RJ Supa co-owns Louis B. James Gallery with David Fierman in New York City.
How did you become interested in contemporary art?
During my film class the first semester of college, my professor showed an image of Robert Venturi’s Guild House and told us that it was specifically designed to be ugly to fit in with the neighborhood. This was the first post-modern building in the mid-’60s. I was taken by how a concept could manifest itself physically. A few years after that I went to see Sensation at the Brooklyn Museum and my mind was blown. I remember walking through Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde animals and Tracy Emin’s bed and Jake and Dinos Chapman and Jenny Saville and being in awe, all the while David Bowie narrated the experience. It was incredibly transformative. It took me out of my head and into another space.
When did you decide to open Louis B. James on the Lower East Side? Has the space or the work shown evolve over the years?
We opened LBJ almost four years ago after co-curating shows around the city. It just made sense in terms of a natural progression to open a more formal space. I think that our program has become more formalized during this time. Perhaps because of that I want to take more risks programmatically. I want to incorporate more performance and installation and do things outside of the four white walls of the gallery. If we’re a fair model now I want to evolve with that and make the best booths, the most interesting booths. It’s an evolutionary, very slow process.
What about the vibe of the area?
I think I’ve grown and evolved since opening the space so I imagine that effects the outcome of the shows, the artists we work with, how we work… The area has changed but that’s been the constant. I think we’ve developed a decent reputation and more and more people find us. I guess that’s how I think of the area changing.
What projects are on the horizon for Louis B. James?
We have a great artist, John Miserendino at the ADAA for the Henry Street Settlement. A really stunning work. I’m curating – with Erin Goldberger – a booth at Spring/Break. Two new shows opening: Nikki Katiskas and Mariah Garnett and then after, this spectacular show by Jeremy Couillard, a virtual reality, out-of-body experience. Incredible! NADA New York, more shows, more fairs.
Why did you decide to participate in the Spring Break Art Show?
Erin and I have been friends since NADA Miami Beach in 2011 and we do studio visits together and hang out and know lots of artists and are artists and our friends are artists and we just came up with an idea and started talking about artists, probably at Beverly’s. Then it just happened organically. It’s a great opportunity to work with our friends, non-gallery artists and just another outlet for ideas, manifesting thoughts.
What’s concept behind the booth?
The concept is Green, for monetary and environmental reasons and also for the color. It’s apparently the least salable color of art. I think Erin had the original idea and then we expanded it, collapsed it, made it perfect. I love working in non-traditional spaces. I think it’s a real challenge to activate space in a meaningful way. I believe in experiences and I want the viewing of art to be engaging. Death to passivity! So I think getting to do a show like this allows for a freedom, for an experimentation.