New York artist Will Cotton talks about:

His neighborhood of Tribeca, where he and his girlfriend bought a place, and how he’s seeing Chelsea galleries starting to move there; his studio schedule, and how he still allows time to be social and finds the need to be out – including providing face-time for collectors, et al. – even though he’s had gallery representation with Mary Boone since ’99; how he consciously keeps it down to just himself making his work (he does have an assistant, Emily, who handles the desk/administrative duties), because he’s seen artist friends turn into managers more than artists; how he builds his ‘tabletop maquettes,’ and one of his anecdotes in which he got in trouble for the overuse of a root beer waterfall for one his scenes; another anecdote involving discovering something inside one of the cakes from his maquettes, after its long-since dried shell cracked; the genesis of his using live models in his candy scenes, and how that’s both been fruitful and also gotten him into a little bit of trouble for accusations of exploitation; the ‘hedonistic and druggy’ (specifically vodka and cocaine) phase of his life, just prior to starting the candy land-fantasy work that’s become his oeuvre; and his gratefulness for his life in the studio.

In the 2nd half of our conversation with Los Angeles-based provocateur Mat Gleason of Coagula and Coagula Curatorial, he talks about:

The benefits of having interns, and people he didn’t hire because he knew they’d graduate too quickly to even have them start; how he ‘punches up, not down,’ meaning going attacking bigger fish, not smaller ones (MFA shows); why gallery staff at the desk act the way they do, and how Mat trains his staff to act towards visitors, while Deb argues that it’s a service to their community, but that visitors have misconceptions about what gallery staff are doing (not just greeting), and Mat refers to the ‘bozos’ and ‘yahoos’ who come into the gallery and how inappropriately they act; he talks about his litmus for leverage (at openings/parties), the ‘Peter Frank’ point; the obscurity of artists in relation to celebrities (and which Mat put in context of the pyramidal hierarchy); speaking of celebrities, Mat shares a great anecdote eavesdropping on Loni Anderson talking to Burt Reynolds at an art opening (at maybe Ace gallery); his most recent episode of getting in trouble for writing in a recent Coagula issue, and how he needs to report significant episodes even though now that he’s known he’s more likely to be heard from by his subjects; who he’s against in the art world, in particular those who are pretentious, social ‘practicers,’ people who speak to you as a child, and academia; how he taught at Claremont Graduate School not having a college degree himself, to many students’ chagrin, and yet years later students told him how much he told them how it is in the art world; how he realized he was a Foucault-ian after years railing against him; the controversy around the Kelley Walker show at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which Mat has very strong opinions about, including his analysis of the repercussions of the botched artist talk, his hope for change in a private club-culture art world as well as his vehement disapproval of the artist and curator in question; and lastly we discuss the gentrification scenario in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, particularly the area where galleries have moved into commercial spaces (around Mission and Anderson Streets)…Mat, having been a lifelong Angeleno and having friends who have galleries in the neighborhood, offers various provocative but thoughtful angles on the situation, including that the protesters won’t go after the government entities that have brought on the gentrification –that would be biting the hand that feeds them – or big businesses like Warner Bros., which is moving into a big building nearby, so they go after galleries, the easiest target, and how the protesters started getting media attention by doing so, what Mat calls ‘gold’ for their cause.