David Prince, artist, girls private school teacher and owner of Adjunct Positions gallery in Highland Park talks about:

Teaching at a private school in Pasadena, which gives him financial stability, an art community of teachers and even some facilities he can access if needed; the impressive tools the school has, including C & C and 3D printing; how the school, while having expensive tuition (though fairly normal by private school standards), is progressive in its teaching the students to be aware of and even take part in social issues; how he counsels students getting undergrad educations to study something other than art, even if they’re going to become artists, because that background in a non-art education will make them more rounded in the long run; Snapchat, which along with Instagram is the social media of choice for his students, and why he himself likes it as the anti-social media app, free of the pretensions of the curated, manufactured image we use on other platforms; his 2 ½-year stint in NY after grad school at Art Institute of Chicago…he left New York through a combination of his business partner (in a furniture biz) left town, he lost his loft in Williamsburg to condos, and he got a residency out of town; how when he and his sister were looking for a house to buy, he had in mind one with a street-facing garage so he could start a space, which became his Adjunct Positions gallery; the open-ended approach of the gallery, including splitting install costs with artists, which they know going in, showing work throughout the house (the living room, the patio) in addition to the garage-gallery, and the exhibitions not being about showing ‘a body of work’ but a more conceptual bent, and including work that’s been produced specifically for the show; how he focuses on local artists to both support a local community as well as to grow his own network; the scarcity of opportunities in the art world, and how almost all the Adjunct Positions artist are involved in some kind of hustle; how the conversation among younger artists has shifted to include more practical questions, especially how to make a living (while being an artist); how David is more interested in showing artists than in showing “work,” which comes through meeting artists, doing studio visits with them and starting conversations that evolve into a collaborative process; and among other fellow high school art teachers, he appreciates that he has something of a dream job, while speculating that education will be one of the last casualties of the zombie robot apocalypse.

Brooklyn-based artist and gallerist Ryan Wallace talks about:

Living and working in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and how it’s changed over the 17 years he’s been there, and the precarious rental situation he’s in with his apartment building’s future, and a rapidly rising studio rent; how is exhibition is doing (open for another several days at the time we spoke) at Susan Inglett Gallery- about half sold; art that rises quickly in popularity with certain movements, and the many casualties that result amid just a few artists that stick around; the ‘art fund’ collectors who are looking for the quick score, and how their stock-based buying affects the good collectors, and how collecting is not a get-rich-quick scheme;  the gallery in East Hampton that he co-owns with Hilary Schaffner- their program, their schedule (full-time during June-July-August, tapered to appointment only in the winter), his role in the gallery (he goes into a different mode at art fairs), how much that he had to put up to get the gallery up and running initially (about 17k), etc.;  how he wound up in the Hamptons in the first place, and decided to set up shop there; the difference for Ryan being a dealer at the gallery in East Hampton, where it’s low pressure, very educational about the work, and so on, whereas at the fairs it’s all about commerce, which has taught him that you can’t tailor work to fit the market, because ‘commerce and work cross on their own agenda;’ how some local collectors who have come to 50% of their shows in East Hampton haven’t bought a piece until they were in their booth at a fair; the one time representing at a fair was soul-crushing, when he had to do it alone (which was only at one fair so far); and we have a spirited debate about potential conflicts of interest, as an artist and/or a gallerist, including how Ryan, being an outsider for so long, is now pro-nepotism because he wants to support the artist friends in the scene he’s built around his gallery, and how it’s a case-by-case basis in which, as a business, you ultimately make decisions; and yet how as an artist and a gallerist, he tries to stay away from cross-pollinating directly; and we talk about the Hamptons vs. Montauk, the latter of which has had problems with entitlement mixed with ‘vacation behavior’ which has led to a level of revelry that has had the locals up in arms.

Deborah Fisher, New York-based artist and co-founder/executive director of A Blade of Grass talks about:

