The Art Assassin

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang

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Chapter 55: ASSASSINATION: Matt Jones, Artist Represented by Buia Gallery

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Matt Jones in his Bushwick studio, February 2009. Photograph courtesy of Kadar Brock.
Matt Jones: The Oracle, 2007-2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 96 by 72 inches. Courtesy of Matt Jones and Buia Gallery.

THE ART ASSASSIN strikes again with his second hit here. This one is a lot more fascinating and perhaps difficult as interviewing a close friend has much emotional meaning in my heart. Alas, I hope that you have a blast reading this one.

Matt Jones, who is a young artist with a developed and mature style, is represented currently by Buia Gallery, one of the hippest and most cutting edge galleries in Chelsea. With his provocative style, Jones has a brilliant craftsmanship that combines the personal subject under the magnifying glass of an impersonal technique which has a unique fingerprint within the contemporary art world that tends to be cookie cutter.

THE ART ASSASSIN decides to drop in and chat up a rather nice storm with Jones (who is a close friend of Kadar Brock, another New York artist whom I will be interviewing later).

For more information about Matt Jones’ work for purchase, contact Buia Gallery at (212) 366-9915 or at

Here are the details of the official hit on Matt Jones for the record:

qi peng: How did you get interested in art during your early years? Which things attracted you to entering this world?

Matt Jones: Drawing was a way out of boredom as a kid.  My mom told me that when I was two years old I started drawing all the time. The thing that was attractive then is attractive now: direct expression.

qi peng: Who are your biggest influences from an artistic standpoint? Were there any memorable experiences during your time at Cooper Union School of Art and Yale Summer School?

Matt Jones: Martin Kippenberger, Francesco Goya, and Edvard Munch are the most important art historical figures to my practice currently.  Josh Smith‘s current show at Luhring Augustine is a big help, too.

At Cooper I had a series of great professors that nudged me along my path, Doug Ashford, Bobby Bordo, Stephen Ellis, and Jacqueline Humphries. The two greatest influences on my work from that time were David True and Drew Beattie.  I went through several stages of figuring out who I was and what kind of artist I wanted to be.  The professors at Cooper were completely supportive and challenging.

Stephen Ellis exploded at us in his class the day after the Armory Show weekend in 2000.  None of my classmates, including me, went to the Armory and he let us know how irresponsible he thought that was.  The following year I was in his class again and had a full Armory report for him, most of us did.  None of us wanted to be scolded like that again.

Drew Beattie in particular kept feeding me information, things to read, shows to see.  He was and continues to be very inspirational.

David True admitted after I had graduated that when I first started taking his class (a morning class) he’d look at the individual studio visit sign up sheet hoping I’d give him a break and he cursed as he saw that I’d signed up for 9.00AM again.  The next slot filled in was for 11.00AM.  I completely benefited from his mentoring and only feel vaguely guilty for getting him up two hours earlier than he would’ve been getting up otherwise.  He always showed up with his game face on and braved through the coffee fueled morning hours only slightly begrudgingly.

Sam Messer was incredibly helpful at the Yale summer program.  His attitude is fantastic.  Very open, very expressive and free.  He’d suggest things and get you working without you ever knowing he was helping you at all. He’s a master.  Even more than that it was the environment.  Total rural setting with all of these eager young men and women willing to do whatever to get the creative juices flowing, to share ideas.  It was the most intense summer of my life to date.

qi peng: How did you get into touch with Vanessa Buia, who represents your work at her Chelsea gallery?

Matt Jones: Vanessa and I met over two pitchers of McSorley’s Dark at Sophie’s (a bar on East Fifth Street in the East Village) with Kadar Brock.  She visited my studio (a studio I shared with Brock Enright, dubbed Terror Mansion due to it’s unsavory history and appearance) in late 2004 and put on an exhibition of my work with Kadar’s in 2005 called Human After All.  I’ve shown at Buia Gallery ever since.

qi peng: How has exhibiting there help to develop your style, your subject matter, and your visualization of your paintings/works on paper within the white box gallery setting?

Matt Jones: It’s strange – I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought about this.  It’s good to have a gallery, it focuses you, it’s slightly unbelievable (who ever thinks they’ll have a gallery to show paintings in, really?!), it’s totally expected (I do!), and utterly amazing to see your work on the wall at a beautiful gallery in Chelsea.  It gave me a new kind of confidence, a sort of justification for the life style I wanted.  It felt like I was official – “now I’m a real artist” sort of feeling.  Maybe it felt like everything got more serious.  Of course that energy changes into something else and progresses.  It takes on new forms.

qi peng: Your recent drawings from 2009 are a mixture of pencil on paper or marker on paper. Are you attracted to vibrant and surreal colors along with patterns? Also how are the viewers to relate this new series to your large scale paintings? What do you hope to achieve within this current series?

Matt Jones: I’m attracted to all sorts of colors!  I don’t know that I understand color.  It’s interesting and tricky and difficult and fun to even attempt to get it.  Patterns.  Kadar and I were in my studio tonight talking about patterns and the different levels of patterning I’m involved in.  The dots in the background, the pastoral scenes that repeat and end up being squiggles, the stripes, the jungle, etc.  I’ve recently started painting contact sheets from the photo shoots I do for the paintings – so, 15 portraits will be on the same canvas running an emotional gamut creating an emotional pattern (as well as an imagistic one). It’s very exciting for me in the studio right now.

