Jeff Weiss, artist, former professor of art, and creator of the OLD NEWS email list (aka Weisslink), talks about:
How and why he started OLD NEWS (initially for his students), the size of the list, the rules for how he puts the list together each day/night (7 days/week, 365/year), what kind of feedback he receives from readers/consumers of his list, and how he sees it as art; his takeaways from doing OLD NEWS, including how he chooses articles and why--as Duchamp said, art and money shouldn’t be confused; the long, arduous process of making a physical version of OLD NEWS for its 15th anniversary, a 5475-page book (one page per email over 15 years) that is moved around on a wagon; and he talks briefly about a mysterious project involving a vending machine that he’s looking for a home for.
Nick Ravich, director of production for Art21 in New York, talks about:
His approach as both a producer and a director of Art21 artist docs, which are produced in both shorter form as well as longer form on their most well-known platform, Art in the 21st Century, which is broadcast on PBS; the variation in artists’ approaches and responses to being subjects of Art21, and how inevitably they’re often made to be vulnerable, at the least by having a camera on them in their studio for an entire day (if not more); how Art21 survives as an institution, particularly with all of the other video-about-contemporary-art platforms that have sprung up since they launched; the affirmative dynamic Art21 has towards its artists, and how the process of choosing artists works (the artists almost always say yes); a bizarre experience he had with the photographer Kay Grannan when they were on a shoot and staying at a Las Vegas motel off the strip; and Nick launches into an insightful analysis of the differences between podcasts and video in terms of to what extent someone (artists in particular) will open up.
Simon Leung, Los Angeles-based artist and head of UC Irvine’s MFA program, talks about:
His 25-year relationship with Warren Niesłuchowski and Simon’s film, “War after War,” which is about Warren’s nomadic life; Warren’s background as a child of holocaust refugees, thru his experience of May ’68 in Paris, being part of the experimental theater world, becoming a war deserter, to the realities of his moving from place to place and city to city, relying on the kindness of friends and acquaintances who host him; Simon’s circuitous route to becoming a professor, without getting an MFA; what he himself advocates for undergrads who are thinking about grad school; how he compares his status as a UC professor to being a Roman senator, in the sense of his feeling of security amongst the crowd; and his performance piece “Actions!,” which performed at MoMA and then re-performed with a new script at the Hammer Museum (Actions! Adjuncts!), both forms of worker’s theater borne out of Simon’s identification with the museum workers’ strike, and whose scripts came out of his conversations with them.
In part 3 of 3 from the Donum Estate winery in Sonoma, Kristen Haring, technology writer, Keith Haring Foundation board member and youngest sister of the late Keith Haring, talks about:
Her work with the Foundation, which was started in 1989, and how Keith came to set it up out of his involvement in charities, including making logos for several organizations; her relationship with Keith (who was 12 years older), which was emphasized by his wanting to be a big influence on her, and later his wanting her to have her own life, separate from his career and Foundation; her experiences going in and out of the art world (as a non-art person), which she often finds bizarre, and describes as feeling like an anthropologist, and which started as early as when she was 11, when the family would go into the city from Pennsylvania for Keith’s openings; Keith’s concerns about economic disparity generally, and specifically in the form of collectors who would own his work to the exclusion of the public, and in turn, his efforts to make his work available to as many people who wanted it as possible, including through his Pop Shop, which, as opposed to criticisms of his being a sell-out, was in fact only profitable 2 of its 19 years; Keith’s interest in becoming famous, which Kristen found unappealing…in fact, her exposure to celebrity through Keith’s access made her move towards a desire to have a private life; and Keith’s 25-foot-tall steel sculpture, “King and Queen,” installed at Donum Winery.
How they came to start their collaborative project Art Advice, which is physically the real-life equivalent of the booth Lucy helmed in the cartoon Peanuts, only in this case they specialize in serving artists; the reason they both wound up in Sacramento, and the many pros that outweigh the cons of living in a non-art capital, including its scalable community and navigability; the pros and cons of going to grad school, and a Do-it-Yourself program put together by artists in Oakland that prospective students could consider before paying hefty grad school tuition; how local artists have forged their own paths without grad school; how to handle rejection, via a handout that Gioia wrote, which mainly entails getting back on the horse and applying to more opportunities, and how important it is to pursue relevant and targeted ones; and the gratifying aspects of running the Art Advice booth in its democratizing of the art community, and how it’s an instant gratification alternative to the slowness of institutional bureaucracy.
