New York artist Lauren Seiden talks about:
Living in Chelsea-adjacent Manhattan, where she's lived in the same studio apt. for 14 years, and how she managed to land the place; how she found her earlier studio several years ago on the Lower East Side through a NYFA ad, which included studio mates who formed a vital art community for her up to this day; how she starting working in galleries at 18, via an internship program through her school; her most recent gallery job at 303 Gallery, where she learned the most, including representing yourself professionally, to question a gallery when they expect you to pay for shipping, and to have a consignment form in place to insure you get paid when work sells; how the more she was working on her own art, the less she wanted to work at a gallery, a frustration she spoke with her then-boyfriend about often (he was an artist who had made a living from his work for 13 years, and would tell her to just quit); how she took the risk to leave the gallery and just make her art, with the help of some sales and a grant, which lasted her a year; how her biggest fear was that when she left the gallery, she wouldn't have that same urgency to get herself in the studio as when she did have the job, which turned out not to be an issue; how other artists in her community (both intimate colleagues and friends of friends) are making a living mainly from their work, whether via institutional support, living outside of New York via residencies, grants, and/or teaching; how artists who are making a significant income from their work are putting money back into that work, whether it's materials and/or a bigger studio, etc.; and she talks elegantly about having humility and perspective as an artist, recognizing that it's a long game, and that you compare yourself to your own work, not to the trends that are ultimately not relevant.
In Part II of II, Nato Thompson:
begins by answering the question of when he became "radicalized"…answer? one being the alt globalization movement that began during the WTO protests in Seattle in November, 1999, and the other living in a collective/cooperative in Berkeley, which enlightened him to self-empowerment, an entirely different way of living; taking the Creative Time Summit to the Venice Biennale, which Democracy Now's Amy Goodman came along to cover, where she was able to interview artists Emily Jacir and Mariam Ghani, an example of Nato connecting the 'activist left' with the 'art left' (far left-wing artists); the realities of social and cultural capital, as far as how it's gained (being with the right people, telling the right jokes, dropping respected names, etc.) and how by calling it out, as he does in the book, it has to be addressed as opposed to just taken for granted; how he grew up broke and always had anxiety about rich people and these New York City kids who went to fancy private schools and how it's taken time to work through that anxiety, which to some extent is still there; how those living in a social bubble (the bubble of rich people) lack perspective on much of what's going on with people around them; how board members of museums tend towards supporting work that has an air of glamor, as opposed to activist-based, the latter which you wouldn't see at Miami Basel; the influence of former director and creator of Creative Time Anne Pasternak, who set up a system that allows for a flexible board with more open-mindedness toward selections; how certain think tanks, which rely on public perception, and which claim objectivity but are really just covert lobbying arms, are vulnerable to attack (especially ones without plans of defense) my outside forces in challenging that ultimate lack of objectivity; the critical left community of the art world, which both tends to hate the art world and yet knows how to navigate power well enough to get into important exhibitions (Documenta, etc.); how great it is that pluralism is reaching a critical mass, thus diluting the contemporary canon in the process; "if what makes things historically relevant has something to do with where the conversation is at, then the art market is a gigantic bubble"; the impact of social media (Instagram) in terms of becoming prominent new sources; and the events on the docket for this year's Creative Time Summit coming up in October in Washington, D.C.
In Part I of II, Nato Thompson, Creative Time artistic director, and author of Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century, talks about:
Being on the radio (the Leonard Lopate Show) with Vito Acconci; living in Philadelphia, a city he loves (and can afford to own a home in), commuting to NYC from there, and how and why he left New York as a residence 6 years prior; also, how he gets perspective on the art world/the arts by living outside of it, in a very scalable, civic-oriented community; as a child, living with his parents in the dorms at CalArts, where his father was in grad school as a painter (memories include the entirely naked pool, and playing D & D with then-undergrad actor Don Cheadle); his book touring for Seeing Power, including a Facebook chat w/New York Cultural Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl; the reality that the market portion of the art world produces luxury goods for the ruling class, and how for even experienced visitors to art fairs, "it's hard not to be hypnotized/repulsed" by it, and how it's a hard thing to overcome to be sympathetic to the arts; the urgency of certain activism, as best exemplified right now (as we spoke) by Black Lives Matter, and how things have changed in the political arena even since Nato's book came out—including the fact that you can't have Bernie Sanders' candidacy without Occupy Wall Street; the 'crucible' of gentrification, and how it forces us to think about equity in all sorts of areas; two shows he curated while working at MASS MoCA, Becoming Animal and The Interventionists, and the complex and even confusing takeaways from those shows in terms of audience-artist relationships, as in, what does a typical museum-goer want to see/experience? Who are the people (demographics) going to see shows?, and how people in the art world underestimate art audiences; how, after being raised in a greenhouse of an advertising-based culture, we are naturally paranoiac of cultural material, to the point where people's paranoia becomes their truth; the differences between the small scale, community-based projects and communities of his young adulthood and the large scale works he works on with Creative Time (including Kara Walker's A Subtlety, which had an attendance of 135,000 people; the Creative Time Summit, which is art and social justice-based, and includes smaller-scale roundtables; the importance of DIY, and making things/making things happen instead of waiting around for other people to make them happen.
