The Fine Art of Business

Category: Indigenous business Success stories


Barbara, owner of Michelangelo Gallery of Fine Art & Framing in Calgary, boasts the only art gallery on 17thAvenue. Her vision became reality in June 2015 when she opened in the historic Devenish building. Having never owned a contemporary gallery before, she wasn't sure if her idea was ingenious or insane. What she knew was that she had the experience to succeed in the art world. Her vision was creating a light filled space where leading artists showcase their portfolios. And that is exactly what she did.

Her first steps in getting started

Barbara came to us during the first few months of operations, looking for resources and connections to financing for Métis entrepreneurs. Financing is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face along their journey, so we were quick to assist her in making connections with Apeetogosan (Métis) Development Inc. Like any entrepreneur, Barbara constantly has several activities on the go. She takes comfort in knowing she can reach out to us with questions to make business flow a little smoother.

Finding her market

Celebrating their one year anniversary has been a huge milestone for Barbara and her staff at the gallery. During these tough economic times, they have had to address a philosophical question: Do we need art to enrich or better our lives, or is it something that we can do without?

While some view the purchasing of fine art as a luxury rather than a necessity, Barbara has found a market with collectors and other art aficionados. As a newcomer to the gallery scene in Calgary, Michelangelo leads the way in social media with over 4,000 combined followers. With their finger on the pulse of social media, the gallery has become a community hub, a perfect place for social development, parties, and all sorts of events.

One of Michelangelo's social events

Focus on moving forward

Looking back, Barbara would have spent more time on the planning process before starting her business, but she believes your focus should only be on moving forward.

                “My favourite saying right now is ‘that was then and this is now’”.

As she continues to grow her business, she offered very practical tips for other entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t ignore the planning stage. Make sure you have a business plan.
  • Have your brand identity buttoned down and very clear. Know what your brand is and who you want to build relationships with.
  • Give great thought to your team, even before you start. Make sure your advisors and staff are aligned with your values.
  • Get networking! It is imporantant for entrepreneurs to make time to network and get their businesses out there.

Leading the way 

Michelangelo Gallery of Fine Art & Framing is no stranger to being a leader in the gallery scene. They are in the process of launching an e-commerce platform, and as the first gallery in Alberta to do so, will make it possible for anyone in the world to buy their pieces online.

After years of teaching children about art and how creativity connects to their academic and personal lives, Barbara is forming a children’s foundation that will be focused on arts education in Calgary.

It’s an exciting time in the art world, so be sure to visit Michelangelo and keep updated on their journey through their social media channels!

 Image result for instagram logo for website link

About the Author

Kari Morton

Kari Morton

Senior Business Advisor, Business Link

Kari helps clients find answers to their burning business questions on a daily basis. She enjoys putting her broad range of interests and experience to work for Alberta’s entrepreneurs. One of her main passions is market research and she greatly enjoys jumping down rabbit holes to help clients find information. She also enjoys assisting with projects to ensure that Business Link runs like a well-oiled machine. When Kari isn’t out enjoying theatre arts or exploring the world, you’ll find her with her nose in the latest novel, or volunteer teaching ESL. Her dream business would be a bookstore, with a twist!

More by this Author