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Wong Ping, Wong Ping’s Fables 1, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong

In this episode of Explain Me, Paddy Johnson and William Powhida discuss the New Museum Triennial Songs for Sabotage. Both Johnson and Powhida agree this show has more of its fair share of bad art but only Powhida sees this as a dealbreaker. Debate ensues. The ad in which Pepsi and model Kendall Jenner create world peace gets a mention.

Lydia Ourahmane, “Finitude, 2018, Courtesy of the Artist Chemu Ng’ok Image via: Hyperallergic


Bobby Anspach’s “Bobby’s World”. Image: Art F City

Last week William Powhida and I spent an enormous amount of time at the Spring Break Art Show. We had so much to say about the show we produced two podcasts and discussed many booths at length. In the first podcast, we give the lay of the land in art fair world (we discuss the character of other fairs, and SPRING/BREAK), identify themes, and get the bad art out of the way. We also collect a few pitches from those in booths, so those who couldn’t attend the fair could get a sense of what it was like. In the second podcast we go deep on a few booths and try to give a more thorough analysis of what we saw.

There are however some limitations to what we can do with a podcast, and one of them is visuals. Handily, Art F City manages those just fine, so in this post I assemble images of a lot of the work we discuss so that listeners have a few cues.  That said, a disclaimer needs to be made: some of...

Hans Ulrich Obrist delivering his keynote at The Armory Show

The line for last week’s keynote lecture at the Armory Show was as long as the speaker’s resume; slated to talk was Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery and arguably the most famous curator in the world. But since Obrist is a fixture at large art fairs, the huge turnout was a surprise. Having watched a few of his interviews online, I worried that the talk would be a pretentious ramble. My fears weren’t entirely unfounded, though no one could accuse Obrist of lacking enthusiasm as he spent well over an hour discussing notions of time, the archive, unrealized projects, and the Serpentine’s recent shows. Central to all of this was his belief in the freedom to experiment.

But Obrist’s talk had limited success in getting attendees fired up, likely because of the curator’s consistent failure to fully elucidate his themes. For example, he described Jean-François Lyotard’s 1985 exhibition Les Immatériaux at the Pompidou as exciting because it happened before the internet was invented, while neglecting to...

Carol Cole, “The Dissection of ANI”, from the series “ANI (Anti-Nothingness Image)”, 1993. Clay, embroidery thread, linen, silk, and satin; 10 5/8 x 13 x 4 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Exciting news: I’ve co-curated an exhibition of Carol Cole’s work and collection at the Weatherspoon with Emily Stamey! This exhibition is long overdue, so I’m proud to have had a part in making it happen. Carol Cole: Cast a Clear Light opens March 3rd and will run through June 17th. If you have a chance to see it, make it happen. You won’t be disappointed.

Press release below.  

Art has been my means of survival. 

Carol Cole states this belief with conviction and demonstrates it with passion. For the past forty years, she has been creating and collecting work that affirms our human need for nurture, our shared vulnerabilities, and our potential for living generously. She calls this art humanist, and finds in it important antidotes to the universal ills of greed, neglect, and...

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Back in January, William Powhida and I recorded an episode of Explain Me on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new admission policy. Earlier that month, the museum known for housing some of the world’s greatest treasures announced its admission price would no longer remain “pay-as-you-wish”. As of March 1st, their suggested admission, $25 will become mandatory for anyone living outside of New York State. Children under 12 get in for free.

Given that there’s less than two weeks until this policy change goes into affect, we thought it might be a good time to release our discussion and revisit the debate. Because what came out of the debate, was not a picture of an institution starving for more funds, but wealthy museum with a board and President ideologically opposed to the free admission policy. Learning this changed my position, which was one initially in support of a change the museum described as an absolute necessity, to boycotting the museum for the month of March. While the admission increase doesn’t affect my cost of admission, it affects that of my family...

It’s 2018, and you are likely starting to think about your taxes. You may also be wondering what’s in the newly passed tax legislation (officially the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” or TCJA) and how it’s going to affect you. Here is some help, specifically targeted for freelancers and creative economy workers.

