Krista Howard, founder of Howard495, has always been artistically inclined. Growing up in B.C.’s Interior, she sculpted often and made little creatures that she sold in a local art gallery shop. She would go on to study art history at the University of British Columbia and earn a contemporary art certificate at Sotheby’s in New York. After a career in real estate development—following in her father’s footsteps—she turned her fervour for art into a business. Enter Howard495, an art advisory firm she leads from a project space in East Vancouver and an office in New York.
Howard’s advisory approach stems from her own experiences observing art. Seeing a piece for the first time can be very emotional. She recalls seeing Mark Rothko’s Seagram Murals at the Tate Modern. In a little room completely enveloped in large canvases, she sat on a bench and cried. “It completely moved me. I took that away with me, thinking, wow, that’s such an impassioned, incredible work.”
Attending art fairs, biennials, museum shows, and gallery exhibitions is part of Howard’s mission to meld an international art marketplace with the Canadian one. A successful acquisition requires tapping into her network of art advisers. At times, collectors approach Howard495 to fill holes in their collections. For others, Howard builds a collection from scratch. When she has a new client, the first thing she does is teach, she says. “I show them different work, different artists, different pieces by those artists, and just let them feel the work. My aim is to get a sense of their aesthetic.” Collecting as an investment is different, as works are usually stored away, while consuming art on a daily basis means living with the works.
Inevitably, people are looking for the next new emerging artists, but collecting involves more than just buying a work and holding it. The art needs to represent a point of time in history to be collectable—work that comments on or starts a conversation about a political event, social situation, or personal experience. “Art needs a viewer,” Howard stresses. “The viewer finishes the work.”
At its core, Howard495 is a highly personal approach turned emotional experience in acquiring art for others—a service of art excellence.