DETROIT — There is a great tension between the investments an artist makes to produce work and the living she extracts from selling art. It is a classic conundrum that many artists have to fund their own efforts for some length of time by an alternative means of support, and one major expense, especially for beginning or mid-career artists, is swinging travel expenses for residencies, art fairs, and international shows.
Enter Julia Friedman, who founded the Los Angeles–based ExchangeWorks in late 2013, with a mission to create a worldwide trading economy between artists and the public. This enables the free exchange of art and resources — such as materials, professional services, and, most recently, frequent flyer miles (though international trading is possible, currently most of its services and exchanges are within the US). Says Friedman, who studied fine arts in college but quickly moved into the business side: “Throughout my career as a gallery owner and before that, when I ran an arts management service, I saw a wide gap between artists and the public, as well as the continuous need for artists to find resources that enable them to work.” Friedman was director of her own gallery, with locations in Chicago and New York, and produced and managed projects at international venues, such as the Yokohama Triennale, the Berkeley Art Museum, and Exit Art in New York. These experiences inspired her to found ExchangeWorks, with the support of “instrumental” advisors Eric Garduño, Bonn Macy, Rocio Villalobos, and Rob Ray.