We had the good fortune of connecting with Carrie Eldridge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carrie, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
We study history to understand humanity, and to prevent repeated mistakes. Art is the recording of more than events, it is the recording of emotion, human experience, and cultural transitions. ATO was created with the mission to allow all artists to be equally represented in the history of our world. Currently, and for the past 300 years, the art market disproportionally represents white men. Don’t get me wrong, I love their work, but when we look at facts on the National Womens Museum website, or Artnet’s data on the lack of diversity in galleries, and thus museums it makes my stomach churn. More than $196.6 billion has been spent on art at auction between 2008 and the first half of 2019. Of this, work made by women accounts for just $4 billion—around 2 percent.The study also found that 87% of art in 18 major museums in the US are male, with 85% white male. The stats are even more jarring in Western Europe. We should all have a voice in OUR history, because we are all making it together.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been an entrepreneur since I was eight years old. I have been launching technology companies since my sophomore year in college inventing consumer products, and AI apps exactly like Apple’s SIRI before SIRI was even founded. After university I was fortunate enough to work at what I regard as some of the greatest companies in the world, IBM and Morgan Stanley. While at Morgan Stanley I was a Private Wealth Advisor and had to network constantly to meet new clients. That led me to hanging out at the Gagosian Galley in Beverly Hills. I found myself ceaselessly curious about the art industry and was puzzled why financial methodology and corporate logic had not been utilized to improve the buying experience for collectors, and revenue model for artists. More importantly, I felt heart broken when I learned about the blatant discrimination, and even abuse of female and minority artists. I just knew that I could make a difference, even if I didn’t know how at the time. I learned that bridging the gap between technology and art to help people was going to be the most challenging endeavor of my life, and worth all my time. I left Morgan Stanley in 2017 to build a team of engineers, art experts, and started learning what artists and collectors wanted the most.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I were showing a friend around a town be it Paris or New York the first place is always the museums. For lunch I would take them to not only historic restaurants in the area that come with a story, but also new ones that only locals know about to get a genuine sense of the community. I like to hang out in parks or areas like around the Trocadéro, or lower West side of Central Park. I’d then try to find what local musicians were performing, my favorite is classical. Some of the most memorial trips I’ve ever had involved unexpected performances by harpist in New York, or a cello, violin, and harpsichord trio in Dublin Ireland. Anything that justifies dressing to the nines and sipping champagne after is a good time in my book. Later in the week I would mix it up with a comedy club or local rock band. It is important to ask locals what would they want to show their friends when visiting, it has never failed me.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my Shoutout to my team at ATO, and the artists that have put their trust and support in me. I really wouldn’t have the courage to do this alone and without their inspiration. I’m grateful for my investors like Bennet Grutman for believing in my vision for a brighter, more diversified art world. I’m grateful for team members like Lisa Koonce and her unweaving faith that what we are doing is so necessary not only for the arts, but for humanity. We are stronger and smarter together, and my team understands that all artists, galleries, and residency programs that support them need equal access to a tool like ATO to facilitate this change for good.
Jasna Barisic Sei Shimura Sofia Maria Paz Daniel Maltzman Agnieszka Pilat Ben Mori