To be clear, the 2017 taxes you file in the next few months will be based on the rules you already know. In other words, the old tax laws apply to the 2017 taxes you will file this year. The TCJA applies to 2018 and beyond, so this is for your planning for the coming year.

When you file your 2018 taxes (next year), most people will get an initial tax cut (that will expire in 2026), but the wealthy get most of the benefit. People in high-tax and high cost of living areas and those with kids may see their taxes rise. New York City artists with children, this means you. There are a lot of nuts and bolts reasons for this, which is what the bulk of this article is designed to address, but it’s worth spelling out the rationale for these changes....

Installation view, Maryam Hoseini, Of Strangers and Parrots, Rachel Uffner Gallery

On this episode of Explain Me we discuss a disastrous curator conference at SVA titled “Curatorial Activism and the Politics of Shock”, the Miami art fairs, and three shows— “Talon Rouge: Six Mexican Artists Revisit José Juan Tablada and His New York Circle” at PROXYCO, “Johnny Abrahams: Threnody” at The Hole and “Molly Zuckerman-Hartung: Learning Artist” and “Maryam Hoseini Of Strangers and Parrots” at Rachel Uffner.

Links and show images mentioned in the discussion below:

TJ Clark – Farewell to an idea
“Johnny Abrahams: Threnody” at The Hole
“Molly Zuckerman-Hartung: Learning Artist” and “Maryam Hoseini Of Strangers and Parrots” at Rachel Uffner

Installation view, Johnny Abrahams “Threnody”

It’s a miserable day in American history. Republicans have passed a bill that will give corporations and wealthy millionaires massive tax cuts while reducing the services for virtually everyone else. They’ve included enrichment provisions that will benefit the president and senators who have been on the fence, and by lying to the American people. Previously, we’ve had presidents who wouldn’t condone, let alone encourage such actions. But this year, we have Donald Trump in office, a pathological liar, narcissist and mentally unstable dotard intent on leading us off a cliff. Naturally, he’s happy to sign a bill that benefits only him and his rich colleagues.

It’s time Donald Trump resigned. We have yet to see what will make this happen, but I hope artist Rachel Mason‘s video “Time to Resign” plays a part in making that happen. In this video she plays Future Clown, a character that can change the future. The character takes over Trump and splices together his words to produce a resignation speech. It’s the speech we all need and want to hear. Plus, it’s kinda catchy—useful for days like today.

Rachel Mason is an artist has interviewed and corresponded with some of the world’s most well...

Installation view

Billy Grant’s art practice is expansive. He works in virtually every medium from painting, drawing and collage to sculpture, video, and performance.  He collaborates constantly—his best known collaborative effort with the Virginia based art collective Dearraindrop which ran from 2001 to 2009. (Grant was one of three members of the group that included his sister Laura Grant and their friend Joe Grillo, and had originally been part of the collective Paperrad, in Boston.) In short, he is a force.

And that force was on full display earlier this year when he displayed a new body of paintings, in his two-person show with the sculptor and installation artist, Rich Porter at Safe Gallery. Grant brought his characteristic exuberance and obsessive attention to detail in a series of maximalist monochromes, which are created by attaching a paintbrush to the end of a drill. And we’ll experience it again January 19th, when his work is again on view, this time at Real Estate Gallery in a group show curated by Joe Bradley and Jeremy Willis.

This past week, I had a chance to sit down with Billy and discuss his childhood as an arsonist, how Dearraindrop evolved into a...

Michael Dotson, Curves, Installation view, NUDASHANK

Attention Baltimore artists and organizers! Art F City is compiling our second city-specific zine archiving defunct artist spaces. For our first edition, we focused on Washington DC, and for our second we’ll be focusing on Baltimore. That means if you’ve run an art space in the Baltimore area that is no longer in operation, we want to hear from you.  We want your story and your space in our zine. So fill out our survey, put together some pictures (300 dpi is best if you have it) and send it to by January 15th. The full call below.

Look around the sanitized streets of any contemporary city, and there’s a secret, often subversive history at risk of being forgotten. What’s now the nanny’s room in Brownstone Brooklyn might’ve been a tiny gallery in a riotous punk house. An American Apparel could have once been home to a cooperatively-run storefront space. And undoubtedly, those renovated loft condos...

