As impressive as the works exhibited within and as monumental as the sculptures displayed outside, Exposures International Gallery of Fine Art stands—a functioning work of art in its own right. Gallerists Marty and Diane Herman approached the creation and growth of Exposures with the creativity and passion characteristic of any world-class artist. As a child, Diane endeavored to bring artistic expression into every aspect of her life continuously. Born and raised in Virginia, Diane was actively immersed in the arts through acting and dance, painting and equestrianism. She attended Old Dominion University and, after earning her BS in Dental Hygiene, left home shortly after that to continue her studies at UCLA. Her adage, Everything is Art, is the philosophy with which she has always approached life, and does still to this day. Marty Herman was a New York City native and photographic arts student. He one day became a combat photographer, on the battlefields of Vietnam. After making his way home, Marty worked in New York and Hollywood as a cameraman for motion pictures and documented the Apollo moon landing in 1969. However, despite his artistic talent, Marty found a passion for the world of business that was greater than his enthusiasm for photography
In his office today, surrounded by the gallery’s many awards and a few select works of fine art Marty stated, “I’m artsy. Not an artist.” Differentiating himself from his artists, Marty explained why business eventually became his primary art form. Marty could see—with a keen, artist’s eye—an aesthetic flaw or imbalance in a company; and he possessed the determination, zeal, and skillset to correct those flaws. Though he indeed appreciates the arts, Marty never possessed the drive necessary to pursue an artist’s life. “What I did have,” Marty added, “was a drive to make things artistically right.” Marty proved this through his many business accolades. In 1975, he founded a Los Angeles advertising agency which would become a multi-million-dollar business. He was once awarded “Audio Retailer of the Year” for consumer electronics and named one of the “Top 100 Executives” by the Los Angeles Times.
Through his agency—and with his savvy business sense—Marty helped clients like Toshiba and Coca-Cola penetrate the Los Angeles market and grew his clients’ profits by the tens of millions. He became a renowned businessman, enjoying the challenge and satisfaction of eventual success. In 1983, this super-man took a pause from a demanding schedule to take the hand of an equally superwoman. In a Hawaiian rainforest, Marty and Diane married. The super-duo alone set sail, literally, on their yacht for a 10,000-mile, six-year honeymoon that would be the catalyst of an adventurous life together. The Herman’s landed, eventually, in Sedona, Arizona. And in 1996, Exposures International Gallery of Fine Art—now hailed as one of the largest, most unique galleries in the world—was born.
“Sedona was known for being artsy. But I did notice [that] it was only known for it. It wasn’t actually doing it,” Marty said. He and Diane decided to change that. Today, the gallery is a glowing tribute to Marty and Diane’s ability to embrace the existing alliance between themselves and their artists. “It’s very important that there is a partnership,” Marty explained. “A partnership, to me, is where both parties run as hard as they can at each other without keeping track of who has done what.”
It is upon this foundation of partnership and trust that the couple has not only preserved their relationships with collectors and artists. Their strategy seems to have worked. Even now, after over two decades, the gallery hosts, and holds still, some of its earliest artists. It takes a special kind of person to embark upon a relationship of mutual trust. Receiving between 1000 to 2000 artist submissions a year, Marty and Diane are very discerning when welcoming a new partnership into the gallery. They accept, if any at all, only one or two of those submissions. While the criteria seemed straightforward, it was—as the last element would imply—about more than the art. Partnerships are built from the whole package, the artist included. Marty, clearly a proven astute businessman, admits that—when he first started the gallery—the artists were one of the biggest surprises.
“There is a relationship between the gallery and the artist,” Marty affirmed. “They have to trust you.” Marty disclosed that, in the very beginning, he had to prove himself to the artists he wanted to represent. So, with integrity and persistence—the resonant characteristics for which he has done all things—he did; eventually finding a balance. He leaves the artistic expression to the artists while the artists leave the business and marketing to him. They each do their absolute best at their respective jobs, trusting the other will do the same. “I was willing to take responsibility for that,” Marty said. “And they were willing to trust me. I don’t think too many artists have regretted that.”
It was clear that Marty delighted in helping young artists in an impactful way. For me, it was an enjoyable experience hearing Marty’s enthusiasm as he spoke about the next generation of creatives. There was an evident appreciation on his face as we toured the gallery, sharing with me story after story about each artist and the work they contribute to the gallery. It became abundantly clear how he and Diane created success. They love what they do. Over these many years, Exposures International Gallery has won countless awards and is recognized, in the United States and abroad, as a world-class gallery. Marty and Diane are toying with the idea of moving to Las Vegas to do it all over again. Only this time it would be bigger and better. Whatever they decide, the Hermans will maintain their high standards and continue to build upon the foundation of their partnerships.
“I want to be sure I don’t take credit ... We both added our own thing within it. She was more client-oriented, and they loved her. I was more marketing and business relationships oriented.” - Marty Herman, Owner of Exposures Gallery on his wife Diane’s vision that played a significant role in the gallery’s success. “It has to be brilliant ... It has to be timely. It has to be what our clients would like. It has to be something we don’t have; I don’t want to compete with somebody we have. And they have to be really nice.” - says Marty
Story written by Sara Knight | Photos Exposures Gallery | Portrait by Stephen Henderson