Drawings are usually work meant to inspire the paintings or to figure out things for the paintings.  When I get stuck I fill sketchbooks and then start making larger drawings.  Drawing is a way out of boredom and uncertainty.  The colors, I’m using AD Markers for the first time to try them out. Trying a new material puts me out of my comfort zone and that’s when my creativity and imagination get a bit more freedom to roam wild.  I don’t know what those drawings are yet.

The pencil drawings are of new people and old favorites – an expanded universe.  They’ve sat through one of my photo-shoots.  The sitter holds a card that has drawings of a very expressive cartoon cat and the cat has different expressions on his face.  The sitter mimics the cat’s expression or uses this expression as jumping off point, and I take the photo.  The shoots can get pretty goofy because it’s sometimes embarrassing for most people to open up like that, to have the attention focused on them.

Then I play with the photo in Photoshop and use the new Photoshopped photo to start drawing.  The drawings lead to paintings. I think about painting the cat emotion sheet all the time.  It’s inevitable.

The new work is bringing in aspects of the recent past work and finding the patterns within them.  It’s curious that I started using patterns for the backgrounds of the paintings, to go behind the image and it ends up that I’ve been interested in different layers and conceptions of patterns all along.  It all seems more complex and makes more sense to me.  At the same time.

qi peng: I was struck by your paintings when I first saw your show “Everlasting” last year and thought that they were large silkscreen paintings. When I dug deeper and found out about the painterly technique behind the first impression, I was touched profoundly by the use of what seems to be a “impersonal” technique of looks like high-contrast photography and/or silkscreening to rather personal subjects which include your friends. How do you balance these concerns between the personal life and the imagery from mass media? Do your themes include the concept of celebrity and perhaps its deconstruction?

Matt Jones: I need to work with powerful imagery.  That’s why I use the emotion-card.  That’s why the photographs are broken down the way they are.  The image needs to act like an icon, a powerful icon for happiness, sadness, excitement – iconified emotional experience.  This allows me to spend my time figuring out which powerful image, which colors, what kind of marks will be made because the image takes care of itself.  Selection of the right canvas becomes important.  I got a great deal on these pre-stretched pre-gessoed linen canvases with tacks on the side.  The weave of the linen is thick, something I imagined Kippenberger painting on.  I have stacks of them. I paint and paint so that they pile up.

The impersonal is the initial image making technique, the use of photography and Photoshop.  It’s all pretty impersonal.  Everything’s impersonal if you don’t know the person.  The paintings should feel like I know the person, or that the person is known and not generic.  You could know this person.  Maybe you do. Sometimes I say there’s no meaning as to why I use the people I use in my paintings.  That’s bulls—.  I learn so much about the people I paint as I paint them.  They’re usually picked so I can understand something about them even if I don’t know that’s what I’m doing. Their faces become memorized, their expressive qualities are ingrained in my mind.  My relationship with them isn’t the same after I start painting them.  My knowledge of them is different.  It may not even be real – it could be total imagination.  They become these characters in my mind – they become mine and I get to decide what they look like.  It’s never malicious.  They’re deciding what they look like whether they realize it or not. I’m just the guy with the brush.

They deserve to be beautifully painted and grand in scale.  I’m interested in the idea of celebrity, sure, but for the same reason I stopped using comic book sources in my paintings, celebrity isn’t mine.  It’s not my experience, I don’t know it or live with it.  I’m interested in it from a distance that informs how I interact with and appreciate the people in my life that I have profound love for.  The tenderness I treat their images with is something I would never have expected.

qi peng: Any influence from Sigmar Polke, who paints painstakingly what is the illusion of raster dot/half-tone images onto canvas? How would you place yourself within the overall context of art history in terms of pop art, conceptual art, etc.?

Matt Jones: Polke is a big influence, yes.  When I was at Cooper I read every book I could find concerning his work.  I identify with his attitude, too.  He wants to make these paintings, right? And he wants them to have a look, a very specific look, so he uses the techniques he’s explored to get that look.  I want to paint my paintings – the painting of them is the thing, and I want them to have a certain LOOK.  I want the image to be legible, I want it to have a certain amount of power and clarity.  All of these ideas serve each other and with the right balance serve to make the best painting one can make.  Polke is very good at this.

As far as history is concerned and my place in it: I think about this from time to time – I’d guess that most artists do.  I don’t know if it’ll really matter in the end.  I want as many people to experience my work as is possible.  I want them to feel the paintings, to get them, to get why they are, to feel and think and enjoy them.

Pop art is influential to my practice.  Conceptual Art, I’ve studied it some and at different times have been more or less into it.  I don’t get involved in institutional critique.  Painting is where it’s at for me.  I want to see really good paintings and add to the pile of great work that’s existed throughout human history.  Paintings need presence.  They need to be encountered as we encounter each other in conversation, as we enter into the lives of those we care about, etc.  We need to build relationships. That’s important.

qi peng: Knowing that you are a huge fan of video games and Guitar Hero, how do you see the world of your artwork impacted by the interactive nature of these types of games? Do you derive any inspiration from Guitar Hero when you paint or draw?

