We were curious about Zurich galleries and tours, but we were not sure exactly how (and where) to get started so we turned to the increasingly popular Meetup Group in Zurich: Art Tours, etc. organized by Olga Stefan. We sat down with Olga over coffee to learn more about her passion for art and how curious art enthusiasts such as ourselves can learn more about Zurich’s art scene. We quickly learned that we were sitting across from a woman with a very impressive and well rounded knowledge base about arts, philosophy and culture. She is an inspiration and there is much we can learn from her.
GGZ: Tell us about your business and how you got started?
OS: While living in Chicago, I worked as Executive Director for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition, a non-profit advocacy for approximately 2000 members. We provided everything from a monthly newspaper and access to buyers and collectors, to professional development programs and legal, marketing and financial support. Once I moved to Zurich, I realized I needed to re-invent myself since my German language skills were not on the professional level required for a position that would allow me to apply my experience. Art Tours, etc. was born and we have regular events that are well attended.
GGZ: Who are your tours appropriate for and do you need to know a great deal about art?
OS: Aside from bringing people with similar interests together, I act as a liaison between the expat community and Zurich’s art world. I facilitate the interaction between the curious and the culture and art available to us. Everyone may have different preferences in art; however, the common bond of spending time with like-minded individuals is what brings us together and everyone always has a great time while learning something new in the process. If you are interested, you are curious by nature, and this tells me you can also be an art enthusiast…the art tours are for you.
GGZ: Which tours are some of the most popular?
OS: Most tours are very well attended. One of the most popular, however, was Inside the Artist’s Studio – I took a large group through various art studios so we can hear directly from the artists themselves. The series, “Is it Art?” was another popular event because it focused on different works of art that were scandalous at the time they were first exhibited. One of the most famous art scandals in history was Manet’s Olympia, where the woman portrayed was not only a confident female in the nude, but she was also a prostitute. Also, popular is the “Revolutionary Zurich”, a walking tour which takes you to the actual locations where political, literary and artistic revolutions were being shaped by important figures in the 20th century.
GGZ: What is unique about Zurich’s art scene?How do the Zurich museums and galleries influence Europe and the rest of the world?
OS: Zurich was the hub of cultural activity and in the early part of the 20th century due to its location in neutral Switzerland, that attracted so many thinkers before and during the wars. Historical figures such as Vladimir Ilych Lenin, James Joyce, and Tristan Tzara were very active in Zurich in those early years and they helped shaped modern history. Zurich is an important city in the art world. Today, Zurich has the perfect formula for maintaining the art community: progressive and educated people, and wealth.
GGZ: Where do you recommend starting? Which museum is friendliest towards the casual observer?
OS: Start with an Art Tour that interests you. It’s much more fun to visit a gallery with new friends and learn from the personal connections already established!
GGZ: Are there any “must” art events in Zurich?
OS: There are some great art events throughout Zurich and Switzerland. Locally, visit Art Zurich in October. Many travel from around the world to visit: Art Basel, Volta, Liste and Scope during the month of June.
GGZ: Are there discounts or promotions available for museum visits?
OS: Every museum is different and has promotions at different times, so make sure to visit their websites separately to find out what they are offering.
GGZ: What would you like to see change in Zurich’s art scene in the next 5 years?
OS: Zurich is changing. It is continuously becoming much more international and I see this trend continuing to influence the art galleries, opening their doors to even more international artists.
Art Tours, etc.