Delia talks about life, art and bling with German journalist Anett Mende.
She’s badass. And she knows it. Los Angeles-based art dealer Delia Cabral wants nothing less than to be the most influential person in the 21st-century art world. And she knows she can do it. Because that’s what she’s always been good at: making shit happen. Good shit. Beautiful, inspiring, artsy shit.
The 48-year-old Angelena hasn’t always felt that powerful. Fourteen years ago her whole life turned upside down when her husband, an influential guy in Los Angeles’ big, blingy movie industry, left their house to buy a pack of cigarettes and never came back. There she was, a mother of two, a housewife, an artist, all on her own. With a big mortgage, no support, no money. First she cried. Then she did what all real artists do. As she puts it, “an artist needs to create.” So she created a new life for herself and her sons. She created a new career as an international art dealer. And made it work, through pluck and passion.
“I can talk to artists because I know what it is to paint a painting. I know what it is to draw a drawing. (…) That feeling, that overwhelming, tingling desire. You are born with it.”
Delia was four when she had her first “artist’s experience.” Sitting on the porch of her parents’ olive orchard in northern California, she found her crayons melted in the sun. She took the lump and rubbed it on a piece of paper. Speaking about it, she still feels the electric sensation shooting up her spine. The colors bled all over the paper, she remembers. She loved it.
No wonder Delia didn’t take to her pre-med studies in college (to the dismay of her parents), soon switching to Linguistics and Fine Art. After attending UCLA she worked as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, got married, then divorced, and re-invented herself. But all that time Delia’s passion for art has been the nucleus of her life, no matter if it has been making her own art or creating environments that help others create. The latter path, she says, has now become her art.
“She’s fantastic at reading the energy of a piece,” says Ted Weldon. “She has such a vocabulary of art terms, and she’s able to crystallize and make concrete these concepts that I can’t necessarily put into words, you know. I don’t put into words; that’s why I paint.” The Santa Monica and Sacramento-based artist has worked with Delia for about a year now and gets very excited talking about her: “She just has a sixth sense… about what a piece is doing and how it’s interacting on this other level. It’s pretty phenomenal to watch.”
That “other level” is the energy driving every great artwork. It’s the heart and soul of an artist, going right into his or her work. For Weldon this has meant tapping into a strong, new feeling focusing on a raw, more abstract energy. It’s been within him, waiting all the time, he says. But it was Delia who pushed him in the right direction. She would come look at his work and have a little meditative moment with it. That’s how Weldon describes what Delia did for him as a consultant: she told him exactly what’s good about his work, what could be better, and where he needed to go next to tap into his full potential. She told him all this in a straightforward way, no beating around the bush. Since she knows a lot not only about art but about the business, she saw Ted’s potential and invited him to become one of “her artists,” displaying him prominently in her online gallery.
Nowadays most art collectors use the web to hunt for treasures. The time when the big money was made entirely in brick-and-mortar galleries is long gone. Still, Delia recognizes that it’s important also to have a place where an art scene can flourish and where her company’s name, “DCA Fine Art”, hangs at the door. And she has plenty of experience in this, too. She opened her first gallery in Venice in 2002, then established a second, much bigger one three years later in Santa Monica, and is now poised to introduce a new place in booming Downtown this coming spring. Delia also works and collaborates with other galleries in the Los Angeles area and worldwide.
Great art always reflects the society it lives in, Delia says – for better or worse. Not everybody thinks Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull is worth nearly a hundred million dollars, but its sale says a lot about our values. “We are in the blingy days,” says Delia with a mixture of regret and excitement. “We are in the days of hyper-consumption, and what sums it up better than a skull covered in diamonds?”