Debi Wisch and Jennifer Blei Stockman, two of the three main producers of the documentary The Price of Everything, about art and money, talk about:
The breakdown of the sales system in terms of democratization; auctioneer Simon de Pury’s line: “you should buy with your eyes, not your ears,” and ignore the background noise, as Debi puts it; buying trends among collectors, and the pros and cons of those purchases; the complications of gifting collections to museums; resources available to artists on the film’s website; the producers’ goals in terms of pulling back the curtain on the art world and getting people thinking and asking questions, and how one personal motivation was not being able to collect a lot of contemporary art they’d been interested in because it was too expensive; how artists (including Jeff Koons) don’t make any money from their work when it sells at auction; the draw of contemporary art around the world that’s been made apparent to the filmmakers through the many countries that have shown interest in the film; the possible reasons why a German refugee, just prior to the Holocaust, owns a Maurizio Cattelan sculpture of an adolescent-sized Adolph Hitler on his knees; and the challenges and thrills of navigating the learning curve of filmmaking over a seven-year span for this ambitious documentary.
On the 7th anniversary of The Conversation, NYC-based art consultant and secondary market seller Daniel Oglander talks about:
His daily routine as an art advisor who works from home; a multi-person, four-month-long deal (involving a Warhol) that went wrong at the last minute, and how; how trust plays such an important factor in the highly unregulated marketplace that he works in, and functions to actually keep it together; the relationships he has with his younger collectors, for whom his objective is to get them to develop their own voice; the pros and cons of working on deals with high-priced art vs. low-priced art; why he’s tired of being asked about George Condo paintings; and speaking of Condo, he shares a harrowing story involving the delivery of a Condo painting to an impatient collector.
Madrid-based English sculptor Richard Hudson, onsite at Donum Estate winery, talks about:
The history of both the concept and production of his large-scale sculpture “Love Me,” completed and installed at Donum in 2016, which sits at the highest point of the winery, is 8 meters (26 feet) high, 8 meters wide and weighs 16 tons; his transition from property developer to world traveler- he went on a walkabout that lasted 4 ½ years – to deciding to become an artist at 42, and his quick career success; his sons, who are both artists; and his romantic philosophies about life and art-making.
New York-based artist and outdoor advertising interventionist Jordan Seiler talks about:
Being both an artist and an activist, titles which can be interchangeable, and his initial impulse to address public space taken over by advertising as a citizen of New York City; his origins as a billboard and ad poster interventionist, starting from when a teacher provoked him by saying that he wasn’t capable of doing it; how he realized one of his main objectives was to attempt to change people’s attitude toward advertising in public space, to ask questions including “why?” and “at what cost?,” and how part of that process involved taking over large-scale ad campaign platforms, particularly via illegally posted ads; and how to do your own billboard/outdoor advertising interventions without getting caught, and, if you do get questioned by the police, what to say to them.
Introducing Conversation Art Podcast listeners to Michael Shaw's new podcast, How I Get By.
Episode 1 features Julie R.
She works as a substitute teacher and a babysitter in Boulder, Colorado. She’s charming and funny, and doesn’t mince words when talking about how she gets by. The way she talks about her future challenges feel universal.
London-based sculptor Douglas White talks about: the harvesting of blown-out tires on the side of the road in Belize, which were collected and turned into his rubber palm tree sculpture, “Black Palm;” how the logistics of collecting and shipping flora and objects, and interacting with people along the way, is an intrinsic part of his work; how encountering a dead bat in Australia eventually led to a piece using dried banana peels; and what it’s been like getting to revisit Black Palm at Donum Estate two years after initial installation.
Brigitte Mulholland, associate director at Anton Kern gallery, talks about:
Her early turning points that led her away from traditional art history (and early marriage) and into contemporary art and working at galleries; what she loves about working in galleries in general and Anton Kern in particular, including getting to work with and be at the service of artists, especially Chris Martin, whom she adores; how she’s know at the gallery for handling the toughest calls from clients, including being the one who gets yelled at; the troubled realities of the way some collectors behave, from flirting all the way to virtually demanding sexual favors for them to make a purchase, and how Brigitte decided not to wear a wedding ring because, as her married colleagues told her, ‘it would only encourage them;’ how #MeToo has thus far only affected curators and publishers in the art world, and her skepticism that it will take down collectors anytime soon; how she’s somehow both extraordinarily sensitive AND has a thick skin at the same time, and she thinks you need a thick skin to work in the gallery world; and how for her, it’s ultimately about the art and the artists first and foremost…the sales tend to fall into place.
