– Words by Angela Cowan Photograohy by Lia Crowe
Hear the word “auctioneer” and one of the first things that may spring to mind is high-speed patter in the middle of a tense back and forth between bidders. But for Oree Gianacopoulos, gallery director and art auctioneer at Chali-Rosso Art Gallery, the reality is very different.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s very different from auctioning farm equipment or flowers, or anything of that nature. Fine art is a slower, more elegant process,” she says. “For me, I really like to talk about each piece and do a nice presentation before it goes up for auction. Not everyone is a collector, and I think it’s important people know what they’re buying.”
Chali-Rosso Art Gallery, which opened in 2004, is named for the four artists they always carry: Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. Oree’s been involved since the beginning, bringing a clear passion for both the art itself and art education.
“I spend a lot of my time in the gallery teaching people about fine art. Why this Picasso is more important than that one, why this artist is important, what an etching is, what ‘original’ means,” she explains. “It’s important that people are able to access museum-quality art and learn about it. We really just want to encourage them to come in.”
She adds: “It’s exciting to see people’s reactions to art. I’ll have a work of art in front of my desk for weeks, and then somebody will come in and look at it, and notice something I didn’t even see. There are so many layers to each piece, and really your life experience will help you hone in on something.”
One of the most surprising things for people, she says, is that those museum-quality pieces are often more accessible than most would assume.
“The only time you’ll hear about Picasso on the news is when it’s a record-breaking auction. And when you go to a museum and you see a Picasso and a Salvador Dalí and a Matisse, there’s a description, but there’s not a price tag,” says Oree. “So people assume they’re priceless—and sometimes they are—but sometimes they’re not. It’s actually within reach of a lot of people. They’re always shocked to see how affordable the art is.”
Oree, born and raised in Vancouver, spent 20 years in the fashion design industry before moving over to auctioning fine art, and spent some time as a gallery director aboard cruise ships. To be back in her hometown, working and educating on something she loves, is a dream.
“While I was going to school I lived in Greece, and while I was on the cruise ships I lived everywhere,” she says. “But even visiting the most beautiful ports in the world, I’d come home and walk down to Granville Island, and turn around and look at the port and I’d think, ‘I live in the most beautiful city in the world.’ This is home.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
Comfy ones for sure, but that’s probably not the question. Audrey Hepburn was not only a style icon, but a caring, giving, selfless, compassionate and elegant woman. I’ve always had a girl-crush on her, and we share a birthday too!
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
Prosciutto, fresh figs, angel hair pasta and cauliflower! Not together, but seriously, I’m addicted to cauliflower.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
It’s difficult to imagine spending $1 million without sharing. Hmm…I’d like to build a sanctuary filled with fluffy bunnies, but first, I would take all my family and friends on a vacation somewhere warm.
When unauthorized people park in handicapped spots “just for a minute,” making life so much more challenging for a person with mobility challenges.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
On a sandy beach in Hawaii…or Cozumel…or Crete.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
Friendships I have maintained since I was a little girl.
What makes your heart beat faster?
As an art auctioneer, I’m quite accustomed to public speaking, but that 30 seconds before I pick up the microphone and start the auction is still exhilarating! Oh, and my husband, he makes my heart beat faster too!