Feuer/Mesler gallery director and partner Lauren Marinaro talks about:
The evolution of Zach Feuer's gallery over the eight years she's been working with him, to the point now where they've closed their Hudson, New York gallery, and merged with Joel Mesler of Untitled gallery to form Feuer/Mesler on Grand Street; growing into and evolving with Zach Feuer's gallery, starting as a gallery assistant fill-in in the summer of 2008 and how after the market crash started taking affect in the art world, she was able to stay on because she was the least costly employee; interacting with the more random population of visitors to the gallery, some of whom are genuinely curious, and others who are outright aggressive in their questioning, and how to handle them; artists who want the gallery to place ads for them in Artforum- the pros and cons of doing it, and whether it's ultimately a good business move or not; what happened to Zach Feuer's gallery when Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, and how ultimately, considering the circumstances and what other galleries went through, things turned out relatively well; the evolution of the gallery over the years up to their current, non-white-cube space on the Lower East Side, and how impactful the Instagram-era has become to the gallery and art world; and Feuer's solid record representing women artists as part of its program.
Jessica Backus of Artsy talks about:
Her past and current jobs at Artsy- formerly leading up the Art Genome Project, which catalogs artists and art works to control data on the site; and her current job leading up a team of approximately 20 gallery liaisons; how Artsy's gallery sales model works (galleries pay a monthly fee to be listed on the site but don't have a percentage taken out of their sales); and Artsy's mission as "the art world online," with three businesses in one: a media business (their magazine), a listings business (with galleries), and an auction business; her earlier job with the gallery Peres Projects in Berlin, which she took after having studied the East German Leipzig schools while living there; her oddly impactful exposure to art history through her class with Rosalind Krauss, along with my and a fellow student's version of encountering her class; her work with the comp. literature giant Gayatri Spivak at Columbia, and her gradual departure out of academia into art…Backus boils it down to a dichotomy between whether one sees things as conveying text or as conveying something visual, performative, etc.; working for Peres Projects in Berlin over the course of the art bubble around 2006 (when she arranged for helicopters for Peres and his artists in Mikonos, because all the water taxis were booked), through the financial collapse and coming out on the other side when all the glitz and glamour were suddenly gauche; her transitions from Peres to grad school in art history and then on to a job at Phillips auction house, where she wound up in 'Special Projects', putting together a curatorial program; and how her work managing gallery liaisons for Artsy is analogous to being a choreographer, where her role is to find the movement and the vision in moving together amongst all the diversity.
Art, fashion and pop culture writer and art history lecturer William J. Simmons talks about:
Why he repurposes Instagram memes for Tweets, one of which led to our initial connection; how he studied initially under the October magazine people (a journal of particularly arcane art content), and how he came to realize that there has to be a way to combine the important advances theory has made with a populist theory of how people actually interact with art; how his editors at general interest-based outlets including Flaunt, Interview and W magazines have things to say that are equally if not more insightful than the people at Artforum; how he told a guy he was on a first date with that his goal was to be the editor-in-chief of Vogue and also the e-i-c of October; how he saves up to go to biennials and art fairs as opposed to taking third-party funds to pay his tickets; his role in bringing a substantive role to the conversation through his writing, whether it's artists or pop cultural figures (he did an interview with Jessica Chastain, among other big names); what goes on at the high-powered art magazines, including half the time hating what they're writing about; how artists don't have privileged access to the meaning of their own work; admitting that he writes about canonical artists, because he feels he can do better there than writing about non-canonical artists, and because it's a way of getting into the larger conversation through his writing; his seminal artist interview experiences, including with Sue de Beer and Jack Pierson; and we have a hearty – impassioned while civil – debate over whether artists (including particularly Marilyn Minter, Deb Kass and Laurie Simmons) shape the larger culture and the world, as opposed to the influence and effects of their work being confined to art and the art world; the exchange also includes calling into question certain sexist tendencies towards successful women artists vs. men artists, being an activist through art and otherwise, and ultimately ends on a light-hearted yet very pointedly pro-feminist agenda.
