Gallerist at Home: Margaret Heiner

Nestled in DC’s Georgetown neighborhood, Margaret Heiner’s cozy gallery Heiner Contemporary, is quite perfect for a bustling college town, as it offers visitors young, fresh, and contemporary art.

Heiner has a keen eye for contemporary art, which at her home, serves as quite a compliment to her husband’s passion for Renaissance and Baroque art.  Together, their home reflects their combined love and zeal for art, while also showcasing their different tastes and preferences. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Bedroom Grouping, featuring artists: Alexander Gorlizki, R. A. Miller, Edwina White, Skylar Fein, Tony Feher, Avery Lawrence, Dawn Black, Walead Beshty, David Kramer, iona rozeal brown, William Powhida, Theodore “Ted” Turner. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

The art at Heiner Contemporary is colorful, new, and conceptually very hip and current.  As with all Gallerist at Home pieces, I am interested in seeing where and how gallerists’ public interest in art intersects and overlaps in their private sphere.  Just like the gallery, Heiner’s home is also colorful, vibrant, and young, but there is a welcoming and warm aspect in both her personality and private collection that come through in her house in a way that only can be expressed through the sanctity of one’s home.

Copy of Nicolas Poussin, Moses Trampling on Pharaoh’s Crown, oil on canvas. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Ellen Caldwell:  Your home is so warm and inviting.  Could you tell me about your most recent purchase for your home?

Margaret Heiner:  Our most recent acquisition is quite different from other work in our home.  My husband, the curator of collections at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA and a Renaissance and Baroque lover, purchased it before we were married.  It showed up at our house just a few days after we returned home from the hospital with our new daughter, and we couldn’t help but laugh at the imagery in light of the new baby.  I love this painting because of the classical composition, but also because it raises questions that are different from the questions raised by contemporary artwork, specifically: who painted it and when? We’ve found a place for it, but will have it cleaned before it’s hung.

Bedroom, featuring artists: Alice Neal, Jonas Wood, TOMMY. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Jonas Wood, Rosy on Hanukkah, 2011, gouache and colored pencil on paper.

EC: That’s great to have a piece from two huge events in your life together!  What about this piece by Jonas Wood (whom I am wild about!)?

MH: I purchased this drawing from Wood’s most recent show at Anton Kern Gallery in New York, after having admired his work for a long time.  I was especially drawn to this work because Rosy looks so gentle and kind; he reminds me of my great uncle.

Dining Room featuring Kara Walker. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Kara Walker, An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters, 2010, etching with aquatint, sugar-lift, spit-bite and dry-point, set of 6.

EC: I’m also a big fan of Kara Walker’s work… Could you tell me a little bit about these prints?

MH: I’ve always loved Kara Walker’s work.  She’s so talented, and her work is hard-hitting on many levels: in terms of content, aesthetics, craftsmanship, etc.  When Sikkema Jenkins announced this set of prints, I jumped on it.

Dining Room, featuring artists: Mickalene Thomas, David Summers, William Kentridge, Frohawk Two Feathers. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

William Kentridge, The Magic Flute: Dove IX & Dove IV, 2006, Drypoint with carborundum.

EC: And what about these Kentridge pieces?  We have very simpatico tastes—as he is another favorite of mine as well. His works induce such a specific sensory experience.

MH: If I could have dinner with any living artist, it would probably be William Kentridge.  I recently heard him speak and was so inspired by his lecture.  Dove IX and IV are two of my favorite works in our collection.  I wish I had the entire set!

Living Room Corner, featuring artists Barbara Probst, Jeff Koons, Celia Gerard, Elizabeth Huey. Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Barbara Probst, Exposure #70: Munich Studio: 5.10.09, 3:03pm, 2009, Ultrachrome ink on cotton paper.

EC: When we first started the interview, you mentioned that the Poussin copy was unusual for you guys.  Is there anything else in your home that you find strays from your usual collecting patterns?

MH: I don’t generally purchase photography, but I think Barbara Probst’s work is fascinating.  I love what it tells us about perception and the almost infinite ways a single moment might be interpreted.  In this diptych, I’m drawn to the people, of course, but also the colorful still life.

Bedroom Grouping close-up, featuring artists: Alexander Gorlizki, R. A. Miller, Edwina White, Skylar Fein, Tony Feher, Avery Lawrence, Dawn Black, Walead Beshty, David Kramer, iona rozeal brown, William Powhida.  Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Avery Lawrence, Wallpaper from Arranging Suitcases, 2012.

EC: And what about these wonderful pieces in your bedroom?  Could you tell me about your favorite in this grouping of work?

MH: In the center of the grouping in our bedroom is a framed piece of wallpaper by Avery Lawrence from his multi-media project “Arranging Suitcases.” It was a gift to me from the artist.  Avery is a young, incredibly talented artist whose work we’ve shown at the gallery and at a few art fairs.  Together we won the 2011 Miami SCOPE Foundation Award.  I can’t say enough good things about him.  He’s a very hard worker and his art is super smart.  Both of the projects he showed at Heiner Contemporary - “Moving A Tree” and “Arranging Suitcases” – tell deeply personal stories about the artist’s family.  He tells the stories in poetic ways using universal language and iconography, which makes them relatable to everyone.  He’s definitely an artist to watch!

Heiner Contemporary featuring “Satomi Shirai: Home & Home.” Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

Heiner Contemporary featuring “Satomi Shirai: Home & Home.” Photo courtesy of Nicole Lanteri.

EC:  And finally, how would you describe the overlap between your personal and private collecting habits?

MH: There’s quite a bit of overlap between the artwork that I have in my home and the work I select for Heiner Contemporary. I wouldn’t show anything at the gallery that I wouldn’t want for my own.  A photograph by Augusta Wood and painted collage by Anne Toebbe are on my wish list and both artists are featured in our upcoming exhibition Housebound.

Portrait of Margaret Heiner taken in front of Celia Gerard's "Fight or Flight" in her living room.


Heiner Contemporary will be presenting Housebound, a group exhibition exploring the depiction of domestic space featuring work by Rachel Farbiarz, Bella Foster, Allison Gildersleeve, Allison Reimus, Ann Toebbe and Augusta Wood.  It is on view November 2, 2012 - January 5, 2013, with an opening reception on Friday, November 2, from 6-8pm.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.