Las Vegas artist and podcaster Justin Favela talks about:
As a kid, watching the Dunes (where his relatives were employed), being imploded to make way for the Bellagio; working as a roller-coaster operator at New York, New York; how he's the first in his extended family to go into art and move away from the hospitality industry, which so many of his family members are in, and how sometimes he feels he has to lie by saying he's "an art teacher," just so they think he has a 'legitimate' job with a regular paycheck, and he goes in-depth about family dynamics when your family doesn't quite get what you're doing (as an artist) and why; his Family Fiesta picnic blowout he hosted/'performed' in front of the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas (founded by Walmart heir Alice Walton); what it's like being an artist in Vegas, where it's a small community, but the art-going public is thirsty for it, and how he finds himself having to be careful not to be in every local art show because people will get sick of him; doing his Family Fiesta within the canyons of Michael Heizer's legendary Double Negative in the desert; his own podcast, Latinos Who Lunch, which takes food as its entry point/icebreaker that gets things rolling into a wide range of topics, including art; his project Taco Takeover, which was inspired by Taco Bell's 'Doritos Locos' taco and the globalization of Mexican food, and led him to start documenting every taco he ate as a way of 'taking the taco back;' the art of the taco, and what makes great tacos great; the labor intensity of his works, esp. his large-scale installations (including on the whole façade of a motel), and how he's a nice boss to his helpers; and how he's getting (and gotten) to know himself through his identity because he's always getting asked about it, making him aware that when it comes to his identity and culture, as well as politics, that he really needs to know his shit.
De Nichols, a St. Louis-based multidisciplinary designer, civic leader and "artivist," talks about:
Getting her job as the community engagement manager at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which evolved into a position dedicated to determining how an institution becomes a better neighbor to its community; the controversy(ies) around Kelley Walker's show "Direct Drive" at CAM St. Louis, which opened in early Sept. 2016---everything from De's take on the artworks beforehand and what she liked vs. what she found distasteful, and how she felt offended by the notion to come from how pieces featuring black women were going to be displayed, which she shared with the curator; to the climactic event of the artist lecture Walker gave alongside the curator, which in the Q&A session went remarkably wrong, and included gaslighting which left many in audience cold, disconcerted, and/or upset…and in De's case, livid; how the curator, rather than helping Walker to communicate what he was unable to in response to various questions about race and misogyny, instead protected the artist and in turn shut the conversation down; how after the talk, De felt ashamed for being somehow complicit – as a museum educator – in a toxic experience; how as a community engagement person on staff, she got flak from both sides: the museum people and the people in the audience who wanted her to apologize for things getting so tense; how, through the fallout from that event she faced an internal crisis which led to her eventually leaving her post at the museum, and the thought process that led her to finally resign; the positive aspect of the effect on CAM, in the form of greater sensitivity and strategy going forward in a period where it's going to be needed even more; she offers both advice and suggestions for artists to be culturally sensitive about the work they make and where they show it, and how they can become active in this changing political climate, including 100 Days of Action, the artist-run PAC For Freedoms, and The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (which is not a government organization despite what it sounds like). While a video of the Kelley Walker artist talk and Q&A is not available, you can view a panel discussion response to that event, which took place at CAM as part of the series Critical Conversations, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhFClenTaL4
Jennifer Dalton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn artist and co-founder of Auxiliary Projects talks about:
Her Williamsburg neighborhood from numerous perspectives, including a breakdown of some of its sections, the re-zoning that has enabled high-rise development and exceptionally high-priced real estate, the fact that she's been there 20 years, and with her husband owns a row house since 2003 (which she feels privileged to have), from which she's seen the neighborhood go through numerous changes, where artists are moving-whether out of Brooklyn or out of New York altogether-and what, if anything, can be done in response to the intense gentrification; the project Month2Month, which she co-organized and was a lottery-based 'guest living' arrangement in which people temporarily lived in housing deemed either 'affordable' or 'luxury,' and open-to-the-public dinners and the like were hosted there; how by co-running a progressive gallery in Bushwick, she's both part of the solution and part of the problem simultaneously as a culture provider and gentrifier; the 'smoke & mirrors' element of living in NYC: people living large, and possibly living beyond their means in the process; how she's continued to keep a day job over her career, even though there have been periods of a few years where she could have made a living from her work, which turned into a conversation about which artists make a living from their work, and the smoke & mirrors once again applies to artists who she may have thought were making a living, but had some side gig, or family assistance, sustaining them; how she'd rather be a "day job artist" than a "housewife artist;" art fairs, and how she (and we) can alternate between feeling alienated and inspired walking around one, which inspired her "Hello, I'm" piece, stickers with various comments about one's art fair state that Chicago Expo goers wore in great numbers in 2015; how in the moment, art fair presenters always say it's going great, and only admit to it going badly the next year; how the one year she and her partner did Untitled at Miami, they broke even, which is great for a young gallery, but if you count time invested they figured they made 12 cents an hour; "elitism" in its various forms, an exchange inspired one of her images; the 'confidence' game, in terms of selling yourself in studio visits, and how in Jen's experience men are more confident in women in those situations; and we have a spirited debate/concurrence about the use of sales-y words in the studio and in relation to one's art, and because she refrained from using it, we talk about the "P" word at great length, and why she likes it (and I don't).
Provo, Utah-based artist Casey Smith talks about:
Living in Provo, which is also where he went to college at BYU, and how the market there is 3X as expensive as Columbus, Ohio, where he and his family had lived previously; his crisis of faith with Mormonism in its many facets; how his wife has left the church, but he has remained a Mormon for the moment, and how he hasn't been to church in a while (since the Nov. election), primarily because he doesn't want to have to confront fellow churchgoers whom he knows to be Trump supporters, but how he's still well-connected to an active Mormon community (his mother still attends church, though his father left the church years ago), and he at this point he feels like he doesn't belong there; some of the finer points of his observance of Mormonism, including never having smoked a cigarette, done drugs, or drank a single drop of alcohol or coffee, and how in that context, drinking Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew makes you seem like a hard-ass; how South Park's take on Mormonism is surprisingly accurate; his experience at the San Francisco Art Institute, which he was excited about and hopeful for initially, but was marred by his being somewhat blacklisted by some fellow students and even professors, because his Mormonism 'bothered them' (this was in the couple years leading up to Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage prop backed heavily by Mormons); how a number of galleries that he was working with or in conversation with about shows, once they established that he was still a practicing Mormon (and Prop 8 was now in people's social consciousness), stopped communicating with him, and yet meanwhile, the farther his work got away from California, the better he did in terms of shows; his stint in the Midwest, where he got teaching jobs at Bowling Green University, where his wife was also teaching, and then having to leave when the school couldn't renew his year-long full-time contract due to lack of enrollment from the recession; his family's subsequent struggles to get by in the midst of the recession after moving to Columbus, on his very modest adjunct teaching earnings combined with a little bit of family inheritance and how that led him to decide that he had to find "real work," and to change careers from art teaching into a whole other industry; how the "leveling up" in Mormonism is parallel with most role-playing games, including Dungeons & Dragons, which he's been a long-time player of, and merges the two (Mormonism and D&D) in his art; how his wife, Amanda Smith, also an artist, had her career going very well with galleries in San Francisco and New York representing her, but when they had kids she had to put it all on hold; and how he and his family have managed to get by through it all, including, briefly, food stamps.