Matt Jones: Guitar Hero takes a specific kind of attention.  It’s very focused.  I don’t play to just f— around. I want to be really good.  It’s like this with all things I take on.  Whenever I get into something I really get into it.  It’s all work and work is good.  I dislike doing things in a half-assed manner and try not to get involved with things that I can’t give my full attention.  Getting good at something lets you get what you want out of it.  Guitar Hero isn’t that different from painting.  There’s a path before you and if you make the right moves you get what you want out of it.  Songs are great for memories, too.  Norman Greenbaum‘s Spirit in the Sky is in Rock Band 2 and it’s one of my favorite songs to play in the game.  I downloaded the track and listen to it on my iPod.  I was listening to it earlier and Jen walks in and says “oh that’s the song Tigger (a male burlesque dancer, or boylesque dancer) dances to dressed up as a priest”.  Now that song has a new memory attached to it.  There are Nirvana songs (especially Drain You) and Pearl Jam songs (Alive) in these games that trigger memories and playing them is like reliving and recreating your memory – participating in in the memory in a new way.  That has everything to do with my painting.  Taking something I know or remember and reshaping it with thought and imagination to develop an alternate version, a different dimensional variant of the original memory or thing.

qi peng: What future direction do you hope to take your work into? Do you feel that the recession will have any impact on your subject matter, studio practice, or the art world in general?

Matt Jones: For now I’m going to keep on trucking.  I really just started after quite a painting dry spell of reading, seeing shows, and playing video games (which was reignited by drawing).  My practice is like that.  I’ll work really intensely for four or five months and then take a month or two off to play video games (usually brought on by me running out of interest in the current body of work or an overfamiliarity with what I’m making and/or a new video game coming out that requires my attention – Diablo 3 will probably do this when it drops later this year).

My hope is that the recession will clear out a lot of the junk art that’s floating around.  You know what I mean, the stuff that makes going to see shows a bummer sometimes.  Walking away from a show thinking “really?  That’s what you thought you should make?”, shaking your head slowly and wishing to go see a movie instead of heading back to the studio, hoping that you can avoid contributing to the superficial landfill you just walked out of.  I don’t think it will impact my subject matter because I’m just starting, I’m just realizing what it is that I’ve wanted to do for so long – finally tying it all together!  Unless the recession tears it all apart again… even then I’d have a blast reassembling it or building something new.  When I was in my break/research/videogame mode I wondered if my paintings would be darker but as you see with the new marker drawings it’s just not the case. It’s all a cycle.  Life is filled with cycles.  Birth, death, repeat.  It’s not restricted to our understanding of life.  It’s even bigger than we imagine, the cycle.  We’re going to see some quality art coming out because we need it now, we demand it.  The recession will be a good catalyst for a rebirth.

qi peng: What is a typical day within the Matt Jones studio like? Do you ever feel that you have to paint out of necessity or discipline or is it mostly out of your emotional willingness to enter into the studio?

Matt Jones: Typical day in the studio: I get to the studio pretty early, 8.00AM is usually the goal.  I assess the situation, see what I’ve got to do, turn on NPR (which I listen to all day unless it’s a weekend and then I have to turn it off from noon to 4.00PM because I can’t make myself like or listen to Jonathan Schwartz), and get to work.  I paint or draw or edit photos until around 1.00PM. At that time I go to this great Mexican joint for their $5 lunch special, then I come back and continue working until around 6.  That’s a good day.

Going to the studio is habit and need.  It has an affect on me if I don’t go in.  Sometimes I’m really excited to go in and get work done.  Sometimes I get distracted and call it a day early and head to the Met or go for a long bike ride or watch a movie.  It varies.  Really it’s all the same thing or leads to the same thing. Presently I’m in a “can’t wait to go to my studio” mode.  It’s excellent.

qi peng: Any opinions on art magazines, art blogs, or art fairs in general?

Matt Jones: I don’t read art magazines much unless they’re about something I’m specifically interested in, an artist I love, or someone recommends something.  The same with art blogs.  There’s some interesting discussion going on but it takes too much to get involved beyond certain specific issues.  Getting caught up in that would take away from time spent on my work.  I go to a lot of shows and am a member to all the great art museums in the city (I feel like it’s an artist’s responsibility).  A lot of my time is spent with art books (I’m very proud of my collection).  I’ll read anything Schjeldahl or Saltz write.  I like reading Roberta Smith‘s reviews.  Matthew Collings is another favorite.

Art fairs are like working out your eyes, mind, and heart.  They’re all over the place but one really must go to them if they’re in your area.  It’s hard to not attend the Armory Show every year.  There’s just so much one could see.

qi peng: Also, on a more lighthearted note, do you have any favorite musicians, artists, and/or stuff you would like to recommend to us?

Matt Jones: I listen to a lot of 90s rock like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, NIN, Tool, Deftones, Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, etc. and a lot of electronic music like Proem, Aphex Twin/AFX, Clark, AutechreThe Sword is a favorite newer band.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Muse and System of a Down, as well as the Analord tracks. My taste is all over the place.  The music I grew up listening to is still in heavy rotation on my iPod.  Right now it’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

qi peng: Do you have any advice for aspiring BFA or MFA graduates who are trying to make it into the big leagues such as the New York or Los Angeles (or any large city for that matter)?

Matt Jones: Don’t let anything stop you from making your work.  If you let things stop you then you shouldn’t worry about it.  Maybe you aren’t an artist, and that’s totally OK.  Working a 40 hour week at a job and then working six hours nightly after work and all weekend is how you build your practice.  It’s not going to pay for itself.  You have to work and you have to make work.  Your ideas need to continue to develop.  Forget what you think being an artist means and focus on making work.  Go to museums, go to any show you can, read books you like, read books you aren’t interested in.  Try EVERYTHING.  Talk to people about your work as often as you can and LISTEN to what other people say about their work.  Be sincere and honest with yourself and those around you.

