“Island” mood board:

Island (mood board) from steven eastwood on Vimeo.

Of Camera from steven eastwood on Vimeo.

London-based artist-filmmaker Steven Eastwood talks about:

His East London neighborhood of Hackney, where he’s been for 15+ years, and the evolution it’s gone through from dodgy to hipster haven; the divisiveness not only between London and the rest of the U.K., but also between generations, as in Steven and his father, with whom his values vastly diverge, who voted for Brexit and perceives London as intimidating and full of cultural elites, and ultimately wants the country to go back to the way it was; his productive time in the U.S. teaching film at SUNY Buffalo from 2004-07, after a 48-hour interview process (in the U.K. you’re in and out the door in 45 minutes, he said); his evolution as a teacher, which lead him to a Reader teaching post which allows him significant time to devote to his films; the complexities around distribution of art-based films – when and where to release and in what addition;

how his ongoing state in making films is to feel alien, how feels like a stranger to himself when he’s making them; his film Island, which will begin as a multi-channel art gallery installation before its release in late 2017/early ’18 as a feature film, and is about the end of life (literally); all of the complex logistics with legal as well as emotional contracts and the navigation of ethics that allowed him to be a first-hand witness on more than one occasion; how art has always had a relationship with death, but it’s been somewhat taboo dealing with it through film; and finally a story about a harrowing night on a Scottish isle that he and former guest Kysa Johnson shared.

Los Angeles and internationally-based artist Lisa C Soto talks about:

Her Global Child tendencies, which make her itchy to be traveling and/or abroad after she’s in the States for too long; how she misses the culture that one gets abroad, particularly dissemination of information – in the hair salons in London, for example, they’re talking about contemporary art, whereas here it’s about reality show-style pop culture; her growing up in both the south of Spain and NYC, which manifested in her 3 month travel rhythm; the strong lineage of intuition in her mother’s lineage, which gave her the ability to read people’s energy, something she was really good at as a youth, though “as you age your head gets filled with ego and so the intensity of that skill has dissipated, making me rely more on meditation”; her particular love of Ghana, where she has spent a lot of time in, will be returning to and would even consider moving to in the future; and the energy (and chakra) forces which are how she moves through and understands the world and universe (which she is not always putting out as conversational material but is happy to talk about). Soto sees her art works not as installations per se, but as force fields and cloaks.

 

San Francisco-based artist and SFAI professor Lindsey White talks about:

Her Mission neighborhood in SF, where she lives and has her studio just several blocks away (and has rent control both places), and that there are still a lot of great people in its intimate art scene that come as well as go; how her interest in combining comedy and art became an entry point to address complex issues with humor; her collaborations with comedian Ron Lynch, from photographing him to working on a comedy book together, and how her conversations with him have shaped her understanding of comedy; the class she teaches at SFAI about humor in art, which deconstructs and takes an intimate look at many forms of comedy and also includes standup performances, which she participates in along with her students (and MCs); how both artists and comedians are “noticers” of the world, among other things they have in common; comedians who have been important to her in thinking about art, particularly Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller.

Kansas City-based artist, educator and Rocket Grants program coordinator Julia Cole talks about all things Kanas City, including: the housing  and rental markets, which are still affordable, but gentrification is making its presence felt in certain neighborhoods; her public art projects, which she collaborates on with her husband; how living in such an affordable city allows her to take more risks in her art, since she isn’t depending on income from it; how she moved from being a scientist to an artist, as well as her path from England (which she still loves and dreams about) to settling in the States; the perils of working on public art projects, whose pay schedules are unpredictable;  how she’s come to appreciate her neighborhood and community in KC, amid a thoughtful meditation on acceptance and learning to love the here and now; how living in KC means not living in a sealed bubble (politically), which she appreciates; and she talks about her least favorite art expression of art jargon, ‘creative placemaking,’ which she co-wrote an article about: http://www.lumpenmagazine.org/thoughts-on-creative-placetaking/

