For the final episode of 2016, we bring back the May, 2012 conversation with Eric Yahnker, followed by a portion of our follow-up conversation recorded Dec. 23rd, in which we talk about Eric's approach to the incoming regime vis-a-vis his work, and how he and his work fit into the greater scheme of things in terms of culture and activism.
Here is the description of that original conversation from 2012:
Eric talks about his elegant slapstick sensibility, vis-a-vis his cultural Judaism; working for South Park; his business acumen roots courtesy of his Amway-selling parents; and his background in animation and journalism/political cartooning.
Los Angeles-based artist Claire Colette talks about:
Leaving San Francisco (the Mission neighborhood) after 10 years by essentially being priced out; her various perceptions about SF, including the fact that she still has friends who live there and goes back to visit and insists that not everything is over--that it will take a lot to beat the arts community there--it's not just going to go away; how she has supported herself, including thru grad school, bartending as well as working at art galleries and non-profits, and the pros and cons to each job; her grad school education (Mills College in Oakland), which she chose with intent, and her undergrad, the for-profit Art Institute of Los Angeles, which she chose on her own naively because she didn't know enough about the school/quality art institutions generally, until she got there, and wound up making the most of it despite its critical limitations (including rounding out her education by taking more classes before going to grad school); the benefits of what more "sophisticated" schooling has been for her, having also taken classes at the SF Art Institute; her bartending, both in SF and L.A., how she prefers to work at bars that are more connected to artists/the art scene so she can be herself, the difference between bars during the week vs. over the weekend (which applies to 'every bar ever'), and the pros and cons of it (pays well, but it's a service job), and how ultimately neither bartending nor gallery work appears to be sustainable long-term (of course, a classic dilemma for most artists); how she believes that every artist should work in a gallery for at least six months, to see how it's run on the other side; how she's managed to sell her work both through shows and directly to collectors out of her studio, esp. out of grad school, even more recently--having been in L.A. for just two years; her arrival at abstraction, which is sourced from thought experiments and is rooted in everything from the existentialist philosophy and religion of her Catholic French early-upbringing, to science fiction, specifically Ursula Le Guin; and how she's come to realize that, even having worked in activism, that her artwork in poetics and thought experiments through abstraction is still very important to her--she recognizes the futility in each, and yet that there needs to be room for each as well (we both acknowledge that it – activism, abstraction and the market, anti-capitalism, art as object – is, as a whole, problematic), and that the solution is not to stop painting/making art.
Adriane Herman, Maine-based artist and Associate Professor at Maine College of Art talks about:
Living and working in Maine – Portland in particular – and what the school and scene are like there, and what grads tend to do after they're out of school; the housing crisis in Portland, and where artists are moving; how she's lived all over the Midwest and Northeast, and how she came to move from the idyllic art community of Kansas City to Portland, and the pros and cons of each of those places and lifestyles; how an art critic in Kansas City reached out to her and the gallery she was involved with to ask what was coming next, giving an idea of the intimacy and openness of the art community—she also attempts to sell us Kansas City as a great art community that grads should consider moving to; how in Kansas City the community came to her, essentially, whereas in Maine she's had to be much more proactive to find and cultivate it…in Kansas City, she feels like she's "surfing synchronicity"; reciprocity in the art world, and how she tries to activate it, including engagement while ignoring hierarchies; getting Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic to her studio; her artwork and thoughts around letting go (both of events and of stuff), purging and downsizing, including the parishioners at a church in Kansas City she inspired to let go of some of their stuff, all while willing admitting to being a "Do as I say, not as I Do" person; she shares one of her personal 'letting go' stories—the humiliation and humbling in being rejected for a professorial job promotion, which floored her, but was able to recover from in part because it led her to apply for and win an extensive residency back in Kansas City; and she offers that her sharing and willing to be vulnerable in this conversation will lead others listening to write in about their own experiences- fingers crossed!
Los Angeles-based artist Hilary Pecis talks about:
Her exodus from San Francisco to L.A. in 2013, when many other artists and creative types left SF because of its skyrocketing, prohibitive cost of living; the 'perfect storm' (even though she doesn't like that term) that led to the massive change the city has gone thru that led to so much exodus,; her gradual welcoming of the more home-bound lifestyle of L.A. as compared with her and her husband's life in SF, when they ate out and went to bars often, a lifestyle that had them out of their apt. much of the time; Mt. Shasta, where her dad and stepmom live and she visits regularly, which is also home to Lemuria, an occult-associated 'lost continent' whose legend is kept alive in the area and prompts visits from spiritual questers; her role as a registrar at a major Los Angeles gallery: what it entails (logistics of shipping, storage, condition reports and client communique re: artworks) and its biggest challenges, including when works arrive damaged; one complicated scenario that had to do with assessing blame -- for a painting with a puncture through the canvas -- among the person sending the work, the shipping company, and Hilary's gallery…a scenario that's still unresolved since around the time she started at the gallery three years ago; how 80% of her job is arranging artworks' shipping to clients, and the irony that no matter how expensive the artwork they've purchased, they don't want to pay for shipping at all, so wind up going cheap as possible (FedExing a $100,000 painting, for example); her stress-relievers for work (audiobooks and running); the complex sentiment of an artist's 'entitlement' when working in an environment that is so supportive of its artists; the conversations she has with her husband (a full-time artist) and how they inform her perspective as an artist in relation to having what she refers to as a "real grown-up job;" the dramatic change she experienced at Art Basel Miami between 2007, her first time, to 2009, post-crash; her current, work-related dynamic with Art Basel, and the significant sums her gallery has at stake in the fair since it's such an immense financial commitment to participate on that level; and her studio time, including the pros and cons of having an in-home studio, and how her son Apollo may not have become her perfect studio assistant yet, but occasionally his own (Lego) projects can allow her a couple extra hours of studio time.
Art historian and art tour guide Lauren Kaplan talks about:
Her start in giving tour guides at venues from the Met and the Guggenheim to galleries around Chelsea; the pros of giving tours at the Met- open and flexible access, liberal policies towards guides, and cons- some of the other tour leaders aren't properly educated and give misinformation to their groups, which Lauren says isn't her problem though it obviously doesn't make it an ideal context for her business; how she organizes her largest tours, which can be up to 40 people, by dividing the group in half and leading a tour for each half while the other looks around on their own; a particularly memorable encounter with a star actor while doing a slightly compromised tour at The Frick Museum; how small tours (families of four) are more conversational that big tours (30-40) which are more lecture-based; teaching people on her tours to feel comfortable not knowing what they're looking at, and how she regularly takes Chelsea gallery tour groups to shows she knows they won't like or get (and sometimes that she doesn't like), which invariably lead to the most interesting conversations; some of her memorable gallery show tours, including Thomas Schutte, Terence Koh and Carrie Mae Weems; the "ven diagram of people" living in brownstone Brooklyn and commuting to the museums on the Upper East Side, and she compares the two neighborhoods in ways you might find surprising; how she came to learn who the core demographic for her tours is (hint: she's a modernist); and she shares some memorable anecdotes from her tours featuring both kids and adults.