There’s a thought that creeps up on me when I doubt myself. I’ve actually dreamed it a couple of times. It’s kind of a perverse evil fantasy:

# I’m 45 years old, sitting in an arm chair with a can of beer.  I’d long since quit making art or thinking about art.  My kids toys lay all over the carpeted room I’m in (I strongly dislike carpeting), there are stains in the floor.  The TV’s on but I haven’t actually paid attention to the millions of hours of TV I’d watched in ages.  There’s this nagging feeling as I sit there that I’ve wasted my life, that I could’ve done something more, participated in a more positive way, jumped outside the normal day to day into the exceptional and I missed it. I f—ed up.

The thought-dream always ends with the beer can hitting the floor and me walking out my already open front door into the brightest light you can imagine.

qi peng: Your fellow Cooper Union graduate artist Kadar Brock and you had some wonderful experiences exhibiting together. What was it like to be amongst friends? Any cool stories you wish to share about the fun times?

Matt Jones: Kadar used to have this crazy apartment in a gated community on Atlantic Avenue in Bed-Stuy.  We formed this group called 1980 (we were all born in and around that date) and we’d have group critiques in our studios and put on these shows with other artists we were friendly with (some from Cooper, some from the Yale Summer program, some from the scene) under the title The Atlantic Conference.  His front room was huge and gallery-like so we invited everyone to hang art and curated a couple of shows there, having a big party to celebrate each one.  We needed people to see our work so it wasn’t just us looking at it all the time.

Having a good peer group is one of the most important things a young artist can do.  Don’t live an isolated life. You need to make work and you need perspective as to how people view what you’re making.  Feedback, you really need feedback.  It’s also crucial to know what other people are looking at, reading, making.  It can only help your practice.

Coming up with the exhibition card for Human After All was a particularly fun experience.  Kadar and I wanted our paintings on the card and we both wanted it to be different/interesting.  We started brainstorming.  The second half of our tenure as students at Cooper we, along with Mark Gibson and Brian Dulaney, discovered we were all Magic: the Gathering players.  We played a lot then.  So on the card we decided to reference that time in our lives (it really was conducive to our imaginations and creativity and even led to some M:TG related paintings in 2002 out of my studio) and we played M:TG for the card with our paintings behind us.  We asked Vanessa to be in the photo off to the side on her phone making some business deals.  She was great at it!  Having the whole team in the photo was important.  Mary Mattingly shot the photo at our request.  She’s a great photographer.  We met at the Yale summer program and continue to be great friends.  It was a totally pleasurable experience.

qi peng: Where are some places that you would enjoy traveling to? Any other art hot spots that you dream of visiting?

Matt Jones: I’d love to do a residency or spend some time in lots of places.  My center now is very much in New York, in Brooklyn.  Jen and I took a trip to Berlin and it was fantastic.  I’d love to spend more time there, make some work there.  Mexico City looks interesting.  LA was a little stressful for a New Yorker but I could see myself getting used to chilling out very easily – the weather is so goddamn nice!  I want to go to Spain, to the Prado.  Ireland/Scotland are big musts for me (Giant’s Causeway).  For a while at Cooper I was obsessed with Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, reading every book I could on the subject, so I’d love to visit Rennes-le-Château and the surrounding landscape.

qi peng: What is your opinion on technology within the art world? Do you think that painting is influenced heavily by the technological advances we have, ranging from the iPod to the Blackberry?

Matt Jones: Technology has and will continue to advance at a pace far beyond our own mental, emotional, and spiritual evolution.  It’s incredibly rapid the way technology progresses.  I think we haven’t caught up with it yet in the art world.  The best use of technology beyond traditional oil on canvas painting that I’ve seen was Josh Smith’s pasted on print outs in his current show. He’s taking slightly pixelated images and printing them very large on one sheet at a time, creating a kind of mosaic, on the surface that from a distance looks like a painted image.  This is further confused by the actual painted paintings and the collage plus paint paintings also in the show.  This is the NES 8-bit system to today’s technology’s PS3, sure – Smith slowed down, took technology that was within his reach and applied it in a way that he understood and that served his practice.

I look forward to what technology will bring to art but I’m not anxious about it. I’m against using technology for technology’s sake.  Where’s the art in that?  That sounds like science and art isn’t science.

I totally love my iPod and my Blackberry.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 54: ASSASSINATION: Alexis Granwell, Artist Represented by Tiger Strikes Asteroid

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Portrait of Alexis Granwell. Courtesy of Facebook and Alexis Granwell.
Alexis Granwell: Navigating the Ecstasy, 2007, foam, wood, wire, fabric, and latex paint, 170 by 170 by 10 inches. Courtesy of culturehall.

The third hit interview turned out to be a rather fascinating view into a different art scene of Philadelphia, a venue that has been considered to be an alternative to the high-powered New York one.

As a short disclosure, I used to live in Philadelphia right before I moved out here to Salt Lake City. This was about four to five years ago and I was working as a documentary photographer (under a different name) then. Do I regret having moved out here? Not really considering that my studio and living expenses are much less substantially in Salt Lake City. However, with the proliferation of wonderful galleries like the F.U.E.L. Collection, Projects Gallery, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, and so on, I sometimes feel slightly jealous of having left the Philadelphia area (although the crime and homicide I don’t miss too much as I was nearly mugged and killed near Tasker Street back in the day) years ago.