Her project Cityspeaks, which started as an Instagram account and has become her way of making art during downtimes—waiting for the elevator, while commuting, etc.—since those limited parameters are what she can afford time-wise with her demanding arts administrator job; how it also started by asking herself the question: “what’s the riskiest thing I can do” –  as an arts administratorm how am I going to take advantage of that freedom?; how A Blade of Grass happened to her while she was being an artist; the ‘scarcity art world,’ in which artists do anything they want except value their work, because that ‘value’ comes from gatekeepers and stakeholders, which leads to a huge crisis in worth and validation all the time; how to be an “un-artist,” as described by one of her great influences, Allan Kaprow; how her conversations with her employer, Shelley Rubin of the Rubin Foundation, who had a lot of questions about contemporary art, led to conversations about context, and how art is integrated into everyday life, and ultimately that led to the creation of A Blade of Grass; ABOG’s mission for its fellows, in a sense, as ‘rehearsing for the revolution;’ the realities of participating in change, and how even when accepting funding from less-than-ideal entities, grantees can engage in conversations with them about their objectives, and in so doing, ideally move the needle at least a little bit in the right direction; the analogy between politicians selling message thru stories and artists (or art and ideas people like Deborah) selling projects through their own story concepts; how the sexiness of socially-engaged art is it’s “selling tomorrow” …and what if the conversation around cultural production was making the world a better place? how the types of artists ABOG works with are collaborative, even cultural stakeholders; and how, while on a retreat at a Zen monastery with an alternative approach, she transitioned from “me” to “we,” honoring what she came to realize was her social contract, just as she was transitioning from being a traditional artist to becoming an arts administrator and an artist who doesn’t make things but sees things, as encapsulated in her Cityspeaks project.

Manhattan-based art writer and budding curator Emily Colucci talks about:

Her place on Avenue C in the East Village, and how she’s managed to live in a Manhattan that’s now cheaper in many cases than Brooklyn; the C Squat next door to her place, which has existed since the ’70s and the city allowed them to permanently inhabit if they brought it up to code (which they did), and which also runs the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, which does walking tours of former squats and community gardens and non-profit art spaces in the neighborhood; the heydays of St. Marks Place and the East Village, and how each generation looks down on newer generations’ scenes as not having the same level of artistic relevance; her cultural blog Filthy Dreams, which she founded as a place for “minorities who don’t even fit into our own minorities,” inspired by John Waters’ quote, and for the queer and LGBT communities; writing about (and taking down) James Franco’s show at Pace gallery, which was his attempted version of re-creating Cindy Sherman’s iconic Untitled Film Stills series…why Pace had the show in the first place, what Cindy Sherman’s reaction to it was, plus Emily brings Filthy Dreams’ take on Franco’s history of appropriating Queer culture while simultaneously publicly declaring that he’s not gay; her curatorial projects, including a past show Party Out of Bounds: Nightlife as Activism since 1980 (which was about nightclubs, activism and AIDS), and an upcoming show on Disco’s legacy, and the two years of work that goes into each show, including relying on oral histories from eras where many of its notable participants have passed away; how exhibitions, unlike articles on art, can actually make a tiny difference in exposing people to things and even changing minds; how it’s terrifying at times being a freelance writer, but because she’s allergic to office work, she wouldn’t trade it for anything, and she always has Filthy Dreams to write for when the other gigs aren’t happening, and how even though she knows there are more readers, she always assumes there are two people reading her blog: her mom and her best friend (though she did get to experience what it’s like for your article to get some serious attention, after her piece on James Franco was picked up by Live Journal).

Brooklyn-based artist and activist Ann Lewis talks about:

Her recent move to Greenpoint from Bushwick, where she was kicked out of her live/work loft when the building was bought by two hedge-fund entities; the realities of living in an ever-increasingly expensive New York City, gentrification, and Ann’s experience with it both as a tenant – including negotiating with the owners for a modest settlement that helped with her move out – and as an activist (she was actually protesting at an anti-gentrification rally at the time she received a 30-day-notice warning under her loft door); her concern that New York, Brooklyn in particular, will just continue developing into a mass of suburban sprawl, with nothing that can be done from the ground to stop it, leaving only the hope of the bubble bursting; a deconstruction of New York City government’s complicity in maintaining a corrupt system that fosters unbridled development, to a large extent a system put in place during Bloomberg’s administration; how, with artists being the canaries in the coal mine, we can learn from the past problems of neighborhoods being unstably gentrified by moving into homeowner-dense neighborhoods and collectively investing in them for the very long-term, in hopes of diverting the gentrification train; how she feels we’re seeing change coming out of social activism very quickly now, through social media and greater attention being paid to issues, and how there’s been a big increase in the # of artistically minded people being more regularly engaged in social and political issues via FB and beyond; how her activist work started with street art (stencils) because she felt so strongly about certain issues (Abu Gharib, mass incarceration, etc.) that she needed to start having conversations with anyone who would listen; one of her performance pieces, a protest piece from 2014, in which she spent a month wearing a prison-issue orange jump suit in public, engaging with both strangers and people she knew in conversations about mass incarceration; how when she pushes herself out of her comfort zone, which she does in her performances, learning new things and providing ever more meaningful experiences for those experiencing her pieces; her maze wall paintings, which include subliminal messages contained within them; and she entertains the potential of Detroit as a future home and artist community, should living and working in New York become untenable, though we hope it won’t.

