Home Culture This Local Montclair Gallery is a Must-Visit

This Local Montclair Gallery is a Must-Visit

by The Montclair Girl Team
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Ria Asmaeil, the owner of Ria x Gallery in Montclair,  is a second-generation framer who learned the ropes — and frames — of the trade from an early age. Stemming from a family of framers in Queens, New York, Ria has been surrounded by art from a young age. Her father’s store worked with pieces made by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and other emerging artists, and her passion for art began with specialized framing followed by relationship-building with her clients and artists.

Today, Ria’s gallery sits beautifully at 204 Bellevue Avenue in Montclair and specializes in bespoke framing as well as serving as an art gallery to the public. Ria’s passion for framing, art, and symbiotic relationships are the framework of her career, and The Montclair Girl connected with Ria to learn more about her business and life as a local entrepreneur. Read on to hear all about Ria x Gallery in Montclair, New Jersey. 

ria x gallery montclair nj

The Ivy at Chatham

(Photo credits: Rossy Ramos, Ria x Gallery)

The Montclair Girl: As an art gallery director and woman entrepreneur, how have you grown Ria x Gallery into the business that it is today?

Ria Asmaeil: I grew up in a creative environment. When I was 13 years old, one of my favorite activities to do was to go to work with my father, a master framer with over 40 years of framing experience in Manhattan. The store was a haven for me, where I not only learned framing techniques but, at a very young age, was introduced to the structure of the business. Once I mastered the basics, I gained the freedom to be creative while building relationships with artists and collectors.

Eventually, as I became a gallerist and business owner, I decided to do things differently and began experimenting with new ideas. A thing I treasure from what I learned from my father that still carries me through is cultivating a strong relationship with clients. Creating that trust has helped me grow my business in a male-dominated industry. I’ve learned that trust goes both ways when my clients and artists entrust me with their valuable artwork.

MG: How do you select pieces for display? Which artists do you feature?

RA: I always try to exhibit works by artists that I would have in my own collection, and by working with well-known art collectors, I am able to preview which artist is going to be-sought after. The gallery is still evolving and growing, but I have been committed from the early beginnings to support artists in developing their careers as well as to promote New Jersey’s art community.

See More: Art Galleries in the Montclair Area to Visit

ria x gallery exhibit montclair nj

(Photo credits: Rossy Ramos, Ria x Gallery)

MG: How do you curate the events and shows for artists? Do you focus on local talent?

RA:: The curatorial phase is a complex and exciting part of the exhibition project. After the selection of the artist, the creative exchange process begins. Together with our artistic director, Rossy Ramos, we begin to outline the exhibition theme based on the conceptual framework of the artist, the artwork, and how the pieces relate to the gallery space. 

At the moment, we are focused on remaining committed to projects that accommodate a younger generation of artists, as well as continuing to nurture our relationship with experienced creators. I also look forward to creating a healthy geographic exchange, presenting more exhibition opportunities to artists who have not been introduced to collectors in the United States. 

MG: Your gallery is based in Montclair. How has working with and within our community shaped the organization?

RA: Montclair is one of the most creative and supportive cities you can find. For that, I feel deeply grateful for the support of our artistic community. Being here for over 10 years and seeing the growth and making the friendships has allowed us to give back to the community. Our business gladly supports local schools, churches, and events, like the Montclair Film Festival and Jazz Festival.

ria asmaeil ria x gallery montclair

(Photo credits: Rossy Ramos, Ria x Gallery)

MG: What have been the most rewarding aspects of running your gallery? What have been the most challenging aspects?

RA: Certainly supporting artists to thrive in their careers, but also creating an ecosystem of new collectors. Being in touch with new works of art every day and spreading this excitement to potential collectors, as well as bringing beautiful and challenging pieces into people’s homes is the most rewarding aspect of being a gallerist.

MG: The pandemic shifted gears for many local organizations and businesses. How has it impacted yours?

RA: The pandemic has been a game-changer in all aspects of our society. The art world witnessed museums, cultural venues, and art galleries closing their doors. What seemed like a catastrophic event turned out to be a catalyst for the more exciting projects. 

People had more time to think about their life events and what makes them happy; among those factors was the acquisition of art and the awakening of a more philanthropic interest through financial contributions towards organizations providing support to artists.

Quickly, we entered the area of digitization, which generated great exposure to emerging talents around the world. An important change started with Black Lives Matter, one of the important social-artistic movements of our time.

By looking back and placing my focus on the positive changes, I can have a better perspective on the art world’s future. Our gallery has been through many challenging moments during this time, but with the unconditional support of our community, we have been able to overcome the roadblocks.

sculpture ria x gallery

(Photo credits: Rossy Ramos, Ria x Gallery)

Read More: Hudson County Artist to Know + Collect

MG: What are you most looking forward to for the future of the gallery?

RA: Ria x Gallery will continue to actively support and present successful art exhibitions. We are currently presenting the work of mid-career artist Douglas Diaz, and in August, we will present emerging artist Sharon Allison, whose work examines and revisits American Folk Art.

In addition, the selection of the space to open the gallery was a strategic factor in our support with the town of Montclair. The space is a modernist house which belonged to Carvel for thirty years. Today, we are proud to be able to protect the architectural heritage and make it available for the enjoyment of the community. We look forward to connecting with more organizations and having them use the gallery as a place they can enjoy as well.

You can learn more about Ria’s business & gallery on her website and find gallery photos on her Instagram. The gallery is located at 204 Bellevue Avenue and is open to the public Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturdays 10AM – 4PM.

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