FRONTRUNNER Editor-In-Chief Shana Beth Mason: An Introduction

I came into the art world kicking and screaming. But really, who doesn’t squirm a bit at the thought of pursuing a somehow-stable life in the creative arts? Fully intending to teach Medieval English literature fresh out of Florida State, I encountered a record-breaking recession and an environment increasingly hostile to fully-paid educators. So, after begrudgingly accepting a job at a gallery perched above a restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (at my father’s insistence), I was launched into the path of greatest resistance…and greatest discovery.

I’m a storyteller. Where I failed at selling contemporary art for a profit, I felt at home investing in artists and telling others about how I admired them. How I could never be them. With every corner of the world filled with artists, there was only way to keep the storytelling alive: travel and travel hard. A friend once told me, “Get on the circuit, honey! It’s a lifestyle!” At the time, I took that with disdain: what sort of money did she think I had to travel for art? What money could be made to keep myself upright while doing such a thing? I can only say that eighteen years of side-gigging in retail work gave me the smallest (but no less significant) means to hop between Miami, New York, Vienna, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Sydney, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Nice, Athens and Moscow over the course of a decade. I finally settled in London, for good, in 2016.

My art historical education began, in earnest, in Florence in 2005. Since that time, I’ve voraciously – oftentimes clumsily – clawed at the Italian language and keep it to this day. My beloved tether to Italy became permanent in 2018, after I was inducted into the Nobile Contrada dell’Aquila, one of the seventeen neighbourhoods – called “contrada” – in Siena (ask me about the Palio sometime, and I promise I’ll bore you with the details.) It is this beautiful bridge between England and Italy that has provided me with the opportunity to serve as FRONTRUNNER’s Editor-In-Chief.

This July, I’ll return to Italy for three weeks to split my time between Siena, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Between now and then, I look forward to sharing my stories with you and how my experience in the art world is much more personal than professional. I’ve never seen myself as an “arts professional”, but I’ve managed to become one simply by being a pushy, curious, and loud little Jew from Jupiter, Florida. I never cease to be amazed, romanced, and ensnared by all of the beauty and drama quietly resident in our surroundings.

Avanti, my friends! Come fly with me.
All my best,

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