 

Jessica Lynne, Brooklyn-based art critic, co-creator and editor of Arts.Black talks about:

Her home neighborhood of Crown Heights, which has an interesting history of race tensions and more recently of gentrification, both of which she’s aware of, and in her specific section which has many older residents – including those born-and-raised in Crown Heights – she’s always saying ‘hello’ to her neighbors, and how her Southern roots (she’s from Virginia) prepared her to be both respectful of her neighbors and take pride in her neighborhood; her coming into being as an ‘art critic,’ embracing the challenge of filling the void of black art critics initially by latching onto bell hooks as a model, and then by establishing her art journal Arts.Black, which she co-created with friend Taylor Renee Aldridge; how she started having so much more fun on the internet by taking advantage of its open-source nature, transitioning from lurking around certain peers she admired to becoming collaborators and even intimate friends with some of them, a route of connection that social media is now routinely providing; her extremely close friendship with her Arts.Black partner Taylor Renee Aldridge, despite Aldridge living in Detroit, and the way they maintain an intimate connection despite the distance through multiple communication platforms (Lynne’s favorite emoji is the eye roll); the Black Art Incubator project, which she co-organized with Aldridge along with Jessica Bell Brown and Kimberly Drew, and which took place at Recess Arts in SoHo during July and August of ’16, it offered several invaluable workshops (including ‘Art + Money’) and was free and open to the public; and ways that Lynne and Aldridge are working on various ways to bring Arts.Black some income, including Patreon (they’re also currently among the finalists of Knight Arts Challenge Detroit).

Australia-based Social Activist, nomad and technoevangelist Fee Plumley talks about:

Her strange relationship to place, how wherever she is she’s home; the difference in the funding models for the arts in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia; the Tyrany of Distance in Australia, and how difficult it is to bring audiences to your work in remote areas, which are common throughout the country; how she defines herself as an artist, in the context of a non-traditional artistic life that has involved theater set design, designing early mobile phone applications and interactive performances; what her definition of being an artist is, from creating mobile platforms for aps to guided meditation, and how she views her engineering, platform-based work as an exploration of the creative process; how she is admittedly a nomad who has “dropped out”: she’s not an artist trying to build personal wealth and not trying to become part of the hierarchy of the arts/technology world, but enjoy her relationship to this (Australia) lovely country and the planet in general, meet diverse people in diverse places, etc.; the realities of being a bus-traveling nomad, in terms of food (whether it’s generously given to her, or dumpster diving), being both independent, and yet dependent on infrastructures to survive, and the question of safety, which she beautifully articulates in reading a piece from her blog; “how everything in my world at the moment is about how can creative processes and technology contribute towards constructive social change;” how she finds that nomadacy relies on technology, especially for finding relatively safe camp-out spots for homeJames (her bus); her tech consulting for grassroots causes and the people that lead them, which she doesn’t want to charge for, because not only do they not have money to pay her but she also doesn’t believe in the capitalist system; the “Commons” model (particularly active in Norway), in which the land is accessible to the public, something Fee takes advantage of when possibly, but so rarely is; her ongoing project “Hammocktime,” which involves guiding participants through meditations sessions on a hammock, set up wherever, though ideally between two trees, and how it’s a project exemplary of the type of art she makes, which are big projects that are very process driven, which she dubs “the traveling minstrel of interactive immersion/social change arts practice*;” (*her word) and lastly, she reads from her profound opus to life on the road, “5 things I learned from living life as a solo, bus-dwelling, nomadic woman.”

