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The Conversation Art Podcast

Updated 6 days ago

Arts
Business
Visual Arts
Careers
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A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

Read more

A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

iTunes Ratings

189 Ratings
Average Ratings
149
13
11
7
9

Happy this exists but deeply condescending to female guests

By Heart-Heart-Heart-1-2-3 - Oct 12 2019
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Please stop interrupting mansplaining already. Dear god.

Excellent !

By Mount Davidson - Jul 18 2018
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Always insightful and informative. I highly recommend.

iTunes Ratings

189 Ratings
Average Ratings
149
13
11
7
9

Happy this exists but deeply condescending to female guests

By Heart-Heart-Heart-1-2-3 - Oct 12 2019
Read more
Please stop interrupting mansplaining already. Dear god.

Excellent !

By Mount Davidson - Jul 18 2018
Read more
Always insightful and informative. I highly recommend.
Cover image of The Conversation Art Podcast

The Conversation Art Podcast

Updated 6 days ago

Read more

A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

Rank #1: Ep. #223: NYC-based artist Joshua Cittarella

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In the part 1 of 2 episodes, NYC artist Joshua Citarella talks about:

Why he grew disillusioned with the art world vis-à-vis the art market, including his having early success but also being part of the ‘pump-and-dump’ market rise and fall between 2012 and 2015; his collaborations with artist Brad Troemmel - who was profiled in a New Yorker article by Adrien Chen, and in which Citarella was also featured – particularly their online marketplace project UV Production House; his thoughts on social media, particularly his wisdom about Instagram, and how artists should aim to be tastemakers rather than following trends that the algorithms like; his hope in using social media (via Meme culture and more) to take down established structures of the art world, and the subsequent hard dose of reality that followed; untangling the concept, or the presumption even, that an artist is a progressive; and navigating the roles of artist and activist, and where an artist can be most productive.

Aug 11 2018

1hr 7mins

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Rank #2: Ep.#166: Mat Gleason, Part 2: on 'punching up,' gallery visitor etiquette, takes on the CAM St. Louis scandal and Boyle Heights' gentrification, and more

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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.

Nov 19 2016

1hr 16mins

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Rank #3: Ep.#169: Hilary Pecis, Los Angeles-based artist- on leaving a transformed S.F., + her day job as a registrar at a major L.A. gallery

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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.

Dec 10 2016

1hr 26mins

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Rank #4: Ep.#162: Ryan Wallace, Brooklyn-based artist and gallerist (co-owner of Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton)

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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.

Oct 21 2016

1hr 18mins

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Rank #5: Ep.#160: East Village-based art writer Emily Colucci on James Franco's art, Nightclubbing as activism, and her culture blog Filthy Dreams, for "minorities who don't even fit into our own minorities"

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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 Unclaimed 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 Nightlife as Activism (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).

Oct 08 2016

1hr 16mins

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Rank #6: Epis. # 240: "Art After Money, Money After Art"

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Lakehead University professor and Art after Money, Money After Art author Max Haiven talks about: the ‘Dark Matter’ of the art world (coined by Gregory Sholette); the myth of meritocracy in the art world, as well as in his own academia, and the myth that money follows a logic that it always lands in the right places; how he uses art and the art world as a hieroglyph to understand a broader societal set of trends; how he, both as a critic and activist and a private citizen finds artworks with a political, often radical bent, most compelling (and which inform the curation of the work in the book); how some art as we know it is bleeding into forms of activism or agitation that has potential to resist oligarchical politics and economics that are destroying our world and most people’s lives; how art and money (especially finance) have always been connected; how the corrosive results of ‘finacialization’ includes the sense of competition individuals have towards their fellow citizens, leading to a sense of alienation and loathing the Max things we’re only beginning to understand; the way that critics legitimate works as ‘art,’ for better or worse, and his contention that art has the ability to get under the skin of the economy in ways that almost no other approach does; and how artists can make their most important contributions to social movements and social change not as artists, but as citizens.

Apr 06 2019

1hr 40mins

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Rank #7: Ep. #226: Brigitte Mulholland, assoc.director at Anton Kern in New York

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Brigitte Mulholland, associate director at Anton Kern gallery, talks about:

Her early turning points that led her away from traditional art history (and early marriage) and into contemporary art and working at galleries; what she loves about working in galleries in general and Anton Kern in particular, including getting to work with and be at the service of artists, especially Chris Martin, whom she adores; how she’s know at the gallery for handling the toughest calls from clients, including being the one who gets yelled at; the troubled realities of the way some collectors behave, from flirting all the way to virtually demanding sexual favors for them to make a purchase, and how Brigitte decided not to wear a wedding ring because, as her married colleagues told her, ‘it would only encourage them;’ how #MeToo has thus far only affected curators and publishers in the art world, and her skepticism that it will take down collectors anytime soon; how she’s somehow both extraordinarily sensitive AND has a thick skin at the same time, and she thinks you need a thick skin to work in the gallery world; and how for her, it’s ultimately about the art and the artists first and foremost…the sales tend to fall into place.

