Allegra LaViola and Meredith Rosen

Allegra-LaViola-Meredith-Rosen

Tell us a little about Sargent’s Daughters, which borrows its name from John Singer Sargent. How was his practice an inspiration for the space? Didn’t you have an all female exhibition this summer?

The gallery opened in November 2013 and Sargent was an inspiration for a number of reasons. He was a traditionalist who could not help but be innovative, which was appealing as we are working with contemporary artists, but still interested in the historical and formal qualities of art. Also of importance to us was the dialogue between different generations of artists– historically and contemporaneously.

We did have a 40 woman exhibition this summer entitled “Sargent’s Daughters”, in which we asked the artists to contribute a work that was, in some way, inspired by Sargent. We were curious about the influence of someone so well known for his paintings of women– and how that translates to female artists today.

Jesse-Mockrin-Sargent's-Daughters

Jesse Mockrin's painting from "Sargent's Daughters"

You focus on artists whose work combines qualities of tradition and cutting edge. What do you find interesting about exhibiting traditional techniques in a time when the art world is very focused on the Internet and new technology? Who are some new or emerging artists who are taking an interesting approach to classical technique?

What is most of interest to us is the quality of work– not necessarily being about traditional techniques. Someone like Petra Cortright or Cory Archangel (both of whom work in new technology) are fascinating because there is the common art historical thread that weaves through their work. An artist making very traditional, but dull, oil paintings would not be of interest simply by virtue of his technique. I am also not sure the art world is actually that focused on new technology– people still love paintings!

There is an abundance of emerging artists who are approaching classical techniques in their own ways. Jesse Mockrin, Jordan Casteel, Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell) are artists whose works have captivated us recently.

Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs

Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs

Your current exhibition, Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs, is both a performance and an exhibition of traditional portraiture. Who is “Brad Jones” and what drew you the project?

Brad Jones is the name of an ongoing collaboration between Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell, initiated in April 2013. The artists meet three times a week for two hours at a time to engage in live portrait painting sessions in which Twilley always paints and Rubell always poses. As a conceptual frame around their portrait practice, they named the collaboration “Brad Jones,” conceived as the quintessential great American (male) painter.

What drew us to the project was both the paintings themselves, which are beautifully done, and the concept of the project. We are used to looking at nude women painted by men. The women are often anonymous and, even when they are famous, are eclipsed by the man who paints them. What if the sitter were just as active a participant as the painter? What if she also had ownership of the body of work that is, literally, her own body? Brad Jones both asks and answers these questions- and that was of deep importance to us as active participants in the art world.

Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs

Brad Jones (an ongoing collaboration by Brandi Twilley and Jennifer Rubell): Diptychs

What’s coming up for Sargent’s Daughters in the new year?

We have several exciting exhibitions that we are looking forward to announcing! Stay tuned….

Rolando Jimenez and Ednita Colon

Rolando-Jiminez-Collection
Rolando Jimenez and Ednita Colon founded the Jimenez – Colon Collection in Puerto Rico, which contains 850 works of art by 250 different artists.

What draws you to contemporary art today?

In terms of art trends now, we are fascinated by process-driven work and abstract minimalism. Over the last five years, we have shifted our interests from primarily aesthetic to a more conceptual standpoint. For us, the experience of being surrounded by art should provoke thought and emotion. Of course, since contemporary art has proved to be a sound investment in recent years, collecting presents us with the opportunity to enhance our cultural and financial legacy. Having our daughters grow and be involved in our collecting ‘adventure’ has proved to be a powerful force in how we approach the ever-changing world as a family unit.

Bruce-High-Quality-Foundation

"Self Portrait (Venus, Venus, Verdi)" by The Bruce High Quality Foundation

What was the first work of art you purchased?

In 2006, we started our collection mostly with Puerto Rican art. Our first piece was from Olga Albizu, considered among the most important women of American Abstract Expressionism and probably the movement’s most outstanding representative from Puerto Rico. By 2011, we shifted our focus towards international contemporary art, namely, figurative works. The first legitimate work in our international collection was a large work by Romanian artist Mircea Suciu, titled The Good Catholic. We added Julie Heffernan shortly thereafter, along with Ruby Neri and some of the artists featured in Phaidon’s Vitamin P2 book.  In retrospect, we’ve had a rather intense experience over the last 45 months!

Mickalene-Thomas

"Untitled - Portrait of Din" by Mickalene Thomas

Is it important for the works you’ve purchased to have been exhibited before? Do you loan your works to exhibitions?

We do our best to collect contemporary works that are representative of an artist’s style.  We also like to collect artists in depth when we feel moved by their conceptual approach. That being said, the exhibition curriculum and documentation of a specific work definitely creates added value.  That alone can tilt the balance when presented with a tough choice between two works.

We’ve had several works acquired for museum exhibitions.  Our Mickalene Thomas works were shown at the Brooklyn Museum and in Santa Monica. Two of our Ruby Neri sculptural works were shown in Los Angeles at different museum exhibitions before coming home to Puerto Rico.  Similar opportunities happened with Allison Schulnik and a few others.  We are certainly open to loaning our works and are hopeful that the future will bring more inquiries from institutional exhibitions as our collection grows and matures.

Kadar-Brock

"deredemisloreulpii" by Kadar Brock

How did you learn about Exhibition A and decide to purchase Kasper Sonne, Eddie Martinez, and Chris Succo prints (and more)? Do you add them to your collection?

We learned about Exhibition A while researching Art Basel Miami Beach and NADA Miami Beach 2011.  You presented a Nate Lowman print in your NADA 2011 booth.  That was a great introduction and I knew right away that Exhibition A meant serious business and would continue to present our art community with very collectible editions from top artists.  There have been varied reasons for us to move forward and collect your editions.  We love Kasper Sonne and Chris Succo, who are both emerging forces in process driven abstraction.  We have always experienced a very positive vibe towards Eddie Martinez and his work.  It’s also very likely that the Bruce High Quality Foundation represents our favorite collective in the whole world.  There will always be a very valid reason for us to indulge…

We officially add a good portion of the acquired Exhibition A editions to our collection, but some have been presented as great gifts to a group of friends that we have initiated in this contemporary art collecting adventure.  These special works have certainly triggered their curiosity and have enriched several aspects of our group experience.

David-Ostrowski

"F (Gee Vaucher)" by David Ostrowski

What artists would you like to see create an edition with Exhibition A?

David Ostrowski, Christian Rosa, Wyatt Kahn, Angel Otero, Israel Lund, Dean Levin, Jonas Wood.  There is a long list…but I am sure you have most of them in mind.

NICK-DARMSTAEDTER

"Sammy's Camera" by Nick Darmstaedter

Which artist’s work are you pursuing for your collection currently?

We have recently added work by Christian Rosa, Nick Darmstaedter, Lucien Smith, David Ostrowski and Alex Hubbard, among others.  We are now after Wyatt Kahn and Jonas Wood.  We are also always on the lookout for Andy Warhol Polaroids and 8 x 10 format photographs to add to our collection.  We have been very active in collecting those Polaroids since 2011.

Natalia Sacasa

Natalia-Sacasa
Natalia Sacasa is a Senior Director at Luhring Augustine.

How did you originally become interested in contemporary art, and how did you get involved in art professionally?

I have always been a creative person. I was a ballet dancer in my teens and then became a visual artist, and I love to cook and craft. I attended Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art and earned a BFA; after art school I moved to New York and got a job as the receptionist at Luhring Augustine. I was made aware of the position through one of my best friends, the artist Matt Keegan, who was vacating it, and the director Claudia Altman-Siegel, who’s sister had also attended CMU. This is emblematic of how small and familial the art world was at the time–I’ve been with Luhring Augustine since 1999 and have been a witness to this amazing transformation! There has been an incredible expansion of the art world. I think the internet has a great deal to do with this…its more like an art universe now.

B-Thom_Stevenson
A painting by B Thom Stevenson

The artists who you show at Luring Augustine usually have pretty developed careers. Who are some younger or emerging artists you are following and why?

I recently have been looking at a lot of younger artist’s work through the internet, and of course, Instagram…. #Bushwick led me to the work of B. Thom Stevenson. His work owes a lot to the visual language of advertising, graphic design and the nostalgia for the printed object itself. He is also a painter who brings a broad range of symbols together for visual interpretation. His work has a sharp graphic quality, and I also want to unpack and churn it over in my head.

I became fascinated with photography early in my career. I never studied it formally, I learned through my work and became obsessed with it. I began to wonder about and seek out ways the medium was being used differently, beyond the traditional classifications of landscape and portraiture. My friend, the remarkably debonair Olivier Renaud Clement, introduced me to the work of Barbara Kasten, and that opened a set of floodgates for me. And though Kasten has been making her photographs since the 80′s, her work is only just now getting the recognition it deserves. Photographers like Kasten and Sarah Charlesworth have had a significant impact on artists of my generation who are using the medium; through their work I came to appreciate and collect the works of Eileen Quinlan, Sara VanDerBeek, and Liz Deschenes.

Mural in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

What has been your experience of Bushwick since the gallery opened its exhibition space there in 2012? How has your gallery used that space as part of its program?

It happened that my husband Enrique and I moved to Bushwick around the same time that the gallery bought the building and decided to make part of it exhibition space, so I’ve had a multifaceted experience of the neighborhood. My co-worker Donovan Barrow recommended Lawrence and Roland look for space in the area for storage. The building was large enough to accommodate an ample gallery/viewing room and the space was designed so that we could have the option to be open to the public. At first we didn’t think we would have a year-round program, but our projects were getting such good public reception we kept inviting artists to do exhibitions there.

There was a well established community of artists and galleries in Bushwick before we opened and they were very welcoming to us. The first opening of Charles Atlas’s The Illusion of Democracy was packed! And unlike openings in Chelsea, people came and hung out rather than moving onto the next gallery, Bushwick has the feeling of community that I think we have lost in Chelsea. People spend time with the work there, so we have endeavored to make it worth their while. We have treated the space not as a “secondary space,” but as an equal counterpart to our Chelsea program. We’ve done an important historic exhibition, artists have shown new works, and we have also done screenings and overviews of earlier works by our filmmakers.

It feels like the development of the area is accelerating. There are dozens of new apartment buildings, bars, coffee shops and restaurants opening up between the Morgan and Dekalb stops on the L. The area also has a vivid display of outdoor murals–you can walk through the neighborhood and see so many different styles–from the traditional graffiti mural stylings to paintings and paper murals. I have been “collecting” murals too… I have a Facebook album going.

Natalia-Sacasa
Part of Natalia’s mural “collection”

What projects are you focusing on or excited about this coming year either at LuA or other spaces?

I’m working with Jeff Elrod who will have an exhibition with Galerie Max Hetzler in Paris. To sum it up, I think his work is radical and he is making his best work right now. I am looking forward to that exhibition, and of course I’ll be in Paris–I love Paris! Janine Antoni is another artist I work with; she too is making some of the most compelling work of her career. She has been engaged with movement and dance as well as making sculpture; the symbiosis of which is profoundly poetic. This work will be exhibited in the spring ’15 at Anthony Meier Fine Art in San Francisco and at Luhring Augustine in New York; she is also working on a series of performance pieces for the Fabric Workshop. She received a grant to develop the work over the next two years with Anna Halprin and Stephen Petronio!