Apart from the rambling about my old stomping grounds, this is the proper time to introduce an upcoming, cutting-edge artist named Alexis Granwell whose installations are rather innovative, proving her as a successor to Eva Hesse and Jessica Stockholder. I first saw Granwell’s work in the publication New American Paintings last year and was struck by its utter bravado and profound spiritual medium. By combining her ideas about how painting can be reinvented onto new supports such as foam, she proves herself worthy of invitation to the Whitney Biennial.

Peep and respect her work. She is going to be where we are going to be in five to ten years. For more information about her artwork or background, please check out her website at and if you wish to procure her pieces, please contact Tiger Strikes Asteroid at

So here are the details of this late night hit by THE ART ASSASSIN, a rendezvous straight from the pages of a John Le Carre book.

qi peng: What is the origin of the newly formed artist-run cooperative Tiger Strikes Asteroid? Why such as poetic and Dada-sounding name for the gallery? What the other artists in the cooperative like?

Alexis Granwell: I must give a huge thanks to Alex Paik.  He is the idea man.  A couple months ago Alex sent out an email looking for members to help him start this collective space.  As soon as I heard, I jumped right on the bandwagon. The whole project came together really fast.  I am so thrilled to be a part of this gallery. I have been frustrated with the lack of contemporary art spaces in Philly.  While there is a burgeoning art scene here, there needs to be more happening in this city. I know so many talented artists in Philadelphia who never  have the opportunity to show their work.  We hope to broaden the scene with new local artists.  In addition, we plan to show artists from New York, LA and Chicago.

The name “Tiger Strikes Asteroid” was created on a whim.  We were trying to conjure up an image of something explosive to contrast with the small scale of the space.  I know it is a bit long but I think it works.

All of our art is very different. My installations and works on paper deal with the metaphysical. Alex Paik is inspired by pop colors and videogames.  Caroline Santa draws brightly colored creatures to diagram systems of communication.  Phillip Adams renders charcoal portraits of individuals with anonymous backgrounds (the newest images are taken from Google).  Timothy Gierschiek paints minimalist symbols on collaged panels.  Nathan Pankratz works with collage mixed media and paint to create layered and tactile imagery evoking images of maps or advertisements.

qi peng: How will your experience at Tiger Strikes Asteroid differ from exhibiting at a commercial gallery space? What do you enjoy about the thriving contemporary Philadelphia arts scene as compared to the hypercommercial New York scene? Is there more experimentation in the area?

Alexis Granwell: I think the main difference between running a collective and showing at a commercial gallery is that you are in control of the art in that space. Our goal is not to make money off the work.  We are solely focused on showing the best and most interesting work possible.

The greatest part about living in Philadelphia is that it is cheap…..and I say this sincerely.  We decided one day that we were going to start this gallery and two months later we rented the space.  In Philadelphia, there are plenty of run down warehouses just waiting to be converted into art studios, galleries or music spaces.  Everything here is very DIY and if you are proactive you can make things happen.  I don’t think that this scenario would be as easy in New York or LA.

I would say that Philly’s contemporary art scene would compare to what is currently happening in Bushwick. I am not sure if there is more experimentation happening here.  Each city seems to take on its own aesthetic though and I hope to shake that up a bit.

qi peng: I first saw your fabulous installation paintings and works on paper through the curated journal New American Paintings. How has the exposure through the magazine boosted your career? Would you recommend this or any other juried competition for emerging artists who are in art school, etc.?

Alexis Granwell: NAP did give me some exposure.  It is a well-produced publication and Janelle Porter did a good job selecting artists.  It is beneficial to apply to juried shows when you are first starting out.  I think it is good to be choosy though.  Apply to shows with established curators.  Sometimes one show can lead to another if the curator connects with the work.  Artist registries are another great way to gain exposure.

qi peng: What is your studio practice? How do you gather the materials that you use for the sculptures? How do you fashion the final pieces from the ingredients that you discover like an archaeologist? Do you consider yourself a process-oriented conceptual artist?

Alexis Granwell: My practice often begins with a text.  I am usually inspired by a passage in a book.  Often, the idea that intrigues me is something that is not physically manifested in the world.  I try to find a way to diagram, map or structure the idea.  Most of the text is based on psychology or philosophy.

Many of my materials are gathered on the street by my studio; old branches, foam packaging, broken furniture etc.  This detritus is either caste in paper, wrapped in pulp or painted.  I keep boxes of these fragments and categorize the pieces.  Once I begin working on a sculpture, I can pull out the fragment I need and begin to collage.  I come from a painting background and I guess I organize my forms as painter might organize colors on a palette. The process begins with a specific idea but is heavily material oriented.  I try to remain as open as possible when working.

qi peng: Who are your strongest artistic and/or cultural influences? Do you have any music, artists, books, movies, etc. that you wish to recommend to your fans here? How do your hobbies and interest manifest themselves into your pieces?

Alexis Granwell: I am really influenced by the Arte Povera movement as well as female sculptors of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Some of my favorite artists are Charles Simmonds, Rachel Whiteread, Alan Saret, Eva Hesse, Lee Bontecou and Cy Twombly. I spend a lot of time listening to music.  I feel particularly inspired by the lyrics of Will Oldham who often combines the abject with the beautiful. As for books, I have a whole pile by my bed that I am trying to read.  One of my favorite books is “Night Studio” written by Phillip Guston‘s daughter.  I also just finished “Poetics of Space” which I would recommend.

qi peng: What are some your favorite galleries and/or memorable exhibits that you have experienced recently? Do you have any favorite art magazines, columns, or blogs that you wish to recommend to the readers?