Sep 15 2018

1hr 3mins

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Rank #8: Ep.# 215: Anna Stothart, director at Lehman Maupin gallery in NYC

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Anna Stothart, director at Lehman Maupin in New York, talks about:

Language used in and around art history, in both gallery and museum contexts including presentations tailored to different audiences, and the reason it took her so long to find her own voice when giving public presentations; how she defines what curators do in terms of taking the academic and the stuff going on in artists’ studios, and meeting them halfway; how she started connecting environmental crises with rises in zombies in pop culture, all leading to her curating a zombie-themed show; the intuitive art (and occasionally science) to curating a show; her fast rise as a curator--- thru ICA Boston, from her entry point as a grad student all the way to becoming a curator, then a year as contemporary curator at San Antonio Museum of Art before being recruited for her current post as one of Lehman Maupin’s directors; and the things she does for the gallery, from artist liaison to filling her colleagues in on new work to negotiating sales of work to museums.

Apr 21 2018

1hr 18mins

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Rank #9: Ep.# 210: "Pretentiousness--Why it Matters" with author and Frieze magazine writer Dan Fox

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Frieze editor and writer and author of Pretentiousness: Why It Matters, Dan Fox talks about:

The English accent in the U.S., which has been called ‘fake,’ and even ‘villainous’; his intention in writing the book to get people, in using the word “pretentious,” to think more about what they mean when they use that word, whether they mean it as an insult or not; people being “pretentious” in film and television, and why people criticize Anglos who mix French words into their sentences; the differences in the way art is consumed and critiqued by London compared with New York art audiences; art goers as described in his book, and we have a rather intense debate about selfie-focused art-goers, particularly vis-à-vis waiting in long lines, as in for the Yayoi Kusama show(s); the complex ways that class functions in the art world (including class barriers for entry), and some of the various reasons that people become committed to the field, and/or lifestyle; and the time when an art duo confronted him in the street after he tore them apart in a review, a scene right out of a Western.

Feb 10 2018

1hr 46mins

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Rank #10: Ep. #179: Lisi Raskin, Providence-based artist and head of sculpture at R.I.S.D., on hierarchies, gentrification and privilege

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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.

Feb 25 2017

1hr 11mins

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Rank #11: # 196: Matthew Gardocki, formerly of Patrick Painter and Mark Moore galleries, on managing a gallery, navigating the market(s), and interviewing for jobs as a father of a 2-year-old

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Along with co-host (and gallerist) Deb Klowden Mann, Los Angeles-based Matthew Gardocki, former gallery manager at Patrick Painter and Mark Moore galleries, talks about:

His decade-plus time working for two long-running L.A. galleries, the different management style of each, how he transitioned from one gallery to the other (they were across the parking lot from each other at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica), and how he became a good fireman (by getting really good at putting out fires); his experiences going to art fairs, both to sell and to sneak in a little travel; we talk about the viability of mid-sized and/or family galleries as business models, vis-à-vis the recent closing of Matthew's last employer Mark Moore; various art world comparisons, particularly mid-sized galleries vs. the big galleries, the big galleries vs. museums, secondary market sales as a way for a gallery to survive (and how the 2ndary market has dried up according to Matthew), and the challenge of mid-tier galleries; how he's looking for gallery work, and what's come up in his interviews, including his availability as a father of a 2-year-old; the reliability (or lack thereof) of collectors making studio or gallery visits; gender bias in the workplace, and finally, Matthew shares a very unusual birth story (of his daughter) that you likely haven't heard before.

Jul 30 2017

1hr 25mins

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Rank #12: Ep. #173: Jennifer Dalton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based artist & co-founder of Auxiliary Projects gallery

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Jennifer Dalton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn artist and co-founder of Auxiliary Projects talks about:

Her Williamsburg neighborhood from numerous perspectives, including a breakdown of some of its sections, the re-zoning that has enabled high-rise development and exceptionally high-priced real estate, the fact that she's been there 20 years, and with her husband owns a row house since 2003 (which she feels privileged to have), from which she's seen the neighborhood go through numerous changes, where artists are moving-whether out of Brooklyn or out of New York altogether-and what, if anything, can be done in response to the intense gentrification; the project Month2Month, which she co-organized and was a lottery-based 'guest living' arrangement in which people temporarily lived in housing deemed either 'affordable' or 'luxury,' and open-to-the-public dinners and the like were hosted there; how by co-running a progressive gallery in Bushwick, she's both part of the solution and part of the problem simultaneously as a culture provider and gentrifier; the 'smoke & mirrors' element of living in NYC: people living large, and possibly living beyond their means in the process; how she's continued to keep a day job over her career, even though there have been periods of a few years where she could have made a living from her work, which turned into a conversation about which artists make a living from their work, and the smoke & mirrors once again applies to artists who she may have thought were making a living, but had some side gig, or family assistance, sustaining them; how she'd rather be a "day job artist" than a "housewife artist;" art fairs, and how she (and we) can alternate between feeling alienated and inspired walking around one, which inspired her "Hello, I'm" piece, stickers with various comments about one's art fair state that Chicago Expo goers wore in great numbers in 2015; how in the moment, art fair presenters always say it's going great, and only admit to it going badly the next year; how the one year she and her partner did Untitled at Miami, they broke even, which is great for a young gallery, but if you count time invested they figured they made 12 cents an hour; "elitism" in its various forms, an exchange inspired one of her images; the 'confidence' game, in terms of selling yourself in studio visits, and how in Jen's experience men are more confident in women in those situations; and we have a spirited debate/concurrence about the use of sales-y words in the studio and in relation to one's art, and because she refrained from using it, we talk about the "P" word at great length, and why she likes it (and I don't).

Jan 16 2017

1hr 37mins

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Rank #13: Epis.# 231: "The Price of Everything" producers Jennifer Blei Stockman and Debi Wisch

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Debi Wisch and Jennifer Blei Stockman, two of the three main producers of the documentary The Price of Everything, about art and money, talk about:

The breakdown of the sales system in terms of democratization; auctioneer Simon de Pury’s line: “you should buy with your eyes, not your ears,” and ignore the background noise, as Debi puts it; buying trends among collectors, and the pros and cons of those purchases; the complications of gifting collections to museums; resources available to artists on the film’s website; the producers’ goals in terms of pulling back the curtain on the art world and getting people thinking and asking questions, and how one personal motivation was not being able to collect a lot of contemporary art they’d been interested in because it was too expensive; how artists (including Jeff Koons) don’t make any money from their work when it sells at auction; the draw of contemporary art around the world that’s been made apparent to the filmmakers through the many countries that have shown interest in the film; the possible reasons why a German refugee, just prior to the Holocaust, owns a Maurizio Cattelan sculpture of an adolescent-sized Adolph Hitler on his knees; and the challenges and thrills of navigating the learning curve of filmmaking over a seven-year span for this ambitious documentary.

Nov 24 2018

1hr 18mins

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Rank #14: Ep. # 191: Tim Schneider, Los Angeles-based writer behind The Gray Market, shining a light on the shadowy fine art industry

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Los Angeles-based art business writer Tim Schneider, creator of­­­­­­­­ The Gray Market blog, talks about:

His nerd roots in the Midwest; "COINs," which stands for "Collectors Only In Name," who tend to be labeled villains for art flipping tendencies, as opposed to collectors such as hedge funder Steven Cohen, who 'plays by the rules' at least as perceived by gallerists, even though he's also been known to flip works himself; his Gray Market blog, which he describes as "peeling back the layers of what we can see  reported…traditionally, and asking: Why are people doing these things? What's the strategy?"; choosing between screenwriting and art for a career, and why he chose the path he chose; how he navigates the art world as a professional skeptic and somehow still get access to the inside, where some of the most useful intelligence is; the prospect of becoming "the Anthony Bourdain of the art world;" his upcoming book, "The Great Re-Framing: How Technology Will and Will Not Change the Gallery System," which he's self-publishing, because it includes time-sensitive information that can't be wasted on the overly long traditional publishing process (the book is slated to come out by June 1st, on the Amazon Kindle platform); and what it's like living in Downtown L.A. right by the Grand Central Market (directly downhill from MoCA, the Broad and Disney Concert Hall on Grand St.).

May 20 2017

2hr

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Rank #15: Ep. # 193: Will Cotton, New York artist, creator of elaborate candyland fantasies, on being grateful for what he gets to make, even when others aren't

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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.

Jun 17 2017

1hr 19mins

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Rank #16: Ep.# 212: MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish, on globe-trotting studio visits and producing on a Massive scale

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MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish talks about:

The immense size of the museum (300,000 sq. ft.), including the football field-sized main exhibition space, and how despite its being three hours from the big cities (NYC, Boston…), it gets tremendous attendance- the parking lot’s full even on weekday mornings; how half of her time is devoted to the road, having conversations w/artists in their studios, and prompting some of them to make work that melds with her exhibition concepts; curating Oh, Canada, a survey of Canadian artists for which she did 400 studio visits across the country over three years, pissing off much of Vancouver in the process (kidding!); working with Nick Cave, whose massive installation was immensely popular with visitors, as well as working with emerging artists at the museum; and she shares the harrowing story of driving to pick up a vintage, cast-iron black-faced lawn jockey for Nick Cave’s sprawling installation.