Highland Park-based art and culture writer Alicia Eler talks about:
Her home in Highland Park, where's she a tenant of the owners of the artist-run Adjunct Positions, and so never far from an opening and artists, and where she's become a kind of permanent 'writer-in-residence'; her various experiences with stand-up comedy, as a culture writer and as a would-be standup; the performance artist Jibz Cameron, aka Dynasty Handbag; the distinctions and (limited) cross-overs between the art and entertainment worlds, particularly being in Los Angeles, with crossover examples including comedians/actors Maria Bamford and Kate Berlant; her take on the reality show 'Work of Art: the Next Great Artist,' which featured two of her friends (who both came in 2nd), Peregrine Honig and Young Sun Han; the difference between the bars to entry for the art world and the comedy world, and their respective pros and cons; her stand-up experiences, including figuring out that she needed to write herself as the hero of her story in order not to bomb; and her experience diving deep into Tinder, the dating and hook-up app, which she played a lot like a video game, detaching from the expectations of having any kind of actual in-real-life results, though just before canceling her account she met someone whom she's still dating.
Brooklyn-based artist Caitlin Masley talks about:
Her Carroll Gardens home virtually right under the BQE, and how she's frequently lived near (or under) trains, and how that's been comforting; her recent couple years co-running Guttenberg Arts, an artist residency and community-based art organization, and how her working there came out of her many years doing artist residencies all over Europe and the States; how she had to turn down a 6-month residency in Finland -- which would have included a house, a studio, a daily stipend and a Finnish-English language school for her daughter – because her son was too young at the time; the internal challenges she grapples with daily around living in an urban center with inspiring cultural benefits, and yet one that's also filled with environmental detriments (her son suffers significantly from asthma and food allergies), and the proposition of leaving New York is always on the table, and yet she essentially puts the researching on that topic out of her mind because she's afraid of what she'd find; the 'goldfish scenario' that applies to where they do and might live; the paradoxes of her family's Carroll Gardens neighborhood, which has become extremely pricey due to location and its charming brownstone, while at the same time through its proximity to the Gowanus Canal and a cement-making factory, among other things, the air quality is at dangerous levels; her master's thesis on building a community air trust, relating directly to her neighborhood experience and her son's health issues; the fact that despite her prolific record doing residencies, she's had to apply prolifically as well, getting accepted only 1 out of 50 times, by her count; and her latest residency, Artist Residency in Motherhood.
Feminist performance artist Christen Clifford talks about everything under the sun, including:
Living her entire adult life in New York City, going from the NYU dorms to Williamsburg, to Jackson Heights, Queens, where she now lives with her family, passing up the recommendations she rec'd to get on the lists of artist housing when she was 18; coming to New York planning to break into acting and be on Broadway and eventually a movie star, and how that life course she was anticipating gradually changed; the artists she's been influenced by, including Lynda Benglis and Marina Abramovic, the latter of whom has disappointed her with her works over the last few years, to the point of them tarnishing her legacy; her performance pieces for Ana Mendieta, one outside Dia in Chelsea, the other inside Dia Beacon, both Carl Andre retrospectives (Mendieta was his wife)—how she arrived at them, how they came off (offal was involved), and her passion behind their force, which were so intensely aimed at Medieta's memory and legacy; rape culture, a class she teaches at the New School, and her own experience with rape; her performance "Menstural Symphony," and her activism in getting free tampons in NYC schools; and about her recent bout with cancer, which she feels confident she's gotten through the worst of, and has been doing a social media project during the process.
