We'll never forget the first day we met Linda Mohan, our gallery manager. It was more than 12 years ago and we were just about to open Huff Harrington Fine Art. We were very optimistic that we'd be busy enough to justify a third person so when a dear friend recommended Linda, we agreed to set up an appointment.
"Now listen," one of us said to the other. "We are NOT hiring her on the spot. We really need to make sure she is qualified, professional and knows her art stuff."
"Oh yes," agreed the other. "We really need to think long and hard about this decision and whatever we do, we will NOT hire her on the spot."
Well, the door opened and in walked this gorgeous creature, wearing a white patent leather raincoat, fabulous boots and a smile that lit up approximately fifty square miles. And of course, you know how this story ends: after a five-minute conversation, we hired Linda on the spot and it was the best business decision we ever made.
So yes. Teamed up together with the adorable (and ever efficient) Mackenzie Middleton, Linda checks all the boxes and then some. She's easily qualified to do everything a gallery manager has to juggle: she encourages and manages our artists with kindness, thoughtfulness and concise direction. She meets, greets, educates and interacts effortlessly with our clients, who all pretty much adore her. She writes about a million emails a day and coordinates our openings and exhibits graciously as if she was hosting them in her own home. She keeps our walls fresh and full of new work, can hang a killer art wall and even install a show in heels.
If you've been to the gallery and met Linda, you'll agree that her enthusiasm and passion for art is simply contagious. Honed from years of immersion in museums and galleries wherever she's lived, Linda has an innate sense of composition and a deep appreciation for color and palette - both essential tools for a "gallerina" (as we nicknamed her years ago.) And when she gives her nod of approval to a painting, we can count on it flying out the door to a happy client. And did we mention her expertise with framing? She's got it down to a flawless science with dozens of happy clients and artists to agree.
Where did that passion for art come from? We asked and she answered: "As a child, art class was one of my favorites as I always enjoyed creating and loved nothing more than the smell of a brand new box of Crayola crayons, with their perfectly pointed tips. We had a local TV show called Franz the Toymaker where you could send in your artwork and hope that it would be shown on the show. My favorite piece I ever created and sent in was actually of American figure skater Peggy Fleming in her chartreuse dress and bouffaint hairdo from the 1968 Winter Olympics. I was five years old and mesmerized by the color of her dress and her artistry on the ice. (I fell in love with this other art form and skated for the next 8 years.)"
Next question: what's a normal day at the gallery like? Linda said: "Oh my… Mac and I just fasten our seat belts and see what happens! Each day is different as to whether we are hanging the gallery for an opening, receiving new work from our artists, preparing for one of our French trips, or helping our wonderful clients select some pieces to try in their homes."
The art business is a funny one and we all learn each and every day. Linda piped in: "Art is definitely very personal and can garner very strong emotions from our clients - and from our artists. I'm here to support our artists as they keep true to their style while continuing to spread their wings artistically. I also really, really enjoy helping clients find the perfect piece for their space. There is no better feeling that when we hear an “I love it, it’s perfect” from a client upon taking a painting into their home."
But best of all for us, Linda is the most fun person to work with. When we come dragging through the door after some trip or another, Linda greets us with her gigantic smile and the warmest welcome imaginable. Her sense of fun is simply infectious and irresistible.
If art is Linda's number one passion, Paris (and all and anything French) is her second. So it worked out perfectly when we started offering our trips to France. Linda was the first one to raise her hand ("Pick me! Pick me!") to volunteer as a trip leader, fill-in driver, caterer, schlepper of art- whatever the job title was, Linda was game for it. Our French artists were beyond charmed with her and trips to the local fairs and markets were hilarious with vendors bending over backwards and flirting like crazy with Madame Leeeenda. And clients who travel with her to Paris and Provence all come back bragging that their trip with Linda was THE very best ever.
Linda must have been French in another life because she's never happier than when she's sipping bubbles while watching her beloved Eiffel Tower twinkle, or soaking up the sights and scents of Provence. Favorite museum? Duh, the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. (" I love the mix of styles they show at this old light filled Beaux-Arts train station and the view from the large clock window up top looking out at Sacre Coeur is one of my favs in Paris." she says.)
On the personal side, Linda is the queen bee of her hive which consists of a darling attorney husband and two twenty-something sons. Oh and a little trio of dogs: Mousse (short for Pomplemousse, which means grapefruit in French); Cosette and Troy. Fave vacay spot: "Anywhere as long as I’m with my husband Dan and our two sons!"
She hails from Rocky River, Ohio on the west side of Cleveland and graduated from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications. Linda says: "I became a flight attendant for American Airlines and was based in NYC, which I absolutely loved. I flew for 17 years with the last several of them on international flights."
Huff Harrington Fine Art wouldn't the little oasis of art it is if that fabulous girl in a white trench coat hadn't showed up so we thank our lucky stars that Linda sashayed in - and we're still convinced it was the best decision we ever made. Merci, Linda. You make every day at the gallery a good one!
Come meet La Linda at Huff Harrington Fine Art. You'll be so glad you did. And while you're there, say hi to Mackenzie. She'll be up in next for our gallerina profile, part deux!