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ART & ARTI S T

ENGAGED Gallerist Jennifer Armetta has had a long ENGAGE-MENT with the arts.

WORDS BY LAURA LAYFER TREITMAN / PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBIN SUBAR STYLING BY THERESA DEMARIA / HAIR & MAKEUP BY LEANNA ERNEST ART PHOTOGRAPHY BY AVERY CAMPBELL

Chris Larson, “Honey” Honey, Deep Purple, Black, L Strawberry, Pink #3, Brilliant Blue, Kent Green, Pearl Gray, Cha Cha Orange, Gay Green, Sunlight, Cream, Scarlet, Venetian Blu, 2021. Found Ralph Lauren industrial garment thread on canvas, 48 x 96 x 3 1/2 in 121.9 x 243.8 x 8.9 cm. Featured in Chris Larson’s The Residue of Labor exhibit

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he path that Jennifer Armetta, Owner and Director of Chicago’s ENGAGE Projects, took to becoming a gallerist was hardly direct. There were twists and turns, personal and professional, that she credits with leading to her most recent role. “Most of my family members were in the medical field,” shares Armetta, “and, since I always liked the sciences, I just sort of assumed that is where I would end up.” In her hometown of Minneapolis, however, a friend had a job at a local gallery and Armetta visited frequently. “That was really the start of my exposure to art and artists and my interest in the subject.” As an undergraduate at Boston University, she majored in art history. “I was hooked from my very first class, the Impressionists, Expressionists, and so on,” recalls Armetta. “Matisse was my favorite artist back then.” In the early 1990s, after completing her degree and with one of her two sisters enrolled at Northwestern University, Armetta decided to relocate to Chicago. She wanted the city life and, having grown up in the Midwest, felt the location and size would be a perfect fit. “I was fortunate from the start to meet a number of influential people

in the art world, both in galleries and museums, and to foster relationships with a couple of wonderful mentors.” After her move Armetta required a practical pivot for more financial stability, so she took a position as a pharmaceutical sales representative. “How to build a rapport with people, develop a sense of trust, obtain presentation skills, and think quickly on your feet—I acquired it all there,” she says, “and I use each and every one of those lessons in my business today.” While being careful not to stray too far from her love of the arts, she continued work on the side as an art consultant and artist advocate. In 2004, she helped found what was then called Verge, now known as Emerge, consisting of a group of collectors, curators, and art dealers seeking to bring more emerging artists into the permanent collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Armetta is still a member and has served as Programming Chair on the Executive Committee. A few family-related moves between Los Angeles and Chicago’s North Shore offered yet another opportunity for a professional shift. Armetta joined an integrative marketing firm managing prominent national sponsorship events, including “Ferrari Fantasia” on Oak Street and a polo match at the Oak Brook Polo Club with

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