The Museum of Human Achievement’s Trump Babies. Image via: Leslie Moody Castr

In this episode of Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson talk about the 450 million dollar Leonardo Da Vinci of disputed authenticity and the Boyle Heights activists who follow artist Laura Owen’s from L.A. to New York to protest her non-profit 365 Mission while she visited The Whitney. Activists believe the presence of her gallery will lead to displacement. Additionally, we discuss the exhibitions listed below.

Listen to us on iTunes and Stitcher

Didier Williams

Tiger Strikes Asteroid: Didier William, “We Will Win“. Review: A Haitian Artist’s Mesmerizing Eyes

Paddy Johnson failing to hula hoop and draw at the same time.

William Powhida

Charity auctions are a great way to acquire art while supporting the arts organizations you love. So, if you’ve listened to our new podcast, “Explain Me” hosted by yours truly (Paddy Johnson) and artist William Powhida, or would like to see “We’re So Not Getting the Security Deposit Back: A Guide to Defunct Artist Spaces” come to your town, consider bidding in our paddle8 auction. William Powhida has donated a letterpress print (shown above) that will directly benefit the production of our podcast, Richard Kern has offered a butt, Zoe Crosher‘s photograph from her Manifest Destiny Billboard Project is damn near canonical (and missing a bid), and there are plenty of other artists to chose from. The auction ends November 14th at 5 pm, so get your bids in now!

Meanwhile, if you have chance, I spent a bit of time chatting with Paddle8 over text message and the conversation turned out really well. (I was asked who my dream “Explain Me” guest was and decided it was economist Paul Krugman. If any readers have an in, let me know!) The texts are worth checking out, if for no other reason,...

This week on Explain Me, William Powhida and I talk to Kenny Schachter about the art world and it’s problem with truth. In addition to a bunch of talk about the upper tier—Schachter’s speciality—we grill him on the troubles of the middle tier, which he mostly describes as cyclical and thus not as bad as they seem. Tune in for the back and forth on this—we disagreed. We also discuss the market for Yayoi Kusama, Joe Bradley, Israel Lund, and a slew of unnamed middle tier artists trying to make a go of it in an unfriendly market environment.

You can always find the podcast on Art F City, but remember we’re also on iTunes and Stitcher. Also, we have another bonus episode slated to run at the end of the week filled with reviews and news, so look forward to that.

The only thing online opera star (and AFC benefit host) Joseph Keckler needs to complete his persona is a massive following of rabid internet followers he can manipulate for his own evil ends. Today, he came one step closer to achieving AFC’s goal for the performer by releasing a sequel to “Shroom Aria” called “Strangers from the Internet“. In it, he regals his earlier reckless behavior on schrooms, where he invited online strangers into his home but no one came. Several years later, still reeling from the trip, he imagines a scenario in which these same strangers try to break into his house. Keckler casts himself as an out-of-touch lord living in an opulent Victorian mansion who refuses to accept the presence of the rabble—youtube commenters, twitter trolls, etc—to his own great peril. Eventually, reality breaks down the doors. Performer Sheila Plummer (who bears a striking resemblance to Louise Fletcher), and a rag tag group of internet misfits find their way into the mansion and threaten attack. I’ll let the video fill in the rest of the details, but you get the picture. It’s funny and not altogether unrelated to our current political climate. A one to one relationship isn’t meant to be read, but it’s...

Omer Fast installation at James Cohan Gallery

The new Explain Me podcasts have dropped! This week William Powhida and I did more than we anticipated, so there are two podcasts. The first is a discussion with L.A.Times Staff Writer Carolina A. Miranda (also known as @cmonstah on Twitter) about what David Geffen’s $150 million donation to The Los Angeles County Museum of Art means to the institution. We get into the politics of architecture and discuss speculation over where Geffen’s own collection will land. Later we discuss the recent anti-gentrification protests  in Boyle Heights, and how their take-no-prisoners approach has forced one gallery, PSSST to close. Long story short, when it comes to the LA art scene, Miranda is pretty much the most informed human being on the planet. So, we had her on the show. Listen to the podcast below, on Stitcher, and on iTunes.

In part two, “Making Monstrosity Visible in Three Parts”, Powhida and I get...

