HomeFeaturesSarah Secter go-to expert for all art-related matters

Sarah Secter go-to expert for all art-related matters

By MYRON LOVE When Dov Secter proposed to Sarah Allentuck 16 years ago at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, he couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate venue. That is because Sarah Secter’s life and career have been immersed in the world of art.
And although the Secters are partners in both life and business – Sarah manages the business side of Secter Architecture + Design, including marketing and financial matters – over the past 12 years, she has quietly established her own Secter Art Consulting as the go-to address in Winnipeg for all matters art-related.
“There is no other art consultant in Winnipeg that offers the range of services that I can provide,” she points out.
The professionally trained appraiser and member of the International Society of Appraisers – the largest professional appraisal association in North America – works with a growing number of domestic and corporate clients. She appraises art for insurance purposes, for example, charitable donations and estates. The main focus of her practice however, is sourcing and brokering art for her varied clients.
Among her larger recent assignments was sourcing the artwork for the walls of the law firm Taylor McCaffrey’s new suite of offices – a project that involved over 80 pieces of art.
Another challenging project was the major renovations to the old Norwood Hotel in St. Boniface in 2019. “I worked closely with the design and rebranding team to ensure that the art pieces fit their budget and brand identity – with a strong focus on Manitoba artists,” she reports. “It was a great collection that we put together and we received positive feedback from a lot of people who have seen it.”
That positive feedback includes a testimonial from Norwood Hotel CEO Ben Sparrow stating that the family’s “partnership with Sarah was a huge success. “She helped repurpose old mural and carvings – as well as select new and old art and commissioned pieces,” he continued. “She managed the install of all of our art throughout our 10,000 square foot space.”
Secter notes that she is currently working on an appraisal of a 400-year-old painting from the court of the British King Charles II. “As part of that assignment,” she says, “I researched its provenance and the biography of the subject in the portrait. I also worked with a conservator to view the painting under an ultraviolet light to determine the extent of restoration the painting has had over the past few centuries.”
While Secter notes that she has had an interest in art from a young age – she does have a BA from the University of Winnipeg in Art History, pursuing a career as an art consultant was not on her radar early on. She did work for a short time for the Mayberry Gallery in Winnipeg as well as an art gallery in Toronto. She also had a career as a teacher for seven years prior to devoting herself full time to the art business
“Initially, I didn’t think it was possible to earn a living in Winnipeg as an art consultant,” she recalls. “I started by advising family and friends and business grew from there entirely by word of mouth.”
With each client, she notes, she has to determine their needs, their budget, their taste in art and what their purpose is in collecting whether for decoration or amassing a collection – after which she will propose the different options.
For smaller assignments, she notes, she can work alone. For more complex installations, she says, she has a crew she can call on for help.
As to what clients are looking for these days, she reports that – not only in Winnipeg but across the country collectors are asking for more artwork by BIPOC, Indigenous, women and minority artists that represent the growingly diverse population that is today’s Canada.
In her work and life, Secter points out, she has conflicting demands on her time. In addition to her Secter Art Consulting there are her Secter Architecture responsibilities and two daughters whose needs have to be attended to.
“It is a challenge,” she says. “I try to set reasonable expectations for my clients.”
And, despite the demands of family and work, Secter finds time for volunteer activities. Her zaida, the late Ben Raber, her mother, Sharon Allentuck, and her aunts, Elaine Goldstine (who is soon retiring as Jewish Federation CEO) and Marilyn Raber, have been positive role models for her. She recalls that, from a young age, she was helping with the annual CJA campaign and, for a time, she was involved with the International Council of Jewish Women – an organization in which her mother and aunts had leadership roles.
Currently, Secter is a board member of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada. As well, she is co-chair of the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue’s Housing and Building Committee as our community’s largest and oldest congregation is in the process of a major expansion.

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