Mar 09 2018

1hr 27mins

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Rank #17: Epis.# 235: Art in the 21st Century with Nick Ravich of Art21

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Nick Ravich, director of production for Art21 in New York, talks about:

 His approach as both a producer and a director of Art21 artist docs, which are produced in both shorter form as well as longer form on their most well-known platform, Art in the 21st Century, which is broadcast on PBS; the variation in artists’ approaches and responses to being subjects of Art21, and how inevitably they’re often made to be vulnerable, at the least by having a camera on them in their studio for an entire day (if not more); how Art21 survives as an institution, particularly with all of the other video-about-contemporary-art platforms that have sprung up since they launched; the affirmative dynamic Art21 has towards its artists, and how the process of choosing artists works (the artists almost always say yes); a bizarre experience he had with the photographer Kay Grannan when they were on a shoot and staying at a Las Vegas motel off the strip; and Nick launches into an insightful analysis of the differences between podcasts and video in terms of to what extent someone (artists in particular) will open up.

Jan 19 2019

1hr 17mins

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Rank #18: Ep. #181: Kysa Johnson, Los Angeles artist and activist, on resistance and being incited to action since Nov. 2016

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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.

Mar 11 2017

1hr 24mins

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Rank #19: Ep. #172: Provo-based artist Casey Smith on his ambivalent Mormonism, migrating across the country for work, his art, and family

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Provo, Utah-based artist Casey Smith talks about:

Living in Provo, which is also where he went to college at BYU, and how the market there is 3X as expensive as Columbus, Ohio, where he and his family had lived previously; his crisis of faith with Mormonism in its many facets; how his wife has left the church, but he has remained a Mormon for the moment, and how he hasn't been to church in a while (since the Nov. election), primarily because he doesn't want to have to confront fellow churchgoers whom he knows to be Trump supporters, but how he's still well-connected to an active Mormon community (his mother still attends church, though his father left the church years ago), and he at this point he feels like he doesn't belong there; some of the finer points of his observance of Mormonism, including never having smoked a cigarette, done drugs, or drank a single drop of alcohol or coffee, and how in that context, drinking Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew makes you seem like a hard-ass; how South Park's take on Mormonism is surprisingly accurate; his experience at the San Francisco Art Institute, which he was excited about and hopeful for initially, but was marred by his being somewhat blacklisted by some fellow students and even professors, because his Mormonism 'bothered them' (this was in the couple years leading up to Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage prop backed heavily by Mormons); how a number of galleries that he was working with or in conversation with about shows, once they established that he was still a practicing Mormon (and Prop 8 was now in people's social consciousness), stopped communicating with him, and yet meanwhile, the farther his work got away from California, the better he did in terms of shows; his stint in the Midwest, where he got teaching jobs at Bowling Green University, where his wife was also teaching, and then having to leave when the school couldn't renew his year-long full-time contract due to lack of enrollment from the recession; his family's subsequent struggles to get by in the midst of the recession after moving to Columbus, on his very modest adjunct teaching earnings combined with a little bit of family inheritance and how that led him to decide that he had to find "real work," and to change careers from art teaching into a whole other industry; how the "leveling up" in Mormonism is parallel with most role-playing games, including Dungeons & Dragons, which he's been a long-time player of, and merges the two (Mormonism and D&D) in his art; how his wife, Amanda Smith, also an artist, had her career going very well with galleries in San Francisco and New York representing her, but when they had kids she had to put it all on hold; and how he and his family have managed to get by through it all, including, briefly, food stamps.

Jan 07 2017

1hr 22mins

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Rank #20: Epis.# 234: Simon Leung, L.A. artist & head of the MFA program at UC Irvine

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Simon Leung, Los Angeles-based artist and head of UC Irvine’s MFA program, talks about:

His 25-year relationship with Warren Niesłuchowski and Simon’s film, “War after War,” which is about Warren’s nomadic life; Warren’s background as a child of holocaust refugees, thru his experience of May ’68 in Paris, being part of the experimental theater world, becoming a war deserter, to the realities of his moving from place to place and city to city, relying on the kindness of friends and acquaintances who host him; Simon’s circuitous route to becoming a professor, without getting an MFA; what he himself advocates for undergrads who are thinking about grad school; how he compares his status as a UC professor to being a Roman senator, in the sense of his feeling of security amongst the crowd; and his performance piece “Actions!,” which performed at MoMA and then re-performed with a new script at the Hammer Museum (Actions! Adjuncts!), both forms of worker’s theater borne out of Simon’s identification with the museum workers’ strike, and whose scripts came out of his conversations with them.

Jan 06 2019

1hr 21mins

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