David Prince, artist, girls private school teacher and owner of Adjunct Positions gallery in Highland Park talks about:
Teaching at a private school in Pasadena, which gives him financial stability, an art community of teachers and even some facilities he can access if needed; the impressive tools the school has, including C & C and 3D printing; how the school, while having expensive tuition (though fairly normal by private school standards), is progressive in its teaching the students to be aware of and even take part in social issues; how he counsels students getting undergrad educations to study something other than art, even if they're going to become artists, because that background in a non-art education will make them more rounded in the long run; Snapchat, which along with Instagram is the social media of choice for his students, and why he himself likes it as the anti-social media app, free of the pretensions of the curated, manufactured image we use on other platforms; his 2 ½-year stint in NY after grad school at Art Institute of Chicago…he left New York through a combination of his business partner (in a furniture biz) left town, he lost his loft in Williamsburg to condos, and he got a residency out of town; how when he and his sister were looking for a house to buy, he had in mind one with a street-facing garage so he could start a space, which became his Adjunct Positions gallery; the open-ended approach of the gallery, including splitting install costs with artists, which they know going in, showing work throughout the house (the living room, the patio) in addition to the garage-gallery, and the exhibitions not being about showing 'a body of work' but a more conceptual bent, and including work that's been produced specifically for the show; how he focuses on local artists to both support a local community as well as to grow his own network; the scarcity of opportunities in the art world, and how almost all the Adjunct Positions artist are involved in some kind of hustle; how the conversation among younger artists has shifted to include more practical questions, especially how to make a living (while being an artist); how David is more interested in showing artists than in showing "work," which comes through meeting artists, doing studio visits with them and starting conversations that evolve into a collaborative process; and among other fellow high school art teachers, he appreciates that he has something of a dream job, while speculating that education will be one of the last casualties of the zombie robot apocalypse.
Brooklyn-based artist and gallerist Ryan Wallace talks about:
Living and working in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and how it's changed over the 17 years he's been there, and the precarious rental situation he's in with his apartment building's future, and a rapidly rising studio rent; how is exhibition is doing (open for another several days at the time we spoke) at Susan Inglett Gallery- about half sold; art that rises quickly in popularity with certain movements, and the many casualties that result amid just a few artists that stick around; the 'art fund' collectors who are looking for the quick score, and how their stock-based buying affects the good collectors, and how collecting is not a get-rich-quick scheme; the gallery in East Hampton that he co-owns with Hilary Schaffner- their program, their schedule (full-time during June-July-August, tapered to appointment only in the winter), his role in the gallery (he goes into a different mode at art fairs), how much that he had to put up to get the gallery up and running initially (about 17k), etc.; how he wound up in the Hamptons in the first place, and decided to set up shop there; the difference for Ryan being a dealer at the gallery in East Hampton, where it's low pressure, very educational about the work, and so on, whereas at the fairs it's all about commerce, which has taught him that you can't tailor work to fit the market, because 'commerce and work cross on their own agenda;' how some local collectors who have come to 50% of their shows in East Hampton haven't bought a piece until they were in their booth at a fair; the one time representing at a fair was soul-crushing, when he had to do it alone (which was only at one fair so far); and we have a spirited debate about potential conflicts of interest, as an artist and/or a gallerist, including how Ryan, being an outsider for so long, is now pro-nepotism because he wants to support the artist friends in the scene he's built around his gallery, and how it's a case-by-case basis in which, as a business, you ultimately make decisions; and yet how as an artist and a gallerist, he tries to stay away from cross-pollinating directly; and we talk about the Hamptons vs. Montauk, the latter of which has had problems with entitlement mixed with 'vacation behavior' which has led to a level of revelry that has had the locals up in arms.
