Sarah Gavlak

Founder, Gavlak Gallery

Sarah Gavlak is a contemporary art dealer with galleries in Los Angeles, California, and Palm Beach, Florida. She represents an international roster of emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with a strong emphasis on pioneering women and LGBT artists. In addition to running her two galleries, Gavlak is an independent curator and writer and has organized exhibitions in Chicago, Florida, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Austria, Germany, Japan and Scandinavia. She has published essays and criticism in artists’ books and catalogs, as well in a number of publications including Purple Magazine, NU: The Nordic Review of Art, Art Review, Issue, Bedouin, Ocean Drive and Time Out New York.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1969, Gavlak knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved with the visual arts. The many family trips she took as a young child to the Carnegie Museum of Art (where she would later work first in the Museum’s book store and years later as an intern for a curator of contemporary art), and to the great museums and institutions of New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, began for her a long love affair and passion for the visual arts. In fact, it was at the age of ten that, upon seeing her first Picasso drawings at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water, she made up her mind.

In 1991, after studying Art History at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Gavlak moved to Los Angeles to pursue her graduate studies and to experience the newly emerging contemporary art scene that was cropping up in the city at that time. While pursuing an MA in Critical Theory at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, she founded Gavlak Projects, a domestic project space where she premiered the work of young and emerging artists. While in Los Angeles, she worked in various areas of the contemporary art world, including at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Works on Paper Inc., the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the LA Forum for Architecture at the Schindler House, where she organized and participated in the lecture series Fake Estate.

For the next four years, Gavlak worked with art dealer Christine Nichols at her gallery, Works On Paper, Inc, while also pursuing independent writing projects and curating exhibitions such as her perennial show Flaming June at Spanierman Modern in New York, and Good Vibrations at the Tomio Kuyama Gallery in Tokyo. It was during this time in Los Angeles that Gavlak met and worked with an impressive list of international emerging and established artists including: Jeremy Blake, Pae White, Jorge Pardo, Catherine Opie, Miles Coolidge, TJ Wilcox, Dean Sameshima, Franz Ackerman, Charlene Von Heyl, Kevin Hanley, Kathleen Johnson, and Laura London, among others.

Upon moving to New York in 2000, Gavlak worked for Yvone Force Villereal, Art Production Fund, and Gagosian Gallery. As an independent curator in New York, Sarah Gavlak organized the exhibitions The Fifth Annual Flaming June at Brook Alexander Gallery and Premier, a selection of videos by 12 international artists on view at 250 Husdon Street, an unused storfront donated by Scott Resnick of Jack Resnick and Sons.

In August of 2004 Gavlak was hired by the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art as Associate Curator , and worked on the group exhibition and accompanying catalog for “I Feel Mysterious Today,” organized by Dominic Molon, who was at the time Curator of Contemporary Art, MCA Chicago.

On November 26, 2005 Gavlak opened her first public gallery, Gavlak, in West Palm Beach, Florida in the heart of “Antique Row.” Gavlak opened the space with a solo exhibition of Wade Guyton paintings, one of Guyton’s first solo shows, and gave early exhibitions to Marilyn Minter and Aleksandra Mir, among others. From the outset the gallery featured the work of international emerging and established artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper, and video. Gavlak presented solo exhibitions of work by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Jose Alvarez, Andisheh Avini, Sheila Hicks, Marilyn Minter, Alexis Marguerite Teplin, Christopher Milne, TJ Wilcox, Pae White, Phillip Estlund, and Elif Uras, as well as themed group exhibitions organized around the idea of situating contemporary art within an art historical context.

After three successful seasons in West Palm Beach, art collector and real estate developer Jane Holzer invited Sarah to re-locate her gallery to one of Holzer's Palm Beach spaces on Worth Avenue. Located on the second floor of Via Encantata, among the fashionable boutiques, cafes, and historic Addison Mizner Architecture, the new space allowed the gallery to continue its mission to bring the highest quality contemporary art to both the most seasoned international collectors, as well as the new collectors of South Florida.

On June 26, 2014 Sarah Gavlak opened a second eponymous gallery in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The gallery opened with 5,000 square feet, but quickly expanded to 10,000 square feet by February of 2015. The new space allows Gavlak to stage larger and more ambitious exhibitions by her roster of international contemporary artists.

The Los Angeles location also enables Gavlak to exhibit the talent of an expanded range of artists living and working in California. The inaugural exhibition featured works by gallery artists Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), Andrew Brischler, Judith Eisler, Orly Genger, David Haxton, Bovey Lee, Simone Leigh, Keith Mayerson, McDermott & McGough, Scott Reeder, Alexis Marguerite Teplin, Betty Tompkins, T.J. Wilcox, Rob Wynne, Bunny Yeager; as well as Lisa Anne Auerbach, Judie Bamber, Lecia Dole-Recio, and Vincent Szarek, who live and work in Los Angeles.

Gavlak is based between Los Angeles and Palm Beach and continues to run both gallery locations.