L.A. Art Gallery Wilding Cran Fuels the City's Exploding Downtown Scene
West Coast editor Mayer Rus catches up with husband-and-wife dealers Naomi deLuce Wilding and Anthony Cran to discuss the roiling art market, swarming hipsters, and the perils and possibilities of being stuck between stripper bars and SoHo House.
TEXT BY MAYER RUS PHOTOGRAPHY BY AUSTIN IRVING
Anthony Cran: We opened Wilding Cran in April of 2014. It was something we really, really wanted to do. It’s in our blood.
Naomi deLuce Wilding: One of the things that led us to think more about a gallery was working with Anthony’s dad, Canadian artist Chris Cran. We were selling some of his work, and he very kindly gave us commission. It gave us the idea that this might be something to explore more seriously.
MR: Tell me about the program at the gallery.
AC: We started out with a roster of artists we’ve known for years. I grew up with artists, as did Naomi. So we reached out to people like Christian Eckart, Vikky Alexander, Herald Nix, and John Will. Happily, most of them said yes. Most of those are established midcareer artists, but as we’re moving forward, we’ve started working with emerging artists as well.
NW: Most of those initial artists are based elsewhere—in Canada and other places—which presents a lot of challenges once you have a physical space. So it’s really a pleasure to start building relationships with local artists and working with them in a more collaborative way.
AC: We’re still rounding out the lineup. We’re still figuring it all out and discovering ourselves in a way.
NW: We don’t want to jump into relationships with artists just because they’re hot right now. We’re thinking long-term.
MR: Are there types of work you’re particularly interested in?
NW: Not really. The process of finding sympathetic artists is more organic and nuanced.
MR: How has your entrée into the commercial art arena gone since you opened?
AC: We’re still open, which is good. There are different ways to measure success, and one of them is literally having your door open to the public. We’re able to produce ambitious shows and then move on to the next and, hopefully, the next and the next.
NW: We did a really successful show last year called “Here Now”—six painters from Los Angeles who are not represented by us. I think we want to make that an annual thing if we can, not necessarily limited to outside artists. It’s lovely to bring work together that we’re perhaps not so familiar with.
AC: And with that, you bring six or seven social groups together. It’s a celebration of what we see happening in L.A. right now, so it’s a really good thing to do.
MR: Tell me about Austin Irving, one of your younger artists. I’m crazy about her work.