After a decade running an Internet fine arts auction house, Eli and Noah Weissman open a brick-and-mortar gallery in Marina del Rey
By Michael Aushenker
Qart.com Gallery owners Eli and Noah Weissman have been wallowing in the Muck lately.
Tonight, Qart.com Gallery hosts this month’s Venice Art Crawl Mixer, where works by Tom Everhart, Peter Max, Berberyan, Iman and their latest associate — Venice muralist Jules Muck — will be on display. Muck also has a Feb. 26 solo show at the gallery.
“I love them,” Muck said of the Weissman brothers. “I have never been treated so nicely by a gallery. They paid for my paintings to be professionally framed. They set up a huge space for me to work at my leisure, prepping my pieces for show.”
Qart.com Gallery suddenly seems thrust in the middle of the Westside art scene, but if you’re a local and haven’t yet heard of the place, don’t think yourself too far out of the loop. The brick-and-mortar gallery has only been around for two months.
Qart.com Gallery President Eli Weissman and Vice President Noah Weissman (Eli’s younger brother by three years) started their online auction house Qart.com a decade ago. The concept was inspired by their father, an attorney who represented artists such as Neal Doty.
“When they were short on money, they would pay him in works,” Noah said of his father’s clients.
At one point based in Playa del Rey, the digital side of Qart.com still maintains a warehouse in Westchester.
Then Eli Weissman, a Marina del Rey resident, noticed a vacant Washington Boulevard storefront last year while walking to attend Sabbath services at the Venice boardwalk-based Pacific Jewish Center.
Qart.com Gallery opened with a bang on Dec. 14, when iconic Marvel Comics writer and co-creator Stan Lee appeared with fan-favorite artist J. Scott Campbell (“Gen13,” “Danger Girl”) to sign 200 licensed Marvel prints drawn by Campbell, John Romita Jr. and Joe Quesada. The event netted $34,000 for Stan Lee Foundation, which funds various educational organizations.
“I grew up knowing the characters, a lot of artists as well. I was probably more of a kid in the candy store [than Eli],” Noah Weissman said.
In addition to Marvel, the Weissmans also sell limited editions of images from Disney Fine Arts, Hanna-Barbera, late legendary Looney Tunes animator Chuck Jones, pop artist Peter Max and marine life artist Wyland, best known for the whales gracing the side of Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
“I actually have a vivid memory of meeting him as a little kid at an art expo in L.A.,” Noah Weissman said of Wylands. “So enjoying his stuff and now getting to work with him is exciting.”
Eli Weissman, who designed the Marina del Rey gallery’s interior, says the key challenges of running a gallery are overhead costs and “keeping the place interesting,” but the significance of a brick-and-mortar presence outweighed everything.
“You can display the art so people can see it,” he said. “You can’t get a sense of the depth of a piece of art when you’re looking at it on your [computer] monitor.”
In late November the brothers beta tested an online auction in conjunction with their new facility by throwing a Pacific Jewish Center fundraiser at the gallery that raised $3,500.
“We want to specialize in bringing people a very eclectic array of work,” Noah Weissman said, but he wants the experience to be anything but intimidating.
“We feel very approachable and accessible to everyone. We won’t make you feel like an idiot because, hell, a lot of the time we have to look up stuff. We’re very down-to-earth in the way we conduct ourselves.”
The Weissmans say they are happy to be hosting tonight’s Art Crawl mixer, having already crossed paths with several Art Crawl artists. Eli Weissman said he zeroed in on Muck’s work after reading The Argonaut’s Dec. 25 cover story about the Venice mainstay.
“Especially being in the Venice/Marina del Rey kind of area, her art really resonates a lot of that [spirit],” said Noah Weissman. “She has some very beautiful pieces. It’s a very free way of art — it’s in your face but not completely gratuitous.”
One artist appreciating the Weissmans’ new venture is George Marlowe. A Marina del Rey resident since 1976, he’ll have nine ceramic masques on display on
“I have shown in galleries all over Southern California, but there was never a serious gallery in the marina,” Marlowe said. “The fact that they have chosen to show my work is like the icing on the cake.”
Marlowe’s work was introduced to Eli Weissman by Qart.com’s Joanne Feldman, who lives in Marlowe’s apartment complex.
“I was amazed at how they had transformed the old Wells Fargo Bank building into this beautiful, massive, breathtaking gallery,” Marlowe said.
Qart.com Gallery continues hosting events next month with a Mar. 29 presentation and signing by Mark S. Smith, author of “Treblinka Survivor: The Life and Death of Herzl Sperling,”about the haunted man who survived seven Nazi concentration camps to lead a quiet life in Scotland with a wife and two sons, but jumped to his death off a Glasgow bridge.
The Weissmans feel pride in shaking up Marina del Rey’s cultural landscape.
“It’s just really beautiful to see the art in an environment that helps you appreciate it more,” Noah Weissman said.
The Venice Art Crawl mixer is from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight (Feb. 19) at Qart.com Gallery, 480 Washington Blvd., Marina del Rey. Jules Muck’s solo show opens from 6 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 26. Call (310) 405-6183 or visit Qart.com.