Finding an Art Advisor: Esthella Provas

Posted on: February 22nd, 2012

FYA Talks With Esthella Provas About When You Need an Art Advisor and What to Do When You’re Ready

ForYourArt talks to some of the most sought-after advisors in this ongoing feature about how to find an art consultant and how to make that relationship a successful one.

Esthella Provas has been a key player in the L.A. art scene for more than twenty years. Having served as longtime director/co-owner of Chac Mool gallery along with Eugenio Lopez, she also helped Lopez establish The Jumex Foundation, which is one of the largest, most comprehensive art collections and privately owned museums in the world (she continues to help procure work for the collection). Provas is also a co-founder of the Latin American International Art Council for MOCA, acts as Development Consultant for LACMA’s Latin American Initiatives, serves on the museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art Council and is a member of their Director’s Circle. In addition to heading up her own art advisory, Provas is the chair of LA><ART’s Public Art Initiatives Producers Council and was a founding member of LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division).

Alexis Johnson: How does one find an art advisor?

Esthella Provas: There are several ways to find an advisor, but I believe the best way is to go by the collections that you admire the most, and inquire who was their art advisor. Most good advisors do not advertise.

Johnson: When do you know you’re ready for an art advisor?

Provas: In today’s market, if you plan to collect seriously, it is smarter to hire an art advisor that can help you navigate through the art world, while saving you time and money and securing the best works for you.

Johnson: What are some of the questions clients should ask a) themselves when they’re ready to step their collecting up a notch and b) an art advisor when beginning to work with one?

Provas: The question clients should ask themselves first is: Why are they collecting? What are their purpose and goals? Is it a long-term commitment? Is it to be shared with others? Is it for status? Is it for an investment opportunity? Or, is it just for their own pleasure? Since most people collect for one of those reasons, question b should be the other way around. The advisor should ask the client what their reasons for collecting are.

Johnson: What makes for a good working relationship between a client and an advisor?

Provas: Mutual respect.

Johnson: What are some of the questions they should ask an art advisor before they start working with one?

Provas: First of all, they should ask for the advisor’s credentials and how they will benefit from using their services.  Also, they should arrange a commission structure or retainer. In most cases, it is more advisable to have a written contract.

Johnson: What makes a successful collector?

Provas: It depends on what you mean by successful. The greatest collectors of all time bought because they loved what they saw.

Johnson: What are the benefits for clients when they hire an art advisor?

Provas: In the long run, an advisor can save you a lot of time and money. If the advisor is good, yes, they will have access to better works.

Johnson: What are some resources for the collector not quite ready for an art advisor?

Provas: Art collecting is a personal journey whether you have hired an advisor or not. Someone who is serious about collecting should begin by reading as much material as possible, visiting galleries and museums, viewing private collections, and always asking, asking, asking questions.

Check out all of ForYourArt’s Finding an Art Advisor series here!

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