Muse Me: Making “Old Art” Cool

Heather Gokhman

Heather is a member of the International Society of Appraisers, holds a Masters degree in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York City, and a Bachelors degree in Art History from the University of Southern California. Prior to opening State of the Art Appraisals, Heather was a partner at EG Art Brokers, a fine art appraisal and auction brokering company and Assistant Director at contemporary art gallery, Avran Art, in Laguna Beach. Heather has also worked at Montgomery Gallery in San Francisco and the leading fine art appraisal firm, O’Toole-Ewald, in New York City. In her spare time, Heather raises money for the ABT Gillespie Ballet School as chairwoman of Pas de Deux, a chapter of the Guilds of the Segerstrom Center. Heather lives in Corona Del Mar with her husband, Max, and their German Shepherd, Wallace Balto Gokhman von der Westkuste, (Wally for short).
Bio source: stateoftheartappraisals.com
Alan: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Heather: I started my art journey at Montgomery gallery in San Francisco where I worked with Peter Fairbanks- who has an amazing mind in the art world. From there I studied at Sotheby’s Institute. I got a master’s in art business and did a variety of things after that and ended up as a fine art appraiser in Orange County.
Alan: In the world of art what are the trends that we need to be aware of today?
Heather: Probably the biggest trend is people trying to figure out ways to engage younger people from diverse backgrounds. The art world is thought of as old and a little bit stodgy and set in its ways and that’s translated to the Art Museums unfortunately and really no matter what they’ve tried between audio tours and trying to make things more accessible- digitizing the works- it’s still thought of as old and inaccessible and only for people who have background knowledge who are our historians & academics. There’s a trend right now of tech companies & younger people really trying to make the art a little bit more accessible by digitizing collections, making it available to anybody who’s has an interest.
Alan: Now person having a painting sitting on their wall they may not have any idea of value, so do they call you up and say Heather is this worth anything?
Heather: Yeah, I get a lot of calls from people who for example, found peace in their grandmother’s garage and they think it’s very valuable because it looks old and looks like it should be worth a lot most of the time it’s unfortunately not, but you know sometimes there are those rare gems.
Alan: So when a person’s assessing the value and want an appraisal,how do you know where there’s value?
Heather: I’m not an art authenticator, I’m an art appraiser so I can’t authenticate something, so if somebody comes to me and says you know this is some old Picasso that nobody knows about, value it for me. I need to make certain of the authenticity so I would need to call an authenticator to do that, but when you’re talking about the people on Antiques Roadshow, my old boss Peter Fairbanks being one of them, he has years and years and years of that background knowledge to be able to look at something and find that diamond that nobody knows is actually there. For me, all the work that I appraise usually comes with authenticity papers or has provenance where I can you know ascertain that it is what it is. So usually those people have a general idea that it’s worth something to begin with.
Alan: Now you have another business that you’re also involved with the museums, can you go into that?
Heather: It’s called Muse Me and what we’re doing is we’re trying to change the museum experience from something that’s boring and old and academic to something that’s fun and exciting and new by offering geo-located tours through museums with themes of interest to people of younger generations with diverse backgrounds. What I really want to do is show people that old art is just as cool as new art. I like to say that Michelangelo was the original graffiti artist tagging the Sistine Chapel ceiling since the age since the 1500’s, so that’s really what we’re doing.
Alan: How do they find Muse Me?
Heather: You can find it at GetMuseMe.com. Soon you’ll be able to download it from the App Store it’ll be called Muse Me, but for now for the time being you can check our website for some examples of prototype tours that we’re doing.
Alan: And a person needing an art appraisal, how would they go about contacting you.
Heather: Heather@stateoftheartappraisals.com or www. stateoftheartappraisals.com
Edited for Concision