Alexis Granwell: Louise Bougeouis at the Guggenheim was an incredible retrospective.  That might be the best show that I have seen in the last couple months.  My favorite art space in Philly is The Fabric Workshop.  They have a wonderful permanent collection and they bring in top international and emerging artists.  In New York, I like Tanya Bonakdar, Sikkema Jenkins and James Cohan Gallery.  There are so many blogs I have been reading lately but Modern Art Notes is a good one.  I also want to mention that Ed Winkelman has a great article on galleries and representation. Definitely worth checking out.

qi peng: Your sculptures give an illusion of fragility on the surface but an inner strength holding it all together. What concept is behind this or am I way off base?

Alexis Granwell: I would say that is a perceptive comment.  In my work, I use a vocabulary of abstract forms to explore the complex structures of psychological states.  Some of the new work deals with diagrams that depict how the body and mind relate to the state of emptiness. I want these pieces to be seen as still occurring: forms fall apart, forms are rebuilt.

qi peng: Do you consider yourself a feminist? How do you place your artwork within the context of general art history? What is your opinion about female artists and the way that they interact together?

Alexis Granwell: I consider myself to be a feminist but my work is not about making any kind of feminist statement.  I would say my sculptural work is related to early assemblage and late 1960s formless sculpture.  My works on paper seem more related to process art.

qi peng: What advice can you provide for emerging or student artists as they graduate from school? What are some potential pitfalls of having to deal with the gallery system? Any pluses or minuses of having to deal with gallery owners?

Alexis Granwell: I would advise students to make sure that they maintain a community once they leave school.  Start a monthly crit group.  It is important to continue the dialogue once you leave school.  Also, try to find a job that can feed your work in some way.  Or, at the very least, find a job that gives you enough time to work in the studio.

I have been fortunate enough to have good experiences working with gallery owners.  Getting involved with a gallery before you are ready to show your work is a potential pitfall.  It also seems difficult to research and find a gallery that truly is the right match for your work.

qi peng: What accounts for the proliferation of artist collectives within the Philadelphia area such as Vox Populi, Muse Gallery, Inliquid, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, etc.? Is there a strong interaction between artists, collectors, galleries, and the overall public in the city?

Alexis Granwell: Collectives and non-profits do better in Philadelphia because they do not depend on sales to remain open.  There is just not the same kind of art market here as there is in New York.  I would say that there is a good interaction between artists and galleries.  Most of the galleries participate in “First Fridays” which are citywide monthly openings that usually have a successful turnout. I think the combination of artists, galleries and art collectors becomes a bit of a grey area.  I am not sure that I could accurately answer that question.

qi peng: Any hidden treasures at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that you wish to give props to? Does its presence influence how you do your artwork?

Alexis Granwell: The PMA has a solid collection.  My favorite room is the Cy Twombly room “The Battle of Iliam

qi peng: Do you have any cool stories that you wish to share from your art school days at the University of Pennsylvania? What are some of the challenges that you had to face during that time?

Alexis Granwell: Dave Hickey caused quite a ruckus when he came as the visiting critic.  He basically insulted everyone and forced the secretary to continually buy him venti vanilla mocha lattes.  He seemed to be having a lot of fun.

I might be part of a small population when I say this,  but I though grad school was completely awesome.  There was constant dialogue with faculty and students, an amazing library, facilities to produce anything imaginable and most importantly TIME.  I think the realizations and breakthroughs I had in school were due to the fact that I could sit in my studio all day and work.  It is more difficult to get that consistent time now.

The biggest challenge in grad school was that sometime there were too many voices in the studio.  I am perhaps still grappling with that.

qi peng: What are some challenges that artists are going to be facing during this time of economic recession? Does the dampened mood influence your artistic concerns and methods?

Alexis Granwell: I have seen a lot of artists lose gallery jobs or teaching jobs. It is hard to financially stay afloat right now.  For me, I have not had the experience of living off my art and so not too much has changed.  It is disheartening to see so many galleries closing in New York.  But, my hope is that people will just have to become more creative in how or where they show their work. It could also be a positive change to have the art scene less saturated with commercial work.  Perhaps the mood of the recession has subconsciously helped me choose more humble materials but I would say it is not part of the text that I am working with right now.

qi peng: How does your works on paper relate to your sculpture from a philosophical stance? From a visual stance?

Alexis Granwell: Visually the 2-D and 3-D works feed each other.  Both hold the same sort of tension and language.  I like how when I am investigating the language with one medium it will completely inform another medium even when the processes are so different. Each medium seems to bring a new perspective to the problem I am trying to solve.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 53: ASSASSINATION: Anne Becker, Artist Represented by Art at the Main Gallery

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Photograph of Anne Becker. Courtesy of Facebook.
Anne Becker: Welcome, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 20 by 20 inches. Courtesy of Anne Becker.

Having met Anne Becker one day a few weeks ago at the Art at the Main Gallery down near the public library in Salt Lake City was quite a relevatory experience. Her quiet demeanor and powerful lyricism evident within her personality and thus her artwork manifests a rather beautiful outlook in life that continues strongly in the modernist vein.

Her paintings are marked with clear cut yet impassionated brushstrokes with geometric lines and loose blocks of color. With a surefire mastery of the muted palette, Becker can evoke the silent beauty of landscape with the arrangement of the colorful prisms across the densely applied background. Her earlier figurative work incorporate elements of collage to create scenes of the suburb, often with figures placed in the foreground.

I decided to talk with her before her debut at the Art at the Main Gallery in her first group show “Introductions” starting today during the February Gallery Stroll. Guess that THE ART ASSASSIN had a lot of free time on his hands.