Eileen-Quinlan

Eileen Quinlan photographs.

Art collecting advice no one else is giving?

I don’t think I’m alone in this assertion, but it doesn’t hurt to restate: buy what you love not what you think is a good investment. There are no “mistakes” if you buy art this way. Make an attempt to connect with the artist, make it meaningful and the value will be there.

Joshua Abelow

Joshua-Abelow

Joshua Abelow is an artist represented by James Fuentes Gallery.

You and MacGregor Harp were both in a show with Sadie Laska that just closed, right? When were you introduced to him or his work?

Yes, yes and Adrianne Rubenstein.  The four of us had paintings intermingling at David Petersen Gallery in Minneapolis last month.  I don’t remember the first time I saw MacGregor’s work, but the first time I heard his name probably had something to do with 247365.

Last winter, Emily Ludwig Shaffer and I curated a group show inspired by Twin Peaks at The Suzanne Geiss Company and we included a large wall painting by MacGregor.  One of the things I like about MacGregor’s work is that it is stylistically diverse. Yet, there is something soulful and thoughtful in all of it.

What-Was-The-Question-David-Peterson-Joshua-Abelow-MacGregor-Harp

What Was The Question group show at David Peterson Gallery

How do you balance creating artwork, curating shows, and posting to ART BLOG ART BLOG? Is balance even the right word? I imagine it’s an integrated life.

Have you ever read Paul Feeley’s “Bennington Art Policy,” which was written in 1959?  It’s a list of twenty objectives.  The last one reads, “To emphasize the notion of the study of art as a way of leading to a way of life, not the study of art as the acquisition of a vocational technique leading to immediate success.”

Becky-Howland

A Becky Howland piece from Joshua's collection.

You’re pretty stringent about documenting and archiving your paintings. Why is this important to you? Do you see it as a separate component to the art-making? Do you encourage other artists to do this or is it more of a personal habit?

I do it out of necessity – the only way for me to keep track of my life and my work is to be organized.  My approach to art is, in a lot of ways, analytical.  I’m interested in the relationship between things.  How does painting relate to blogging for instance?  How does writing relate to photography?  How can a group of drawings change the interpretation of a group of paintings?  What is the difference between the documentation of an artwork and the original artwork?  How does the circulation of images and text on the Internet inform or alter meaning?  The blog is an extension of my interest in organization, documentation, daily ritual, and communication with an invisible, ever-present audience.  There are over 12,500 posts on the blog and each post marks a specific moment in time.  I’m interested in marking time in a variety of ways.

Joshua-Abelow-and-Gene-Beery's-Two-Person-show-at-Bodega

Joshua Abelow and Gene Beery's two person show at Bodega

I loved your book, Painter’s Journal. You also write poetry. How is the writing thought process different from visual art – say, a line drawing? Or is it?

Thank you.  I worked on Painter’s Journal, off and on, for about four years before it was published.  Although my style is simple, everything I write goes through several iterations before completion.  My drawings, on the other hand, are immediate and I never edit or revise.  Painting is a combination of the two.  All these activities occupy different parts of my brain, but they are interconnected.

Joshua-Abelow-and-Gene-Beery-at-Bodega

Joshua Abelow and Gene Beery at Bodega.

Your show just opened with Gene Beery at Bodega in New York and also at Freddy in Baltimore.  Can you tell us a bit about these exhibitions?

I discovered Beery’s work about three years ago.  Since that time we have become friends and he has been actively contributing photographs, text, and paintings to my blog on a weekly or monthly basis.  We did some art trades, which lead to a conversation about a two-person show.  Rather than a straightforward painting exhibition, we thought it would be more interesting to do some collaborative works.  So, in addition to showing our paintings at Bodega, we made about 100 black and white photographs – I shot the photos in New York and then Gene added text in response to each image from his home in California.  Ten of these photographs are on view at Freddy in Baltimore.  The show in Baltimore presents photos of the show in New York – a Dada inspired gesture that is intended to be somewhat confusing.

Joshua-Abelow-Gene-Beery

Joshua Abelow and Gene Beery collaborative photograph.

Do you purchase and/or live with artwork? If so, what?

I’m the proud owner of two “Lung Cancer Ashtrays” by Becky Howland – wonderful ceramic pieces from 1984.  They were in a show with MacGregor and Robert Loughlin at Freddy a few weeks ago called Freddy’s Addiction.  I don’t hang much in my apartment – my entire art collection is at my mom’s house.  Some good stuff on the walls – Keith Mayerson, Eddie Martinez, Katherine Bernhardt, Tisch Abelow, Michael Berryhill, William Crawford, Gene Beery, Cheryl Donegan, MacGregor Harp, Van Hanos, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Nicholas Buffon, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Joe Bradley, among others.

Ethan Suplee

Ethan Suplee is an actor best known for his work in American History X, Blow, and Cold Mountain, among many other film and television roles. He is an avid art collector based in New York and Los Angeles.

How did you first become interested in contemporary art?

I’ve always been drawn to the idea that artists change the way we see the world. I’ve also had an affinity for history for as long as I can recall. It’s been the last ten or so years that I focused on work that’s being made now.

Kon-Trubkovich

A piece by Kon Trubkovich.

When did you start collecting? Do you remember the first piece you bought?

I have works that I acquired back in the mid ’90s, but my clearest memories of purchasing art with the intention of collecting are from the early 2000s, when I bought work by JP Munro and Rob Thom from China Art Objects.

Kika-Karadi

From Kika Karadi's OPM series.

When were you first introduced to Kika Karadi? What drew you to her work?
A friend named Mike Densen told me to check her out about a year ago. I was immediately taken with her haunting style.

Jeff-Elrod

Jeff Elrod

How do you stay engaged in what’s going on in the art world?

I try to go to as many openings and fairs as possible. In LA, I like OhWow, Steve Turner Contemporary, Roberts and Tilton, Anat Ebgi, Cherry and Martin, Night Gallery… There are a lot more galleries in NYC, too many to list. I read Art Forum and like Art Observed, I really enjoy Adam Lindemann’s op-ed pieces.

Isabel-Yellin

Isabel Yellin.

Who are you collecting right now? Which new artists should we look out for?

Right now I’m really excited by Torey Thornton, Ross Iannatti and Isabel Yellin.

Alberto Chehebar

Alberto-Chechebar

Alberto Chehebar works in the textile distribution business and has been collecting art for over 25 years. Originally from Bogotá, Columbia, he recently moved to LA to explore the art scene.

How were you first introduced to Eddie Martinez’s work?

We had a studio visit, and it was love at first sight!

AlbertoChechebarCollection

Pieces by Sam Moyer, Kyle Thurman, and Lucien Smith.

What was the first piece of art you purchased and why?

My first piece was a Keith Haring in 1989. I was studying in NYC and was exposed to his work all over the city. He was a huge influence and a true master. It’s still probably one the most important works in the collection.

AlbertoChechebarCollection-Kaws

A painting by KAWS.

What other artists are you collecting (or seeking to collect?)

I collect anything that moves me, from Cindy Sherman to KAWS, George Condo, and Jonas Wood. The spectrum has no limits. Recently it’s been women; Lucy Dodd and Petra Cortright, amongst others.

Chehebar's collection.

How do you keep up with current trends in contemporary art?

I do lots of studio visits and travel to fairs all over. Both are key. I love seeing the work in the studio and then seeing how it speaks in context to other work at fairs and galleries.

AlbertoChechebarCollection

Pieces by Cory Arcangel and Robert Indiana.

Simon Franks

simonfranks

Simon Franks founded the Franks-Suss Art Collection with Robert Suss in 2001.

The Franks‐Suss Collection first focused primarily on Chinese artwork. How has the collection evolved since it was founded in 2001? What do you find unique about work being produced in countries that are undergoing social, economic, or political change?

When we started collecting in China, it was by far the most exciting country in terms of producing wonderful and original art, at prices that we could afford. China was at the vanguard of the emerging art scene, and also, as it happened, one of the catalysts for the creation of the Collection. As time went by, China became hot and as the prices of Chinese work rose and indeed our own resources grew, we widened the net and started looking for the other countries that were also not focussed on by the collecting world. It is hard to imagine now that in 2001 almost no western collections had Chinese art works. What is so exciting about China and indeed most countries that are undergoing change be it social, economic or political is that it provides a catalyst for artists to say something to tell a story, to protest. From my perspective, some Western art from the most developed countries had become crass, shallow and lacking in any poignancy. That is not always the case obviously, but I still find countries like China, Angola, Zimbabwe or Brazil create exciting art.


BradKahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer, "Marianetta, Wife of Geronimo", 2013

There is some overlap in your collection with artists we’ve collaborated with: Brad Kahlhamer, Kon Trubkovich, Andisheh Avini, and now Kasper Sonne. How did you discover Kasper?

Part of the Collection’s raison d’être is the highlighting of exciting talent trying to do something different. The artists you mentioned are all doing that, including one of my absolute favourites, Brad Kahlhamer. In regard to Kasper, I cannot take credit for discovering him. It was actually Rob who started following Kasper’s work after an introduction and became a big fan very quickly.


BradKahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer, "Hair and Skin", 2013

Many artists you’ve collected go on to have long, vibrant careers. What’s the biggest success story you’ve seen over the past twelve years?

Yes I am very proud of this fact. I think our curators have been exceptional in finding artists that are committed and for the long term and have the X Factor, the Magic Dust that helps their work consistently evolve and stay on as the zeitgeist. To answer your question directly about the biggest success story, you would have to first define success for me. I suspect you mean in terms of value of the work having grown. In today’s world where art has become so commoditised and is treated as an investment product, rather than a work of beauty, this seems to be the most focused on. According to this metric I would have to highlight Zeng Fanzhi. We first bought his work, of which we have many, in the low tens of thousands. As you know today his work trades in the millions. Zeng is the real deal and on a comparative basis he is still not fully valued as an artist, by Western collectors.


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You’ve said your collection is about a shared passion for art and those whom create it rather than investment. Can you expand on why you think this is important for the long term?

I cannot speak for Rob but when I started the Collection I knew nothing about art, but I have always had a passion for people who create art in all its forms whether it be poetry, writing, painting, film making or music. There is something beguiling about watching an artist at work, artists consumed by their passion and skill. But as the Collection has grown and the numbers become bigger and more meaningful, it is hard to not consider art in an investment sense. The media is so full of investment articles about art and a whole eco system has developed to monetise and commoditise art. We at the Collection really try to resist seeing art this way.  Ultimately we’d like the Collection to function as a global beacon which calls a wider community to engage with the arts and expands the engagement with the art and the artists we care about. That is our goal.


Yonamine

Yonamine, "Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back", 2013

Tom Weinrich

Tom Weinrich is the founder of Interstate in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Interstate is a staple of the Bushwick art community. How has it evolved since it first opened?

The central idea behind Interstate from the beginning has been to connect artists and curators who are doing exciting new work around the country and internationally, and give them the freedom, space, and support to produce ambitious shows without the pressures of the market. When the gallery moved from the 56 Bogart building to our current location at 66 Knickerbocker, our programming was able to expand greatly with the massive increase in space. In addition to that, last year I was joined by Jamie Sterns, who has brought in an incredible energy and an astute eye for emerging artists.


