Born in Sydney and raised in Los Angeles, Gabé Hirschowitz grew up amongst contemporary art and fashion. Her mother filled their home with the work of talented artists, yet Gabé says she still laughs about how, as a child, she was often embarrassed by the more provocative pieces à la Robert Mapplethorpe’s iconic photography and would hide them when friends came over. Her father would often take her to photography exhibitions at the Getty Center and encouraged her passions for architecture, vintage cameras and photography.
After graduating from The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Gabé worked in couture, which opened her world to the symbiotic relationship between art and fashion. She says she specifically recalls seeing Andy Warhol’s giant portrait of Carolina Herrera in the main entrance of the designer’s NYC headquarters every morning as she walked into work. Subsequently, her creative interests expanded, and she soon found herself at the center of the art world in Los Angeles, where she worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and founded UNICEF’s Next Generation Art Party. She even received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama in 2016 due to the initiative’s support for UNICEF’s Tap Project, which helps provide clean and safe water for vulnerable children around the globe.
Since this success, she has continued to merge her passion for art with philanthropy, co-founding the Young Leadership Board of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Los Angeles and founding the COLLECT ART + DO GOOD™ organization, which has benefited Stand Up To Cancer, Make-A-Wish Foundation and other worthy causes. All the while, she has remained a rising art collector highly involved in the art and fashion industries, serving as an active member of numerous art institutions and museums in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London and Sydney.
In January 2021 she plans to launch GaleriePerrie.com, which aims to make a professionally curated collection of artwork and unique decor from around the globe available for anyone to purchase online with a simple click. We spoke to Gabé about philanthropy, collecting and her holiday giving list.
What made you first interested in art?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment when I was first conscious of art as something separate from the rest of life because I was always around it during my childhood, starting with my grandmother taking me to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Museum of New South Wales in Sydney, and starting art classes when I was five or six years old. I still laugh remembering the look on my mom’s face when she found out I was making watercolor paintings at home when I was seven, then going around our neighborhood trying to sell them to the neighbors: suffice it to say, she was mortified! Nevertheless, that particular memory seems rather pertinent today, considering I ended up selling art professionally; I suppose I was always a little art entrepreneur from my earliest days!”
How did you come to found and chair UNICEF’s Next Generation Art Party?
When I joined the UNICEF Los Angeles Steering Committee in 2014 one of my priorities was to provide an opportunity for emerging and established artists to gain exposure and build relationships with young collectors in Los Angeles while offering a unique experience that benefitted UNICEF’s lifesaving work via a fun, art-focused evening.
After the first year, it grew from there, and eventually we expanded to meet the demands of prominent collectors who attended our events. For instance, we partnered with Paddle8 to showcase artwork that was donated by more established artists such as Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell, Alex Israel, Daniel Arsham, Retna, Alexandra Grant, Rob Wynne, Kenny Scharf, and many others.
Did you always want a career in the art world?
I had no intention of pursuing it really; I don’t think I ever really thought about what I wanted to do growing up. From a young age, I was very focused on school and ballet. I knew I wanted to be involved in a creative industry because fashion, art and photography have always been a big part of my upbringing, but I didn’t exactly know how that would manifest. After graduating from USC, I moved to New York and started filling my time by attending art exhibits, which I found simply fascinating, so eventually, when the opportunity to work with art presented itself, I took it.
Why is it important to you, for the arts to give back?
I feel that so much of what happens in the art world is detached from so many people and their immediate concerns. I mean, it can seem a little out-of-touch for most, I’m sure, for us to be discussing such things while millions are starving and going homeless, losing their jobs and falling ill from COVID. So to contemplate the sort of lifestyle someone has to have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a piece for most–well, it probably wouldn’t bode too well for the entire community if we didn’t make such a concerted effort to help whenever and wherever we can. That’s part of why I got involved with nonprofit work to begin with: to help the art-collecting community give back to the less fortunate. It’s also why I’ve long volunteered my time to less-high profile projects like teaching free art classes and leading field trips for kids to museums. Experiencing art–real art–is crucial to what it means to be human and, in my opinion, should be something everyone has a stake in, not just something the elite enjoy. Art unites us, comforts and brings us all together in the name of love.
What are some small easy steps that young people in the art world can do to use their position to help others?
Google your local nonprofits and look into youth-mentoring programs. One easy project is to call art stores in your area and see if you can arrange for them to sponsor school art supplies. This is so important because often art classes are the first things cut from school curricula, although research again and again shows that having the outlet of art in schools helps improve writing scores, behavior and compassion in school-age children, along with a host of other benefits.
What is your most recent art acquisition?
I’ve recently gotten excited about Emma Kohlmann’s work and bought one of her paintings in NYC. I love the whimsical, dreamlike enchantment she brings to her pieces.
What’s on your Holiday 2020 giving list?
With so many people suffering right now, I think it’s important to give gifts that focus on others. That’s why, in addition to giving gifts like this meaningful three-month health and wellness guide (I’ve found very useful myself) to help my loved ones focus on self-care, I’ve also been making donations in my friends’ and family members’ names with several nonprofits, including Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services, World Central Kitchen, Water.org, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Plant Your Change, all of which do significant work in unmet communities.
And finally, what are you hoping for in 2021?
Most importantly, health and safety for everyone because, let’s face it, we’ll all be happy when 2020 is over. It goes without saying that I’ll be happy when everyone is vaccinated and we’re all back to living life like normal, but if there’s one thing I hope for for myself, I’m excited about the launch of my new online gallery, GaleriePerrie.com/@galerieperrie, which will go live in January.