Close Call at Mackey Gallery

Apama Mackey soldiers on.

Late this summer, Mackey finally decided to close her gallery. She wanted to simplify things. She started selling off the gallery furnishings and donated tools to local artists and art centers. She put a for-rent sign up in front of the gallery. A twentysomething hostess she worked with at the restaurant said, "I'm sorry you're closing your gallery, but, um, do you have a computer table I could buy?"

A realtor looking for an office came to see the space, as did some guy who wanted to open an amp shop. Then there was the guy who "wanted to open a wine bar — or," says Mackey, chuckling, "an ad agency. Like it would be one or the other..." She was surprised by how possessive she felt about the space.

It was a difficult time for Mackey, and she wasn't feeling exactly social. She was invited to a party with a lot of art people, but was just going to drop off some flowers and leave. When she arrived, fellow guest and gallerist Sonja Roesch said, "Oh, stay and have a tah-koh." Mackey relates the story, perfectly mimicking the German gallerist's accent. "And I thought well, why not."

Apama Mackey took a job waiting tables to keep her gallery afloat.
Kelly Klaasmeyer
Apama Mackey took a job waiting tables to keep her gallery afloat.


Apama Mackey Gallery's next show, "Dan ­Fabian," opens Saturday, September 19, from 6 to 8 p.m., 628 East 11th St., 713-850-8527.

Sitting with Roesch and her daughter, artist Ariane Roesch, Mackey surveyed the scene. It was a lovely house, owned by a lovely couple, and Mackey thought to herself, "'Wow, these people have worked really hard for this, and they really deserve it.' But then I thought, 'You know, I have worked really hard too and don't want to lose what I've accomplished.' I couldn't believe I was throwing in the towel; that's not me." That's when she decided to keep the gallery open and not give up. "It was so ridiculous," says Mackey, laughing again. "I'm making this major life decision because Sonja says, "Oh, stay and have a tah-koh."

She'd sold the fridge, moved close to a thousand art books to her house and gotten rid of most of the stuff she'd accumulated in the last 12 years, but it was cathartic. The formerly book-filled library is now additional exhibition space. When I met up with her at the gallery, she was cheerful, even about painting the floor. "I didn't realize the attachment I had to the clients, to the artists, to the art," she says. "It's not a lifestyle, it's a life."

Mackey just lost her job at the restaurant. The owner recently backed a truck up in the middle of the night and cleared the place out. She says he might have something for her at another restaurant he owns, but she's looking around. We discuss the virtues of temping. I ask her what she's heard from other galleries about how they are doing.

"They all say it's hard, but no one is ­really going to tell you," says Mackey. "It's such an image thing, you know. What should really matter is that people trust you, that artists and collectors trust you and trust your eye, not that the gallery is so beautiful and perfect and making money hand over fist. I mean, we all scrub our own toilets."

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help