Meet East End Curator Janet Goleas

For those people involved in the world of art, the word “curator” is a common term. Yet, actually knowing what a curator does or even what part a curator plays when designing an exhibit can often be a mystery. A curator is like a film editor who puts together individual “shots” to form an entire movie. (In both fields, selection and juxtaposition are two key elements in this process.)

Janet Goleas is a freelance East End curator who has developed and executed art shows for both large institutions (Islip Museum) and smaller spaces (like Eric Firestone Gallery). Like some curators, she has a wide-range of skills and a broad background. For example, Goleas’ first professional endeavor was as an artist-in-residence in Nevada, a little “enclave in an old estate” where she also taught art classes. As part of her ever-expanding endeavors, Goleas curated faculty shows at the University of Nevada, too, a particular challenge since she was a graduate student at the time.

Before and after Nevada, of course, Goleas collected many academic and artistic experiences, including her time in Germany where she attended high school, her art training at the San Francisco Art Institute and her time in New York where she finally “felt at home.” Goleas admits that her entire 20 years in Manhattan revolved around art. As she recalls, “every person I knew, every party I went to, was about art.”

Goleas, with her young son and husband in tow, moved to the Hamptons in 2001, another place she fell in love with. She soon became involved with the art community, especially in its academic world, teaching Art History at Southampton College (now Stony Brook Southampton) and becoming Education Director at Guild Hall. And if that didn’t keep Goleas busy enough, she wrote articles about art for The East Hampton Star as well.

Curating exhibits always played an important role in Goleas’ life here in the Hamptons, however. But why curating especially, considering her wide range of activities? “I love to see what things look like,” she answers without hesitation. “ I like to create a conversation between works on the walls. “

And what kind of art does Goleas prefer to curate? Cutting edge, traditional landscape, abstraction?

It’s hard to pin her down on that question when she notes that she “likes art, the kind that breaks boundaries. But the same issues apply to landscape as contemporary art. You want to be moved by it. The first time you go to the opera, you may not get it, but the more you go, the better it is.”

And what abut the artist? Does Goleas have an opinion about the creator of art? “You bet,” she answers with enthusiasm. “ When you’ve seen real art, the artist was engaged in some kind of transformation, involved in a moment of creativity.”

These days Goleas is engaged herself as never before. She has started a company called “Art and Logic,” which deals with the management and development of public and private art collections, artists and artists’ estates. She also has an online gallery featuring small-scale contemporary art from the East End and the greater New York area.

And did we mention her upcoming multi-disciplinary project called the Moby Project, an art event where artists, writers and performers will react to contemporary themes found in the novel Moby Dick.

Whatever Goleas is creating, it will no doubt be provocative and motivate people to talk about art. She’s lighting a little fire to get the conversation going.

Janet Goleas can be contacted through her email janetgoleas@gmail.com.

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