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.
MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish talks about:
The immense size of the museum (300,000 sq. ft.), including the football field-sized main exhibition space, and how despite its being three hours from the big cities (NYC, Boston…), it gets tremendous attendance- the parking lot’s full even on weekday mornings; how half of her time is devoted to the road, having conversations w/artists in their studios, and prompting some of them to make work that melds with her exhibition concepts; curating Oh, Canada, a survey of Canadian artists for which she did 400 studio visits across the country over three years, pissing off much of Vancouver in the process (kidding!); working with Nick Cave, whose massive installation was immensely popular with visitors, as well as working with emerging artists at the museum; and she shares the harrowing story of driving to pick up a vintage, cast-iron black-faced lawn jockey for Nick Cave’s sprawling installation.
NYC gallerist (and artist) Scott Ogden talks about:
His Chinatown gallery Shrine, a 350 sq. ft space, and how to make that work; his unusual program of roughly half outsider artists and half contemporary artists; how he first got interested in outsider art when he sat in on a slide show lecture about prison art while a BFA student at the University of Texas, Austin; how the sexually provocative work of Yves Tessier was the first show to bring in significant neighborhood traffic to the gallery, including many non-English speaking locals; how he addresses potential issues of cultural appropriation/colonialism; his experiences doing art fairs, including the Outsider Art Fair, as well as NADA in Miami, where he met several new collectors; the synchronistic circumstances that led him to leasing his first (and current) gallery space (which wasn’t originally his intention), whose remnants included stripper poles and other odds and ends; how he transitioned from artist to gallerist/businessperson overnight, and what the growing pains have been like; how he uses Instagram both to sell work and to find gallery interns; and how he loves finding work that teeters on the edge between crazy brilliant and crazy bad.
Frieze editor and writer and author of Pretentiousness: Why It Matters, Dan Fox talks about:
The English accent in the U.S., which has been called ‘fake,’ and even ‘villainous’; his intention in writing the book to get people, in using the word “pretentious,” to think more about what they mean when they use that word, whether they mean it as an insult or not; people being “pretentious” in film and television, and why people criticize Anglos who mix French words into their sentences; the differences in the way art is consumed and critiqued by London compared with New York art audiences; art goers as described in his book, and we have a rather intense debate about selfie-focused art-goers, particularly vis-à-vis waiting in long lines, as in for the Yayoi Kusama show(s); the complex ways that class functions in the art world (including class barriers for entry), and some of the various reasons that people become committed to the field, and/or lifestyle; and the time when an art duo confronted him in the street after he tore them apart in a review, a scene right out of a Western.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art curator Claire Carter talks about:
The demographic of Scottsdale, including a large number of retirees who Winter there, and make up a substantial presence in support of her museum; how she’s grown into her full-time “curator of contemporary” role from within, starting 10 years ago as a curatorial assistant; the show she curated borne out of a lunch talk she gave to a group of former spies; that show, Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns,’ particularly a piece by Bay Area artist David Gurman, whose piece was a 500-pound bell that hung in the middle of the gallery and was connected to a program that had it toll once for every violent civilian death (as culled from IraqBodyCount.org) every hour on the hour, and how affecting the piece became, for the staff, the visitors and especially Carter herself; how her role as curator sometimes include procuring a large, turn-of-the-century Paul Revere-style bell to replace the previously exhibited version which had been stolen; how deeply moved she was by that piece, something of a payoff for all the hard work and strings that got pulled amongst her co-workers to make it happen; the frank statistical information she shares with the art students she visits at Arizona State University about how many artists wind up in museums, and the ideal role between an artist and a curator; what her studio visits are like, and the size of the smallest studio she can recall visiting.
Brooklyn-based artist and commercial-studio-building developer Stef Halmos talks about:
How she feels about Greenpoint’s gentrification arc, as a 12-year resident there herself; her commercial development in Catskill, New York, two hours north of the city, where she’s helming the renovation and rentals of a 50,000 sq. foot building called Foreland Catskill for studios, galleries and production facilities; the genesis for starting the project/buying the building, which came out of wanting to join a communal studio situation instead of working from home; what she’s been learning as a developer/project manager in terms of obtaining permits (much easier than it would have been in the city), working with the contractor (Rich, who she speaks about glowingly), and what they need to do to keep the building sustainable for another 150 years; her father, who co-owns the building with Stef and also acts as her mentor and “consigliere,” providing endless advice on the project; her early years as a video artist and photographer, including interning for Annie Leibowitz; losing all the work she had ever made (which had been kept in UHaul storage) during Superstorm Sandy, and how that changed her art-making and career trajectory; and the two-and-a-half years when she wasn’t making any work at all, and how she managed to turn that unproductive period around.
Los Angeles-based sound artist-artist-musician Chris Kallmyer talks about:
Living in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he and his wife just bought a house, with the objective of becoming neighborhood citizens rather than investors; how and why an artist like Chris is able to buy a house (a partner with a more stable job situation than an artist helps), and why they chose El Sereno; the freedom of being alternately a sound artist, a musician or an artist, depending on the context; the importance of hierarchy in his collaborative projects, because ultimately there needs to be a final-decision-maker in order for everyone to feel safe; his musical performances, including Paradise Choir at SF MoMA, and a cheese-tasting with musical accompaniment; some of the reactions to his experimental music/performance work, which he describes as abstract but also often involves the public; how he’s gotten his pieces performed in venues such as SF MoMA and LACMA relatively early in his career; and his side gigs to supplement his limited paid sound art gigs, including video editing for friends and playing guitar for a local touring chamber orchestra.
