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Check Out Kelly Peck’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Peck.

Hi Kelly, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
As a lifelong St. Louisan, I am thrilled to have been able to remain in the area and build a career most would expect to be more common in a coastal city. After completing an Art History degree at St. Louis University and interning at fine art museums locally, it seemed that the business side of art was one area that fewer arts professionals pursued with intention because they had more academic and fine arts backgrounds.

I started to notice the abundance of fundraising, events, and operations positions available at museums and thought I could create longevity in my own career by honing my skills in those areas. I ended up receiving a MA in Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis while working on the fundraising side of the newly formed World Chess Hall of Fame. My thought was that I should develop the management skills needed to be on the leadership team at a museum, most of which are nonprofits, and I was lucky to be part of a team starting a new museum, so I had an opportunity to experience many different museum functions and departments.

After completing my program at Washington University and stepping into a curatorial role for an immersive fashion exhibition titled A Queen Within, I was invited by Susan Barrett to join her in starting her new company, Barrett Barrera Projects (BBP), in 2014. A Queen Within was the impetus for BBP – so many of the rule-breaking designers and artists we met during the exhibition planning became our first artists and partners.

Today, Barrett Barrera Projects is a for-profit arts organization. Susan serves as the president and creative visionary – I serve on the side of structuring our team and operations. Since its founding in 2014, Barrett Barrera Projects has expanded to include four physical locations in St. Louis and provided high-level opportunities for creative practitioners working between or beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries. What’s exciting is that I’ve found a place where experimentation is rewarded, and my form of experimentation/creativity is really about process and structure.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I am a naturally reserved person, while the arts are fairly social. Exhibition openings, artist talks, and collector events, for instance, are key components of many arts organizations’ programs. For me, being in a leadership position at BBP means I need to continue to step out of my comfort zone and be willing to be more public-facing than I would generally be naturally. It’s a challenge. The silver lining of that is that I’ve met so many incredible people in the arts community and beyond. My relationships with artists and colleagues tend to be long lasting and those are the people I learn so much from.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Barrett Barrera Projects is the originator of a new model in which museum touring exhibitions, multiple commercial gallery spaces, private client sales, art-centered event production, and consultancy services are offered from a single organization with a growing presence nationally and internationally.

As the company’s founding Vice President, I have been able to help shape the trajectory and company culture of Barrett Barrera Projects. I lead company operations, which includes building new business opportunities, such as the touring exhibitions arm of the company and overseeing strategic growth strategies.

When we started, we focused on represented artists working across media. Those artists were exhibited in our commercial art gallery, projects+gallery. With time, the company expanded to include four locations, including an additional gallery and office space at Barrett Barrera Projects main office, an exhibition space to debut projects for touring to museums at projects+exhibitions, and an artist guest house at the Barrett Barrera Guest House. Today, most of my time is dedicated to touring fashion and fine art exhibitions to museums.

While my education was geared more towards nonprofit museums, I find the startup world endlessly engaging, and I also have had the opportunity to serve as a founding board member for various new 501(c)(3) organizations. I am incredibly proud to have recently joined as a founding board member for the Birth Control Fund, a foundation started by my dear friend Amy Soper, which seeks to make birth control options more widely available to women in the St. Louis metropolitan region by partnering with existing service providers.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
As is true with many Saint Louisans, I had a close group of friends growing up that are still very much a part of my life today. Although we’ve all embarked on our own paths and expanded our networks, having that history with a group of friends is something I value. For me, it’s always been about having relationships with integrity and reciprocity rather than quantity.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Head shot: Attilio D’Agostino A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes exhibition installation view, Photo: Josh Brasted Kelly Peck, Bridget Melloy and Susan Barrett at projects+gallery, Photo: Suzy Gorman To Survive on This Shore exhibition installation view, Photo: Photographic Center Northwest Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray: Rendez-Vous exhibition installation view, Photo: Virginia Harold Introducing Lee Alexander McQueen exhibition installation view, Photo: David Johnson

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