15 Minutes with Sabrina Buell


NOTABLY ONE OF THE COOLEST CALIFORNIA NATIVES—art advisor, patron, surfer, wife and mom—Sabrina Buell truly does it all. Known for playing a pivotal role in exposing the Silicon Valley tech community to art and championing several crucial initiatives for art institutions, since 2012 Buell has served as partner at Zlot Buell + Associates, a cross-generational, multifaceted art advisory practice. Here she shares who and what in the world of art has her attention.

How are advanced technologies like AI affecting artists and their work? Artists are getting very engaged with AI in amazing ways. It’s opening up the practice to allow the artist to pose questions in new ways, with increased audience involvement and endless possibilities for outcomes. The trick is presenting it in a way that takes aesthetics and context into consideration.

What artist are you most excited about right now? In the AI space I’m most excited about Ian Cheng (who spent time in California and went to UC Berkeley), Anicka Yi, Philippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe.

Why is it important for the design and architecture communities to integrate art advisors into their projects?The art world is so vast, and technology has only opened it up more. In order to digest all the information and make educated decisions, it’s critical to have professionals who are engaged with the larger ecosystem of museums, galleries and artists 24/7. I have a team of eight and we are out there looking at works and speaking with artists, curators and gallerists nonstop. The information we get from this active engagement is critical to making smart decisions around art.

What is one piece of advice you give young women beginning their careers in the art world? Find a mentor who can help you navigate your career path. Women really champion women in the art world and having a trusted mentor will do wonders.

If you could have dinner with any artist, who would it be and why?
Tina Modotti. She was an activist and revolutionary and lived a passionate life surrounded by artists like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Edward Weston. I could ask her questions for days.

Where is your favorite place to be in the world? Aside from being in the ocean surfing, there are some museums that make me very happy: Dia:Beacon in Upstate New York, the Beyeler in Basel and Naoshima in Japan.

What music are you listening to right now? My husband and I are obsessed with Acid Pauli, Oceanvs Orientalis and all the Mayan Warrior DJs.

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