December 4, 2008

Mike Homer ’00 Takes Lessons From Hardwood to Art Galleries

Former basketball player moves in fast-paced NYC art world

Q: Name the link between the midcourt paint at the NCAA basketball tournament and the multi-million dollar paintings hanging in the prestigious PaceWildenstein Gallery in New York City.

A: Mike Homer ’00.

His official title is dealer’s assistant, though for his part in the Big Apple’s frenetic creative scene, Homer might be better labeled “wrangler of chaos.” The art graduate’s daily work at the gallery includes psychology (interacting with artists and art dealers), salesmanship (suggesting works to gallery clients), history (fact-checking art provenance), and logistics (coordinating which museum, gallery, or warehouse holds PaceWildenstein’s thousands of artworks).

Still, the former member of the Division I Patriot League championship basketball teams of 1999 and 2000 takes his fast-paced work in stride. “There’s adrenaline that comes along with the job that reminds me of playing sports,” he says. “Sometimes, I even wear my old gym shorts under my suit for good luck.”

Homer’s hoop dreams lie in the past, but he often calls on lessons learned on the court. “Coach Fran O’Hanlon used to say 50 times a day, ‘Pay attention to detail.’ It became lodged in my brain,” he says. “Now my attention to detail is a skill I utilize every day.”

That pride shows in another aspect of Homer’s talents: curator. The recent Building Steam exhibition at the Williams Center for the Arts showcased his handpicked selection of dynamic works by emerging artists. The show focused on themes of accumulation, momentum, and order within disorder.

Born into an artist’s household in Spokane, Wash., Homer forsook the West Coast for the art capital of the world, drawn by his love for activity and the creative spark. “I’ve always felt there’s this amazing creative energy in New York City,” he says. “I made it to the right place.”

“I’m interested in having my own space one day, having the chance to provide a platform for emerging and undiscovered artists,” Homer says, outlining his mission. “Art will always be important because it is the currency of human exchange. It is how we share our ideas, feelings, and experiences with one another.”

It’s a truth Homer defends with a passion —though in the end it pales compared with an even greater reality, one he shares with a twinkle in his eye: “Art makes people think.”

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