We had the good fortune of connecting with Cecilia Chia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cecilia, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Stick with it, even when the worst of your insecurities come out to meddle with your thoughts, don’t let them get the best of you. Starting Glass Rice in my early twenties was by far the biggest risk I have ever taken, and the responsibility of it all was downright petrifying at times. I learned a lot of hard lessons in the beginning and made many mistakes, but I had to learn quickly to pick myself up and commit right then and there to not make that same mistake again. Now, that definitely wasn’t a foolproof tactic and perfection is nearly impossible, but I got better with every exhibition, event, meeting and mistake I made. I pushed myself to be better for my artists and community. As a San Francisco native, I started Glass Rice with the intention to not only put on exciting exhibitions, but to provide a platform for emerging artists, primarily local Bay Area artists. I never wanted my own shortcomings to come between that, so I took (and still take) every opportunity I was presented with to absorb as much knowledge I could from my peers, experiences, mentors, books and podcasts. Use every tool and connection you have to teach yourself what it is you want to learn, especially when it is something you are passionate about. Progress comes with time and hard work but before you know it, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally.
As a gallerist, I am most proud of my relationships with the artists I work with and the space we have carved out for ourselves in this industry. I am humbled on a daily basis that my journey has allowed me to grow alongside good people who are wildly talented, driven and focused. From the get-go, I made it a priority to ensure our gallery space was a warm and inviting environment, taking the time to acknowledge and speak to anyone that would walk through our doors. I think galleries can more often than not feel sterile and intimidating, which in turn ostracizes a great number of people. I would never want a single person to feel as though they do not belong in our space. Public art is something that should be enjoyed and experienced by anyone who seeks it out, and as a gallery, we must fiercely protect that notion.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
San Francisco is a city full of gems! You just have to take the time to seek them out. As a San Francisco native and Chinese-American woman, I would without a doubt first take my friend to one of my favorite dimsum spots in the city or down the Peninsula. Some of my favorite spots where you can find us at in the city would be the MOAD (Museum of African Disapora), The Legion of Honor, Farmhouse Thai, Free Gold Watch for pinball, Liho Liho Yacht Club, The Old Clam House, Zazie’s, Shhh Secret Shop, Golden Gate Park and Gray Area to name a few. I would also make sure that we took at least a day to get out of the city to visit the ample and lush natural beauty around us.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
One sentiment I have maintained since the inception of Glass Rice is that a strong community is the sustenance of any good gallery. We started on the second floor of a massive showroom building in the design district of San Francisco. There really was no way of knowing we were in there if you didn’t already, but it made sense financially to stay in that space. We worked hard to continually put on exciting shows that people would want to show up for, and after some time, we gained a steadfast following made up of collectors, artists, peers and friends. Their support was the lifeline to our success, which then allowed us to expand and move into our current space at 808 Sutter, formerly Legion. Our inaugural and current show is titled “Community” to reflect this sentiment. It only felt right to bring together ours through a group exhibition of talented artists co-curated with our friend Sydney Pfaff of Legion. I couldn’t just shoutout one person to credit in our story, so I’d love to thank each and every artist I’ve had the pleasure of working with, my assistant director Taylor Jakovich, every patron that has walked through our doors, and to all the collaborators and friends I’ve made along the way.
Leif Dautch Taylor Jakovich