Leah Owenby: Organizing Chaos

Today we heard from our first guest speaker of the semester Leah Owenby. Anyone who spends any time in the Dana Fine Arts building has met Leah and knows she’s the go to person for pretty much anything.

As the Manager of Dalton Gallery, Leah deals with the logistics and is responsible for the overall trajectory of a project. To illustrate the planning required for an exhibition, Leah described the preparation for the show opening February 1st. Since last summer, Leah has been planning the exhibition of the work of Sophia Wallace, a contemporary artist based out of Brooklyn.

Immediately, Leah had to begin thinking creatively to answer questions about how the show would come together. She describe three important steps to begin planning an event:

  1. Pick a date to avoid major conflicts
  2. Reserve a space
  3. Add the event to a calendar

Once decided, more complicated challenges had to be addressed:

  • What type of work could the Dalton gallery physically accommodate?
  • How could art be transported to Agnes from out of state?
  • Which of the available works of art should be displayed during the show?
  • What would the budget allow for?

It is easy to see how quickly planning can become complicated. For this reason, Leah keeps lists and timelines to stay organized. She said her role is like that of a producer; while a curator’s role is more like the director in providing vision and specific details, Leah handles finances, advertising, and coordinating everyone’s efforts to ensure the exhibition comes together smoothly.


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