If you have any questions about Becker’s artwork, feel free to contact her gallery at (801) 363-4088.

Now here are the details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: Since you are represented at Art at the Main gallery, what excites you most about your first group show there? Which pieces did you select for the show and why?

Anne Becker: Having a show is always exciting, whether you have one painting or forty to show.  I created some new pieces for the show because I like to have something fresh to put out there when I’m having a show.  The new pieces are not collage like the others, but that may show up again in future paintings.

qi peng: What are some of your hobbies that you enjoy? Do you have any music, art, books, etc. that influences the themes and style of your artwork? What fascinates you about the work of Diebenkorn and Scully? Do you see yourself as a painter working in the modernist vein?

Anne Becker: I spend my days painting, doing family things, reading, going to pilates, hiking a little in the summer,  cooking healthy food, and getting together with friends.  Some of my past  work was influenced by a book I read called Suburban Nation.  The book examines how modern suburban planning effects how we live.  I also recently read Johannes Itten and the Art of Color.

What I love about Sean Scully is his ability to paint with such simplicity and elegance.   I first saw one of his paintings in London and it was very powerful for me and I felt his language is one that applies to my own thinking about order, repetition, and beauty.

Deibenkorn is also of some interest to me.  I have certainly spent time looking at his work, particularly his use of color.  Color interaction is a favorite interest of mine and I would consider myself a modernist.

qi peng: Considering that you do a lot of works on paper, are these preparatory studies for the larger paintings or complementary? In what ways do you choose to explore different types of visual vocabularies?

Anne Becker: I don’t actually do a lot of works on paper, although I have a couple in the gallery.  The ones in the gallery were simply me having fun exploring abstraction.

qi peng: Do you believe that working in the studio is result of practice and habit or brute inspiration whenever you feel like it? Do you consider yourself a formalist and how do you incorporate your personal emotions and social concerns into the work itself?

Anne Becker: I have to schedule time in my studio or it won’t happen.  Once I set the time I tell people I am unavailable.  Inspiration comes at the most inconvenient times so I have to take notes and wait until studio time comes.

I am definitely a formalist.  Beauty, or at least visual interest, is something I look for everywhere I go and try to incorporate into my work.  When painting, I try not to get too bogged down in negative emotions or social agendas because that is not my ultimate goal.  If I have something to say, an ax to grind, I might incorporate the idea in a subtle way while keeping the formal aspects of the painting in the forefront.  Matisse said something to the effect that he wanted his paintings to uplift the tired businessman at the end of a hard day.  I like that philosophy and think that moments of visual enjoyment can stir one’s soul in a powerful way.

qi peng: How does being part of an artist’s collective help your relationships and perception of the art world? What do you think about being within the Utah, and specifically the Salt Lake City, arts scene here? Do you think that the monthly Gallery Stroll helps to get people to interact with art better? If so, how?

Anne Becker: Being a part of the collective keeps me motivated to paint and provides some interaction with other artists. It is a great place to try out new ideas too.

Salt Lake City has a lot of talented artists working in varied styles and mediums and it has wonderful resources for local artists.  Gallery stroll is an example.  The more people get out and look at art, the greater chance they will experience something extraordinary and get hooked on the pleasures art has to offer.

qi peng: How does being a mother and a wife within a family help to inform your viewers about the nature of your subjects and your collage-influenced style? When you set to plan a piece, how do you decide to pursue a more figurative or more abstract style?

Anne Becker: My life experiences have everything to do with what I paint.  I paint entirely about my own life experiences and impressions.  My collage-influenced work has to do with the nature of living in the suburbs of America, piecing our lives together, facades, but also emphasizing the formal elements of design and shape as part of what I see in the landscape.
I have been experimenting a little with abstract painting since I received my degree in painting and drawing from University of Utah last year.  In art school we were asked to create mostly figurative works.  Ideas can be expressed just as well,  and in my opinion, sometimes more poetically, through abstraction.   At the moment my work lies somewhere in between.  I love the abstract work of Sean Scully, Brice Marden, Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline as well as the more figurative work of Alex Katz, Milton AveryEdouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard.   I like to look at my favorite artists, steal what I like, mix it up together and try to make something new that speaks of my own experience.

qi peng: How does your undergraduate studies in art and sociology and graduate studies in information science influence what you pursue within your artworks? How do you examine the relationships among people, cities, and the physical environments?

Anne Becker: I majored in sociology my first time around in college and have always been interested in why people behave in certain ways and how societies are set up to perpetuate certain behaviors. The current credit crisis is a fascination of mine and I was painting about the endless sea of houses that played center stage a few years ago before we really understood what was happening. In fact, quite a few artists, photographers, and writers, were finding the endless sprawl an interesting subject.  Our daily lives are influenced by our physical environment.  For instance, in the suburbs, we all drive cars to the store, rather than walk.  This means less human interaction, less exercise, we can buy more because we can put it in our cars, and on and on.  All because of the way our environment has been designed.

qi peng: What are some galleries or recent exhibitions you wish to tell us about? Any memorable experience interacting with other artists’ work in either a museum or gallery setting? Which paintings touched your heart or impressed your mind?

