Issue #238  1/12/2018
Leslie Hammons Becomes Partner with Martin Weinstein, and Minneapolis Gallery Is Renamed Weinstein Hammons Gallery

By Alex Novak

Martin Weinstein and Leslie Hammons in a casual moment in the gallery library last summer, looking over the new Alec Soth book.  Soth is one of the many top artists the gallery represents.
Martin Weinstein and Leslie Hammons in a casual moment in the gallery library last summer, looking over the new Alec Soth book. Soth is one of the many top artists the gallery represents.

Minneapolis' noted Weinstein Gallery has added another name to this 22-year-old fine art gallery specializing in photography, which has been a long-time member of both AIPAD and ADAA. Leslie Hammons, who has been with the internationally-recognized gallery for over the last ten years--most recently as its director for the last seven years--has become co-owner and partner with Martin Weinstein, the gallery's founder, and the business will now be known as Weinstein Hammons Gallery.

Weinstein had hired Hammons fresh out of Penn State with an M.A. in art history. Another local art dealer had referred her to him, and Martin claimed to have known she was the right fit within the first five minutes of talking with her.

The gallery has been a local art powerhouse in Minneapolis under the direction of this pair, who act more like family to each other, despite having different, but somehow complementary personal styles. Weinstein, a former attorney and photo collector, is an affable 76-year-old occasional cigar-smoker with a wonderful gift of gab and a huge heart. Hammons is a highly intelligent 30-something whose buttoned-up, professional approach, friendly style and communications skills have only added to the gallery's reputation.

When I asked them humorously how they--even as close as they are--could still work so well together every day for ten years without killing each other, Leslie laughed and said, "We both ignore each other in the right moments, and pay attention in the right moments."

Martin says that while their eyes for art are similar, their approaches are often different but complementary. "Leslie has attracted a lot of new, younger collectors."

Weinstein notes that Hammons was in charge of two of the gallery's most ambitious exhibitions that reached out to new audiences: "The Fashion Show" (devoted to fashion images by women photographers, the first of its kind in the U.S.) and "Gordon Parks at 100". The response to the two shows was electric. Over 5,000 people attended the Gordon Parks exhibit itself, including many from the community who had never been in a gallery or museum before.

As Hammons said, "Over the last few years, we've seen a lot of younger people, who tend to start at a different, lower price point. But they are coming back now." Hammons feels that they have tended towards contemporary pieces rather than important vintage ones, which are often more expensive to start off with.

Weinstein told me that he had been thinking about the partnership for almost seven or eight years, and began to seriously discuss it with Hammons over the last two to three years. Hammons said that she was initially "taken aback when it was first mentioned, but the more we talked about it, the more excited I got."

Neither partner felt any intrepidation over the change. Weinstein noted, "Our artists and clients love her." Hammons felt it would be important "to stay adaptable and continue to go with what is right for us and go with a program that fits with our audience here."

The gallery's photography roster includes a glittering array of contemporary art talent, including Alec Soth, Mike and Doug Starn, Vera Lutter, Nancy Rexroth, Elliot Erwitt, Annie Leibovitz, Ed Burtynsky and the estates of Gordon Parks and Robert Mapplethorpe—just to name a few.

Weinstein Hammons Gallery is located at 908 West 46th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55419. The phone is 1-612-822-1722, and the new email is info@weinsteinhammons.com. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon-5 pm, or by appointment. The gallery's new website is: https://www.weinsteinhammons.com.

Novak has over 45 years experience in the photography-collecting arena. He is a long-time member and formally board member of the Daguerreian Society, and, when it was still functioning, he was a member of the American Photographic Historical Society (APHS). He organized the 2016 19th-century Photography Show and Conference for the Daguerreian Society. He is also a long-time member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers. Novak has been a member of the board of the nonprofit Photo Review, which publishes both the Photo Review and the Photograph Collector, and is currently on the Photo Review's advisory board. He was a founding member of the Getty Museum Photography Council. He is author of French 19th-Century Master Photographers: Life into Art.

Novak has had photography articles and columns published in several newspapers, the American Photographic Historical Society newsletter, the Photograph Collector and the Daguerreian Society newsletter. He writes and publishes the E-Photo Newsletter, the largest circulation newsletter in the field. Novak is also president and owner of Contemporary Works/Vintage Works, a private photography dealer, which sells by appointment and at exhibit shows, such as AIPAD New York and Miami, Art Chicago, Classic Photography LA, Photo LA, Paris Photo, The 19th-century Photography Show, etc.