Performance artist, art critic and newly minted UNLV art department chair Marcus Civin talks about:
Why he decided to take the job, moving from a satisfying academic career in Baltimore at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); how his involvement in the Providence, R.I.-based art collective New Urban Arts launched his career trajectory as an undergrad, providing connections and mindset; the harsh realities of being an adjunct teacher (whom he hires as dept. chair), and how as a prospective adjunct you need to know what you’re in for, and it’s not for everyone; the harsh realities against becoming a salaried faculty member, he (slim) odds for adjuncts getting those slots, and his own theories about the pros and cons of certain types of faculty candidates he’s considering hiring; his performance art, including his ideal venue and his ideal size audience and the roots of his work in the court jester and the absurd; how the students he’s encountering at UNLV are warriors leading a revolution, and are ready for change, and compared being in college in 2018 to being in college in 1968 in terms of the potency of the moment; and his misstep in sharing a seminal Chris Burden performance with a performance class at MICA, and what a wake-up call it was for him.
In the 2nd half of our long conversation, NYC-based artist Joshua Citarella talks about:
The end of his run making a living from his work – by selling it through galleries and through his and Brad Troemmel’s UV Production House – and his urgency to get a full-time job lined up as soon as possible, only to find that, as a photo re-toucher, the only jobs available were freelance or “permalance;” our current gilded age of income inequality, which led him to quote Mike Peppe, who coined the term “cloud feudalism”; the precarity of being a freelancer, and how it’s affected his thoughts about artists and their choices, as well as his assertion that the cost and barrier for entry into the art world is so high that it’s almost exclusively restricted to the leisure class, and how the tensions around that divide is particularly apparent on the ground in New York; pieces from his and Brad Troemmel’s UV Production House, which they ran out of Ebay for a while until they were kicked off for the 7th time (for breaching the terms of service); and more about the inequities of the market, especially for those trying to figure out how to make a living, via their artwork and/or otherwise.
In the part 1 of 2 episodes, NYC artist Joshua Citarella talks about:
Why he grew disillusioned with the art world vis-à-vis the art market, including his having early success but also being part of the ‘pump-and-dump’ market rise and fall between 2012 and 2015; his collaborations with artist Brad Troemmel - who was profiled in a New Yorker article by Adrien Chen, and in which Citarella was also featured – particularly their online marketplace project UV Production House; his thoughts on social media, particularly his wisdom about Instagram, and how artists should aim to be tastemakers rather than following trends that the algorithms like; his hope in using social media (via Meme culture and more) to take down established structures of the art world, and the subsequent hard dose of reality that followed; untangling the concept, or the presumption even, that an artist is a progressive; and navigating the roles of artist and activist, and where an artist can be most productive.
New York-based artist/sculptor Hein Koh talks about:
Her multiple living spots throughout New York, from Astoria to Bedford Stuyvesant (where she heard gunshots on her block more than once) to the Upper East Side and back to Brooklyn, initially guided by the need to have a basement for band practice, and later by proximity to her husband’s work and their friends in Brooklyn; her 2015 Instagram post (also shared on FB) -- of her double breast-feeding her newborn twins while simultaneously working on her laptop, couple with a very thoughtful and provocative caption about her experience as a mom and artist who’s transformed for the better – which went viral, and what her experience as a viral celebrity was like, both pros and cons; the change in her artwork after having kids, which went from much darker to more colorful, including starting to use metallic spandex in her sculptures right after her kids were born.
Social media influencer and consultant Robin Cembalest (with 45K IG followers) talks about:
How she went from art magazine writing and editing to working more and more prominently in social media, first with Tumblr and then Twitter and Instagram; her strategies for using Twitter, including using Twitter ‘lists,’ as well as the same for Instagram, including: whom you might follow, the three-second rule for whom to follow, how WHO you follow and follows you is ultimately more important than your Like and Follower numbers, and the importance of your message - what are you trying to tell people - above all else, even ‘felicitous’ images; how Instagram is a form of ‘micro-networking’ that can be used for connecting to people in real life; and how people are talking with each other these days through images, and how in her consulting business she teaches clients how to communicate the points you want people to know about you.
Lucas Spivey of the roving projects Mobile Incubator and Culture Hustlers talks about:
His origin story of getting into art education, including wanting to fix an inadequate system; how over a year and a half he drove over 20,000 miles and met with over 2000 artists in 42 states, hearing people’s stories and eventually conducting podcasts and call-in shows; the Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf; the importance of cultivating 1000 true fans (as written by Kevin Kelly), and how he sees the listeners of his podcast as side hustlers, not the artist who’s already made it; his advice about what an artist should do in certain situations, including whether to make work that’s experimental vs. marketable, and what their plan should be if they’re working multiple part-time jobs but really just want to paint.
Brooklyn, and occasionally London-based art writer Margaret Carrigan talks about:
The challenges of being a freelance art journalist, including connecting with new editors and making sure not to be juggling too many, or too few, articles at a time; her provocative article, Jerry Saltz has a Pulitzer and I have Questions, for the New York Observer, and all of the many pros and cons related to Saltz’s writing, and the state of art criticism generally, including how much there may be a trend towards anti-intellectualism; to cover, or not to cover art fairs as an art writer; and her big takeaways from working at Modern Painters magazine, her last full-time job, including the deviousness of capitalism in the form of Blouin Media.
