July 12, 2016


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The Coolest Art World Lawyer
Art Lawyer at Artsy, Brooklyn

Love asking the question – WHY – Yayoi Shionoiri is a legal pundit when it comes to art mergers and acquisitions, seldom do we encounter such an art lawyer, do we? Helming through the Senior Counsel at Artsy, Shionoiri wields her interdisciplinary expertise advising on legal matters from art purchases, digital media strategy, to intellectual property. Prior to joining Artsy,Shionoiri served at the Associate General Counsel for Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Legal Advisor at Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.. As the Asia 21 Young Leader and US-Japan Leadership Program Fellow, Yayoi is taking the lead in forging ongoing cultural collabs and political ties across the globe.

Today, we chatted with Shionoiri about flamenco class, winning a plastic bust of Beethoven, and elevating one’s life with something unnecessary to survival.

My ideal working outfit looks like…
As my work straddles the intersection of art and the law, I have to be cognizant of my audience.  If I’m at a negotiation, hammering out the details of a potential transaction, I wear slim trouser suits.  If I’m attending a benefit or an opening, I dress more freely, adding architecturally unique details or a pop of color into my funkier look.  Lately, I’ve been putting into heavy rotation pleated wide leg trousers, but my look isn’t affected too much by the latest fads.

Heels or flats… Which brand or style…
I have about 50 pairs of heels in my closet, but you’ll often find me in flats.  When I’m trying to add height, which is helpful because I’m only five feet tall, I wear John Fluevogs for a little flair.  During the marathon art fairs, I rely on my Ferragamo flats.

My favourite art-related blog/app is…
I use Artsy and did so years before I worked there. Democratizing the art world, Artsy tries to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.  It’s a great way to learn about new artists and trends in the art world and art market.

The last thing I bought and loved was…
An unexpected find that I ‘stole’ at Recess Art’s recent Beg Borrow or Steal auction, a kaleidoscopic polaroid photograph of Buckminster Fuller by Grant Worth.

Most ridiculous thing I ever bought…
Through Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market eBay Shop, I won a plastic bust of Beethoven that came with an image of the item printed on Epson archival paper.  When I visited Rob at his studio, he doodled a bunch of pandas on the photograph, transforming something ridiculous into something fabulous.

Yayoi

My necessary extravagance is…
Multiple pairs of eyeglasses.  Having worn glasses since I was six, I revel in the fact that it’s finally acceptable for people to wear eyeglasses as part of their look.  I usually alternate among my black oval ones with a tiny crystal embedded in the frame, my green square ones, and my newest pair of rose ombré round ones.

Three things/products I always need to have in my purse…
iPhone (for personal use), Blackberry (for work use), and my Inden card case that has my MetroCard and business cards.

Yayoi

My ultimate beauty secret after long working hours…
Going to flamenco class taught by my coach, Jorge Navarro; relaxing over a good book in either Japanese or English; and getting my nails done by nail artist, Aya Fukuda.

My favourite merge of the art-and-fashion world…
It has got to be Yayoi Kusama’s various fashion collaborations, from Louis Vuitton to UNIQLO.  One of my favorite accessories is my red and white polka dot Kusama umbrella, which makes me smile every time it rains.

In the art world currently I find most exciting that…
It’s possible for New York City to be an ecosystem for artists to work.  While it’s an extremely expensive city, and certain neighborhoods are gentrifying to the point of homogeneity, it’s still an eclectic home that rewards individuality.  I find it to be an amazingly electrifying, stimulating, and gratifying place to live.

Art makes me… 
Realize how something unnecessary to survival can elevate life.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally…
I’m inspired that I can use the law, often considered a rigid structure, to support the art world.  Through my work over the years – first with Takashi Murakami, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and now Artsy – I’m helping to infuse our world with artistic creativity.

The most arty city is…
Tokyo, for its small but unique art scene, myriad subcultures, history of aesthetics, appreciation of design, beautiful packaging, and culture of omotenashi (the spirit of genuine hospitality).

The perfect art-world gentleman is…
Someone who will explore (and occasionally even scoff at) the strange constructs of the art world, yet someone who always appreciates and supports the visions of artists.  Someone who is willing to drive me four hours on a lonely stretch of road from El Paso to Marfa just to see minimalist art at The Chinati Foundation.

Artist(s) we should have on our watchlist is/are…
Patrick Jacobs, represented by Pierogi Gallery; Toru Kamiya, represented by SCAI the BathhouseJustin Brice GuarigliaTalwst.

Instagram: @yayoi_shionoiri

Website: www.yayoishionoiri.com

Photos by Tomofumi Usa, Art work by Meguru Yamaguchi, © Meguru Yamaguchi, shot at SEZON Art Gallery, Tokyo Japan