FunWOW, “Bang”, 2017 Acrylic and oil on canvas 42” x 33” .

Carrie Beth McGarry

Graduating Class (Year): 2008

What you are up to now? 

I am the current owner of {9} The Gallery, a contemporary fine art gallery located in Phoenix’s Grand Avenue Arts District committed to exhibiting local, national, and international artists of the highest quality. The gallery represents a wide-range of artistic styles including photorealism, pop art, landscapes, watercolors, abstracts, and sculpture as well as custom fashion, hand-crafted furniture and jewelry. 

As an artistic outlet, I co-manage and paint with my husband, Sean, under the vibrant pop-art brand, FunWOW, based out of Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2016, FunWOW was one of 40 artists chosen by the environmental activist organization Global Inheritance to redesign a 65-gallon recycling bin into a work of art to be part of their TRASHed x Coachella Art of Recycling Exhibit at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA.  Since then, FunWOW’s work has been featured as part of Global Inheritance’s collection at Shaun White’s Air & Style LA, FYF Festival, Desert Daze in Joshua Tree, California and at HBO x TRASHed as well as multiple exhibits in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. 2020 marks our fifth year of collaboration with Global Inheritance and the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. FunWOW has also exhibited locally in solo and group shows in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. 

What led you into arts management?

I was on the North American National Tour of “42nd Street” and my position with the company allowed me to spend more time working alongside company management than on stage. I realized in that moment that my passion for managing the arts was greater than my passion for performing. I called my former advisor at the University at Buffalo and she alerted me to a brand new program in Arts Management that was in development, but the deadline for submissions was the next day. I wrote my application and essay in a hotel lobby and have never looked back.

Most memorable experience in the Program?

There are too many memorable experiences to count. I am honored to have been the program's first graduate assistant and cherish working alongside the Program's founding director, Dr. Ruth Bereson. Another great memory was returning to the Program to be an adjunct instructor for Fieldwork.

I continue to reference the lectures and encounters that I was afforded through the Program's summer school France, most memorably sitting alongside the late artist Sacha Sosno in the kitchen of his studio and being able to observe the studies for his magnificent, large-scale sculptures. The program also afforded me the opportunity to attend the Broadway League National Conference where, amongst the many outstanding talks, I was able to witness a then “up-and-coming” Lin-Manuel Miranda debut what he then referred to as his “backstage projects” and meet the great Mel Brooks.

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Not everything has to be in absolutes. There can be grey area; there can be discussion; there can be risk in both academia and in practice. It was a lesson Dr. Bereson repeatedly emphasized that has evolved with me as I have grown in my professional career.

Advice for current/prospective students?

Breathe, learn and take it all in. The coursework may not resonate with you in the moment but you WILL have an “AH-HA!” moment later on in your professional career when everything you have absorbed will fall into place and make sense.

Also, go to galleries. Go to openings. Take note of what is being exhibited and presented, what boundaries are being pushed (or not), and what is selling. Study the quality of execution. Art is a business. Artists need to be promoted, branded, identify their target market and understand how and where they differentiate themselves in the marketplace. 

And finally, always be the consummate professional, but at the same time don’t be afraid to go against the grain. “Managing the arts” is not necessarily a popular concept in every city or market you end up in. However, if you are lucky enough, you will connect with like-minded colleagues and together be able to push the boundaries of the arts market, revolutionize the way artists think of themselves and find new ways for the arts to thrive in challenging environments.

From an alum...

The program also afforded me the opportunity to attend the Broadway League National Conference where, amongst the many outstanding talks, I was able to witness a then “up-and-coming” Lin-Manuel Miranda debut what he then referred to as his “backstage projects” and meet the great Mel Brooks.

Carrie Beth McGarry.