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And that’s where the success lies for Blum & Poe: The former has the Eastern hemisphere covered, and the latter the European front. It’s a revolutionary way of dealing art in America. Dealers don’t wait for the buyer to show up at their gallery door. "This is the big difference in the art world in the last seven years. Not only do people come to us, but we go to them. We literally travel, and we go to museum shows and art fairs," Poe said.
Blum stresses the importance of the fairs. "They’ve been critical to the success of our gallery. It’s very difficult to get in them. There’s only four galleries from L.A. that participate in Basel, Switzerland. In the beginning, it took all our money to go to these fairs."
The young dealers adopted this dedicated all-or-nothing approach with their artists as well. "All these artists, by and large, we have taken and developed over many, many, many, many years," said Blum. "We went through years of drought, when no one gave a shit, nobody understood it, nobody gave a fuck. And it wasn’t about having a gallery where you’re waiting for such and such an artist to become known, and then you go, ‘We should show them.’ This is why we’ve been successful. We committed to it, and we stuck with it because we believed in it, and we kept doing it and doing it, pounding at it. And it worked out."
Take the superstar Murakami, whom Blum knew as a student in Japan. He and Poe showed him first, and Murakami has been with them ever since. He’s been called the Japanese Andy Warhol, with his 60 or so assistants, and he’s done very, very well. "Murakami’s sculptures, editions of three, sold for $25,000 each," Blum exclaimed, sounding as if even he can’t believe it. "They were selling at auction houses for $560,000. Do you know what that means? We just had a $6 million show!"
And it’s not like the gallery is hurting with the rest of its lineup, which includes such high-profile names as Sharon Lockhart, Sam Durant, Bruce Yonemoto, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Bornstein and Dave Muller (currently showing through December 4). Out of 22 artists, 10 are from foreign countries, and most show in the prestigious biennials — the Whitney and Venice. "And now," said Blum, "we’re in a position where we can do it again. We have a group of 30-year-olds, and they’re all wildly in demand and wildly successful." Time will tell, of course, but a betting woman would not doubt these two.
So who needs Culver City? Apparently not Blum & Poe. But their neighbors are happy to have them around. It’s a tight little community. And when Truman, Anna Helwing’s Chihuahua, pops by Blum & Poe, they might not have a bowl of water to offer, but they’re sure to have a shot of tequila.