Melissa Sachs and Cameron Soren at Insterstate

Tell us about “Beyond the Pale”, which opens at Interstate in October. When did you first see B. Thom Stevenson’s work?

Beyond the Pale is a group exhibition curated by artist Sam McKinniss. Sam was actually who introduced me to B. Thom Stevenson’s work, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what works of his will be included in the show.


Rachel de Joode at Interstate

You’ve worked with guest curators before. Can you tell us about the U.L.O. project at Interstate this past summer?

U:L:O is our annual six week long summer program where we invite six curators or spaces to organize shows for one of the unique spaces of the gallery : upper, lower, and outside. The aim of the program is to create a dialogue of what is happening “now” in various art groups and art production centers around the country.


U:L:O: Part II: Inside Out, curated by Ben Gocker

Which artists are you watching right now? Who should we be looking out for?

I’m really interested in the austere pseudo-historical work that Jason Metcalf is making out in LA. Body by Body and Sara Magenheimer are making great work here in NY, so is Michael Hilsman (who has a stellar two person show up right now at a new space in Williamsburg called Moiety). I also always keep an eye on what Jonathan Hartshorn is doing out in Albuquerque.


Jeff Baji at Interstate

Any other exciting projects coming up?

We’ve got a really strong schedule for the fall and winter, with solo shows by Daniel Leyva, Oskar Nilsson, Nick DeMarco, and Sara Magenheimer, and group shows organized by Sam McKinniss and Seung Min Lee.

Joel Mesler

JoelMesler

Joel with his son, Lev. Courtesy Siobhan Bradley.

Joel Mesler runs Untitled in New York City and co-owns Retrospective Gallery in Hudson, NY with Zach Feuer.

How did you meet Matthew Chambers?

Matt and I met while he was working at the Art Center Library in Los Angeles, through a mutual friend Dr. Von Schlegel. I fell in love with him immediately. He began helping me write a script about my childhood called ‘Mesler vs. Mesler’. The movie has not yet been made, as we are obviously still looking for backing.  I first showed Matthew in a four person group show at my previous gallery, Rental.

anactivitysopure

Installation view of An Activity So Pure at gallery Rental

What was the first artwork you purchased?

A piece by Eric Wesley.

What artists are you personally collecting at the moment?

I collect the artists I work with in depth as well as Käthe Kollwitz.

Matthew Chambers flocking pieces at Hezi Cohen Gallery

There is a sense of humor and lightness to Retrospective Gallery, shown in the recent Jesse Stecklow press release and even the design of the gallery’s website. Is this a goal for the space?

I think of Retrospective as a space where artists can step outside the pretense of an exhibition in the city. As such, the gallery fosters a level of experimentation not as likely in the city.

Installation view of Matthew Chambers at Untitled

nine months of exhibitions at Retrospective Gallery, what has changed?

The commute has gotten longer. We just opened show with Jessie Stecklow and a show curated by Lauren Christiansen titled “My Chemical Romance”. It will include new works by Mikkel Carl, Eric Davis, Rachael Milton, and Santiago Taccetti.  Eric Davis, for example, makes what he calls “durational” paintings,  whose surface is altered over time. We also have upcoming solos shows by Haley Mellin and Jean-Baptiste Bernadet.

Does Lev have any art?

Lev is a work of art.

Lucy Mitchell-Innes

Lucy Mitchell-Innes co-founded Mitchell-Innes & Nash with her husband, David Nash. Prior to opening the gallery in 1996, she worked at Sotheby’s and was the president of the ADAA from 2009-2013.

Do you remember the first piece of art you purchased?

The first piece of art I purchased was a very early linocut by Ben Nicholson of himself and Barbara Hepworth intertwined. I had studied him in college and felt very lucky to find something that I knew was so special.


Nicht näher zusammen wie Brüder, Bernhard Brungs. Photo courtesy Produzentengalerie.

How did you begin collecting Bernhard Brung‘s work?

I first came across Bernhard’s work at Produzentengalerie in Hamburg in 2008.  I was immediately interested in his style of painting and I purchased one from the show. This particular work is titled Nicht näher zusammen wie Brüder, which roughly translates to “Do not dwell together as brothers”.  I was drawn to the way he combines literature, painting and sexuality quite mysteriously. I have had this work hanging in my home for several years and it never ceases to interest me, so in the past few years, I have purchased four or five more paintings.


How do you discover emerging artists? What current or upcoming programming are you excited to present this fall?

The gallery directors and I spend time visiting studios and seeing as much as possible in whatever city we are traveling in. We are always looking.

I am very excited about our two fall exhibitions – in September we will show a new body of work by the photographer Justine Kurland at our Chelsea location, and Justine will curate an exhibition at our 1018 Madison Avenue location.  After that, we will have a survey exhibition of work by the painter Julian Stanczak, which will be his first exhibition with the gallery.


Is this the first time you’ve presented concurrent shows at both locations or had an artist curated show?

This is first time we’ve presented concurrent shows at both locations.  We’re very excited about Justine’s new body of work, which she has photographed all over the US during the past three years.  The show, titled “Sincere Auto Care”, features roughly 35 documentary-style photographs of cars, mechanics and the ‘open road’, which present a complicated and slightly uneasy reading of the American Dream.  Justine is also an extremely talented curator, so we’re very lucky to have her curate Days Inn at our uptown location.  This will be the second time Justine has curated a show for the gallery, the first was a 2006 exhibition titled A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts.


Advice to young collectors and those just beginning to purchase art for the first time? Do you have any guidelines that you follow specifically when collecting art?

Do your research! Get to know the artists’ work and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  And at the end of the day you have to follow your instincts, which will be honed by looking as much as possible. Also don’t be afraid to make mistakes, we all do!

Karen O

KarenO

Karen O is the lead vocalist for the alternative rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014 for “Best Original Song.”

Who are some contemporary artists you really like?

I love Urs [Fischer]‘s work and I love Darren Bader’s work. I guess I like a healthy dose of the absurd in art. I went to school with Darren, lost touch and then reunited with him when he was working under Urs in 2008 when Urs was working with YYYs on our It’s Blitz record art. Now Darren’s one of my favorite contemporary artists.

ItsBlitz_UrsFisher

It's Blitz album cover by Urs Fischer

You’ve said in the past that Christian Joy has been your partner in crime for over 10 years. How did you originally meet and decide to work together?

I met Christian when she worked at the Daryl K store in the East Village. I used to stop in the store and chat with her, we’d get to talking about boys mostly. Then at some point she brought in a couple of pieces she was working on; one was an army green t-shirt that she had lined the collar with plastic green army men and the other was a deconstructed prom dress that I think she called “teenage car crash dress”? Yeah Yeah Yeahs had just started playing live shows around that time and I thought to myself, “that dress sure beats what I’m wearing on stage,” so I asked her if she’d make me a dress to wear on stage. She agreed and the rest is history.

ChristianJoy_KarenO

Christian Joy and Karen O

Tell us about the evolution of your costuming and stage presence. Does one costume stand out as being particularly brazen, challenging for the stage, or perhaps just a favorite?

Our partnership = female trouble. We’re up to no good: we will crash the party and trash the living room. There’s something intrinsically sadomasochistic about our working relationship, there’s a lot of provocation in our sensibility. Christian once put me in a dress that was SO heinous and SO ridiculous, which I’ve dubbed the “pepperoni pizza dress.” It was bright yellowish-green covered in these 3D polka dots that looked like slices of pepperoni and jutting from the sleeves were black-and-white striped, stuffed, penile-looking appendages. I wore it for one show and felt like a chicken pocked Carmen Miranda up there, yet I chose to wear it, no one forced me to. I’m pretty sure that with many of the costumes she’s made for me there’s an unspoken challenge like, “I dare you to wear this one in front of thousands of people” and I’m like, “You’re on. I’m going to wear the shit out of that thing that looks like a Day-Glo diaper.” All the best collaborations have some chafing, some push and pull, some love and some hate.

CJ_Tokyo1

Christian Joy exhibition of Karen O costumes in Tokyo

Outside of that aspect of our relationship there’s a deep love and childlike enthusiasm for the glamour of cult idols. We love cult everything in music, film, and the avant-garde, which we reference heavily. We always have a lot of fun conspiring about what our next conquest is going to be.

How has your costuming affected your music or vice versa?

I can’t imagine myself in the YYYs without the contribution of Christian Joy. It’s an impossibility. There’s no fantasy in rock stardom without the presentation of style and persona. When I’m getting ready to tour behind a record, my redemption from the perils of the road is that I get to wear Christian’s costumes and be a new character in a new story on that stage. When I think back and review all the costumes throughout the evolution of our careers, one thing remains the same and that’s that Christian makes stuff that’s fun to look at and pleasure-inducing. She’s the queen of fantastic, feel-good designs. Whether she likes it or not, it is truly a joy for me to wear her costumes, like the name Christian JOY.

KarenO_Glastonbury

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Glastonbury

Do you ever wear the costumes more than once? Where do they live after you’ve performed in them?

I generally wear Christian’s costumes to their costume graves. I like them shiny and new but I love them all weathered and war-torn. The beloved studded black leather Zero jacket lives with me in my closet at home, and my heart literally skips a beat whenever I uncloak it from its garment bag. The rest are in a costume cemetery of big plastic bins in a storage space in Los Angeles.

Look for Karen O’s solo album debut, Crush Songs, out Sept. 9th.

ItsBlitz_leatherjacket

Karen O's favorite leather jacket

Jon Lutz

Jon Lutz directs SARDINE Gallery in Bushwick with Lacey Fekishazy and has run the project, Daily Operation, since 2008.

How did you first get interested in contemporary art?

Probably from seeing Bruce Nauman’s “World Peace” at the St. Louis Art Museum when I was in high school. It was so grating and awkward, but super engaging. But my interest in contemporary working artists really solidified when I moved to NY and worked around artists. Visiting their studios made me realize what I wanted to do with myself, to get their work out there. This is when I started my Daily Operation curatorial project, which preceded my joining Sardine.

Lemons, Holly Coulis

How did you meet Holly Coulis, and what work do you live with by her?

I met Holly in the early 2000s and have followed her work since. In her case, I feel like no genre is too passé or overdone. I’m impressed by her ability to delve into the still life, landscape, etc. and find much more within it. I think she might be attracted to and challenged by it, pulling something off that is earnest, insightful, beautiful and witty without an overtly ironic wink to the viewer. I own a beautiful drawing called “Lemons”.

Jim Lee, Jamison Brosseau

Tell us about SARDINE Gallery. Who you are you showing?

At Sardine we focus on solo shows of artists who have rigorous and dedicated practices with a distinct personal vision. Some of our most recent shows were by Holly Coulis, Jamison Brosseau, Gabriel Hurier and Mitchell Wright. Our intimate space is a perfect place to show how they work through ideas in the studio or to do some experimentation. For example, in Brosseau’s show, we presented 4 of his “Tropical Spiders” paintings on a new particle board wall where each work initially appeared the same but were executed individually and had different colored frames. We are really excited to show of Leah Tacha’s ceramic sculptures in September and have a really strong schedule beyond that.

