After twenty-five years as president of Arco Company, his family's industrial paint and varnish manufacturing business in Cleveland, Howard Wise (1903-1989) sold his interest in the business and began to pursue his own artistic interests. The Howard Wise Gallery of Present Day Painting and Sculpture opened in Cleveland in 1957 and operated for the next five years. It first showed School of Paris and New York painters and also sold prints. With the exception of a few collectors and loyal customers, Clevelanders did not appreciate Wise's efforts to bring the best new art from all over the world to the city. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran several editorials ridiculing modern art in general and Howard Wise and his gallery in particular. Attendance was poor and Wise decided to relocate to New York.
After a year of searching for a suitable location and renovating the space, Howard Wise Gallery opened at 50 West 57th Street in 1960. The gallery generated excitement among visitors and artists, and sales and attendance were much better than in Cleveland. After closing the Cleveland gallery in 1961 Wise never again returned to his native city. Despite being well received and conducting significantly more business in New York, the gallery was not a great financial success. Between 1962 and 1965, art consultant Douglas MacAgy, a friend and the former director of the Dallas Museum of Art, worked with Wise in running the gallery. Although the critics were not always favorably impressed, Howard Wise Gallery had a significant following and made important contributions through its support of the use of technology in art, specifically kinetic and light sculpture and the video art movement.
By the late 1960s, Wise recognized that a gallery setting was not suitable for many of the new art forms. He closed Howard Wise Gallery in 1970 so that he could focus his energy and resources on exploring the best way to support environmental sculpture, political work, and video art. Wise founded Electronic Arts Intermix in 1971. Originally an artist-run umbrella organization, today Electronic Arts Intermix is a non-profit videotape distribution service and editing facility, that has amassed an important and highly regarded video art collection.