Berlin-based artist Lee Wagstaff talks about: Leaving London several years in advance of the 2012 Olympics, when he saw the writing on the wall in terms of development and subsequently, rent; how his career took off initially via his thesis show at the Royal College of Art, which featured his prominent body art, composed of geometric patterns he designed himself (and we subsequently talk extensively about his history with tattoos- one symbol in particular); his French ‘agent,’ whom he still calls a good friend, who facilitated the first few years of his career by doing everything from buying Lee’s work to buying his materials to setting up shows; how David Bowie, who collected Lee’s work, has supported him mentally, even though they never met; how he turned the gallery that he ran while also his studio, back into his studio that can become a gallery when he wants (and needs) to show and sell his work; and we talk frankly about his struggles as an artist to take advantage of the opportunities he’s had, mostly because he doesn’t fulfill the mold of the artist who’s good at networking and schmoozing.
Ridgewood, Queens, New York-based artist and former gallery director Courtney Childress talks about:
The gentrification factor in Ridegewood, a burgeoning neighborhood of artists in Queens, and why she chose to live, and work, there; leaving her gallery day job roles to both freelance and become a champion for her own art and other artists in her circle; how she wound up turning working in a gallery into an advantage as an artist, after some of the artists she was working with/for recognized her sensitivities; some of the business-oriented things she’s learned about putting your work out there, having trained under a gallerist with an M.B.A.; why it doesn’t make sense to go to big-time gallery openings as a younger/emerging artist looking to build community; her side business, Mother of 1000s, which involves customized succulents (she currently has 87 plants in her apartment, and more on the 2nd floor of her building’s hallway); and when it is and isn’t beneficial for certain people to go to art fairs.
Hilde Helphenstein of Los Angeles gallery HILDE talks about: combating the male dominated art world and art history, her path from being a 26-year-old-intern to opening her own gallery, having an intellectual life outside of Donald Trump, the mission of her gallery, being the three-legged chihuahua in the dog fight, why she supports dropping out of grad school, resilience, what she learned working for Gagosian, and the importance of informal education.
Anna Stothart, director at Lehman Maupin in New York, talks about:
Language used in and around art history, in both gallery and museum contexts including presentations tailored to different audiences, and the reason it took her so long to find her own voice when giving public presentations; how she defines what curators do in terms of taking the academic and the stuff going on in artists’ studios, and meeting them halfway; how she started connecting environmental crises with rises in zombies in pop culture, all leading to her curating a zombie-themed show; the intuitive art (and occasionally science) to curating a show; her fast rise as a curator--- thru ICA Boston, from her entry point as a grad student all the way to becoming a curator, then a year as contemporary curator at San Antonio Museum of Art before being recruited for her current post as one of Lehman Maupin’s directors; and the things she does for the gallery, from artist liaison to filling her colleagues in on new work to negotiating sales of work to museums.
A few Swedish words I know, including the expression Bonus Family, which really impresses Jenny; her 1-month trip to L.A., and objectives for the visit; our respective neighborhoods—she refers to hers as the Silver Lake of Stockholm; our experiences hosting our respective art podcasts, including the importance of listening, and how for her podcast they build each episode around a theme, then find guests to address that theme; Jenny’s background working in a gallery, and what it was like “living with” the artwork over the course of an exhibit; the several shows we saw that afternoon, including a couple we liked, and one we really didn’t; her non-specialized entry into the art world, from academia into a gallery job; and “The Art Word,” her 2nd, upcoming podcast, which she’ll do in English so she can reach well beyond Scandinavia.
Artist and budding tech entrepreneur Katrina Neumann talks about:
being a resident at NewInc., an art & tech incubator space run by the New Museum, for her project Rivet, a web platform for creatives to find opportunities faster and easier, which she co-founded with two partners; Rivet’s startup logistics, including paying a web developer most of the modest money they’re currently pulling in via Patreon and a grant, and what they would pay themselves if and when they have a more ambitious budget; her ambition to create a moral company that pays both its creators and its employees market fair salaries; her first project, Rate My Artist Residency, which was born out of a residency in Berlin in which she slept with a knife under her bed, and eventually led to a platform that provides transparency towards what residencies worldwide are actually offering; using her platform(s) to promote thinking locally, as opposed to an artist feeling the need “to go to India to do a body of work…unless you really need to;” her work as director of Kent Fine Art gallery, a program that really fit her more socially conscious sensibility; taking a break from her own work thru a combination of burnout, wanting to focus on Rivet and to create a lifestyle for her job work, and her artwork, that’s sustainable; and how she firmly believes that boredom feeds creativity.