Max Schumann, Ben Gocker, Holly Coulis, Matthew F. Fisher, Ben Gocker, Jeffrey Tranchell, Matthew F. Fisher, Patrick Brennan

People have been talking about the art scene in Bushwick, Brooklyn for a while. What’s your perspective?

I’m excited by the energy in Bushwick and it’s proximity to artists and spaces. In general, I think you can find a great many quality artists and exhibitions happening. From what I can tell from the last Bushwick Open Studios, I think it’s getting more critical attention. The first NEWD Art Show, where we also showed J.D. Walsh, Leah Tacha, and Holly Coulis, was also pretty important for us. We were able to connect with a new audience of collectors, press and peers who just haven’t had the chance to see one of our shows yet. We have a event organized by Jaime Gecker called “Haus Party” this Saturday, July 26th.

Mark Flood

We spoke to the artist about his friendship with Cole Mohr and his new exhibition space, [MARK FLOOD RESENTS].

How did you first meet Cole?

When I met Cole he was working the counter at Amy’s Ice Cream in Houston. He was art-obsessed. Then he went away to NYC to be a model, so I assumed he was dead. Then I ran into him at a Cold Ones concert at Santos Party Room.

Cole Mohr painting at his solo exhibition ‘Free Food’

Do you own any of his work? It seems like Texan artists are having a moment right now.

I own about a dozen great Cole Mohr paintings.

ColeMohrCole Mohr

What are you up to this summer?

I’m opening my own gallery [MARK FLOOD RESENTS] in July, next door to Zach Feuer, to show off my art collection. It will have Cole Mohr paintings in it. Cole Mohr in person may be there too. That’s what I’m doing this summer…

Cole Mohr

Michael Densen

MichaelDensen

Michael Densen with a Sergej Jensen

Michael Densen is a contemporary art collector and entrepreneur based in New York City.

How did you first become interested in contemporary art?

I’ve been interested in contemporary art since I was in my teens. I grew up in New York and was lucky enough to be exposed to museums with great contemporary collections, such as the Guggenheim and MOMA from early on. I remember seeing the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns and dreaming of collecting art one day. As I achieved more success in my professional life, I was exposed to remarkable collections that belonged to friends—clients and a partner of mine in a vineyard property. Then it was Cy Twombly, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and, dare I say, Damien Hirst that caught my attention. There was a moment when I realized that if I continued to work hard and excel professionally that what was once just a dream might become a reality, and that I could have a collection one day. In retrospect I wish I had started earlier.

MichaelDensen

Chris Succo

What’s the most exciting art purchase you’ve made?

I remember a morning several years back when a dealer in London called me at 6 a.m. and asked me to fill or kill on a package of four paintings we had been negotiating over for two weeks. It contained three significant works by an artist whose work I was trying very hard to accumulate at the time and remains one that I still collect—Sterling Ruby. The fourth work and the linchpin of the deal was a 1994 Damien Hirst spot painting. The Rubys were relatively inexpensive—as his meteoric ascent was just beginning—but the Hirst (the trade bait) was not inexpensive and did not really work well in the context of my collection. After weighing the options one last time I threw caution to the wind, bought the four paintings and from a collecting standpoint have never looked back.

Michael Densen with "Double Vampire" by Sterling Ruby

How do you decide where to hang your artwork? Do you rotate your collection?

Lets just say that when hanging work in one’s home, the easy choices—such as size, color palette, subject matter and lighting—are made more difficult when you include context in the decision making process. When hanging paintings I aspire to create a narrative between the works that speaks louder than decoration. Over the past few years my collection has grown to the point where much of it is in storage, so I try to rotate works frequently and unfortunately I’ve found myself making compromises when a painting arrives to be hung that does not work perfectly in a spot that I have chosen for it. I’ll usually hang it anyway and live with it for a while rather than send it back to a dark storage room. This is one of the main reasons that I am in the process of renovating a large warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn which will be my family’s future home but will also function as a gallery space for works from my own collection.

MichaelDensen

Michael Densen with wife, Rosemary Ward Densen, and daughter, Clover, with George Condo's "Untitled", 2013.

What emerging artists are you following?

That term “emerging artist” is becoming confusing these days. Social media, particularly Instagram has changed how we process new art. It’s an amazing study on just how powerful social media can be when it comes to achieving critical mass. It used to take years for an artist to “emerge” with quality work, curatorial support, reputable gallery representation, and loyal patronage from important collectors. Today, an Instagram post or two by the “right” people can create such a supply and demand discrepancy that suddenly paintings from virtually unrepresented artists— that should be selling for reasonable prices—are selling for around 100K per canvas. Is an artist whose work is selling at those levels still an emerging artist? I’m following a long list of young artists, but I’m confused as to who is emerging! In any event I’m particularly excited about my friends and neighbors at the Stillhouse Group, Grear Patterson, Gus Thompson. Just about every artist featured in the group show presently up at Venus Over Manhattan, curated by Michael Nevin’s Journal gallery. Ayan Farah, Brent Wadden, Ross Iannatti, Andra Ursuta, Will Boone. The list goes on and on.

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Kika Karadi

MichaelDensen

Alex Perweiler

What older artists would you like to see make a comeback?

I’m glad that Sergej Jensen seems to be getting broader recognition for the greatness that so many seem to be imitating. Matthew Barney seems to have been pushed out of the limelight for a moment but seems poised for a comeback. Adam McEwen’s market has been insanely soft for no good reason and he’s one of the most intelligent and funny artists out there.

MichaelDensen

"Untitled" by Joe Bradley

Advice to young collectors and those just beginning to purchase art for the first time?

The politically correct thing to say here is: Buy what you like, what you want to live with, listen to your inner voice, blah blah blah. Of course, in the real world those edicts will always hold true to a certain extent no matter what, but as a young collector purchasing art for the first time it’s difficult to know what you like; the experience isn’t there and it takes time to develop an eye. It was that way of thinking that made me miss Wade Guyton several years ago. My advice would be to study. Immerse yourself in emerging art. Immerse yourself in the emerging art market. Find galleries that have well respected rosters and start a dialogue with them. Find a great advisor that specializes in emerging art. Talk to other collectors with more experience than you do and gather as much information as possible. And last but not least, exhibit discipline as a collector and search out A+ examples from the artists that you decide to collect.

Daniel Heidkamp

DanielHEIDKAMP

We spoke to the artist about his solo show opening tonight from 6-8pm at White Columns, Little League baseball, and painting from life. Look for Daniel Heidkamp in group shows at Zach Feuer and Jack Hanley later this summer.

What are the new paintings hanging at White Columns like?

The show is comprised of oil paintings inspired by the grounds behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Many of the paintings were made live on the spot and from direct observation, and others were developed later in the studio. I chose this setting because in addition to it being beautiful Central Park terrain— blossoms, tree canopies, modernist and classical architecture—I’m interested in the idea of the museum as a symbol.  It is the safe house of our finest art—painting on these grounds suggests how the landscape can never escape the weight of history.  While painting there I’m outside of the institution, removed, but still communing and connecting with the masters. The image of the Met—the walls and glass—seems impenetrable, but in the paintings there is slippage, moments that break through.

DanielHeidkamp

Tell us about your slugger paintings shown at NADA. What was the genesis of these; what inspired you?

I have a wild two-year-old baby who runs all over the place. I had the thought that if he’s in Little League when he’s older, I could make great paintings of him and his friends playing ball. The vision of the slugger kept popping into my mind, and I realized what I was picturing was my own experience playing as a kid. I found early Little League pictures at my childhood home, dug through my old baseball card collection, and made some observational paintings of friends posing as “the slugger”. As this series developed, I realized that the slugger is less about baseball and more about the stance, a gesture, a pose, and the energy and humor that is required to move through life. In some of the paintings all the signifiers of baseball—the stirrups, the bat, the hat—are removed and all that’s left is a guy sluggin’.  Sometimes he strikes out.

DanielHeidkamp

Would you speak about scaling your work? You had one particularly large painting at Marlborough Chelsea and we imagine that would change your process a good deal.

When painting small I have a sense of freedom, flow, and fearlessness.  My goal is to have that same energy on the big scale.  It’s tricky, and it requires a lot of preparation, big brushes, more paint, and most importantly an idea or image that holds up.  I enjoy the illusionistic possibilities of going big.  Painting a person that is larger than life creates a physical reaction, and painting a landscape that is as expansive as your actual focal range can be beguiling—the viewers can put themselves in the picture.

What about working en plein air? Would you tell us why this important to your paintings?

Painting from life is the central core of my project. As a representational painter, it’s important for me to see my subject unfiltered and unmediated.  When painting “en plein air” I feel the atmosphere on my skin, I can see in every direction, and unexpected nuances appear in the art. There is an adrenaline feeling that happens while working “live” and that energy can translate directly into the painting.  I don’t use an easel, I put my canvas on the ground, in the grass or dirt, and I dig in.

Keith Mayerson

KeithMayerson

Featured Works on Exhibition A

KeithMayerson_AnnieOakley KeithMayerson_Superman KeithMayerson_TimesSquare


Keith Mayerson is a painter and teacher at the School of Visual Arts. We spoke with him about his work in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, his personal art collection, teaching Nate Lowman and more.

What has your experience been like with the Whitney Biennial? What exactly is your American Dream?

“My American Dream” is the title for the narrative of the installation, but it’s also performative: being in the Biennial is my American Dream! Ever since I saw my first Biennial in 1987 when I was in college, I have always wanted to be a part of it and influence others in the way that the artists in that show inspired me. Showing in galleries to a limited audience has always been a source of some frustration. It’s great to reach a general public this large and to have my voice be heard.

For me, the “super salon”—there are forty-two paintings hung literally floor to ceiling on two walls in the show—is a giant comic composition that’s merely posing as a salon-style installation. The works are partially organized in horizontal installations that have paintings one next to another with space in between, like horses in a stable, that tell stories in more of a 20th Century format. But I grew up with salon-style posters on my wall, I live in an apartment with salon-style hangings of my work and others, and I think it’s an excellent way to create comic compositions that allow the viewer’s eyes to flow more freely from one image to another.

This is one of the biggest achievements I hope I’ve accomplished in the installation. These aren’t just paintings on a wall, but are specifically designed in their spacing and arrangement, like a maze or a waterworks, to guide the viewer through the story, no matter from what direction they begin.

Installation view of Keith Mayerson's "My American Dream" in the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Do you think of your work as a narrative of your own  life?

In recent years, I’ve been been painting from my own photos. I value having total autonomy over the image—rather that appropriating pre-existing images—and find that when I’m very close to the subject matter, something extra slips in through the conscious hand and brings out transcendent feelings and emotions that go beyond language.

I’ve spoken through avatars for much of my twenty-year year career. My breakout show was my graduate thesis at UC Irvine, which was called “Pinocchio the Big Fag” and based on a Cole Porter-esque musical I wrote. It had different pieces in different styles, as if my version of the story existed along with the original–except employed actors portrayed different characters; Keanu Reeves was Lampwick, John Wayne was Geppetto, Jodi Foster was the Blue Fairy, and so on.

Though I paint cartoon images, I also paint icons from our real world. We can all relate to people in popular culture, and they can become a meeting ground for relatable themes and allegorical content while also being portraits of those people and carrying the weight of their cultural influence.

How did you begin collecting art?

