Providing a Platform for Opportunity and Connection in the Art World: Pauli Ochi '03

Pauli Ochi ’03 spent her childhood surrounded by art. Her parents founded OCHI Gallery in Ketchum more than 30 years ago. As a witness to her parents’ genuine passion for art, it is no wonder Pauli is following in their footsteps and branching out on her own. In June, Pauli fulfilled a longtime dream and opened up OCHI Projects, a Los Angeles-based space that focuses on the artists’ practice.

“I hope to provide a platform for artists to explore interests and create new opportunities for dialogue and connection,” said Pauli, who became director of her family’s gallery in 2009 and runs both spaces, dividing her time between Ketchum and Los Angeles. In her role at OCHI Gallery, Pauli is busy with everything from studio visits, installing shows, and placing work in collections to strapping sculptures in the back of a pick-up truck. Going forward, Pauli anticipates curating three to four shows in Idaho a year, with plans for more regular programs in the Los Angeles space. 

She could not be happier with her life choice. “I sometimes joke to people that if I wasn’t born into art, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it because it is such a tough business. But in the end, it’s also so rewarding to work with talented artists and passionate collectors.”

After graduating from Colgate University in 2007 with a B.A. in art and art history, Pauli worked in the New York City art world before moving back to Sun Valley to get involved in the family business. In 2013, she took a break and headed back to school at Claremont University’s Drucker School of Management, earning her M.A. in art business, and solidifying her career choice to be on the gallery side of the art world.

“For a minute after college, I wanted to pursue making art, but you have to be totally willing to sacrifice everything in the name of your art, over a lifetime, in spite of success or failure. Pretty early on down the path, I realized that I was more interested in the gallery side of the business, and my real passion is helping make things happen for other artists.”

The ability to self-start her own business is a trait Pauli attributes to not only growing up around mentors and role models, but also to her Community School education. “I don’t think I can even name a favorite teacher,” said Pauli, who calls herself a Community School lifer, having attended Community School starting in kindergarten. “There were so many over the years, who, looking back, were so exceptional and definitely influenced who I am today.”

Pauli Ochi ’03:

This profile was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of CS Magazine.