Deborah Fisher, New York-based artist and co-founder/executive director of A Blade of Grass talks about:
Her project Cityspeaks, which started as an Instagram account and has become her way of making art during downtimes—waiting for the elevator, while commuting, etc.—since those limited parameters are what she can afford time-wise with her demanding arts administrator job; how it also started by asking herself the question: "what's the riskiest thing I can do," since as an arts administrator, she saw herself as never being taking seriously as an artist by the art world again…so how am I going to take advantage of that freedom?; how A Blade of Grass happened to her while she was being an artist; the 'scarcity art world,' in which artists do anything they want except value their work, because that 'value' comes from gatekeepers and stakeholders, which leads to a huge crisis in worth and validation all the time; how to be an "un-artist," as described by one of her great influences, Allan Kaprow; how her conversations with her employer, Shelly Rubin of the Rubin Foundation, who had a lot of questions about contemporary art, led to conversations about context, and how art is integrated into everyday life, and ultimately that led to the creation of A Blade of Grass; ABOG's mission for its fellows, in a sense, as 'rehearsing for the revolution;' the realities of participating in change, and how even when accepting funding from less-than-ideal entities, grantees can engage in conversations with them about their objectives, and in so doing, ideally move the needle at least a little bit in the right direction; the analogy between politicians selling message thru stories and artists (or art and ideas people like Deborah) selling projects through their own story concepts; how the sexiness of socially-engaged art is its "selling tomorrow," something especially appealing to people how get invited to art fairs but feel excluded by the art world….and what if the conversation around cultural production was making the world a better place?; how the types of artists ABOG works with are collaborative, even cultural stakeholders; and how, while on a retreat at a Zen monastery with an alternative approach, she transitioned from "me" to "we," honoring what she came to realize was her social contract, just as she was transitioning from being a traditional artist to becoming an arts administrator and an artist who doesn't make things but sees things, as encapsulated in her Cityspeaks project.
Manhattan-based art writer and budding curator Emily Colucci talks about:
Her place on Avenue C in the East Village, and how she's managed to live in a Manhattan that's now cheaper in many cases than Brooklyn; the C Squat next door to her place, which has existed since the '70s and the city allowed them to permanently inhabit if they brought it up to code (which they did), and which also runs the Museum of Unclaimed Urban Space, which does walking tours of former squats and community gardens and non-profit art spaces in the neighborhood; the heydays of St. Marks Place and the East Village, and how each generation looks down on newer generations' scenes as not having the same level of artistic relevance; her cultural blog Filthy Dreams, which she founded as a place for "minorities who don't even fit into our own minorities," inspired by John Waters' quote, and for the queer and LGBT communities; writing about (and taking down) James Franco's show at Pace gallery, which was his attempted version of re-creating Cindy Sherman's iconic Untitled Film Stills series…why Pace had the show in the first place, what Cindy Sherman's reaction to it was, plus Emily brings Filthy Dreams' take on Franco's history of appropriating Queer culture while simultaneously publicly declaring that he's not gay; her curatorial projects, including a past show Nightlife as Activism (which was about nightclubs, activism and AIDS), and an upcoming show on Disco's legacy, and the two years of work that goes into each show, including relying on oral histories from eras where many of its notable participants have passed away; how exhibitions, unlike articles on art, can actually make a tiny difference in exposing people to things and even changing minds; how it's terrifying at times being a freelance writer, but because she's allergic to office work, she wouldn't trade it for anything, and she always has Filthy Dreams to write for when the other gigs aren't happening, and how even though she knows there are more readers, she always assumes there are two people reading her blog: her mom and her best friend (though she did get to experience what it's like for your article to get some serious attention, after her piece on James Franco was picked up by Live Journal).
Brooklyn-based artist and activist Ann Lewis talks about:
Her recent move to Greenpoint from Bushwick, where she was kicked out of her live/work loft when the building was bought by two hedge-fund entities; the realities of living in an ever-increasingly expensive New York City, gentrification, and Ann's experience with it both as a tenant – including negotiating with the owners for a modest settlement that helped with her move out – and as an activist (she was actually protesting at an anti-gentrification rally at the time she received a 30-day-notice warning under her loft door); her concern that New York, Brooklyn in particular, will just continue developing into a mass of suburban sprawl, with nothing that can be done from the ground to stop it, leaving only the hope of the bubble bursting; a deconstruction of New York City government's complicity in maintaining a corrupt system that fosters unbridled development, to a large extent a system put in place during Bloomberg's administration; how, with artists being the canaries in the coal mine, we can learn from the past problems of neighborhoods being unstably gentrified by moving into homeowner-dense neighborhoods and collectively investing in them for the very long-term, in hopes of diverting the gentrification train; how she feels we're seeing change coming out of social activism very quickly now, through social media and greater attention being paid to issues, and how there's been a big increase in the # of artistically minded people being more regularly engaged in social and political issues via FB and beyond; how her activist work started with street art (stencils) because she felt so strongly about certain issues (Abu Gharib, mass incarceration, etc.) that she needed to start having conversations with anyone who would listen; one of her performance pieces, a protest piece from 2014, in which she spent a month wearing a prison-issue orange jump suit in public, engaging with both strangers and people she knew in conversations about mass incarceration; how when she pushes herself out of her comfort zone, which she does in her performances, learning new things and providing ever more meaningful experiences for those experiencing her pieces; her maze wall paintings, which include subliminal messages contained within them; and she entertains the potential of Detroit as a future home and artist community, should living and working in New York become untenable, though we hope it won't.