As an artist you get to trade, and I’m very fortunate to have been able to do this with my famous and “soon to be famous” artists friends. I love seeing their work everyday. The works are so important to me and my husband that if there was a fire, we’d grab the work first (that is…after we saved our pets).

Mayerson's art collection, including works by Catherine Opie, Richard Hawkins, Aura Rosenberg, and Travis Hutchensen

Mayerson's art collection, including works by Catherine Opie, Richard Hawkins, Aura Rosenberg, and Travis Hutchensen

What’s your relationship with Dana Schutz and the other artists who are hanging on your walls?

Dana I came to know in one of the most wonderful ways you can get to know a fellow artist: the first painting she ever bought was one of mine and she subsequently bought even more work before we ended up trading. It is the deepest honor when an artist you respect wants your work and even more so when they actually want to spend their hard-earned money on it!

Like most of the artists I’m friends with, I feel my simpatico with Dana, Ryan Johnson, her husband, and the whole crew of friends they share studio space with. Painters who still use brushes are like the “last of the Jedi knights”. I feel like we are all on the same team.

Mayerson's collection, which includes work by Dana Schutz, Jacob Kassay, and Nicole Eisenman, among others

So you currently teach cartooning and illustration at SVA. What’s your relationship to Superman and Annie Oakley?

Though I exhibit in the context of galleries and museums, as a fine artist, I really think of myself in many ways as an avant-garde cartoonist. All my exhibits are non-linear narratives—almost like comics on a wall—where the juxtaposition of images tells an open-ended and somewhat ambiguous story. Since I don’t have recurring characters appear in each individual image, they’re more like avant-garde comics, theater, or film, where the sequences ask the viewer to think a little more and hopefully by doing so, become more involved. Part of the power of comics is that they use icons, which can be literal figures from culture that people relate to or allegorical models of people.

Superman is a painting appropriated from the very first comic strip that Siegel & Shuster created. I grew up loving Superman, and like many iconic avatars that children suture into, he helped to form a non-religious model of what it takes to be a good person.  I feel that post-Warhol, instead of just appropriating comics in a Duchampian mode, it is my job to bring emotion to the image. Like a method-actor, I try to step into the shoes of the characters I’m portraying, to help to bring them to life.

It was really amazing painting Annie Oakley. I always advocate, especially with my cartooning students, for “strong female protagonists,” and Annie was certainly that. Way before Lady Gaga and Madonna, she was internationally known as not only the best sharpshooter of her day—when shooting was a way of life for many—but as a kind, smart, self-educated woman.

For me, “high” and “low” culture are equally important. Pop culture has influenced me so much, and is able to breach the boundaries of class and race, but I also love fine art and more eclectic ideas and tastes that perhaps popular culture doesn’t realize it has access to. As an artist, I hope to do my part to make the world a better place, and as an artist who also teaches, I hope to bring to bear all the comics, pop culture, and media that are intertwined with my life.

Weren’t you Nate Lowman’s teacher?

When Nate walked into my sophomore class, he had that aura, that confidence in the way he carried himself, and his work was so good, that I knew he would be one of those students you know the rest of your life as a colleague and friend, which turned out to be true. After mentoring him during his senior year, he was included in a group show organized by my senior NYC students, which was named “NeoIntegrity” after the art movement I always wanted to start. I have many other students from SVA and Columbia whose careers are about to become big. I’m as proud of that legacy as anything else.

Installation shot of "NeoIntegrity" at Derek Eller Gallery

Installation shot of "NeoIntegrity" at Derek Eller Gallery

The “NeoIntegrity” show sounds interesting!

When I curated “NeoIntegrity” in 2007 at Derek Eller Gallery, I sent a out a manifesto—which is also printed in my essay in the Whitney catalog—to all the artists I admired, including my great student N. Dash and some of my terrific SVA comic kids, like Dash Shaw, asking for pieces that weren’t necessarily for sale, but that they loved. Sometimes artists carry around from studio to studio pieces that were key to them, and if they agreed and wanted to be in the show, I had them bring their piece to the gallery and choose where to hang it.

This was before Facebook hit our generation, but the show was a little like that: circles of artistic families. It was really Post-postmodernist—a “have your cake and eat it too” plan—where you can make work that is about something, that has content, that’s smart in that it knows how it relates to a broader culture and art history, but also has room for beauty, transcendence, and emotion.

What projects are you working on next?

“My American Dream” at the Whitney is part of a larger cosmology and project that I would love to continue to build upon, and hopefully will be able to travel around to museums and galleries. That would truly be a dream come true!

Nicolas Daudin

Nicolas Daudin with pieces from his collection

Nicolas Daudin is the founder and Editor in Chief of Guillotine (www.glltn.com). Follow Nicolas on Instagram: @nicododo

Tell me about the genesis of Guillotine and how that venture has melded with your interest in contemporary art.

Guillotine started in the summer of 2006. At that time there were few to no daily news blogs about fashion and art in France, so my friend Julien Landouar and I decided to fill the void and start our own website.  We basically write about designers and artists that we love. We’ve been really interested in Japanese fashion for the last few years, so that became one focus for Guillotine. I’ve always had a strong interest in contemporary art and photography, too, so the website became a fantastic way to share these passions with my readers. In the early 2000s I was going to many gallery openings in Paris and you just couldn’t find pictures of them on the web. So I recruited a whole army of friends and contacts from every major city in the world to shoot photos at various openings. To this day we have published close to 500 posts about exhibition openings all over the world and around 150 interviews—we plan to continue expanding.

What was the first piece of art you purchased and what about it spoke to you?

Twelve years ago I purchased my very first print from a French artist—“Alert: System Infected” by Space Invader—at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. It’s a limited edition of 120 copies. At that time the artist was omnipresent in the streets of Paris. You couldn’t walk downtown for more than a mile and not see one of his famous works composed of square ceramic tiles. He was a real icon for the city and he still is, all over the world. It felt nice to have one of his invader characters hanging on my wall. I got lucky that day. The sales person couldn’t find the price of the print and let it go for something like 30€. It’s probably worth a lot more today.

Space Invader “Alert: System Infected” (2001)

Futura “Fornax Alpha” (2008)

Have you seen any shows lately that you found particularly exciting or challenging?

Two months ago, the ARoS museum in Denmark invited me over to Wes Lang’s new exhibition, “The Studio”. Wes is one of my favorite artists so I was excited to go. The show was huge with so many old and new paintings, a customized motorbike, a 24k gold sculpture, and more. I was so impressed. But what really blew my mind was that he actually moved his entire studio from Los Angeles to ARoS. He brought literally everything there so it was a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for his personal and creative environments. I also got to interview him there and we spoke about many different subjects. The exhibition is up until September 7th, anyone able to go should.

Damien Hirst & friends with Wes Lang (far right) at the opening reception of his new exhibition “The Studio” at ARoS in Denmark.

What art books would we find on your shelves?

My book collection is getting totally out of hands. I must admit: I have OCD when it comes to my books. I never have enough and I always want more. My Amazon wish list is 15 pages long. Luckily, I receive many amazing books from publishers for reviews. To this day we have reviewed close to 300 books on Guillotine. So on my shelves you’d find many books by the Beautiful Losers. I’m a sucker for books and zines by Barry McGee, Ed Templeton, ESPO, Todd James, Thomas Campbell, Futura, Mark Gonzales, Eddie Martinez, Dan Colen, Neck Face, Kaws, Faile, Murakami, Cy Twombly, Raymond Pettibon, Christopher Wool, etc. I always try to get them signed when I have a chance to meet the artists. I also collect photography books from artists like Dash Snow, Bruce Davidson, Larry Clark, Ari Marcopoulos, Ryan McGinley, Daido Moriyama, Anders Petersen, Alex Webb, Nobuyoshi Araki, Juergen Teller, etc. Then I’ve got all these big coffee table books about fashion designers and many reference books about vintage menswear, denim history, Japanese crafts, etc. One of my most prized books would have to be The Paradise Club by Wes Lang, published in conjunction with the exhibition Carry On at Eight Veil in LA, in 2009. It’s limited to only 50 copies and comes with a signed and numbered poster. I brought it with me to Denmark to have it signed and doodled, too. I just can’t help it! One book I’m looking for right now is Joe Bradley’s Drawings, published by PictureBox. His first publication—it’s got to be really good!

Wes Lang’s books: “The Paradise Club” (2009), “Skulls and Shit” w/ Donald Baechler (2010), “Wes Lang” (2013)

Would you close with a favorite quote that is arts-related or speaks to creativity?

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” —Pablo Picasso

Isolde Brielmaier

Isolde Brielmaier is a curator, writer, creative consultant, and Visiting Professor at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

You maintain a creative engagement by so many different channels. Can you speak about one or two curatorial, writing, consulting, or teaching projects you’re currently working on or have recently finished?

I have a multi-layered practice that encompasses curating, program development, special projects, writing, and teaching. I have always worn, and very much enjoy wearing, many different hats. It keeps things fresh—new people, new ideas, new ways of seeing, thinking, and engaging—and allows me to hone multiple skill sets simultaneously. And the collaborative and creative aspect of working with wonderful artists and art is the thread that stretches through it all.

I am currently working with the team of the next Prospect 3 Biennial in New Orleans, which opens Oct 25th, and I am developing a extensive contemporary art program, with many platforms for a prominent company in Lower Manhattan. I’m very excited about this. I am also doing some research on the relationship of contemporary artists to collectors, as well as the notion of patronage. Recently, I organized conversations, talks, and other events for the New York Armory Show’s Open Forum program—which I actually founded for the fair many years ago. And I also recently curated an exhibition with artist Wardell Milan at OSMOS.

What is the first work of art that you bought? How did you go about selecting it?

I haven’t really bought much art but do have what I happen to think is a wonderful art collection with works by Rashid Johnson, Jeffrey Gibson, Wangechi Mutu, William Cordova, Lalla Essaydi, Wardell Milan, Hank Willis Thomas, Carl Pope, Deborah Grant, Raphael Zollinger, Duron Jackson, Sean Higgins, Xaveria Simmons, Zander Blom, Hector Acebes, Blanche Nettle Powers, Derrick Adams, Jenny Laden, among others. Most of these works were gifts to me from the artists, whom I met years and years ago when they were just starting out. It has been such an honor to work with them and see how each has grown and developed in their practice. About 10 years ago I did purchase a beautiful print by Mickalene Thomas. It is so rich and detailed.

What exhibitions have you seen recently that felt powerful to you?

Martin Wong’s Collection on view at the Museum of the City of NY felt powerful to me. I also loved the Doug Wheeler installation at David Zwirner and Ingrid Calame’s recent installation at James Cohan Gallery. Richard Mosse at Jack Shainman Gallery was pretty unbelievable, too. It completely envelopes you as the viewer and places you squarely in a sadly forgotten, but highly relevant, realm.

Installation shot of Wardell Milan’s show as OSMOS

What advice would you give to someone interested in beginning their own collection, but approaching this world without an extensive art education?

I will create a VERY short to-do list: Get out and see as much art as you possibly can. There is nothing like experiencing contemporary art “live.” It develops the eye and feeds the soul…and you may even develop a sense of your own “taste” in the process.

Any words to live by, perhaps a quote that speaks to creativity?

