Gallery Director Emily West acquires Buckhead’s fine art gallery
When Emily West discusses art, her lapis blue eyes come alive. “I always want the gallery to have work that is inspiring, so when people come in, they find something uplifting,” she says with pride. West is the new owner of Anne Irwin Fine Art on Miami Circle in Buckhead, a prestigious art gallery that has been a part of the Atlanta art community for more than 30 years and represents artists from around the country, such as fine art painter Lindsey Porter and abstract artist Sarah Otts.
This is not West’s first rodeo as a gallery owner. In fact, she owned and operated her Emily Amy Gallery on the Westside from 2008-2013. After closing shop post-recession, West became the gallery director at Anne Irwin until taking over in January. “When Anne brought me over, I was disappointed to stop doing my own thing, so we talked about anonymity and having a role that was more behind the scenes,” she recalls.
The conversation to purchase the gallery from Irwin had been ongoing for several years. However, it didn’t feel right for both parties until the end of 2019 when the duo eventually landed on a plan. Irwin slowly began stepping back, first by being at the gallery for two days and now working just one day per week. While Irwin is not always present, her sage advice lingers, something for which West is grateful.
To put her mark on the gallery, West spearheaded a rebranding that included a new logo and brand color scheme. “I think the rebrand has really helped people to see us with fresh eyes.” It also included bringing on new blood such as mixed media artist Jennifer Daily and photographer David Hillegas. “These artists add a renewed energy that I really wanted to make sure we had,” says West. Marketing changes including weekly or bi-weekly newsletters and multiple, daily social media posts were also implemented, and the team saw the positive effects almost immediately. “It’s changed our sales significantly!”
With the revived vigor comes a bit of self-revival, too. “I have so much more confidence and so much more freedom that motivates me every day,” she explains. Of course, when your first year in business includes a worldwide pandemic, you’re forced to dig deep and think out of the box. “I immediately got on the phone with Anne and Katie [Beall], and we came up with a plan. We discussed changing our policies to better accommodate our artists and our clients.”
West hopes to bring even more collectors into the fold by continuing to stay in front of previous and future clients, and by ensuring that the gallery continues to be a welcoming place. “I never want people not to come in because they’re scared or intimidated. We have around 40 to 50 artists at any given time at so many different price points. We have a little bit of something for everyone.”
Her top art-shopping tip? “Know that you can always try something before you buy it! Take it on approval or ask us for a virtual installation.” “Approval” allows clients to view a piece of art in their homes before committing to the purchase, and Anne Irwin offers free delivery within Atlanta. In fact, West says she can often be found driving around the city with art in her trunk. “If someone wants to try something, I just pop it in the back of my car and bring it over.” For a virtual installation, clients work with West and her staff via email, swapping photographs of spaces and suitable artworks.
Speaking of artworks, you may find your next one at the current exhibition featuring mixed media artist Brian Coleman. October brings a group landscape show with works by Lucy Reiser, Megan Lightell and Hannah Bureau.
ANNE IRWIN FINE ART
690 Miami Circle 30324
Wellness columnist at Simply Buckhead and dog columnist at Atlanta Pet Life. Lifestyle writer specializing in women's interests, travel, people and interiors.