15 Minutes with Jessica Silverman


Since 2008, Jessica Silverman has been the vanguard of the bustling contemporary art scene in the Bay Area. Representing both local and international talent—from icon Judy Chicago to promising young stars like Woody De Othello—she has built significant collections for her ardent clientele while expanding artists’ careers around the world. Her statement- making approach to presenting work at art fairs coupled with her unquestionably cool vibes have put her gallery on the global map.

Photo by Drew Altizer

You have single-handedly elevated the art scene in the Bay Area. Why do you feel your approach to the work sets you apart from others?
I doubled down on San Francisco a long time ago, and this commitment to the city and to the artists we show is felt with our local clients in particular. We strive to show compelling work by local, international and national artists to help educate and engage with Bay Area collectors and curators.

In what ways does California culture inspire your work?
Living close to nature is incredibly influential on the way we live and work in San Francisco. The culture here is one of start-ups, and many of my clients come from the venture capitalist world so they are adept at assessing information and supporting new ideas. This headspace is integral to my ability to take risks and introduce artists to the market.

Many once-emerging artists have achieved tremendous notoriety from your representation. Do you have specific criteria when selecting artists to showcase at the gallery?
Of course! Representing an artist is like being in a relationship. I look for an artist’s commitment to their work, as well as their desire to grow and be collaborative. It is integral that artists are not “one-trick ponies” and that they are ambitious and want to build a career that is intentional, grounded and strives for new opportunities.

What has been your greatest challenge and greatest learning experience since opening the gallery in 2008?
So many! Because we started small in San Francisco, I was able to make mistakes that many people did not notice. Each mistake taught me a valuable lesson and strengthened my convictions. At the end of the day I trust my gut, and—time and time again—going with my instinct has worked well for me.

Which global art fair do you feel is best for connecting with serious collectors?
The most recent new art fair we did was Frieze Seoul in 2023. It was beautiful to be there with a solo booth for Woody De Othello. We met great new clients, writers and curators. Being in a new city with an artist who had never shown in Asia was really fun and established new collector relationships that we continue to build.

Which artist do you currently feel is the one to watch?
We have amazing shows coming up in 2024 and 2025. A few names to watch closely are Chelsea Ryoko Wong, Rebecca Ness, Rupy C. Tut and Andrea Carlson—all women who we are either representing and/or have solo shows within the coming seasons.

Favorite San Francisco restaurant? Cotogna—hands down. But for sushi, Ju-Ni.

Which hotel in California is your favorite escape?
We love Solage in Calistoga. Their pool is amazing!

If you weren’t a gallerist, you would be? Probably in real estate!

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