by Eleni Cocordas
During Women’s History Month we celebrate the founder of Agora Gallery, Ms. Miki Stiles (1947 – 2000).
Stiles was herself a painter and sculptor, moving from her native Israel to New York City in the early ’80s to pursue her artistic career. In the mid-80s she completed her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and with a substantial body of work she set out to find a gallery to represent her. It was, just like today, an almost impossible mission… most galleries were looking for artists who already have a collector base in the city and for many months she tried to break this Catch-22 situation without much luck… Eventually, when she couldn’t find a gallery to exhibit her work, she decided to open her own gallery.
In 1984 she launched Agora Gallery in SoHo, the city’s pre-eminent downtown art district of the time, and the incubator of countless history-making art careers, and fabled galleries. In the beginning, it was a small gallery on the 3rd floor of an old walkup building in SoHo but with time and hard work, the gallery grew.
Agora grew in size, moving from Greene to Prince Street to Broadway where it occupied two large spaces in a prestigious gallery building. During all these years Ms. Stiles worked with hundreds of artists who shared her passion and dreams and presented their work to New York’s passionate art community. During all these years she never stopped creating and worked mainly with silkscreen prints and sculpting. After Miki Stiles passed away her son continued her mission and in 2002 the gallery moved to the growing Chelsea art district, the successor to SoHo as New York’s art mecca.
In over 30 years, the Gallery’s mission has grown exponentially to show and shape the careers of thousands of artists from the world over — a true ‘agora’ in every sense of the Greek word, becoming a central public gathering space for the exchange of artistic ideas as well as commerce. Miki Stiles ran her gallery with determination and flair, and in a very competitive environment, she thrived, as has her creation, Agora Gallery.
Our hats off to Miki Stiles for her determination and vision! We are proud to carry on her legacy!
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