Ambre Kelly went to law school for a day.

“The professor called on me and asked what the meaning of law was. I gave this long explanation about art, and when I sat down I thought, ‘What am I doing here? I should be doing art.’”

She packed her bags and spent two years in Italy earning an MFA through American University. Her path then led her to New York, where she worked for Vera Wang, then Condé Nast, before landing a job designing art fairs. It’s about the art, but it’s also about developing relationships, managing logistics and thinking far outside the box.

Six years ago she founded and still organizes New York’s annual SPRING/BREAK Art Show, an internationally recognized exhibition platform using underused, historic and atypical New York City spaces to activate and challenge the traditional cultural landscape of the art market. The first exhibit was held at St. Patrick’s Old School, the following at the James A. Farley Post Office. During March 2017, more than 160 curators premiered new artworks created by more than 400 artists. The show was held at 4 Times Square in the former Condé Nast offices.

“I studied painting and am still a painter. Oil. Mostly related to the art market and professionals in the art world,” says Kelly, “but I’m also a collaborator. You meet someone in a café, and all the sudden you’re planning something together. There’s such a great collaborative arts community in New York, and I love being a part of that.”

Along with her husband, Andrew Gori, Kelly founded The They Co. Together they since have organized, curated, facilitated and produced events with the New Museum, Brooklyn College, Art Hamptons, The Underground Library, the San Gennaro Festival and many other organizations.

Art isn’t just a job for Kelly; it’s who she is, and she’s not afraid to put herself out there if it means raising awareness for art, artists, arts programming and uncommon gallery spaces. For example, although already married, she and Gori turned their wedding into an artistic and political statement during the 2015 SPRING/BREAK Art Show.

“Our first wedding was in Italy in 2014. That was our real, spiritual wedding,” says Kelly. She enjoyed their “big fun Italian wedding” surrounded by family and friends but chose not to complete the paperwork because of her personal beliefs regarding marriage and the state. “For the next SPRING/BREAK Art Show, the theme was TRANSACTION. Andrew and I thought we should do a piece for the show, so we said, ‘What if we get married, but legally this time so the transaction happens?’ We held the wedding during the press preview and called out in the crowd: ‘Who wants to be a witness?’ Because we already had the spiritual wedding, we kept this one robotic and unemotional.”

Kelly, who admittedly loves getting married, says that she and Gori are thinking about doing the performance wedding in every state. Although they’re legally married in New York now, they think it could be interesting to find art spaces throughout the country and marry repeatedly — all for fun and all for art.

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89