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Meet Nathan Vonk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nathan Vonk.

Nathan, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Sullivan Goss was started in Pasadena in 1984, in the early 90’s it moved to Santa Barbara, where we remain today. I began working here in late 2008 during the darkest part of the Great Recession. When everyone else was losing their jobs, I was one of the few people who was hired, and I’ve always felt incredibly fortunate for that. I worked here for ten years before buying the gallery from the founders when they were ready to retire. Since that time, we have been through the single worst natural disaster in Santa Barbara history, and now a complete shutdown to do the Covid19 pandemic. We have been able to weather these storms by focusing on our relationship with our community, and building upon our reputation as a community institution. We have a large inventory of world class artworks, but we make sure that everyone feels welcome to come in and look at our carefully curated exhibitions, even if you can’t afford to buy the pieces on display. The art world can be intimidating and even alienating, and we work very hard to be the opposite of that. As a result, we have developed a very loyal clientele who have helped us through the tough times with their patronage and friendship, both of which are very important to us.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been far from a smooth road. In times of tragedy and uncertainty, art is one of the first things people stop buying. It understandably seems less essential than many other things. So, anything that causes a general sense of insecurity is very hard on the commercial art world. If we’ve been effective in convincing people how essential the arts are to a full, rich life, then people come back quickly. But it is hard work and must be done over the long term to work.

Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery has represented the work of American artists since 1984. With an inventory of over 3,000 paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints and sculptures, Sullivan Goss is one of the largest West Coast galleries focused on building private and public collections of important American art.

We offer approximately twenty exhibitions each year, including solo shows for contemporary and historic artists as well as curated thematic exhibitions. Through our research efforts, Sullivan Goss is also involved with scholarship and research for American artists. Our gallery’s website is one of the internet’s best sites for information about American art from 1850 to today. We also have an active publication program.

What sets us apart from many galleries and what I am most proud of is our efforts to be as open, welcoming, and approachable as possible to anyone and everyone that comes into contact with our program. While it is essential for us to sell art, we also feel that it is essential to be docents, mentors, and advisors to those who are just beginning to enter the art world.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Growing up in rural Iowa, we used to see hot air balloons in the evenings every so often. Whenever we did, we would drop what we were doing and go chase them down to watch them land. On the drive home, it would get dark and you could see millions upon millions of fireflies blinking on and off above the cornfields. It was magical.


  • We have works for sale from $500 – $1,000,000

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Image Credit:
Sullivan Goss Gallery

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