One of a Kind: The Colorful Journey of Lily Yu
By Kelley Lefmann | Photos by Carol Oliva
According to the delightfully approachable Lily Yu, “Art is a process of exploration and constant learning, regardless of the individual or their art education.” A multifaceted art appraiser, advisor, and curator, she believes that art is dynamic: “It’s a living thing, changing every day,” she says. Raised in a family of artists who encouraged her passion, Yu, who is a former restaurant owner and chef, accumulated 20 years of professional experience as an artist, gallery owner, curator, and appraiser as a result of her love affair with art.
Today, as the owner of AGENT ART, she serves private collectors, institutions, and corporate clients, helping them build their collections. Yu also marries her expertise in twentieth-century art with her passion for contemporary art, serving as “art detective” for clients who have inherited a piece of art with no knowledge of its history or value. “This is more common in Carmel than in my native Los Angeles, where people are building their collections,” she notes. “Clients always know what they like but may not be able to express it . . .In many cases, I am able to convert a piece that someone is not attached to.” She does this by providing options on how to sell art, guiding them to a new piece that they love. The acquisition process is an adventure that she likens to a treasure hunt.
Yu’s personable manner, along with her ability to learn about her clients over time, allows for a relationship that often endures through several generations. “My passion is helping people build their legacies, as one’s art collection can become a permanent expression of themselves.”
A native of Palos Verdes and Santa Monica, both beautiful beach towns, Yu visited Carmel on a vacation with her partner, and they decided to take up permanent residence. The couple shares a vision of making art more accessible and enjoyable to everyone. “Carmel was founded by a community of artists,” she says, “and we want to honor and cherish that history, while bringing Carmel into the new century.
Yu’s expression softens when she reflects on the warm welcome received upon relocating here. “We were immediately embraced by so many local artists,” she says, and that encouraged her to create “popups” of art in unexpected places throughout town. One such alternative non-gallery art installation is featured at the Shale Canyon Tasting Room. Everything about Shale Canyon Wines is playful.
“Therefore, the art featured there is equally reflective of a time when people came together to have fun,” says Yu. “I love to curate a combination of different artists, which gets people talking and enjoying the art in an interactive way that does not always occur in a traditional gallery.” Art and expressionism permeate every aspect of Yu’s world, and it is not unusual for her clients to become her dear friends. In addition to AGENT ART, Yu’s next endeavor is to find fresh, innovative ways to introduce new artists who are not currently showing in Carmel.
To learn more, visit: www.msagentart.com.