Thursday, October 5th 6-8 PM
Washington Project for the Arts
2124 8th St NW

Which 30-year-old DC art space got its start by petitioning Mayor Walter Washington to take over a room filled with broken parking meters

Which nonprofit gallery dedicated to women in the arts opened its doors in a former doctor’s office located inside a leaky English basement apartment?

To find out, join us for the release of We Are SO Not Getting the Security Deposit Back; a Guide to Defunct Artist-Run Spaces (DC Edition). This zine is is the first of a series conceived by the NYC-based art blog Art F City, and co-published by the DC-based artist initiative Beltway Public Works with curator Blair Murphy. It documents spaces from the 1970s to the near present, and includes long-running entities like Market 5 Gallery and the Washington Women’s Art Center, and short-term projects such as FLEX, which ran for two days in an unrented ground-floor retail space. Publishing these stories makes visible the role of artist-run spaces in the cultural fabric of the city. As Paddy Johnson...

Good evening! Hello! I started a podcast with artist William Powhida! You read that right. This right here is the inaugural episode of “Explain Me”, an art podcast that talks about the latest art news and exhibitions through the lens of politics, money and the moral of responsibility of artists. To do this, we bring together the point of view of an artist and a critic, a perspective you won’t get anywhere else.

We release a new episode on Mondays of the first and third week each month. We’ll always update the blog with a link, but you can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher.

In this first pod, we discuss Documenta’s massive overspending and near bankruptcy, the closure of Bruce High Quality Foundation University, and a new development along the 7 line describing itself as New York’s best installation. We also talk about a few shows we’ve seen recently in Chelsea: Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins, Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper, Tom Friedman at Luhring Augustine, Franklin Evans at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, Maya Lin at Pace, Robert Motherwell at Paul Kasmin, and Celeste Dupuy...

Irena Jurek, “Dirty Little Secret”, installation view

The idea for Catbox Contemporary had been percolating for years. Founder and artist Philip Hinge hatched the idea of starting a miniature gallery just after he finished grad school at VCU in 2014. The plan was to launch exhibitions inside one of two kitty apartments in his cat tree. But it wasn’t until January 2017 that he opened the gallery in his Ridgewood apartment.

“[In the beginning], people didn’t realize it was in a small space,” Hinge told me. I was no different. When I first saw the photographs documenting Irena Jurek’s current show, I assumed the gallery was in a 800 square foot atrium space. (In reality, it’s approximately 12 inches high and 15 inches wide.) “It’s validating for the artist to feel like they have access to high end real estate,” Hinge continued. “They read like big budget shows, but they’re actually miniature.” Shows, which are not always cat-themed, have included wall to wall wallpaper and carpeting, cut steel sculptures and quilted hangings—all of...

With the news that Documenta14 director Adam Szymczyk has led the massive 50-million dollar budget quinquennial into more than 8 million dollars of debt, it may be heartening to hear that there are other similarly named events that have managed to stay well under budget. Take The Backyard Biennial, which launches tonight (amongst the chaos that is Bushwick Open Studios) and runs through next weekend. According to Patrice Helmar, the organizer of the event, and proprietor of the backyard venue in Ridgewood Queens, the entire show was put on with a budget of zero dollars. The biennial includes the work of over 60 artists and takes place in queens.

When I asked Helmar, an artist and adjunct art professor, why she organized the Biennial her answer was matter of fact. “I had a colleague who was trying to organize a class to see Documenta, but I wasn’t able to afford to go see those things.” Helmar recalled a passage from a book she’d read recently which she paraphrased as, “When the wealthy go on vacation they go on trips around the world. When the...

It’s 85 degrees out right now, but we might as well admit it’s not summer any more. All of which is to say, it’s time to get back to work. As such, we’ll be resuming limited posting next week. By that I mean you can expect the blog to be updated about once a week with reviews and opinion posts by yours truly, along with any announcements of events we’re launching. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I’m continuing to work on a few projects we’ll be announcing soon. I can’t wait for that!

So keep your eyes peeled, and in the interim enjoy the limited posting. I promise to deliver only the best of what I’ve become known for: articles that are full of unfettered opinion, and copyediting errors—typically published at least a day later than I’d hoped.