As St. Louisans, we often are made aware of locally based corporate players who are recognized nationally and internationally for their level of expertise in their respective markets. Somehow knowing that these institutions are taking our homegrown talents to places far and wide connects us with people outside of our comfort zone and most definitely puts St. Louis on the map.
There are other people in this town who are having equal success at representing the integrity of St. Louis and are making quite an impact. Among them, William Shearburn, one of the region’s top art dealers. As owner and director of the William Shearburn Gallery, traveling the country and doing business globally has become second nature to him. He primarily handles only blue-chip paintings, drawings and sculpture by some of the most renowned artists in their fields.
Shearburn, a John Burroughs School and Washington University graduate, founded his Central West End gallery on McPherson Avenue in 1992. He was an anchor and mainstay of that neighborhood until he closed the gallery last year. Following a year of reflection, he settled on a new gallery space located on the main level of The Dorchester on 665 S. Skinker Blvd. It will hold its Opening Weekend April 3 to 5.
To be clear Shearburn, is a dealer rather than a gallerist. His main interest is buying and selling, rather than operating a gallery that is focused on ‘shows.’ The gallery’s selections of art will, of course, have a rotation, but the current visitor clearly sees a connection in the artistic representations Shearburn has chosen. Many of the current works on display have a black-and-white theme. You may think that this could be monotonous, but trust me, it is anything but! To examine each piece for its own characteristics and attributes allows one to understand that there are multiple ways to use black and white, without ever evoking the same emotion.
Shearburn shows passion in what he does. When not in St. Louis advising local collectors or students at John Burroughs, serving on various boards or just refining his artistic offerings, he travels around the country doing high-end, well-respected art fairs in the major markets. As a dealer, he prides himself on the relationships he has built in the past 20 years with both new and seasoned collectors, artists and other dealers around the world. So well respected is Shearburn that he is part of a select group of three founders of the new Downtown Armory Fair in New York City this May.
His new gallery space at The Dorchester has been transformed in collaboration with the talents of Phil Durham of Studio Durham Architects. Because of its location across from Forest Park, you get the sense of being in New York on Fifth Avenue: This 2,500-square-foot space has polished concrete floors that are 14 feet below the painted industrial ceiling. The high expanse is the perfect place for presenting the large-scale works of art that Shearburn often exhibits.
Philanthropy plays a role in Shearburn’s life, as well, so he will be donating 10 percent of sales through April 17 to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. For more information, visit shearburngallery.com.