Wherever you go, there you are… This speaks to being grounded in the present. There is always so much around you to draw inspiration from—if you just look.

Javier Peres

JavierPeres

Javier Peres in Los Angeles, 2006, in front of 'Untitled (So Long)' by Dan Colen. Image courtesy of Peres Projects.

Javier Peres is a contemporary art dealer who operates Peres Projects in Berlin. He is known for showing seminal early work by Terence Koh, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Dan Colen, Dash Snow, Agathe Snow, and many other artists who have since been included in the top art world exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, the Tate Triennial, the Turner Prize, the São Paulo Biennal, the Royal Academy of Art in London and numerous other prestigious venues.

We love the story of Dan Colen telling you about Joe Bradley’s show at Canada back in the day, which ended up jump-starting his career. How did you first meet Leo Gabin?

That is a good story! I am not usually one to take advice on which artists I should check out, but at the start of 2005, when Joe was having his first real solo show, no one was interested in his work and Dan was concerned because things were tough for Joe and the show was about to close and had had very few sales. I loved it immediately; the robots reminded me of abstract Easter Island figures or Dogon sculptures, but with a touch of our late 20th century sensibility. They looked machine-made and handmade at the same time. I was able to buy a bunch of robots from Canada Gallery and immediately became Joe’s dealer. We have gone on to have five incredible solo shows at the gallery and have shown every type of work he has made.

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Leo Gabin Tallahassee, Installation View, November 23, 2013 - January 4, 2014, Peres Projects, Berlin. Image courtesy Peres Projects.

Similarly with Leo, I was tipped off to the work by another friend who I think has a strong eye. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Brussels and then driving to Ghent. As I approached their studio, I could hear American rap music blasting, and as soon as I came into their studio and saw the work and how they were making it, I was hooked. We started to plan a solo show soon after, and went on to do two great solo shows at Peres Projects. Now they are getting ready to have their London debut at White Cube.

As a dealer who travels the world, what’s your favorite art fair to do?

I pretty much like doing all the fairs, each for their own reasons. I enjoy the interaction with the public and I think it’s a part of my job to bring attention to the artists that I am passionate about, which in today’s art world means doing art fairs. From the start, I have had my gallery in cities that are not known for their large art markets, so doing art fairs has always been a way of surviving and thriving. I would have had to close my gallery years ago if it was not for the fairs.

ArtLA

Peres Projects, Booth View - Joe Bradley and Mark Flood, Art LA Contemporary, January 30 - February 2, 2014, Peres Projects, Berlin. Image courtesy Peres Projects.

Who is a younger artist more people should know about? Aren’t you a Will Boone fan?

I am a fan of Will Boone’s. He used to work for Mark Flood, so I have known him for a while. He will be exhibiting in my upcoming summer group show, Group Spirit, along with a bunch of other artists whose work I am really into. I’m showing tribal African art in the gallery for the first time, too. I think that some of the younger artists people should know about, in addition to Leo Gabin, are Alex Israel, Brent Wadden, David Ostrowski, Eddie Peake, and Marinella Senatore. They form the core group of younger artists that I have been championing for the last couple of years and we’re just at the early stages of getting to know them and what they are about. I think that each one really brings something to the table that is worth understanding.

AlexIsrael

Alex Israel, Self-Portraits, Installation View, April 26 - June 15, 2013, Peres Projects, Berlin. Image courtesy Peres Projects.

The very first painting you ever bought was…?

I wish I could remember but I have really bad memory, so I couldn’t tell you exactly. Most likely it was by an unknown outsider artist.  Art Brut was something I was really passionate about very early on. I could tell you what painting I bought most recently, it was a Mark Flood text painting from about five years ago. I was really happy to be able to buy it back. Mark’s text works are very important to me.

What’s your next show in Berlin?

It’s called Group Spirit and includes new works by assume vivid astro focus, Will Boone, Ida Ekblad, Jeff Elrod, Mark Flood, Dorothy Iannone, Leo Gabin, Harmony Korine, David Ostrowski, Brent Wadden, as well as other unidentified Bassa, Gola, Mende and Vai artists.

DavidOstrowski

David Ostrowski, 'I'm OK.' Moments later, he was shot, Installation View, March 1 - April 13, 2013, Peres Projects, Berlin. Image courtesy Peres Projects.

What’s an upcoming exhibition that you’re excited to see?

I’m looking forward to Dorothy Iannone’s upcoming solo show at the Migros Museum, which is curated by Heike Munder and will focus on the censorship of Dorothy’s work from the 1960s to the present.

A great art book everyone should read?

“Primitivism” in 20th Century Art. This exhibition at MoMA and the book that accompanied it continue to be incredibly important to my way of thinking about art. Human beings are always in search of progress, but as we continue to make advances in fields, like technology, our humanity requires that we reflect on our basic existence. This book addresses those issues in a powerful visual manner. I also really like the first three volumes of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne. That dude was such a machine and I love his backstory.

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Helmet mask of the Sande society ("Bundu"), Bassa, Liberia, First half of the 20th Century, Javier Peres Collection, Berlin. Image courtesy Peres Projects.

James Panero

James Panero in front of Paul Behnke’s "A Kind of Grail," 2013. Photo by Lily Panero.

James Panero is the Executive Editor and art critic of The New Criterion, a monthly journal of culture and the arts. You can follow him @jamespanero.

What was one formative moment for you as your interest in contemporary art began to grow?

In our living room, my parents had a catalogue from the 1982 Whitney retrospective of Milton Avery. I became fascinated with the painting on the cover, “Red Rock Falls” from 1947. The image was like a puzzle I could assemble in different ways: a monster, a neck, a hand, or the beak of Toucan Sam. It wasn’t just one thing. That’s an appeal of contemporary art: the question of it.

From left: Paul Behnke, “A Kind of Grail,” 2013; Julie Torres, “Paintings for Rachel Beach,” 2012; Gary Petersen, "Futuretime," 2013; Joy Garnett, “Blue,” 2012; Audra Wolowiec, "Concrete Sound (4x4)," 2011 (on desk); Rachel Beach, “Nod,” 2012 (in front of window); Mark A. Sprague, "Red Alert," 1952. Photo by Lily Panero

Tell us about your approach to collecting art.

I’m very fortunate in my job at The New Criterion. For my Gallery Chronicle column, which I’ve been writing every month for a decade, I get to document my evolving artistic interests. For the past several years, that’s taken me to the outer boroughs of New York, in particular to Bushwick, Brooklyn, where I’ve been inspired by the energy of their alternative art scenes. Here I see myself as an activist critic, drawing attention away from the market-driven precincts of Chelsea to these quieter corners. In part that means supporting artists and spaces both in words and deeds and, on my very limited budget, collecting where I can. Since I write my column for collectors, it helps to live with art as a collector myself and understand how work evolves in a private setting over time.

From left: works by Martin Bromirski, Austin Thomas, Lori Ellison, and Tom Goldenberg. Photo by Lily Panero.

You’ve written and spoken extensively on the current state of museums. In your article, “What’s a Museum?” you relate an anecdote about Kenneth Clark from Suzanne Bosman’s book The National Gallery in Wartime. During WWII, while museums were closed and evacuated, Clark valiantly began an initiative in which he displayed one work of art each month in a basement room, usually after taking suggestions from the public. Imagine a similar scenario. It’s WWIII, the apocalypse, a significant disaster. What would you display?

The interesting thing about art in crisis is that it comforts us more through a reflection of crisis rather than a distraction from it. So there’s the obvious gut-stirrers, such as “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” but that’s not quite right. Something better would be “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer, a painting that shows us dignity in hopelessness.

From left: Matthew Miller, "Untitled (Self-Portrait)," 2009; Christopher Wilmarth, "Cut Outs from Breath Etching," 1982; Dee Shapiro, "Untitled (hatchmarks)," 2009; Austin Thomas, two untitled works (on table). Photo by Lily Panero.

What art books would we find on your shelves?

Modern Art by Julius Meier-Graefe; The Journal of Eugene Delacroix translated by Walter Pach; The Tradition of the New by Harold Rosenberg; Art and Culture by Clement Greenberg; The Age of the Avant-Garde by Hilton Kramer. Before bedtime, my daughter and I like to flip through Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Loren Munk, "A Depiction of How Art History is Disseminated," 2010. Photo by Lily Panero.

Tell us about the last exhibit you saw and found compelling.

The “Invitational Exhibition” at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It’s the lead review in my latest Gallery Chronicle.

Would you close with a favorite quote that’s art-related or speaks to creativity?

“as he seeks the food of light, so he lives in light” —Moby Dick

David Wike

DavidWike

David Wike is a film and stage actor, writer, director, and musician. As an actor, he has appeared in The Sopranos, Sex and the City, In America, Hitch and the play The Dog Problem, among others. He also wrote and directed the 2008 comedy, Out There.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am writing and co-directing an odd comedy with British director, Jim Hosking, and writing another odd comedy with a pal, David Gordon Green.

When did you become interested in contemporary art?

It started with my father. He spent what he had to spare on art, beginning when he was in his late teens. He dragged me around museums and galleries when I was a kid and I became intrigued once we hit the more contemporary stuff. My sister ended up at Rhode Island School of Design to study painting and I developed some good friendships with other artists along the way—all of whom helped bring the world and history of contemporary art to life for me.

Eric Chase Anderson's illustration for the film, The Royal Tenenbaums

How did you become acquainted with Eric Chase Anderson? What draws you to his work?

We met through a mutual friend when we were all neighbors in the West Village. Eric and I went on to form a good friendship. We try to meet semi regularly for a cocktail and summit on the state of virtually everything.

Now, what draws me to his work? It’s world; it’s detail. The world he creates and his precise handling reminds me of the detail I believe we all put into the lives we want to create for ourselves when we are kids. I’m afraid we lose some of those details as we mature and end up with only broad strokes and sketches of our big ideas. Eric is one of the few artists I have seen that imbues his work with dynamic storytelling. It requires an intense focus on illustrating the subtleties that many might overlook and a specific perspective on “the nature of things.” Either way, I find the end result totally engaging.

If you could have your portrait made by any artist—living or dead—who would you choose?

Wow, I mean I would never expect that anyone would want to paint my portrait but if given that scenario: Kandinsky or Eric Anderson.

Eric Chase Anderson's illustration for The Darjeeling Limited criterion DVD collection

Leland Melvin

LelandMelvin

Official Portrait of Leland Melvin courtesy Robert Markowitz

Leland Melvin is an American engineer, NASA astronaut, and Promoter of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math). He flew two missions on the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122 in 2008, and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129 in 2009.  He received numerous NASA awards and honors during his quarter-century of service.

What drew you to collect Michael Kagan’s work?

There are two things that inspire me about Michael’s paintings. First of all, the amount of paint and the power implicit in his images really convey the energy of his subject matter. I know the business end of this stuff–I’ve felt the 7.5 million pounds of thrust it takes to get you off the planet. I also love the visual contrast of a dark sky background with vibrant colors like white, yellow and orange in say, a painting of a rocket launch. His paintings have such a freshness to them. It’s like they are still wet in places–like they are about to take off.

You just recently purchased a rocket painting from Michael, right? What’s it like to experience a space shuttle blast off?

