Providence, R.I.-based artist and RISD head of sculpture Lisi Raskin talks about:
Her former residence in Brooklyn Heights, which was made possible by her aunt and uncle, who ultimately were her biggest patrons – through contract negotiations and more - and made it possible for her to live a long stint in New York; the staying power it takes to exist in the art world, which she acknowledges in her coming from a privileged background (and later in the conversation emphasizes the question: 'what do you do with your privilege?'); a basic description of her getting her job as head of sculpture at RISD, and her roots in teaching at Columbia University in grad school and then getting hired right out of grad school; the serendipitous success she had at Columbia, including the intellectual and political alignment, the boom time it was in and the great people she got to work with as well as be mentored by, including Jon Kessler, Heather Roe, Coco Fusco, Mark Handelman and Kara Walker; her way of artmaking, which involves setting up challenges and rules to be broken, allowing her to be in a state of not knowing, and in this light we have a rather extended debate about the use of the word 'practice' (my biggest pet peeve word on the show); her non-hierarchical approach to both artmaking, as exemplified in her rock band as well as in a show she collaborated with a team on at Bunkier Sztuki in Krawkow Poland; and we finish where we started, with commentary on gentrification generally, and specifically in Philadelphia and Providence, her former and current homes, on responsibility gentrifying and being a good steward, not a colonialist.
L.A.-based artist and recent S.F. resident Maysha Mohamedi talks about:
What she likes to listen to in the studio (over and over) while she's working on a body of paintings; her time in SF, where she started her art career, met her husband and had two kids before leaving for L.A. (where she's been since August '16); her switch from a PhD in neuroscience at UC Davis to art; her aversion to critical conversations about her work, which started in grad school and didn't end until after she was showing; we have a long exchange about abstraction (mostly thanks to my taking so long to ask the question I wanted to ask), and she clearly articulates her objective- of getting her viewers to feel emotions, to be moved,when they see her work—and she uses the analogy of music, specifically Nina Simone, that she aspires to move her viewers the way Nina Simone's music moves her; how her parents have been supportive of her as an artist in their own ways, such as her dad making a custom studio-sitting bench for her; her origin story of when she decided to become a mother, something she's 'always' wanted to do, and why; she weighs in as a parent on those who aren't parents, and (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) how she'd like to lord her superiority of being a parents over non-parents, for the time-being at least; and she explains how when she's in the studio, the only thing she's thinking about his her work—no exceptions.
San Francisco-based artist, Chief Attorney of San Francisco's Public Defender office and former Green Party politician Matt Gonzalez talks about:
His beginnings as an artist, after having been a lawyer and in politics for many years, which originated when he was an undergrad at Columbia and was exposed to NYC's museums; transitioning from collecting art to making art, mainly through the conversations he had in artist's studios; the painters he's had collage sessions with, which occasionally included the consumption of Scotch and oysters; how his brain keeps working while collaging, enabling him to resolve problems in his court cases while he's working; what led him to run for District Attorney of San Francisco, and then later Mayor, and how, even as recently as 1999 in S.F., if you supported gay marriage and were against the death penalty you wouldn't be taken seriously as a candidate; how he was heartened by how well he did in his run for Mayor as a Green Party candidate- that even though he lost in a close race, it still meant that they raised awareness of the Green Party's politics and values; how he came to run as Ralph Nader's running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign; while he hasn't had any personal issues with the newer (tech) tenants of San Francisco per se, he has noticed a general lack of consideration for longtime residents, and is aware of that lacking particularly in regards to displacing existing residents; and his representation of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the murder suspect who has been a punching bag/case study for the right on the major problems with immigration/immigrants from Mexico…but as Matt notes, Lopez-Sanchez has no history of violence or weapons, and has no motive; that trial is still to come, when the case, and possibly Matt, will move into the spotlight.
San Francisco-based artist and filmmaker Jonn Herschend talks about:
The Thing Quarterly, a 10-year-old, subscription-based project of customized book-inspired artworks/objects he co-runs with Will Rogan; it was launched with Miranda July's pull-down window shade, which read, "If the shade is down, I'm not who you think I am;" The Thing has been so successful that there are two full-time and one part-time staff; Herschend describes it as an alternative route for art to be disseminated into the world, that it comes directly to your house (or office), which was perhaps the main ingredient that has brought so much attention to the project over the years; Dave Eggers' project, a custom essay he wrote for a shower curtain; how he self-identifies (if he has to), and the dynamics of having a good conversation with a stranger; the lack of art education in describing the wide gap between contemporary art (& the arts in general) to the mainstream; his time living in S.F. (since '93), from the Bohemian days of The Mission, through two tech booms and the rise of the 'tech bro,' entitlement, and how he resolves to remind himself that he was part of an earlier phase of gentrification of The Mission, and now he's just experiencing another, later phase…and how he's sympathetic because it's the only way to not become pissed all the time; how his biggest problem now is Uber drivers (he's been hit twice), who are actually people who live out of the city but come in to pick up rides; how he grew up with a front-of-house/back-of-house perspective in terms of entertainment and attractions, which led him to a documentary on the move/renovation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Stories from the Evacuation – which features a surprise twist; where he is with his filmmaking: he's self-taught, and used a real casting director for the first time (instead of Craigslist) for the SFMoMA film, and he may or may not make a feature-length film at some point in the future, since there are obvious benefits to making films for an art audience as opposed to making more marketable films for a much wider audience, and how for now he's happy to be in the in-between space of the art and film worlds.