The Daily Life of a Gallery Assistant

An interview with Kali Doubledee and Heather Barczynski

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 10.47.07 AM.png(Left to Right: Kali Doubledee and Heather Barczynski)

• What is your favorite part of working at the Dyer Arts Center? 

Kali: Giving tours, especially for kids; giving tours for adults and children are completely different. I love the kids’ curiosity and amazement at learning something new. It feels like I’m introducing them to a whole new world.

Heather: Events, which I might only work for the free food… I also love seeing exhibits come together; I had no idea how much work it takes to make it all happen. It’s really fulfilling to see the final product. Also, after an exhibit is completed, we typically host an opening reception, which brings us back to food!

• What are you not a big fan of (aka what parts do you dislike, even though it’s impossible to dislike anything about Dyer)? 

Kali: Vinyl letters—they’re extremely time consuming and frustrating.

Heather: Cleaning. As my roommates know, I don’t even clean at home, so it’s a little weird coming to work to clean; sometimes I feel like a glorified janitor. I also don’t like kicking people out of the gallery. Even though it’s after hours and we’re technically closed, I have a really hard time telling people to leave. I also don’t like climbing ladders; I feel like I’ll either die by falling off a ladder or by getting hit by one of those little FMS trucks. Wow, I seem negative. I promise I really do love working here!

• What is your favorite event? 

Kali: Wine and Paint. Because wine.

Heather: Zentangle. Because apple cider.

• What is your favorite exhibit? 

Kali: (Re)Invention VSA. The art was so different, individualistic, and unique. I liked that the exhibit was accompanied by a book describing each artist and their work; I liked learning the stories behind the art. Also the artists had different disabilities, and they showed that anyone can make art. Their art was reflective of who they are as artists and people.

Heather: Ann Silver: A Retrospective. Ann Silver was one of the first deaf artists I learned about freshman year in Deaf Art and Cinema, so seeing her exhibit was like coming full circle. Also, coming from Pittsburgh, the birthplace of Andy Warhol, I loved her pop art style.

• What do other people need to know about being a gallery assistant? 

Kali: It’s not as easy as you think. A lot of time is invested in working with other artists. Working here is like a rollercoaster: some weeks are crazy, some weeks are calm, and unexpected things happen. Even though it can be crazy, the whole gallery team is like my family.

Heather: Be flexible. Every day you’re doing something new, and you have to be ready when challenges arise (and they will). You really are part of a team. These are people I spend 20 hours a week with, and after a while, you become more of friends and family than coworkers.

• As a gallery assistant, what is your pet peeve? 

Kali: When labels fall off the wall. Can’t they just stay on the wall for a second for our sake?!

Heather: The light in Kali and my office; the light is motion activated, and after so long sitting at my desk, it will go off. Despite waving my arms sporadically, it often doesn’t come back on until I finally get up from my desk. I’m tired; I just want to sit! (Btw Kali is often found sitting in the dark because she learned how to embrace her dark side (aka she’s too lazy to move).)


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