Erin Berthon

Erin Berthon, MA Career Advisor, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, at Chapman University

Tyler Park (‘12), who graduated with a B.F.A in Studio Art, made a lifelong dream come true when he opened his very own gallery, Tyler Park Presents, in Silverlake, California.

Park grew up in Murrieta, just outside of Temecula. At a young age, he became interested in art and spent a lot of his time drawing. School was hard for him, and as a child, art classes were always the place where he felt most confident and content. 

I recently had a conversation with Tyler about the opening of his new gallery and his experiences as an art student in Wilkinson.

Read our conversation below.


Q & A with Tyler Park

Erin Berthon: What pushed you to pursue a degree at Chapman?

Tyler Park: In junior college, I took so many credits that it didn’t allow me to take any physical art-making classes, but it did let me take many art history classes, which opened my eyes to Modern and Contemporary art. After attending classes, I would venture home to my “studio” in my bedroom, where I would make drawings, paintings, and photographs in a lot of ways influenced by the art

Tyler Park Presents Gallery

Chapman alum’s gallery, Tyler Park Presents.

history that I was studying. After two years of dreaming, I wanted to attend Chapman University.

EB: While enrolled in Chapman’s BFA Studio Art program, what made you think about galleries? 

TP: At Chapman, I took ART 296 Contemporary Gallery Practice, which is a class that exposes you to art galleries and museums by attending field trips to see exhibitions, have discussions with galleries and curators, and how they function in relationship to artists. After a couple of field trips to galleries, I reached out to Professor Micol Hebron to talk about finding an internship with a gallery in Los Angeles. She connected me with Karisa Morante, a Chapman Alumni, at François Ghebaly Gallery. I was interested in learning the ins and outs of how a gallery worked so that as an artist, I could know how to navigate it.

EB: How did the internship help you?

TP: After graduating from Chapman, the internship connected me with a gallery, Carter & Citizen, that was hiring. I got the job and jumped from intern to Assistant Director of the gallery, where I helped assist the owner/director with day to day operations and helping with the exhibitions. In my mind, during that time working for a gallery, I felt it was just a paycheck and a way to buy more time as I prepared to find a studio and apply to graduate school for an M.F.A, but I struggled to find the motivation to do work in my free time. One day, I was by myself at the gallery, and someone came in to check out the show. I walked them through it and talked in-depth about a small ceramic piece. They ended up buying that piece for $500, and something really clicked within me. I realized that I enjoyed being on the gallery side of the art world, talking about other artists’ work, selling their work, and handling many aspects that it takes to run a gallery. From that point on, I decided to leave behind the goal of being an artist and to focus on understanding the business side of running a gallery to hopefully one day have my own. From there, I went back to François Ghebaly Gallery as their assistant director. Later, I became the director of The Pit and then director of Klowden Mann. I never really knew if it would ever be possible to open a gallery for me. Still, when the opportunity presented itself to me earlier in 2020, I took some time to think it over for about a month and then decided to make a move to go on my own.

EB: How did you prepare for opening your own gallery?

TP: Besides working in leading contemporary art galleries in Los Angeles over the last several years, I took some additional steps to better suit myself into preparing to have my own gallery. I continuously read as many books as I can on operating a gallery, biographies of famous art dealers, and even the curatorial components on putting on an exhibition. I also enrolled in a certificate program in Art Management at UC Irvine last year that taught me business aspects in relation to creative fields such as leadership, law/taxes/accounting, marketing, decision making, and fundraising. 

I just opened the first solo exhibition with Los Angeles based artist Evan Whale that will be on view until November 7, 2020. My gallery will give solo exhibitions to domestic and international artists while also incorporating group exhibitions to accumulate a roster of represented artists to be released hopefully in 2021.

Tyler Park Presents Gallery

Park and his dog outside his gallery.

EB: How did you navigate opening a gallery during COVID-19? 

TP: Opening a gallery during a global pandemic and a recession is not ideal but has many upsides. Starting the gallery during this current moment allows me to better navigate the future with the obstacles I may encounter. I don’t have the pressure of doing the art fair circuit, which can cost upwards of $10k or need to travel to events. Many art galleries worldwide have taken a massive hit at the beginning of the year as they learned how to navigate this moment. This works in my favor because it allows me to evaluate the steps that galleries took and use that to my advantage. There is a void of new gallery ventures at the moment that I intend to fill as something exciting and new to offer.

EB: Do you have any advice for our students who have the same dream? 

TP: Be sure to take advantage of the contemporary gallery practice class and consider taking an internship. An internship is more than just an introduction to the gallery side of the art world; it is a way to build relationships and connections, which is a vital component of having a gallery.