Kristen Coates is the curator and co-owner of Coates Wyllie, a new gallery on 29th Street she opened amidst designing and renovating a houseboat and continuing her creative fashion collections, including a line of painted tepees.

How did you first get interested in contemporary art?

My mother had shelves of art and design books in our library growing up. Years later I realized they were all stolen library books. It was the first time I really understood that emotional attachment that one comes to have with art, that thing that drives an otherwise perfect citizen to steal from their college library. My mother would die if she read this.

Congratulations on your opening! Tell us about Coates Wyllie.

We opened our gallery in September. Chris Wyllie and I had worked on a project together earlier in the year designing and renovating Belafonte, an old houseboat turned bed-and-breakfast in Newport, RI. As the summer was coming to an end, we thought, “What’s next?” One night we were walking to the Ace Hotel after discussing the idea of opening a gallery and saw a “for lease” sign on a storefront next door. Within a week we signed the lease. In December Grey Area will host their Christmas show Ornamental at Coates Wyllie. Our next show in January, Character Saturation, is a collection of pieces filled with color from several artists including America Martin and Mark Reigelman. And because we were fortunate not to be affected by Hurricane Sandy, a portion of the proceeds from all our shows through the end of 2013 will be donated to The Mayor’s Fund to support hurricane relief in NYC.

Do you live with any art at home?

I tend to hang the work of artists I know, some of which I am fortunate enough to have received as gifts. Chris is very generous with his art. On more than one occasion I have come home to my entire apartment rearranged with a new painting of his as the focal point. One of my favorites, Girl with Flowers, now sits in the drawing room of our home in Newport, RI.


Chris Wyllie, "Girl with Flowers"

An art book everyone should read?

I don’t think Purple Fashion Magazine is considered a book, but for all the work they do it should be a big voluminous book. Anything that can make me book a trip to Paris by the end of it should get some recognition as good reading material.

Artist quote or words to live by?

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

A show you’re looking forward to in the coming months?

I do not know too much about the Italian sculptor Fabio Viale, but I love Sperone Westwater and their place on Bowery. It’s wonderful when they install large work. With all that said, my roots are in fashion and I am really looking forward to seeing where Alexander Wang takes Balenciaga.

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