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Boston-based photographer's photographer David Hilliard talks about:
Being a nearly life-long Boston resident, why he loves it and calls it and New England home; the straight-laced culture of photography/the photographer, and the challenges of breaking the rules after you've learned so many of them; his various photo workshops, which he does around the country; his teaching experiences with students who are about to complete grad school yet have a completely insufficient understanding of their own work and how to talk about and market it, and what that phenomenon is due to; his long-standing and ongoing series photographing his father, who's been a nursing home for some time, and how Hilliard and his dad have grown closer through that extension of their relationship; his work photographing young men who are either people from his neighborhood or strangers he meets on his travels, and how nerve-wracking it continues to be – he refers to himself as his 'own worst enemy' - for him to approach them to ask whether if he can take their picture; how he strategically uses an assistant, usually a young woman, for his shoots, to help make his portrait subjects comfortable; the large number of editions he makes his photos available in, but with a lower price point so they're accessible to a wider group of people/collectors; how you have to make the work that you have to make (which he tells his students); and the house he and his long-time partner – formerly romantically, but still best friends (they call themselves 'prends') – have built in Maine, a house on a 100-acre forested area where he goes to decompress.
Brooklyn-based painter and email scan vigilante Jim Gaylord talks about:
The gentrification in his home and studio neighborhoods (Clinton Hill and Fort Greene in Brooklyn), and the homelessness there compared with the homelessness in his former home of San Francisco, where it's more visible, and how homeless populations, at least in SF, are not the last buffer of complete gentrification; how Ft. Greene is a historic district, meaning no high rises, and yet all around the perimeter of Ft. Greene high rises are visible, as if his neighborhood were a fortress against development; his earlier studio situation, in DUMBO, when he was with a roommate and painting in his bedroom-cum-studio; his various side projects, including Art Crit Zingers, a collection of harsh criticisms received by artists in studio visits, planned as a book, as well as his extended email exchanges with would-be email scammers; Jim and I perform an actual email exchange he had which he calls 'Dancing Asparagus,' which lasted over a month (me as the scammer, he as himself); how one of his 'non-scams' that he thought might be a scam was joining the collection of the young autistic adolescent Anthony in London (subject of a This American Life story); how he had a show while still in grad school before he was really ready to show based on some colleagues' assessment, but managed to come through it unscathed; how he's seeing more of a focus on figuration than abstraction, a backlash against the zombie formalism trend; how the way people are digesting/consuming art, and even creating it, is through its Instagram-ability; and how he personally uses Instagram.
Huffington Post Arts writer Priscilla Frank talks about:
Writing about art and culture for the Huffington Post, including how her writing and their audience differs from other visual arts hubs like Hyperallergic, and the difference between paid staff writing for the site and blog writing for the site, as well as the realities of click bait; outsider art, including the Outsider Art Fair, and why she's a fan of the niche and its artists; her piece "F**k Your Idols: What Celebrity Worship Reveals About Female Sexuality," which deconstructs women's ambiguous desires to both be and/or f**k a given celebrity hero, in this case Rihanna…she argues her point by contrasting females tendencies with males through the avant garde-ish Is Tropical video "Dancing Anymore" (seen below), as well as John Berger's Ways on Seeing, and how a woman puts more into how she presents herself is part of that; how, in contrast to what art writer Ben Davis suggested, Frank believes that art does for sure trickle into the popular culture (Beyonce, etc.); how cats have always been associated with femininity and feminine power, but it's the artist Carolee Schneeman who has really tapped into that connection in her photo and video work; her discovery of the Oakland-based artist Stephanie Sarley, and her crazy-great fruit-sex Instagram videos and anthropomorphized vagina drawings; and how both she and Sarley's goals are to get more women artists recognized, and how proud Frank is of her record of such a smorgasbord of coverage she does for the Post.
Brooklyn-based painter Kadar Brock talks about:
His non-association with the cohort of process-based abstractionists, and how though you could compare what he does on the surface as similar, he points out that he doesn't have time to participate in the market-based machine element of it; the studio building he has a studio in and subleases (at a very low $2/sq. foot avg.) to fellow artist tenants in East Williamsburg, and how, in combination with an affordable apartment nearby – part of the fortune one needs to maintain traction as an artist in NY; how his career turning point came through participating in a group show that was curated into Ross Bleckner's studio in Chelsea; how he became a full-time artist, by gradually transitioning out of art handling/preparing and in combination with managing the sublease of his studio building made it financially viable; fond memories from his art trucking days; how he was courted by, and eventually came to do business with, his primary dealer, Vigo Gallery in London, which has been a dream gallery for him; his passion for fantasy online games, including Dark Souls, where he met a wild punk dude in Detroit whom he now follows on Twitter; his thoughts on the explosion of abstract painting, which he argues comes down to marketing by the powers that be, whether they're trying to sell abstraction or figuration as the dominant trend, and is ultimately about people trying to make a profit, and yet Brock admits that his being able to paint full-time is indeed connected to that market rise in abstraction; and how he manages his studio time, which he keeps on a regular daily schedule, by balancing it out with external activities (openings, dog walking, basketball, etc.); and what he'll be doing while listening to this (his) episode of the show.