Brooklyn-based artist, activist, comedian and advertising creative director Jeff Greenspan talks about:
The contradictions between his artmaking and his day job in advertising, and how he rationalizes biting the hand that feeds, among other seeming hypocrisies, including whether he’s using himself to promote the issues, or the issues to promote himself; his social/activist projects, including “hipster traps,” “Tourist Lanes,” “The World’s Most Exclusive Website” and “The Statue Experiment,” and how calling himself an artist is still relatively new for him; how to make a YouTube video that gets 1,000,000 views; his and frequent collaborator Andrew Tider’s epic Edward Snowden sculpture project, in which they commissioned and then placed a large bust of Snowden in a Brooklyn public park, and the rollercoaster life it took on —it was a project that cost them thousands of dollars each and ran the risk of arrest and potential harm to those who were assisting in the rogue installation; and the nuanced realities of working in advertising and particularly branding, and his and Tider’s recent project pitched to Virgin Atlantic airlines.
Legendary East Village gallerist Gracie Mansion talks about the various turning points in her life and career, including: Her early days in the East Village (9th St. between 1st & Ave. A), when she had an apartment to live, and another for her studio, for about $200 total; the genesis of her first gallery, which she started out of the bathroom of that apartment, and managed to stir up a whirlwind of visitors and press; one of her day jobs, at a SoHo gallery, where her boss had her run a ‘museum’ of art by prostitutes; the changing landscape of the downtown NYC gallery world, as she moved her spaces through the East Village, later to SoHo, and then much later to Chelsea; how she learned how to price artworks from legendary dealer Leo Castelli; what it’s like to negotiate with gallery backers, and how that worked out for her; and how and why she changed her name to Gracie Mansion (the name of the New York City Mayor’s residence).
Brooklyn and Berlin-based artist Nina Katchadourian talks about:
Her Boerum Hill, Brooklyn neighborhood, which though uber-gentrified is adjacent to an area that is far less so, and includes significant gunshot events; moving her studio from the basement of her house to a dedicated studio space which she and her co-tenants are owners/occupiers of, and what it’s like being a shared owner of the building; her now-second home of Berlin, where she and her husband lived over the summer and will live for a longer stint this winter into spring—what it’s like living there as an American and the various benefits of cross-cultural habitation and relocation; the sense of American-ness which has become heightened with her time in Berlin, and the sense of subjectivity that she in turn is educating her N.Y.U. students about, so they have a sense of how their own backgrounds inform their artistic consumption; her early project ‘Wanted,’ an ad for a tiny fictional apartment which was placed in the Village Voice and received over 100 answering messages, which became part of the installation; and her series ‘Animal Cross Dressing,’ in which she used pet snakes and pet rats; her On Hold Music Dance Party, a series of ongoing performance/parties; and, as a frequent flyer, coming to terms with her carbon footprint.
Co-owners Sara Maria Salamone and Tyler Lafreniere of MRS. Gallery in Queens, New York, talk about:
The origin behind MRS.’s concise and memorable name; what it’s been like running their gallery in the relatively off-the-beaten-path neighborhood of Maspeth,Queens, and how they get consistent traffic despite their location; their rising success at the start of their 2nd season with Genesis Belanger’s show; their slower-paced five shows per season schedule, which is both more manageable and potentially a model that other galleries are considering using as well; sales, and all the things that go into maintaining and growing them as a small, young gallery; why Sara loves art fairs (and Tyler enjoys them as well) and how important they are at this stage for the gallery’s business, since despite being in NYC, their Maspeth location limits turnout, which they make up for at the fairs (they’re doing NADA Miami this Dec.); the importance of social media, specifically Instagram, for their acquiring new collectors, several of whom are buying works virtually, unseen in person; and Sara’s level of connectivity (as the gallery “mama bear”), and to what extent she feels it’s healthy vs. necessary.
Brooklyn-based artist Ellen Harvey talks about:
Her long tenure in the western part of Williamsburg, her experience of the slow but steady gentrification, and how she’s become permanently attached to her live/work loft through the Loft Law, which allows her affordable rent indefinitely; her British roots, which account for the fact that she “can’t pronounce her ‘R’s,” and the accent that has stayed with her even though she moved to Wisconsin at 14, and the pros and cons of having a British accent in the U.S.; her start in public art doing micro murals (5”x7” paintings over graffiti in Highbridge Park), eventually evolving into larger and larger public projects, including her mural ‘Atlantis,’ a 1000 sq. foot mirrored glass piece slated for the Miami Beach Convention Center, the venue of Miami Basel; Ellen’s highly unusual prior career field as a Wall St. lawyer; and how her parents, despite her tremendous success, still wouldn’t mind if she returned to her law career.
Marin County-based photographer David Maisel talks about:
Moving out to Marin County from New York in the early ‘90s, where he and his wife have remained ever since; how transformative the experience of being in Marin County has been, and changed his life for the better, and meanwhile, how much the area has changed, having become obscenely expensive; his 10-year period going back and forth between architecture and photography before committing to the latter; how he first got into photographing from the sky (via plane and helicopter) via his mentor Emmet Gowin, whom he assisted on a shoot above Mount St. Helens, and how he got hooked from those first Cesna flights, particularly by the “threatening” (stomach-in-your-throat) aspects of the experience; how he grappled with and came to reconcile with the environmental consequences of making his work – from the fuel used for flight shoots all the way through the ink the prints are printed on – as a necessary complicity to being a picture-maker, and how he came to recognize that ultimately, we can’t remain completely pure.