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.

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.

 

Austin Thomas:  “…[I feel that] everybody’s an artist: potlucks and cake and beer making…that’s who I am.”

New York-based artist Austin Thomas talks about: being a ‘gallerartist’ – a mix of artist and gallerist, and the various ways she’s engaged the art world and community through her Pocket Utopia galleries and projects; her experiences both working for and collaborating with artists as a gallerist and artist advocate; her community organizing-oriented public sculpture ‘the perch,’ which will be unveiled in the spring (of 2016); her path to living in Chelsea, despite originally trying to buy a house in Williamsburg; and her upcoming incubation period in which she contemplates her next steps as an artist advocate, booster and supporter of community-building art ventures.