Arca Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that aims to redefine the art market. Our objective is to give art a greater purpose through social initiatives, and create a positive impact in the world. We not only promote the work of established artists, but also spotlight the most promising fine-art makers from the emerging scene. Arca Gallery is currently working with over 64 artists from different styles, backgrounds, and nationalities. Their art is featured in Art Gallery The One, our permanent space located in The One Palacio Da Anunciada, a palace from the XVIIIth century turned into a 5* luxury hotel in the historical center of Lisbon, Portugal.
Arca Gallery was founded by Gretta Balin, a Cuban entrepreneur and art-curator who moved to Portugal over 20 years ago with a head filled with dreams and ambition. Gretta has a background in interior design and architecture, as well as two decades of experience in the art market. It’s with great determination that she succeeded in turning her teenage dream into a flourishing business, with the practical help of Hans Varela (husband, sculptor artist, and co-founder of Arca Gallery). The gallery is part of a project related to Alocubano, a cultural association that Gretta and Hans created over 10 years ago to promote Cuban culture in Portugal. As the years passed, they quickly realized that despite being colorful, the art market had flaws that needed to be faced. Therefore, in 2019, the couple decided to team-up with their oldest son Victor Balin, and his partner, Naomy Bouabsa, respectively Project Manager in charge of Expansion, and Marketing & Development Manager. This partnership aimed to help the gallery reach its goal of expansion while continuously finding innovative ways to create a positive social impact, and overcome challenges encountered in the art field.
Art Gallery The One by Arca Gallery in The One Palácio Da Anunciada, Lisbon – Portugal
In Art Gallery The One, we organize exhibitions featuring over 60 artworks that are renewed monthly based on a common theme. For each inauguration, we try to create a memorable event including live music, catering, but mostly a platform to promote a social cause we will be supporting throughout the whole duration of the exhibition. For instance, we dedicated our March exhibition to AMCV, a Portuguese non-profit organization providing support for women victims of abuse. March being the international month of Women Rights, the whole exhibition only featured art made by women-artists, and part of the profit from the sales were donated to AMCV. Our July exhibition will feature artists from the Cooperative for the Education and Rehabilitation of Disabled Citizens of Amadora (CERCIAMA). 100% of the profit made from the sale of their artworks will be donated to their institution, free of charge.
It is a known fact that the art market can be a somewhat elitist scene, where a lot of money circulates for the sake of it without serving a greater purpose. Established artists with years of experience can live decently out of it, but a wall exists which creates limitations for small galleries and independent artists that don’t have the required connections it takes to create a name for themselves. At Arca Gallery we are working on putting down this wall in order for emerging artists to gain the visibility they deserve. We also attempt to gain enough exposure to funnel part of the billions of dollars generated by the art market into charitable causes. Our whole team being from a disadvantaged background, we understand the challenge of having to build something with nothing. It is our main motivation to give back, for other disadvantaged people to achieve their goals as well.
Building such a business requires a great amount of work, patience, and motivation. It’s easy to get discouraged when working in a highly competitive field, which is why it’s necessary to always remain creative, innovative, and have defined goals. What keeps us going is that we seek to turn each new challenge into an opportunity. We took the fact that art was a hardly accessible field, and made it our business plan by working on -still confidential- projects that will help solving this issue. Artists and companies are receiving our message, which is making them want to jump on our boat and be part of the change.
The Arca Gallery team in Aurea Museum Hotel (temporary exhibition), Lisbon – Portugal
Arca Gallery being a Family Business, we reunite at home weekly to talk about our projects, and brainstorm together. We listen to each other’s ideas, including the ones from Martin, Hans Gretta’s’ 13-year-old son who is a big asset for our team, being our mascot and main motivator! We want our brand image to reflect the power that family holds. Whether they’re blood-related, or chosen individuals, family is the glue that links everything together. That is why we are trying to turn the art community into a family where we could all help each other out, and make each other grow.
Gretta is very active on social media platforms, mainly Facebook and Instagram. She manages the gallery’s accounts by constantly showcasing the artworks featured in our exhibitions, but also shares photos from our events, gives decoration ideas using art, and interacts with our community through direct messages, livestreams and engaging or informative content. Our social media presence along with other Marketing strategies helped us gain enough exposure for Arca Gallery to be reached out to participate in online art events, and be featured in different media outlets. Gretta has recently been featured on Kuriakos TV, a Portuguese TV channel, to represent Arca Gallery along with Filomena Parra, who is one of our painter-artists. A new article from The Golden Phoenix, a luxury Real Estate agency, has also recently released an article about Arca Gallery, and its creation. Our team was also delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Cristina Ferreira, and Sofia Ribeiro (Portuguese celebrities), in its gallery space.
We are also working on collaborating with corporations for a project that aims to bring art to corporate spaces for a healthier work environment. We analyzed several studies that were made about the effect of art on the brain and human behavior. It has been proven that it helps to reduce stress by raising the serotonin level, but also promotes blood flow to the
brain, increasing it by 10%. This encourages critical-thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making. Consequently, having art in your work office can improve your performances by bettering your mental capacities, but also make the employees feel more valued, which makes art become almost a corporate-necessity.
What is important for other entrepreneurs to understand is that anyone can have business ideas, but what matters the most is the vision, and the impact it will generate. You don’t necessarily need to have a Business Management background to flourish, but you do need to get to know your niche, and what problems you will solve. However, don’t wait to be ready to start your business, because no one ever is. Life and experiences are the best teachers. Every single day there is something new to learn, so if you wait to learn everything before starting your business, then you will never start it.
Where to find us?
email: [email protected]
Instagram: @artearcagallery / @artgallerytheone
Facebook: Arca Gallery Portugal
Whatsapp: +351 936 048 869