Yes, it’s a large painting that I hung in between two large windows. He really captures the energy being liberated in the blast during a launch, which I know from first-hand experience. I’ve witnessed two launches inside the vehicle and seven takeoffs from the ground. Before it blasts off, you’re singing the Star -Spangled banner. When you watch it you see the flame, smoke, and fire. There’s a rumble in your stomach and in your chest.

LelandMelvin
Leland Melvin’s painting by Michael Kagan

How did you come to know Michael’s work?

I had seen his collaborations with Pharrell Williams’ clothing line, BBC Ice Cream. I introduced myself over Instagram, and when I visited Brooklyn I set up a studio visit with him. The rest is history.

Can you tell us what it’s like to wear a spacesuit?

Well the spacesuit Michael is painting is from the Apollo program–Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Those had to protect astronauts while they were walking on the moon. I wore the orange suit that astronauts wear inside the shuttle during launch and landing. It protects you in case you have a bad day and you lose cabin pressure. It’s like your own pressurized cockpit of a suit. There is spare oxygen inside, flares on the shoulder, and water running through the suit to keep you cool. You have to practice pulling the spare oxygen in case you have to eject out of the shuttle.

Image courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center

What’s it’s like preparing for the possibility of ejection from the shuttle?

Well, if we abort and have to bail out because of an engine failure or something of that nature, the emergency procedure is for the commander to put the shuttle on autopilot, blow the side hatch and extend the pole. Each person would connect themselves to the pole, but you have to clear the wing. Then you parachute down to earth.

Can you describe what it’s like to experience the earth from above? How does it feel to come back?

It’s a blue you can’t describe. You see a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes. Your 240 miles above the earth and orbiting at 17,500 miles per hour, so you can pass from Florida to Maine in two minutes. When you re-enter the atmosphere the plasma creates purple flames coming over the top of the spacecraft. You’re looking out of the shuttle like, oh my goodness this is changing my life! Everyone should experience it.

When you come home, you’ve been living without gravity for twelve or fourteen days, and in some cases six months to a year. Your heart doesn’t pump as fast–it’s easy street in space. When you get back to earth you feel really heavy, and your brain rejects all the visual cues and input from your inner ear. You have to be careful not to fall over until your body recalibrates everything.

Image courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Center

We heard you just recently retired.  What are you doing now?

Yes, after 24 years of NASA service I’ve retired from my recent position as head of NASA’s education program, STEM. It was my job to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics content more effectively to educators and students. I added an “A” for the arts, so it’s really STEAM. I live a STEAM lifestyle. Growing up, kids are taught that you can go one of two ways in the world–you can either be creative, or you can be a scientist. I always ask why can’t you do both? Your brain is actually pre-wired to do both things. We can change our planet through art, music, dance, and math…and advance civilization by learning about our bodies in space. That’s the type of mentality I’m trying to help everyone embrace.

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Leland Melvin with his photographs from space

Chris Byrne

Gallerist Chris Byrne is the co-founder of the Dallas Art Fair, which will host 92 exhibitors from April 10 – 13.

Tell us about the origins of the Dallas Art Fair and your involvement in its evolution.

John Sughrue and I began the first Dallas Art Fair in February 2009 with 35 exhibitors. Our intention was to create an event that would expose the city to galleries from other areas and strengthen the local art community. We were fortunate that we weren’t starting from scratch; the Dallas Art Fair’s venue (f.i.g.) is located in the revitalized downtown Arts District by the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and also many new developments like the Dallas City Performance Hall, Wyly Theatre,  and Winspear Opera House. It’s impossible not to acknowledge the patrons who—specifically through their museum gifts—have fostered a warm impression of the city both nationally and abroad.

AnkeWeyer

Anke Weyer, Blue Lighter, 2013. Oil and acrylic on canvas 82 x 66 inches Courtesy of the artist and CANADA

When we started conceptualizing the fair we knew what we didn’t want: the big convention center trade show with booths hawking every imaginable medium, which were almost unmanageable due to the crowding and volumes of people. The gallerists we initially approached responded to our ideal of a smaller, more selective gathering.

How has the Dallas Art Fair changed over the years?

The exhibitors who participated during the first five years have referred other galleries and that’s been beneficial to the fair and its growth. The Fair starts to generate an organic life of its own with a visual coherence and cohesion as a byproduct of that independent life.

AnokaFaruqee
Anoka Faruqee, 2013P-38, 2013. Acrylic on linen on panel 11 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches (28.6 x 28.6 centimeters) Courtesy of the artist and Koenig & Clinton

It’s most important that the Dallas Art Fair hosts content and programming which interests its constituents. One of the nicest things has been having members of the community propose events and projects that are concurrent with the Fair. We’re fortunate to have the Power Station reception for Fredrik Vaerslav and we’re honored that proceeds from our preview gala will benefit the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and Dallas Contemporary.

What is unique about the Dallas Art Fair and the art scene in there in general?

Dallas has a strong sense of presenting art in a very accessible way. With the advent of the official Dallas Arts Week, the entire city is engaged in the arts. When I meet gallerists from other parts of the world, they often comment on the knowledge and enthusiasm of Dallas collectors.  I don’t think the Texan audience feels complacency or a sense of birthright regarding the visual arts. There seems to be a younger generation coming up and exploring new directions.

ShannonFinley
Shannon Finley, Cosmonaut, 2013. Acrylic on canvas 39.2 x 31.2 inches Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery

What artists do you see collectors buying right now? Which artists do you think will make a big impact this weekend?

I’m excited that Scott and Tyson Reeder will be in town for the Dallas Art Fair. Our goal is bring together a number of top national and international artists and galleries with our local and regional artists and galleries. The hope is that by presenting the local, national, and international galleries on an even playing field, you’re able to weigh and measure aesthetic value for yourself. One of the things I most enjoy is seeing a painting by an unknown young artist next to an acknowledged historical piece. I think that’s great; it undermines certain assumptions about how things are placed and categorized and where everything ultimately belongs.

ScottReeder
Scott Reeder, Untitled (Pasta Painting), 2013. Oil and enamel on canvas 84 x 64 inches Courtesy of the artist and Lisa Cooley, New York

Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo

Joanne Cassullo is on the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She’s also on the Executive Board at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, a board member at Creative Time, and on the Program Advisory Board at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

What can you tell about a person from their collection?

The first thing I notice about someone’s collection is how they live with the objects they have collected and how those objects are displayed. Does the collection feel stagnant or does it feel vibrant and alive? And then I begin to try to figure out if it has been put together by an independent and adventurous eye: are there any unexpected choices or is the collection only filled with bold and recognizably expensive names? I’m pretty curious, and I like learning about and seeing new things. I love both the “high” and the “low” in art, and I love seeing them mixed in inspiring new ways.

What is your approach to collecting?

I tend to collect the work of younger artists, and for the most part my home is filled with works of art made by friends: E.V. Day, Mark Fox, Gregory Crewdson, Leidy Churchman, Liz Magic Laser, Nancy Lorenz and Michael Byron, among others. I bought works by these artists early on in their careers, when they needed the recognition and support. Since then I have followed their careers with a great deal of pride. I also collect furniture designed by artists and architects. I have chairs by Warren McArthur, Michael Graves, and Adrian Persall. I have commissioned bright pink faux bois bedside tables from Ryan Humphrey and I have a stunning drinks cabinet designed by Matthew Larkin—it has hand-forged legs that resemble oversized fishing hooks. I also have Studio Printworks wallpapers designed by my friend, Mark Fox.

What was the first piece you purchased?

The first major piece of art I purchased was just after I moved to NYC in 1983 to participate as a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program (ISP). I was in the Museum Studies portion and we organized three exhibitions that year. The first was called METAMANHATTAN  and focused on unrealized architectural projects for downtown Manhattan from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. I fell in love with an architectural model in that exhibition by Steven Holl. It was an exquisite sculptural object comprised of a bronze elevated railroad track supporting four balsa wood houses clad in thin sheets of oxidized brass which was Holl’s proposal for what he might build on the (then) deserted High Line. After the exhibition closed, I arranged to purchase this model directly from Holl, making monthly payments for the better part of a year, and we have been friends since then. Bridge of Houses has travelled around the world twice and has been included in two exhibitions at MoMA featuring Holl’s architectural work.

Is there a work that you wish you had purchased, reverse buyer’s remorse?

I saw a large melting ice cream sculpture by Alex Da Corte at Joe Sheftel Gallery in NYC that I thought was pretty incredible, and I wanted to take it with me to Dallas where I was about to move. I hesitated and, of course, when I got back to seriously considering it,  it was sold. Luckily it was purchased by my dear friend, the well known collector Beth Rudin DeWoody. Since I stay with Beth on my frequent trips to NYC, there is an excellent chance that it will reappear in my life again.

A painting by Alexander Seth Cameron of Joanne Cassullo and Ron Clark (Director of Whitney Independent Study Program).

Are there any upcoming exhibitions that you are excited about?

Kara Walker’s first large-scale public project, organized by Creative Time in the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, is opening to the public on May 10th. It will be a spectacular sculptural installation, one that I can’t really describe in any specific detail because it is supposed to be a surprise. Walker has mysteriously titled it, “A Subtlety…Or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” Because I am a Board Member of Creative Time, I know what it will be, and without giving anything away, let me say that I plan on bringing a group of adventurous Texans to town to experience it. Texans are known for embracing the notion of  “the bigger, the better”, but I seriously doubt they have ever experienced anything quite like this monumental installation!

I am also excited to see Jeff Koons’ retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (June 17–October 19). Not only will this exhibition be the artist’s first museum presentation in New York, it will also be the first exhibition of a single artist’s work to fill the entirety of the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building. Most of Koons’ iconic works and significant series will be on display together for the first time. As a longtime board member, I am a bit sentimental about this show because it will be the last exhibition the Whitney holds in the Breuer building prior to its move downtown to the new Renzo Piano building in May 2015. Talk about going out with a bang!

Tomasz Nazarko

TomaszNazarko

Tomasz Nazarko was a former member of the electro pop band Team Robespierre and currently works as art consultant to a private collection in New York City.

How did you get interested in contemporary art?

When I was 11 or 12, I remember picking up a book about Andy Warhol’s Factory at a used bookstore and being completely enthralled by all the freaks and weirdos he surrounded himself with. I made my poor mom buy it for me, not having any idea that it was filled with pages and pages of photographs documenting transvestites, drug addicts, and nude dudes. That book became my Bible and Andy was my Jesus. A few years later I saw a Warhol exhibition in Krakow and I realized that he actually made art too. Shortly thereafter, I saw the Katharina Fritsch sculpture “Rattenkönig” in Venice and nearly passed out; it was the closest thing to a religious experience that I ever had. The Dallas Museum of Art had a smaller piece of hers that I would go see almost everyday while on break from my ticket counter job in the Texas School Book Depository.

What’s the first piece of art you ever bought?

In college I used to wait until the semester was over to raid the dumpsters behind the art department for all the students’ discarded projects, but I guess that’s not really “buying” art. The first piece I bought with real money was a Katherina Fritsch edition of three vinyl records titled “Unken, Mühle, Krankenwagen.” Each record just played the sound of a toad croaking, a windmill spinning, or an ambulance siren over and over. They’re so good!

TeenWolf

What really stood out to you at the Whitney Biennial?