And here are Julia’s shout-outs to long-term, influential Kansas City artists: Mike Sinclair, Roger Shimomura, Jose Faus, Egawa & Zbryk, Peregrine Honig, Glenn North, Cary Esser, Jim Woodfill, Warren Rosser, David Ford, Sonie Joi Ruffin, Miki Baird, Marcie Miller Gross, Albert Bitterman, Gloria Baker Feinstein, Mark Southerland, Erika Nelson, Jorge Garcia Almodovar, Judith G. Levy, Dave Loewenstein, Anne Austin Pearce, Marcus Cain, Archie Scott Gobber, Barry Anderson, Susan White, Laura Berman, Caitlin Horsmon and Charlotte Street Curator in Residence, Lynnette Miranda

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Las Vegas-based artist and museum director Alisha Kerlin talks about:

The arc that led her to be in the 2010 Greater New York show at MoMA PS1, and subsequently how that changed her career, including working at Greene Naftali Gallery; the social anxiety of being in the show, while also feeling honored to be included with so many artists she deeply admired; the opportunities she received from being in the show, including the solo show she had concurrently at the gallery Real Fine Arts; dealer Zach Feuer coming into the show at Real Fine Arts and buying all Alisha’s paintings, leading to a solo show with him, allowing her to cut down on her day jobs and spend a lot of time working in the studio; how getting an artist-in-residence led her initially to Las Vegas, and within a few days she realized she probably wouldn’t want to go back to Brooklyn; how ultimately it was more satisfying to get the residency gig at UNLV, five years ago, than it was getting into Greater New York; what it’s like living and working (as interim director of the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV) in Vegas for the last five years, including buying a house and having a kid;

And in the follow-up conversation, Alisha talks about how even though Greater New York was huge in giving her opportunities, including leading to the artist-in-residence gig and ultimately moving to Vegas, the show for her is the least interesting thing to talk about, and how she is excited and inspired by discovering unfamiliar, veteran artist’s work, which comes with her current role at the Museum; the importance and influence of her former teacher at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Michael Brakke, who started the school’s artist-in-residence program and was hugely influential on generations of students, among them Alisha and Wade Guyton.

In part 2 of 2, Kysa Johnson talks about:

Why she and her family left NYC for Los Angeles, and how she’s come to like L.A. after some initial concerns of leaving New York, including hating to drive; how she doesn’t drive in L.A., but takes the bus and Lyft (not Uber); the finer points of Lyft surge charging; what she hates about American culture, including its classism and judgement of the poor and worship of the rich (after having lived for several years in Glasgow, which she loved and didn’t want to leave but had to because her visa ran out); artists’ day jobs, and the perception around them from others in the art world; her own day job working as a designer for Fashion Week shows, which she had to leave behind as a gig when she left New York, and isn’t sure what she’ll do should she need to her well dry up in L.A.; some reflections, as a former Mormon, that she had on the conversation with ambivalent Mormon Casey Smith; taking the bus, which she insists people are taking, is a great equalizer and finds bus-goers to be very respectful; her time in Glasgow, with its vibrant art and music scene, affording her 2nd hand connections with members of both Franz Ferdinand and Belle & Sebastian; the self-deprecating humor of the Scots (which leads to a brief final (perhaps) analysis of the “P”-word (‘practice’)), and how she considers she might move back there after her youngest child is in middle school; and she points out that artists are well-suited to be activists, because of their perseverance, stamina and playing the long game.

