Young, authentically hip, and good at what he does, it is no surprise that Tripoli Patterson’s Tripoli Gallery in Southampton is still going strong in its third year.
The 27-year-old professional surfer-cum-gallerist curated his first exhibition at the Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton in 2005 and it was a smashing success. Patterson followed with a handful of well-attended and profitable independent shows in barns around the Hamptons before opening his own space in 2009.
“I enjoyed the process, I enjoyed working with artists,” he said, explaining how a young professional surfer carved a path into the art world. “It was a nice balance with the surfing stuff,” Patterson added, noting that the exhibitions allowed him to step out of the spotlight and express himself through the creativity of others.
“I was magnetically attracted to these kinds of people,” he said, recalling that he befriended New Orleans painter Angelbert Metoyer after the two had a random conversation on the subway in New York City.
Once he started looking for artists, “That same thing happened on a greater scale.” Patterson explained he has built quality relationships with Tripoli Gallery’s stable of talent, including Lola Schnabel, Nick Weber, Felix Bonilla Gerena, Darius Yektai, Metoyer and Herbie Fletcher, among others. “I have faith in them as individuals and as humans… I’m very much in touch with all my artists.”
Patterson’s intimate approach is part of a greater philosophy for displaying and selling art. “You start learning the artists, and at the same time you start learning the collectors,” he said. “I like this idea that we’re going to be able to grow together. Not only artists, but collectors too.”
In the end, Patterson believes friendships with his artists and collectors will create something of a community and lead to a greater understanding and advancement of Tripoli Gallery’s mission.
“I like to treat my art as artifacts left behind that are going to say something about a generation,” Patterson said, pointing out that art is something of value and importance in an age of reality television and fast food. His father, Leonardo Patterson is a world-renowned expert and dealer of pre-Columbian art and antiquities, so it’s no coincidence that he considers the perception of art in the far future.
In the present, Patterson wants the work he displays to be as widely perceived as possible. His collectors come from all walks of life, though it’s no secret that Patterson frequently rubs elbows with the art world’s elite.
He has sold art to Larry Gagosian and he counts Julian Schnabel among his friends, but the young gallery owner never seems boastful or pretentious when discussing his famous friends. “It’s nice to be able to sell things to different demographics of people,” he said, explaining that his collectors aren’t just buying a piece of art from Tripoli Gallery. “They’re buying into what we are doing,” Patterson said.