Getting Ready for the Show with Gallery Director Sybil Godwin

If you’re an art lover, then going to a new art opening at one of your favorite galleries can be the highlight of your social calendar. In the past several years we’ve fallen in love with the art scene here in Charlotte, and the Shain Gallery is one of our favorite galleries to check out on opening night. So much goes into getting the galleries ready for these openings, and I decided to ask Sybil Godwin, the Gallery Director at the Shain Gallery all about it.

1| How long have you been the Gallery Director at the Shain Gallery? I came to the Shain Gallery in February 2013. I worked in galleries for nine years in Atlanta before moving back to Charlotte (where I grew up:))

2| What is a typical day at the Shain like? My day at Shain begins with lots and lots of emails, to and from clients and artists. We spend most of our days working with our clients, and taking paintings to client’s houses. Then of course we take a break to have lunch from Nolen’s or Reid’s!

3| During your time as Gallery Director, what has been your favorite part of the experience? My favorite experiences as gallery director are always seeing new work from our artists that I love! It feels like Christmas morning everytime I see our artists new work. The excitement artwork brings is totally joyful.

4| When it comes to introducing new artist to your ever growing list of artists who are represented at the Shain, what role do you play? Gaby and I work together to find new artists. We work hard to listen to our clients on what they are looking for. And then we find new artists to cater to that.

5| What would you say is the most important part of maintaining a successful relationship between a Gallery and an artist they represent? Our artists are like family to me. We share in each others life events, and several of them I’ve been with for close to ten years. They have seen me as a single gallery girl in Atlanta, to a now married with two kids gallery director in Charlotte. Because of our close relationships, we are able to talk to each other honestly and get the best work that suits the present time.

6| When it comes to working with the artists as they create pieces for an upcoming show, what is your favorite part about the process? My job is sales. So when we prepare for a show with an artists, I try to steer them in the selling direction – whether that be a certain look or certain saleable sizes. We hold each other’s hands through the process.

7| I’ve always loved coming to the shows at the Shain over the years and have always wondered what all happens behind the scenes to get the gallery ready for the show. Can you tell me about what all goes into preparing the gallery for a show once the paintings arrive? Once the paintings arrive for a show, which is usually the week before, we call Eric Olsen. Eric hangs every show, and is fabulous at it. He will come in, and together we will all arrange the show. Then, we hire Lou, the bartender. Lou is our man! He takes such good care of us, and we consider him one of the team – as he hasn’t missed a show in years. We always try to serve good wine and cheese. But we never focus too much on the food, because we want people to come for the art!

8| What is your favorite part about the opening night of a new show? My favorite part about the opening night of show are the sales! I love it when the environment is right and we have clients fighting over paintings. Nothing better!

9| What is the atmosphere in the gallery like in the moments before the first guests arrive? Before the show begins, we have a lot of nervous energy, and we are running around like crazy. We are also making sure the artists are taken care of.


10| The most recent show at the Shain was a solo show for Artist Josh Brown. Did you have a piece from the show that was your absolute favorite? Josh Brown’s show was our most recent show. His solo show every year is always a favorite.  He is so young and he works so hard. It is fun to see him do well. Out of all of the paintings in the show, I loved his giraffe family painting the best.

Family of Four | Josh Brown

11| No matter how many paintings that you’ve sold over the years, do you still get excited every time you send a painting off to it’s new home? I am in love with selling art, so of course each sale is special to me. My dad always told me through the years, that I am never as good as my NEXT sale, so I try not to get too proud of myself.

Christa | theavidpen


  • Reply Andy Braitman August 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    What an enthralling interview. Sybil is the bomb. Next time you should ask some artists about the gallery director– artist connection.
    I would love to put in my 2 cents.
    She is most supportive and enthusiastic, a genuine delight.

  • Reply Congrats, Sybil! – theavidpen August 18, 2017 at 6:57 am

    […] is a Charlotte native (as she mentioned in a recent interview here on the blog) and has previously served as Gallery Manager at Anne Irwin Fine Art and […]

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