Jane Chafin Interview
ARTILLERY: You grew up in West Virginia as a descendent of the feuding Hatfield family and your grandfather was an infamous union-busting sheriff. Did that colorful background draw you into the arts?
JANE CHAFIN: Not really. You don’t question or analyze your family life when you’re growing up. It’s later, looking back, that you realize what it was.
You were an artist yourself, now as an art dealer, you’re surrounded by art all the time. Do you ever get the urge to go back to making art?
Occasionally I’ll feel an urge, but I double up on my Prozac until it goes away.
In the seven years that you have had a gallery, what major changes have you seen in the art world?
I’m so busy running Offramp that I generally don’t reflect on the overall state of the art. Recently I’m hearing rumblings that people are over art fairs, which is music to my ears. I’ve made no bones about my dislike of them—they are the worst way ever devised to look at art. They are about commerce—and I wonder how effective that cacophony really is for selling art. No one will ever tell you if they made money at a fair, which makes me think that it’s mostly the fair organizers who profit.
It’s been said that the art dealers are really the stars of the art world. Do you agree?
Ha! That makes me laugh. No, the artists are the stars, the unsung heroes. They’re in the trenches, working several day jobs, sacrificing what most of us would consider a comfortable life so they can follow their passion. That takes guts and deserves more respect than it gets.
What advice would you give to a young person hoping to become an art dealer?
Don’t expect to make a profit for at least five years.
Read more about Jane Chafin. For a full-length profile and interview by Betty Ann Brown, please go to http://artillerymag.com/jane-chafin/