London-based artist and critic Sherman Sam talks about:

His circuitous geographic history, from Singapore to Parsons in Paris to Otis College of Art in Los Angeles, to Oxford to do a history of art degree, finally to London, where he’s been since the late-’90s, and which he moved to because it was the biggest art world he could move to at the time because that’s where he knew the most people; Singapore, where he’s from and still goes back to visit family once or twice a year- it’s laws around gum and drug dealing, its rather modest size (for a country), that it’s one of the fastest growing in the world, and how it’s probably not the ideal place for creative types; characteristics of South Asian (in particular Singaporean) art, which he sees as identity politics-based and morally concerned to the exclusion of object (art) concerns; we talk extensively about Artforum, which he writes reviews for (and is still baffled that he’s able to); how when he writes a review he believes the only people who will read are the artist, the artist’s parents and the artist’s dealer, and the next person who’s going to write a review of that artist’s work; how to test how good a writer you are: by reading it on public transport; how he fell into art criticism accidentally, but feels that all voices – professional writers, historians, curators, artists, fans – should be heard, because there’s so much out there that it needs it; how he was reviewed in Artforum himself, before he began writing for them; how he goes and sees shows in person because he doesn’t trust what he sees online, and that can mean eating up a whole day to see something way across town; how what he does as a critic, by bringing attention to artists and shows, is akin to being a ‘social worker;’ how he favors following galleries’ programs over the course of a year over art fairs, and how he favors art fairs over biennials, because he doesn’t trust curators, who, he says, have an agenda; and how when it comes to his own sensibility, he favors the intuitive in art, and he sees the small abstract paintings he makes as being anti-corporate, in opposition to the neo-Expressionist work being collected by large corporations, which were going on when he first started making abstractions.

Artspace editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein talks about:

His work as e-i-c of Artspace and, since the publisher Phaidon purchased Artspace, his additional role as chief digital content office of both Phaidon and Artspace; how Artspace emerged within months of both Paddle 8 (online auction house) and Artsy (discovery platform), with the emergence of a high luxury commerce space, and how this ecommerce model is in its toddler-hood in terms of growth; and how the art market is lagging behind the audience growth in art; the landscape of Artspace and how its editorial content is the primary source for bringing users to the site; how the big perk of his job is the opportunity to go around the world to art fairs and biennials, being on the ground so he can stay on top of what’s happening in contemporary art; the difference between being a collector going to an art fair (hint: everyone treats you like it’s your birthday) and being a writer at an art fair (when it becomes a trade show); how he convers art fairs, which is like a starting gun going off as soon as you get there, and so he needs to cover, cover, cover, maximizing every single second without really getting a chance to breathe…it was more the “you can sleep when you’re dead” approach when he first started out on the scene; the merits of Belgian collector Alain Servais, who Goldstein describes as an art advisor and a collector combined; how he sees the same people at art fairs over and over and over again, and yet such a large profusion of them that it’s hard to keep straight who many of them are…there are the friends, the sources, the dealers and artist you respect and admire, and then the people you don’t know who they are, but they say hello to him and he says: “hello, nice to see you again;”  the art “market” (small) vs. the art “audience” (immense); how his approach to covering art fairs is to actually cover the art itself, by really diving in and wrestling with each given work (as compared with most coverage which talks about who’s buying what and for how much, etc.); how for many collectors, it’s about the works they buy and what association(s) it gives them access to, including a certain social milieu, as compared with the exceptional collectors who are passionate and uniquely quirky in their own ways; and we talk about his interview with Stefan Simchowitz, the often provocative collector and art world interventionist, who Andrew describes as having a totally worked-out worldview, his business built around addressing the industry’s inefficiencies, and what the fall-out from Andrew’s article was (hint: it was an interesting phenomenon).

New York artist Lauren Seiden talks about:

Living in Chelsea-adjacent Manhattan, where she’s lived in the same studio apt. for 14 years, and how she managed to land the place; how she found her earlier studio several years ago on the Lower East Side through a NYFA ad, which included studio mates who formed a vital art community for her up to this day; how she starting working in galleries at 18, via an internship program through her school; her most recent gallery job at 303 Gallery, where she learned the most, including representing yourself professionally, to question a gallery when they expect you to pay for shipping, and to have a consignment form in place to insure you get paid when work sells; how the more she was working on her own art, the less she wanted to work at a gallery, a frustration she spoke with her then-boyfriend about often (he was an artist who had made a living from his work for 13 years, and would tell her to just quit); how she took the risk to leave the gallery and just make her art, with the help of some sales and a grant, which lasted her a year; how her biggest fear was that when she left the gallery, she wouldn’t have that same urgency to get herself in the studio as when she did have the job, which turned out not to be an issue; how other artists in her community (both intimate colleagues and friends of friends) are making a living mainly from their work, whether via institutional support, living outside of New York via residencies, grants, and/or teaching; how artists who are making a significant income from their work are putting money back into that work, whether it’s materials and/or a bigger studio, etc.; and she talks elegantly about having humility and perspective as an artist, recognizing that it’s a long game, and that you compare yourself to your own work, not to the trends that are ultimately not relevant.