The display is Maren‘s brilliance. The way she can place art all along the wall and make five completely different artists look fabulous together on one stretch of wall… that is brilliant. I continue to learn from her in that respect.
Veronica Vale: What do you love the most about working with our artists?
Eileen Treasure: I love that they are completely dedicated to the gallery as well. That encourages us. I continue to see how our artists step up, especially in recent years, to produce some of their best work ever. They continue to take huge leaps in quality, every year bringing us some of the best work we’ve ever seen from them. Even with all of the supply chain issues they’ve had these last few years. Almost all of them have dealt with some kind of supply issue, from not being able to get a certain type of paint or varnish or having their panel makers and foundry workers quit… they’ve all dealt with some pretty serious issues in that way, but you would never know it from what they’ve produced and delivered. So that’s been amazing to see.
Veronica Vale: What’s the best compliment that you can receive as a gallery manager?
Eileen Treasure: Probably when I see people come in and say that this is the best gallery on Main Street… and I hear that almost every day. By Maren‘s lead, we as staff try to greet every person as a friend. We welcome everybody. I think that’s so important because, sometimes, people are intimidated by art galleries. I’ll see people walk in timidly and almost whisper, “can I come in?” So making every person that walks in the gallery feel comfortable is really important to us. Some days are so busy that we don’t have a chance to chat in depth with every person, but we do our best to make every person feel comfortable and to make the gallery feel accessible.
Veronica Vale: That’s so important to make new visitors feel comfortable in the gallery. Fortunately, I know there are a lot of familiar faces walking through the gallery as well. What do you love about working with our return collectors in particular?
Eileen Treasure: We have such excellent collectors. Sometimes I wonder, “do all galleries have such great collectors?” They’re people who you would love to know as friends forever. It’s wonderful to deal with so many kind, understanding people. Sometimes issues can arise in a gallery, like slight damage on a painting or a delayed shipment. Those kinds of things are very heartbreaking and frustrating for us as well as the collectors. To have a collector say, “don’t worry, it’ll work out” …it’s just a wonderful feeling. I think, pinch me, we have such fabulous collectors.
Veronica Vale: I remember just how wonderful it was to have such understanding collectors when something went awry. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s so gut wrenching, so having such kind people on the other end of it makes it so much better. Speaking of those unexpected issues, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your job?
Eileen Treasure: Well we’ve certainly had a lot of challenges these last few years with everything that’s going on in the world. However, the bottom line is that we have actually increased business quite a bit. Our sales are up, so what we have to accomplish in the time that we have presents a challenge. We are trying to maintain the same quality despite a huge increase in sales. We still want to give that quality of service to each collector though.
This month, we probably packed up close to 50 pieces of art. It’s a lot of work. It’s a big challenge. Packaging and shipping is as important as the sale itself, because you need to make sure that the piece arrives in perfect condition. The physical and logistical challenge of that is at the top of my list of challenges.
Veronica Vale: That’s quite a lot of work to ship in just one month! Do you feel like people are more motivated to add beauty to their lives and homes with everything that’s going on in the world?
Eileen Treasure: Oh definitely, that has to be it. I think that people definitely want their homes to be more beautiful, perhaps now more than ever. The work we sell is really for people who will love it.
Veronica Vale: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Eileen Treasure: For me, I would definitely say that it’s seeing someone secure a purchase that they really, really wanted. We sometimes hear how somebody just missed out on buying their dream painting, so it’s so wonderful to see when someone is able to purchase a piece they absolutely love. They just glow with the excitement of having a piece that’s so meaningful to them. Then when we hear that that piece is a perfect fit in their home and that they’re still so, so happy about it, it makes it all worth it.
Veronica Vale: I love that phrase “glow with excitement” that you just used. It’s such an accurate description of that heartwarming moment when a collector discovers just the right piece. Do you have any favorite memory of such a moment from the last 10 years?
Eileen Treasure: I had a really fun first experience selling a large, expensive painting. It was a $10,000 piece in that first winter that I worked at Gallery MAR. At the time, we had very few pieces in the five figure range, so it was the most expensive painting we had in the gallery at the time. This woman walked in, and she was rather cool and didn’t seem particularly interested in any one piece. She was talking a little about wildlife paintings and, out of the blue, I asked “how do you feel about bears?” I laugh now thinking of it, because I don’t think I’d ever said that sentence before, and I’m not sure where it came from, but I guess I thought that there was no harm in throwing out something a little different and fun.
I remember she stopped short, slowly looked at me, and her eyes got really wide. It turns out that her husband was born in the year of the bear, and it was a big deal for them. The painting I was thinking of wasn’t even on display, so I took her to the back racks and pulled out this 60” x 48” painting of a bear. She was almost speechless. She said that she had to think about it and walked out of the gallery. Five minutes later, she comes back in and says, “I have to have that.” It really struck a chord with her. It was super exciting, because I was new and still learning so much about how to work in a gallery, so that moment was such an inspiration. It’s such an inspiring early memory for me. It was then that I found that I really love to sell art.
Veronica Vale: What in particular do you love about selling art?
Eileen Treasure: It’s really fun to present something to someone that you think they’ll love and sense someone’s reaction to it. It’s such a satisfying challenge to learn and understand someone’s needs and to help them find that piece of art that meets their needs.
Veronica Vale: You talked a little bit about your own love of art, and I know that you paint as well. How do you think your interest, passion, and experience with art informs your work as a gallery manager?
Eileen Treasure: I find it fulfilling, especially when I work with fellow art lovers. I like to use my art background to talk about different media with collectors. I get questions all the time like “what is mixed media?” It’s fun to instruct a little. In a small way, talking about the process can help someone to better understand the value of a particular piece.
Veronica Vale: That’s so true. It’s one thing to be instantly struck by the beauty of a particular piece, but it’s another thing to dive deeper into all of the work and layers that go into creating the piece that you love. It certainly adds value.
Well, thank you for reflecting and reminiscing with us on these last ten years. Now, looking forward, what do you find keeps you continually motivated and inspired in your work?
Eileen Treasure: I would say the challenge of it. We don’t know what’s happening month to month. We want to be prepared for whatever scenario comes along. It’s certainly never “same old, same old” here at the gallery. There’s a challenge in the uncertainty of the future, and that can be exciting. That excitement is inspiring.
Veronica Vale: So you appreciate the challenge and excitement of the unknown?
Eileen Treasure: Yes! Every day is fun. After all, you never know who’s going to walk through that door.