“Teen Wolf 2″ by Gretchen Bender (remade by Philip Vanderhyden) and her giant vinyl installation of tiny glowing film titles, “People in Pain,” were the first things that stood out to me. The curators seemed to make a real conscious effort to eschew the hot, new, young things, which was unexpected but in some ways refreshing. The one market-friendly exception was Sterling Ruby’s ceramic ashtrays for giants. They were cool—no surprise—as were the small, ceramic, dinosaur pots by Shio Kusaka. Her work is always lovely. Keith Mayerson’s walls of bygone Americana made me long to see his work in a more intimate setting; the installation was positively overwhelming. I really want the “Abduction of Ganymede” painting of a baby getting snatched up by an eagle. The Pale King notebooks of David Foster Wallace were nice because, well, it’s David Foster Wallace. I also liked seeing the under appreciated paintings of Laura Owens and Jacqueline Humphries.

Tell us about an exhibition you’re excited to see.

Anything those Still House kids are involved in. I heard Mark Flood is having a new show at Zach Feuer this spring, which I’m very stoked about. Also, David Ostrowski will be showing new paintings at Peres Projects in Berlin this May. That alone is totally worth the airfare. If you haven’t seen the Justin Adian exhibition at The National Exemplar, stop what you’re doing and run over there immediately.

A great art book read?

The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. It’s like 5,000 pages on the art of basketball. Go Nets!

Michael Nevin

MichaelNevin

Michael Nevin is the founder & editor-in-chief of The Journal, a curated art and culture quarterly, and director of the Journal Gallery in Brooklyn.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Summer Drawings show you did with Joe Bradley?

Joe’s paintings are derived from his drawings in many ways, which I love. The Summer Drawings show incorporated some really tough works, which were somehow important to put out there.

What do you guys have up at the Journal right now?

Our first solo exhibition with the Hungarian painter Kika Karadi.

Kika Karadi at The Journal. Courtesy of The Journal Gallery.

Do you remember what the first piece of art you ever bought was?

I bought a Mark Gonzales drawing from Alleged Gallery sometime in the 90′s for twenty dollars.

How did you first get interested in contemporary art?

I grew up in Park Slope and my parents would take me to the Brooklyn Museum every Sunday. At home we had a poster of a Hopper painting from the museum and it became burned into my memory.

An artwork or two you live with?

We have a Rita Ackerman drawing from her “Fire By Days” series. She is an incredible artist and a great friend. I’m also quite attached to a Chris Martin Bread Painting, which was a gift from Chris.

What show are you most looking forward to seeing this season?

Daniel Hesidence at The Journal Gallery, which will be his first solo exhibition in four years.

Bruce High Quality Foundation

The Bruce High Quality Foundation is an arts collective made up of five to eight rotating and anonymous members.

The Last Brucennial feels so apocalyptic. Is it really the last, or do you anticipate organizing something like this in the future?

Yes, this is the last one. No more! Fin! We did the first one in 2008 with 99 participants and founded our school, BHQFU [Bruce High Quality Foundation University], a year later. Now we have close to 700 artists in the Brucennial, and 800 regular students at BHQFU. We’ve always seen them as related projects, instigations of artistic community. But BHQFU allows for more in depth experiences, dialogue, and collaboration than a biennial exhibition can. So we’re going to focus on that. Through BHQFU we’re putting on a production of West Side Story this spring, and we’ll host a residency program this summer. Along with the full curriculum of critique-based classes now in session, and new ones coming up in the fall, we think this is where our energy needs to be. And who knows? Maybe BHQFU will start an exhibition program in the near future…

Do you perceive this Brucennial signifying or coinciding with the ending of other things, too?

Ukraine. The Winter Olympics. Winter. Privacy. But no, not really. For us, this is only the beginning.

How was the decision made to include female artists only?

We’re not discussing the gender or sex of the artists in the Brucennial.

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How do you see the commercial side of the art industry affecting the way artists work in the studio and in academia?

Talking about art is difficult and interesting. Talking about the market is easy and boring. Our job is to slow the creep of those easy boring conversations whenever possible.

It’s pretty cool that classes are free at BHQF University. Who attends, and how are teachers chosen?

We have around 800 students currently attending classes. They are people from all different sorts of backgrounds and experiences who appreciate a learning situation that seeks to expand their sense of freedom. They aren’t in it for a degree: we don’t give them one. They aren’t in it to get a job: we don’t pretend to prepare students for the market. We think that what we do deepens their experience of themselves through critical interactions with different people.

How does BHQFU define “demanding interactions between art and the world”?

Probably the most demanding interaction is the deceptively simple act of trying to find common language to talk about works of art with each other—not critical theory, but actual, generative, critique.

What’s next in 2014? Any musicals?
We’ve begun work on West Side Story. We’re planning a four night run this Spring.

Harper Levine

Harper Levine is the owner of Harper’s Books, a bookstore and gallery in East Hampton, New York.

Your Elizabeth Huey exhibition just came down Monday. How did you originally get acquainted with her paintings?

I’m indebted to Jess Frost who introduced me to Elizabeth and curated the exhibition. I checked Elizabeth out on Instagram and was immediately struck by her photographs of Hasidic Jews and swimming pools, like Joel Sternfeld for the post-Leica age. When I saw her paintings, I thought they were wild. So much weirdness behind the color, as if the 1950s were superimposed on the 19th century.

What has the response been to her work in East Hampton?

You know, very strong. We sold several paintings and had a huge crowd for the opening. It’s a been a cold winter, so people were happy to be transported to a place of warmth and vibrance, even if a layer of unease lurked behind the sun and the sailboats.

ElizabethHuey

Work by Elizabeth Huey at Harper's Books

What other exhibitions do you have planned for 2014?

So far, Doug Rickard and Enoc Perez.

What’s your relationship with Fulton Ryder?

We’re friends and co-conspirators—with books as our common language. We’ve had fun hosting small anti-fairs that explore the relationship between books and art. Our next event, B-PAD, with Karma, will be held at the Lowell Hotel during the AIPAD photo fair. We’re planning to resurrect Burl Ives.

Tell us about the Stuart Sutcliffe exhibition?

Sutcliffe was John Lennon’s closest friend at art school and the original bassist in The Beatles; he thought of the name. When The Beatles went to Hamburg, he left the band to pursue a career in art, his true love, then died at age 21. Sutcliffe’s sister, Pauline, lives in the Hamptons and through a serious of fortuitous events, we decided to have a retrospective at Harper’s Books. We were helped enormously by Richard Prince—who curated the show and wrote a beautiful essay I published in a small catalogue. Sutcliffe’s art has so many contemporary references, people couldn’t believe it was done over 50 years ago.

Can you tell us about that Roe Ethridge show you did in July and the Goldman Sachs commission?

Roe is one of the best photographers working today. He seamlessly mixes fine art photography with advertising and consumerism, a particularly potent combination in a photographic world that’s rapidly evolving. He turned a four-year commission for Goldman Sachs—where he photographed every phase of the construction of their new corporate headquarters—into a subversive artist book that both lionizes and lambastes the company, you really never know which.

What are some of the greatest (art) books you would recommend?

Bye Bye Photography Dear (Shashin Hyoron-sha) by Daido Moriyama; The Black Book by Christopher Wool (Thea Westreich / Galerie Gisella Capitain, 1989); Jokes, Gangs, Hoods by Richard Prince (Jablonka Galerie / Galerie Gisela Capitain, 1990); A New American Picture by Doug Rickard (White Press, 2010).

Noah Garson and Ronald Schwartz

From Left: Noah Garson and Ronald Schwartz in front of Cindy Sherman's "Untitled #424" (Photo by Jay Bierach)

Noah Garson works as a consultant to artists that use plumbing in their work. Ronald Schwartz is a physician, specializing in psychopharmacology.

What is your approach to collecting?

We look for artists who present ideas and insights in ways that we have never seen before. Being able to understand something differently than how we thought we always understood it is stimulating to us. Sometimes it is so unique that the notion of the idea is not even understandable.  Over time, and after more thought and reflection, the disambiguation can be exhilarating.  When we have such an experience, we’ll decide to purchase a piece of art by that artist.  Sometimes they are young and this is early in their career, other times it is when we begin to notice their influence on another generation of artists.  Sometimes it’s too late, meaning no longer affordable to us, and sometimes the artist disappears—but our moment of understanding is learned forever.

What was the last piece of art you acquired for your personal collection?

A photograph by Mike Kelley from his “Day Is Done” project: Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstructions #5 (Sick Vampire)

From left: "Deadlock" by Olaf Breuning, "Diet Coke" by Mathew Cerletty (Photo by Jay Bierach)

I know you take a special interest in the work of Olaf Breuning. Can you talk about a specific piece or project of his that intrigued you?

Olaf Breuning is a very insightful social observer. His awareness is awkward, absurd, embarrassing, and profound in the same instant. He is able to illustrate this through many different mediums, but we feel this is distinctly constructed by his “Home” series of films.  The observations and comments by the protagonist, his doppelganger, are made with a deliberate sense of recklessness.  Is that a reflection of the world we live in?  We don’t know if Olaf Breuning wants the answer to this, or any of the other perplexing questions he posits, but he wants us to think about it. And yet, the films are also funny, very funny. We are laughing, but should we be?

What else are you passionate about?

Travel. We feel travel presents us with some of the same feelings as art. You are never quite sure what you’re going find when you begin the journey. No matter what you may be envisioning, you also really do hope to be surprised. I think we often make that more likely by not planning much beyond a hotel room in advance.

"Wall Drawing #676" by Sol Lewitt (Photo by Jay Bierach)

Would you close with a favorite quote from an artist, or one that just speaks to creativity, generally?

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” —Scott Adams

Kon Trubkovich

KonTrubkovich

Photo courtesy Jesse Frohman

Kon Trubkovich’s solo show at Marianne Boesky runs from February 20th – March 22, 2014.

Is the show title “Snow” meant to be a riff on the static you used to get from an old fashioned TV when the signal wasn’t strong enough?

Sort of. There is always a plurality in the meaning of a loaded word like snow. It can refer to TV static, of course, but also to my memories of childhood. Having a signal that isn’t strong enough to get clear transmission is a situation that is sort of analagous to a person in the act of forgetting.

In the way that Adam McEwen does his text message drawings using a ’90s Nokia platform, are your paintings dated by the technology you use as a filter?

Adam’s text message works are less about the obsolete technology and more about language within a limited space, and in a similar narrative, my paintings are less about old VHS’s and more about visualizing disappearance. I really like the idea that this is a medium prone to a finite lifespan. I also see these painting specifically existing between the “figurative” and the “abstract”—so I use the TV screen as a kind of portal. It’s not my mother that I am panting, or Reagan, or snow, or brick walls, but the TV screen.

Will there also be portraits in the Boesky exhibition?

Yes, three of my mother, and some of the “Lenny” works on paper, where I use an old mugshot of Lenny Bruce to make self portraits.

I always remember the paintings of your mother which I read some Russian subtext into, since that was her homeland, or am I totally off base there?

No, there is something there. You want to talk about it…

What are you watching on TV right now?

I don’t get a ton of TV time. I going to be a dad any day now and trying to finish the show is a lot. But True Detective is amazing.