Curating an Art Collectors Culture at Radius Gallery

June 21, 2017

The Tannery Arts Center is an incredible gem of creativity in our community. In addition to the 100 affordable live/work units, 28 working studios, and Colligan Theater, is the one-of-a-kind Radius Gallery, an art gallery owned and directed by Ann Hazels.  

Ann is an artist herself who shares a working studio space at the Tannery to create ceramic work in addition to her curating Radius Gallery. Ann and fellow artist Kirby Scudder leased the gallery space in the Fall of 2012, which is the second largest space at the Tannery. 

With her background and experience stemming from working at art galleries, Ann was inspired to reconnect with her curatorial skill set and take on the space as a new gallery in Santa Cruz. Ann and Kirby ran the space together for the first two years as the headquarters for the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art. When the original lease ended Ann took over and re-opened the space as Radius Gallery. Beyond her love of gallery work, Ann is also motivated for her desire to see growth in the professional gallery spaces available to artists to show their work in Santa Cruz. 

“The more I research Santa Cruz, the more I realize that there's not a large gallery existence here. I think when an artist puts their work in an art gallery, it does a couple of things. It starts to create a story and it gives new voice and new life to what the artist is creating, and it actually opens the door to collectors. It's the accessibility piece.” — Ann Hazels, Owner, Radius Gallery

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For Ann, the gallery is much more than the art on the wall. It’s about how the space is designed, and how the community experiences the space as a whole. As an installation artist, Ann gravitated towards thinking more about space and about where you put and access the work in that space.

“I think that it goes a lot deeper with 'How can we create a conversation around art without the artist being there?' I think it's my job as a curator to provide a professional, good looking, attractive space for artists. It's also my job to provide knowledge and intel to the public. I welcome a conversation with anybody that comes into the space because maybe they want more of a story and background about the art.”

Building community and an ability to introduce people to new work by local artists is crucial to another major goal Ann has for her gallery and the larger artist and gallery scene in Santa Cruz: build the patron and collector community supporting local artists. As the fifth densest community for artists per capita in the United States, it’s clear that the Arts is important to Santa Cruz. However the collector base and art patrons in Santa Cruz often travel to other places to buy art, according to Ann.

“Maybe they'll go to Art Basel, big art fairs, or a trip to Santa Fe and the city to the SF MOMA gift show to buy. Outside of Open Studios, people go away to purchase art. I'm trying to do the other side of that. When people come to Santa Cruz, how can I gain their attendance here in the gallery? I've been working with the other galleries for the last nine months. There are five of us that are commercial art galleries not affiliated with a non-profit or academic setting. These meetings are just a way of saying 'Okay, how can we amp up the collectors scene and engage people more?'”

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One proactive approach Ann is taking specifically within her own gallery is serving as a representative, or an agent of sorts, for local artists. 

“I started representing artists this last year, as a new initiative. It hasn't been done in Santa Cruz, to my knowledge. I've done a lot of research with galleries and the statistic is that most art galleries in Santa Cruz have a lifespan of about four years, which is terrible and scary. When I show work, I started to think a bit more that when I'm working with collectors, sometimes it takes longer than seven weeks for a sale. I can say to collectors, 'You're interested in this piece? Great, go try it out in your home.' or maybe they're going to Europe for four weeks and it's going to take two months maybe for that sale to happen. My role continues as I am representing this artist beyond the exhibition. I have signed a couple of artists and continue to look at portfolios to hopefully be able to establish them and build the reputation of the gallery as well.”

Not only has Ann has been able to narrow in on the type of customer she serves but also the type of artist that is a good fit for her to represent. “I'm working with artists that have a body of work that is always growing. They're pretty seasoned in the industry and they're great to work with. For me, it's relationship building. As with any job and business, you want to like who you're working with, that's a big part of it for me. It's gaining trust. They're trusting me to really get their babies out into new homes and bigger opportunities. In the same sense, I have to trust that they will deliver and they're going to continue to be making work that's relevant and exciting.” As an artist representative she helps market and sell their work, allowing the artists to really focus on what they’re good at: making art. 

It’s also important to note that while Radius Gallery is located on the Tannery campus, the gallery is not limited to art produced solely by Tannery resident artists. Some pieces do come from Tannery artists but Ann is focused on presenting shows that reflect her own curatorial style from the larger artist community. Radius Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00-5:00 pm. Radius is also available to rent for a wide variety of events. To learn more about the gallery as well as current and past exhibitions visit:

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