In Part 1 of 2, Los Angeles artist and activist Kysa Johnson talks about:

Her roots in Mormonism, and how its very patriarchal structure led her to rebel, fighting with teachers and eventually, along with her mom and brother, leaving the church; the various platforms and outlets for her activism, and how donating money, signing petitions and watching protest-based movies gave way to attending the initial protest in L.A., the Women’s March in Washington, a protest at LAX airport, artist political group meetings, phone calls to congress, and more; how her “being active” was a necessary reaction to the extreme change in the political landscape, and how protests – boots on the ground — matter because the visibility and solidarity of resistance is a key arm of resistance that lets those in power know that you’re angry, and then that you’re still angry ; the phone calls she makes as a constituent, which she scripts beforehand since she gets stage fright (and her stage fright in general, which causes her some lost sleep before artist talks, etc.; how after the election (presidential), for a few weeks in the studio everything felt ‘ridiculous, pointless and inconsequential,’ and  so she pivoted to ‘what can I do today’ to address the new climate…and the research that she uses for her art translated to her research for political action; her top picks for movies about protest, most notably Selma, Gandhi, and Trumbo, the latter of which is especially appropriate because it’s about artists/cultural figures being resisters; her series of ‘Terrible Roman Emperors’ paintings, echoing the fact that there are certain characteristics of a terrible leader that repeat throughout history; how she feels that visual artists have a niche and a platform to visually communicate information that is digestible in such a way (to the opposition) in order to create a shift; Kysa defines the difference between art that is beautiful (dark, sublime, etc.) and pretty (only for the eyes), and how one of her favorite movies, Amadeus, represents that dichotomy; how one is best served in their activism/actions by picking the thing that they’re most interested in addressing, because everyone is wanting to do something different.

In the outro, I share some insights from the article, How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage

Providence, R.I.-based artist and RISD head of sculpture Lisi Raskin talks about:

Her former residence in Brooklyn Heights, which was made possible by her aunt and uncle, who ultimately were her biggest patrons – through contract negotiations and more – and made it possible for her to live a long stint in New York; the staying power it takes to exist in the art world, which she acknowledges in her coming from a privileged background (and later in the conversation emphasizes the question: ‘what do you do with your privilege?’); a basic description of her getting her job as head of sculpture at RISD, and her roots in teaching at Columbia University in grad school and then getting hired right out of grad school; the serendipitous success she had at Columbia, including the intellectual and political alignment, the boom time it was in and the great people she got to work with as well as be mentored by, including Jon Kessler, Heather Roe, Coco Fusco, Mark Handelman and Kara Walker; her way of artmaking, which involves setting up challenges and rules to be broken, allowing her to be in a state of not knowing, and in this light we have a rather extended debate about the use of the word ‘practice’ (my biggest pet peeve word on the show); her non-hierarchical approach to both artmaking, as exemplified in her rock band as well as in a show she collaborated with a team on at Bunkier Sztuki in Krawkow Poland; and we finish where we started, with commentary on gentrification generally, and specifically in Philadelphia and Providence, her former and current homes, on responsibility gentrifying and being a good steward, not a colonialist.

 

L.A.-based artist and recent S.F. resident Maysha Mohamedi talks about:

What she likes to listen to in the studio (over and over) while she’s working on a body of paintings; her time in SF, where she started her art career, met her husband and had two kids before leaving for L.A. (where she’s been since August ’16); her switch from a PhD in neuroscience at UC Davis to art; her aversion to critical conversations about her work, which started in grad school and didn’t end until after she was showing; we have a long exchange about abstraction (mostly thanks to my taking so long to ask the question I wanted to ask), and she clearly articulates her objective- of getting her viewers to feel emotions, to be moved,when they see her work—and she uses the analogy of music, specifically Nina Simone, that she aspires to move her viewers the way Nina Simone’s music moves her; how her parents have been supportive of her as an artist in their own ways, such as her dad making a custom studio-sitting bench for her; her origin story of when she decided to become a mother, something she’s ‘always’ wanted to do, and why; she weighs in as a parent on those who aren’t parents, and (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) how she’d like to lord her superiority of being a parent over non-parents, for the time-being at least; and she explains how when she’s in the studio, the only thing she’s thinking about his her work—no exceptions.