Baristanet Profile: Kathryn Waggener McGuire

Image Ira L. Black

Name: Kathryn Waggener McGuire

Where do you live? Upper Montclair, New Jersey

When did you move there? 2013, right after my 2nd son was born (now I have 3 boys). I was desperate for a yard and a dog. We chose Montclair largely because of the Montclair Art Museum, and the fact that this town is more than a “suburb” of New York, but has its own culture.

Where did you grow up? Colonial Williamsburg, VA. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was pretty utopian & instilled a deep respect for history. There’s not only the historical reenactment part, but it’s also a huge military area, home to William & Mary, and Busch Gardens. The community was very diverse and supportive.

How do you make a living? OR What is your everyday passion? 

I’m an art historian, painter, museum educator, and I recently opened Clerestory Fine Art, a completely-renovated art gallery on the 2nd floor of the historic Hall Building on Church Street. The aim is to present scholarly solo exhibitions of local artists with really formative bodies of work that are unique, ultimately launching them at a national level. There is SO much talent in Essex County, and people feel stifled by the lack of commercial galleries in our area. There’s no need to go into Manhattan when the goods are right here.

I also want the space to express how eclectic the creativity in our area is, so we do a LOT of public programming. My professional background is in museum education at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, so I pull a lot from that experience. I want art galleries and museums to be refreshing havens, rather that symbols of elitism.

Coffee, tea or … ? Coffee all morning, tea all night.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? Going on a hike with my family in Eagle Rock or Mills Reservation in the morning, then coming into the gallery, rocking out, and seeing people’s faces transform when they fall in love with a piece. Followed by a snuggle on the hammock outback, a home-cooked meal, and in bed with a book.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? JOYIST in Upper Montclair! Everyone there is so nice, their food is amazing, and it’s the only place I feel comfortable with my kids being wacky.

What’s on your nightstand? 

I have a strict rule of no work reading before bed. I just finished two Amor Towles books, A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civlity, before moving onto Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I also have A History of Chess: The Immortal Game by David Shenk, which is a really well-written nonfiction book about the complexities of chess, and Bernard Cornwell’s Waterloo. I like to oscillate between fiction, history, sci-fi, and smutty poetry. Bukowski is always a filthy palette cleanser between novels and my favorite new poet is Kate Tempest.

What are you listening to? I run the Montclair Figure Drawing Group out of my home art studio, so I usually try to dj the playlist with pretty chill ambient music. Pretty much anything by TV On the Radio, LCD Sound System, or Jidenna will make me happy.

What are your current indulgences?  Caffeine. Playing with dogs. Looking at art.

What talent you would most like to have? Walking hand-stands.

What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about Montclair? I’m not sure if it’s a secret, but there’s nothing like Van Vleck Gardens on a Sunday morning.

What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? “There’s no lie in her fire.”


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