Meet Maria Di Grande, Founder and Principal of MDG Art Advisory and Art Program Director for Four Seasons Private Residences at 706 Mission. Her unique art program will grant residents access to exclusive experiences that will connect them to San Francisco’s art community.
Maria credits her love of art to early childhood exposure. She grew up in New York City studying ballet, piano, and attending the opera with her aunt. Maria had access to a multitude of museums and exhibits, which sparked a passion that turned into a career. Living YBG sat down with Maria to discuss art, trends, and must-see exhibits in the Bay Area.
YBG: How did you start an art consulting business?
MDG: In school, I studied business with a fine art minor. It was the 1980s and we were all encouraged to study business. Throughout that time I was a painter and a sculptor, but art was in the background. After school, I thrived working on the business side of fashion for top designers in New York City, but I always knew I would eventually make my way back to my true love. Art. I moved to San Francisco and took on small projects, slowing growing them into bigger curatorial projects.
YBG: What is your curatorial approach?
MDG: I believe that art is the greatest communicator, conveying who you are and what you stand for. My specialty is consulting with residents on their private collections. Above all else, I see myself as a curator, and while I realize that term is thrown around a lot, it’s really true in my case. I go into an environment and work with the owner and often their designer to imagine, “what is the story? What is the vibration?” And because fine art is an investment, I am also very careful to assess the risk, their personal situation and other factors to develop a relationship based on trust that allows me to completely anticipate their needs and serve them at a high level.
YBG: What is a must-see exhibit in San Francisco art community right now?
MDG: I was blown away by The Chronicles of San Francisco from French muralist JR. It’s a large, black-and-white video mural on the first floor of the SFMOMA. He spent months taking video, photography, and audio of people around the city, culminating in interviews with over 12,000 people. He talked to them, filmed them, and then merged everything together into one moving mural. It’s wild because I work with a lot of muralists in terms of paintings, but this mural is truly unique. It’s the faces of San Francisco. You can spend hours watching it because there’s always different to focus on.
YBG: Do you see technology fusing with art as a new trend?
MDG: Absolutely. I love how the SFMOMA is incorporating technology, especially with Silicon Valley being so close. I feel like they are on the cutting edge of what’s happening with technological art.
For example, about a year and a half ago there was a René Magritte exhibit. The curators hired Frog Design to help them create an interpretive gallery. People would walk in and look into a screen that captured their image. That photo would then be merged into a Magritte setting. I think that’s interesting because it’s taking a classic artist and using technology to bring it into the now.
YBG: Can you share details about your plans for the Four Seasons Art Program?
MDG: Through my relationships in the Bay Area and beyond, I will connect residents with local and international artists, galleries, museums and other art professionals. Events exclusively for residents might include private exhibitions in their home, weekend art excursions, one-on-one artist events and behind-the-scenes tours. I often introduce my clients to specialized, vetted appraisers, authentication experts, law firms, insurance specialists, provenance review and auction houses. There’s a lot in store.