San Francisco-based artist and filmmaker Jonn Herschend talks about:
The Thing Quarterly, a 10-year-old, subscription-based project of customized book-inspired artworks/objects he co-runs with Will Rogan; it was launched with Miranda July’s pull-down window shade, which read, “If the shade is down, I’m not who you think I am;” The Thing has been so successful that there are two full-time and one part-time staff; Herschend describes it as an alternative route for art to be disseminated into the world, that it comes directly to your house (or office), which was perhaps the main ingredient that has brought so much attention to the project over the years; Dave Eggers’ project, a custom essay he wrote for a shower curtain; how he self-identifies (if he has to), and the dynamics of having a good conversation with a stranger; the lack of art education in describing the wide gap between contemporary art (& the arts in general) to the mainstream; his time living in S.F. (since ’93), from the Bohemian days of The Mission, through two tech booms and the rise of the ‘tech bro,’ entitlement, and how he resolves to remind himself that he was part of an earlier phase of gentrification of The Mission, and now he’s just experiencing another, later phase…and how he’s sympathetic because it’s the only way to not become pissed all the time; how his biggest problem now is Uber drivers (he’s been hit twice), who are actually people who live out of the city but come in to pick up rides; how he grew up with a front-of-house/back-of-house perspective in terms of entertainment and attractions, which led him to a documentary on the move/renovation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Stories from the Evacuation – which features a surprise twist; where he is with his filmmaking: he’s self-taught, and used a real casting director for the first time (instead of Craigslist) for the SFMoMA film, and he may or may not make a feature-length film at some point in the future, since there are obvious benefits to making films for an art audience as opposed to making more marketable films for a much wider audience, and how for now he’s happy to be in the in-between space of the art and film worlds.
Los Angeles-based artist Claire Colette talks about:
Leaving San Francisco (the Mission neighborhood) after 10 years by essentially being priced out; her various perceptions about SF, including the fact that she still has friends who live there and goes back to visit and insists that not everything is over–that it will take a lot to beat the arts community there–it’s not just going to go away; how she has supported herself, including thru grad school, bartending as well as working at art galleries and non-profits, and the pros and cons to each job; her grad school education (Mills College in Oakland), which she chose with intent, and her undergrad, the for-profit Art Institute of Los Angeles, which she chose on her own naively because she didn’t know enough about the school/quality art institutions generally, until she got there, and wound up making the most of it despite its critical limitations (including rounding out her education by taking more classes before going to grad school); the benefits of what more “sophisticated” schooling has been for her, having also taken classes at the SF Art Institute; her bartending, both in SF and L.A., how she prefers to work at bars that are more connected to artists/the art scene so she can be herself, the difference between bars during the week vs. over the weekend (which applies to ‘every bar ever’), and the pros and cons of it (pays well, but it’s a service job), and how ultimately neither bartending nor gallery work appears to be sustainable long-term (of course, a classic dilemma for most artists); how she believes that every artist should work in a gallery for at least six months, to see how it’s run on the other side; how she’s managed to sell her work both through shows and directly to collectors out of her studio, esp. out of grad school, even more recently–having been in L.A. for just two years; her arrival at abstraction, which is sourced from thought experiments and is rooted in everything from the existentialist philosophy and religion of her Catholic French early-upbringing, to science fiction, specifically Ursula Le Guin; and how she’s come to realize that, even having worked in activism, that her artwork in poetics and thought experiments through abstraction is still very important to her–she recognizes the futility in each, and yet that there needs to be room for each as well (we both acknowledge that it – activism, abstraction and the market, anti-capitalism, art as object – is, as a whole, problematic), and that the solution is not to stop painting/making art.
Los Angeles-based artist Hilary Pecis talks about:
Her exodus from San Francisco to L.A. in 2013, when many other artists and creative types left SF because of its skyrocketing, prohibitive cost of living; the ‘perfect storm’ (even though she doesn’t like that term) that led to the massive change the city has gone thru that led to so much exodus,; her gradual welcoming of the more home-bound lifestyle of L.A. as compared with her and her husband’s life in SF, when they ate out and went to bars often, a lifestyle that had them out of their apt. much of the time; Mt. Shasta, where her dad and stepmom live and she visits regularly, which is also home to Lemuria, an occult-associated ‘lost continent’ whose legend is kept alive in the area and prompts visits from spiritual questers; her role as a registrar at a major Los Angeles gallery: what it entails (logistics of shipping, storage, condition reports and client communique re: artworks) and its biggest challenges, including when works arrive damaged; one complicated scenario that had to do with assessing blame — for a painting with a puncture through the canvas — among the person sending the work, the shipping company, and Hilary’s gallery…a scenario that’s still unresolved since around the time she started at the gallery three years ago; how 80% of her job is arranging artworks’ shipping to clients, and the irony that no matter how expensive the artwork they’ve purchased, they don’t want to pay for shipping at all, so wind up going cheap as possible (FedExing a $100,000 painting, for example); her stress-relievers for work (audiobooks and running); the complex sentiment of an artist’s ‘entitlement’ when working in an environment that is so supportive of its artists; the conversations she has with her husband (a full-time artist) and how they inform her perspective as an artist in relation to having what she refers to as a “real grown-up job;” the dramatic change she experienced at Art Basel Miami between 2007, her first time, to 2009, post-crash; her current, work-related dynamic with Art Basel, and the significant sums her gallery has at stake in the fair since it’s such an immense financial commitment to participate on that level; and her studio time, including the pros and cons of having an in-home studio, and how her son Apollo may not have become her perfect studio assistant yet, but occasionally his own (Lego) projects can allow her a couple extra hours of studio time.