Andrew Blaize Bovasso ’09 was partway through an internship at Lex Leonard Gallery in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey, when it was shut down. But instead of fi nding himself without a job, Bovasso’s experience ended up growing richer.
Nyugen E. Smith, the artist who directed the small, grassroots gallery before its closure, turned the space into a studio and asked Bovasso to stay on as his assistant. “In a single internship I experienced two very different aspects of the art world,” Bovasso explained, “making art versus showing and selling art.”
He also began to make the kind of professional connections that would enable him to take his fi rst steps as an exhibiting artist. “As a direct result of the people I met during this internship, I had the opportunity to be included in the Jersey City Artists' Studio Tour. And as a result of my work being seen in the studio tour, a solo show was offered to me.”
The lessons he learned stayed with him. After graduation, Bovasso focused on New York, and again turned to internships as a means of establishing his career. “In New York, you can’t get anywhere without great work, but connections are vital,” he explained.
After graduation, Bovasso pursued three internships. He worked with photographer Todd Eberle in his studio, acted as a teaching assistant at the International Center for Photography, and worked at Barry Friedman Ltd., a gallery in Chelsea—which turned into a paid position.
“Through the internships I was able to discern things about what I wanted out of life, my career, and art. Working with Barry Friedman Ltd. gave me the balance I was looking for,” Bovasso said.
The balance Bovasso found came with additional professional connections. Through his contact with Barry Friedman Ltd.’s sister gallery, Friedman Benda, he got the opportunity to fi rst show his work in the Chelsea neighborhood.
“Friedman Benda was looking for art and artists for its summer show, Six Rooms. Summer shows are typically more relaxed than shows in season in Chelsea—many directors and curators will allow their staff to participate, and I was asked by one of the staff to be included. When the show opened, my work was seen by designer Aurélien Gallet, and the piece was taken immediately on consignment to his booth at the Hampton Designer Showhouse 2011 in South Hampton, New Hampshire.”
He continued, “From being in the neighborhood, people were able to see my work. From there, I was contacted by Jenkins Johnson Gallery when they were curating their 2011 fall show, Plugged In. Thus the snowball at the top of the hill gets bigger and bigger with every revolution.”
Bovasso recently published his first book of photographs, Conversations with Dan McNulty in Jersey City, and he continues to work at Barry Friedman Ltd. as well as exhibit. He also continues to make and maintain professional connections. In May, Bovasso’s work was included in The Aljira Fine Art Auction—a benefit he was invited to participate in by the artist he fi rst interned for as a student at MICA.