DBA Show "Catalyst" Bridges the Art and Business Worlds

South Florida's profile keeps growing in the international art world. This has created a thriving landscape for artists of all mediums to ply their trades in – with the support network of representation, gallerists, and museum professionals growing in tandem.

But not all artists are able to successfully jump from creative to business with lucrative results and as such there's a wide gulf in how locals make their livings. For eight years, Fort Lauderdale-based Doing Business as… (DBA) has worked with rising locals to showcase the entrepreneurial side of the arts.

This year's all-media exhibition, called "Catalyst," collaborates with community, business, and civic partners to further explore the connections between these worlds. The works will be on display at a free reception tonight at Fort Lauderdale's ArtServe.

"The need for today’s artist to understand that the act of making art may still be a personal process but getting that work out of the studio to be seen is an act of business," explains Michael Harris, co-curator of the DBA "Catalyst" show. "Defining which galleries to pursue so your work can be shown and sold, a performance piece that needs a grant to fund it, and to selling your work directly to buyer, all require defining your audience, identifying funding needs, and branding yourself to help attract and solidify sales which are all acts of business, just to name just a few."
This year’s show focused on "turning ideas into opportunity" according to Harris. Along with co-curator Timothy Leistner, he's selected 11 artists for the collective who are graduates of the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI). They've challenged the DBA artists to make artistic creations that will relate to the business acumen they've learned through workshops.

"Catalyst" features the works of Andrew Brown, Pedro A. Figueredo, Sylvie Fournier-Popov, Gianna DiBartolomeo, Robert Grauer, Eliane Harvey, Andrea F. Huffman, Deborah LaFogg Docherty, Mai Yap, Adam Collier Noel, Phoenix, and Marilyn Walter.

“Through the years, I’ve learned that I’m the best person to represent my work,” admits DiBartolomeo. “I view it as an extension of myself. I’m passionate about what I do and want to share it with others. From this perspective, the business side becomes just another aspect of the work.”
With the ease of communication through the internet, app technologies, and even social media, no artist is restricted to one market. Strategies developed and nurtured at the local level can jump with ease into a global environment.

Monetizing their work is a key to success. "We delve into all aspects this month from the nuts and bolts of branding, pricing and selling to the joy of witnessing how local artists have put best practices to use to thrive and produce vibrant art,” says Jaye Abbate, president and CEO of ArtServe. 

The importance of an online presence is not lost on Harris. "The main goal of the course is to empower artists to take control of their own artistic career," he says. "First by laying a foundation of business oriented topics geared for the working artist and finally culminating in building one’s own business plan."

June 1 through 24 with a free reception at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-8190 or visit