Milwaukee-based artist and multi-hyphenate (curator, professor, art reviewer, artist-run gallerist) Michelle Grabner talks about:
Being essentially a life-long Midwesterner, and how for her Chicago was her big-city experience, and she appreciates that city much more now that she no longer lives there, and yet she recommends that all young artists get out of the cities, and certainly towns, that they're from to experience different cultural environs; the scripts that young artists (including her students) are given for when they move to X new city out of grad school (and I offer to doctor the script she gives to her students heading to L.A., suggesting that they head to Milwaukee or Cleveland or NY instead); the way that, post-9/11, the 'Hot Mess' sensibility has been playing out in art, and what that says about the state of the art world and its surroundings; how her survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, combined with her curating the 2014 Whitney Biennial, led to a bit of a gold rush on her work, particularly in being picked up by the James Cohan Gallery in NYC; her co-curating of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, from soup to nuts: how institutions, including the Whitney in particular, don't like to be declarative, as in saying that Michelle was 'the first artist-curator of a major museum exhibition,' though in fact she essentially was; the steps leading up to her getting the job; the process of selecting artists, including doing 130 studio visits in preparation (from which 53 artists were included), and how weird and freaked out artists got, compared to prior visits, because it was a 'Biennial studio visit'; how transparent she was with artists about the studio visits, in saying that she was 'doing research' for the Whitney Biennial; the richness of that one-hour studio visit as an exchange of ideas rather than just a 'you're in or you're out'; the controversy around her inclusion of Donelle Wooldford, the fictional African-American artist – invented by artist Joe Scanlon and played/acted by Jennifer Kidwell – and how that played out, particularly with the departure of the artist collective HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican? that Michelle had curated into the video portion of the show; how the importance of representation in the art world, through that piece, is a conversation that both stirred up a lot of heat but remains a difficult conversation to have and especially to maintain having; on the back end of the show, how frustrating it was that there were hardly any critical reviews that addressed the work in the show, but instead were about the biennial as a whole, the politics around it, etc.; her current preparation for curating the Portland Biennial, opening this July 9th; and finally, she attempts to answer the admittedly charged question: does she have it all?
http://theconversationpod.com/ Please subscribe to The Conversation on iTunes, and leave a positive review: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/conversation-artist-podcast/id481461646 Los Angeles-based artist and witch (yes, you read that right) Amanda Yates Garcia, along with co-host Deb Klowden Mann, talks about: Her great craftsman home in the West Adams neighborhood, and how she got in before the gentrification race that's going on now; how she answers the question of what she does by saying that she's a witch, and the ensuing conversation around that, including being a provocateur even when she doesn't feel like being one; artists and witches through the ages, and how the meaning of being a witch can be as diverse as the meanings of being an artist; how a big part of being a witch, for her, is examining authority- who gets to make the rules; how to invoke your spirit figure, whether it's a name that's been invoked many times, from your own culture ideally, or more one of your own created entity; how magic, not unlike art, is not about belief, believing in magic, or believing in art; how she was raised in a Wiccan household with a feminist mother, but who also had a lot of patriarchal ideas; the failings of patriarchy today, and what happened in her "Devouring Patriarchy - Healing the Wounds of the Father" workshop; how, in addition to representing for witches, she's also representing for 'healing,' a maligned word in the context of contemporary art, but she doesn't give a f*ck—it's desperately needed in our world now (that and love); her performance "Capitalism Exorcism;" the subtle distinctions between objects used in performance/ceremony as ritual objects, and becoming art objects; how she is able to sustain herself as a witch, but not an artist; how she's no longer attached to the idea of being known as 'an artist,' an identity that she (and many) was especially attached to out of grad school; and she offers a magical financial tip, having to do with getting (buying) the thing that you yourself are selling. The Conversation on Stitcher (the alternative to iTunes): http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/wwwstitchercompodcasttheconversation/the-conversation-art-podcast?refid=stpr The Conversation on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Conversation-An-Artist-Podcast/254884424579431 http://instagram.com/artistpodcast Twitter: @artistpodcast Your support of the podcast is very much appreciated- donations can be made via the website, and help keep the show going.