Anne Becker: I look at art whenever I can in galleries, museums, hotels, the airport, wherever it can be found.  I go to New York every couple of years and try to enjoy whatever is on display.  I love to take the docent led tours because you can learn so much.  I recall a wonderful tour I took of the Sol LeWitt exhibit at the Whitney, as well as another very interesting tour of Alice Neel‘s work.  These were both quite a few years ago but they made a big impression.  I love the Rothko room at the Tate in London.  I fell in love with the work of Sean Scully and Cy Twombly in London as well.   I even went to the Marlborough gallery in London and got a special peak at some Euan Uglow paintings which was a big thrill since I was deep into figure painting classes at the time and admire his style.  I could go on and on, but these are some more recent highlights.

qi peng: Do you have any recommendations for emerging artists or students in fine art programs during their programs that would help their careers? Do you have any memorable experiences with your fine art professors? If so, what were they?

Anne Becker: If you really have the desire to paint then you have a chance at being good at it.  People always say they wish they were talented enough to paint.  I don’t think all artists are talented to begin with, rather, their desire to paint  is so strong that they figure out eventually.  I hear it takes ten years to become good at painting, so patience will help too.

One of my professors never shied away from an opportunity to tell you that your painting was not working or that a color choice was not good.  I appreciate that and have learned to constantly question myself while painting.   Another professor did a painting demonstration one day.  He painted a figure and when he had made it just perfect, he began destroying parts of it by putting large globs of paint on, claiming it was too fussed over and not very interesting.

qi peng: What are some of your future plans as a new member as part of Art of the Main Gallery? What is the upcoming direction for your artwork that we can expect?

Anne Becker: Art at the Main is a great place to show small to medium sized work.  My style is unique to the gallery and I am happy to bring something new and different to the collection.  I plan to bring in some larger pieces that will be displayed next door in the Artists Studio on occasion.

qi peng: Is there anything else that you wish to share with us?

Anne Becker: Not at the moment.  Thanks for the interview.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 52: ASSASSINATION: Angela Knowles, Artist Represented by Ugallery and Collegeartonline

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Angela Knowles with dog. Courtesy of Facebook.
Angela Knowles: Royal Laboratory Scientists: Konigslabor Wissenschaftler, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 by 24 inches. Courtesy of Ugallery.

Viewing Angela Knowles‘ brilliant work through the curated online gallery at Ugallery, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, was quite an experience. I decided to find out more about the woman behind her rather unusual paintings which were featured through her portfolio that was being showcased.

I was rather pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Ms. Knowles about her paintings and her underlying philosophy. Ironically, for her radical approach to new techniques on canvas, her ideas are derived from German Idealist philosophy mashed up with her rather cool postmodernism. Very fascinating indeed. Her command of language and literary sources inform the rather surreal yet heavily conceptual artwork she presents to the viewers’ eyes.

If you have any questions about Knowles’ artwork, feel free to contact Ugallery at (888) 402-1722 or at Also you can contact Collegeartonline (CAO) at (602) 318-8224 or at

Now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: You are represented by Ugallery, which is a prominent online gallery located in Scottsdale, Arizona. How did you find about it and decided to apply for representation there?

Angela Knowles: It was totally word-of-mouth. Initially, I turned up my nose at the site because I thought that a majority of the work was under-developed. I did not want to be represented amongst the work that I had seen. After breaking down my judgment, and a friend selling a painting at an art fair through ugallery, I changed my mind. Plus, it’s streamlined for artists.

qi peng: Considering that you majored in both German and art during your undergraduate years at Berkeley, how did your studies impact the themes and techniques within your artwork?

Angela Knowles: Serious students can make their educations fit their concentrations. German and Art Practice allowed for a glorious manifold. Fortunately, the German course offerings converged with my art practice and vise-versa. For example, last semester, I enrolled in a German graduate course, ‘Body in Literature’ led by Claudia Benthien from the Uni Hamburg that dealt not only in the literary realm, but also dedicated largely to the body in art. This class allowed me concentrate on progressing my use of my body and other bodies in my work. Studying Acconci, Nauman, Abromovic, Burden, Horn, Wilke and all the other performance greats provided a great soundboard to what I was doing already and what I would do.

qi peng: What attracted me to your portfolio at Ugallery was the hard-driven
conceptual art that you presented that you presented within the traditional medium of painting. What do you think about the supposed “death of painting” arguments within the contemporary art criticism? Also what is the relationship between your installation work and sculptures/reliefs/paintings?

Angela Knowles: First, thanks for being attracted and looking at my work. Now to the argument:
Life-Death serve linguistically as diametrical archetypes, opposites, extremes. It’s easier to say something and be heard, if you use these types of terms. Honestly, I think it’s a cheap strategy for artists and art critics. Does one’s fame or success rely in the death of another? Why can we not perceive the art world more dynamically?

I consider myself to be a dynamic artist and person, like so many others. Perhaps this is just a euphemism for attention deficit. I distribute my attention to a number of mediums, painting being a crucial one. I imagine and activate my studio and environment as a laboratory; a space that sterilizes the environment for experiment and acts as a platform or neutral zone wherein the gray can unfold in search of more definite, distinct truths. The gray unfolds into a mixture of painting, printmaking and sculptural forms that communicate the lab and its ongoing experiments.

qi peng: What are the advantages of being represented by an online gallery such as Ugallery versus a physical traditional gallery space? What are the disadvantages?

Angela Knowles: I have more control and visibility with Ugallery. With a traditional gallery, I would not have a log of visitors/ interested clients, nor would I have the ease of a click to submit new work; instead, I would have to package and ship it in the flesh. Virtual = lightweight. Everybody’s work looks better in person, right? My work photographs poorly due to my palette, which includes a lot of white and neon colors. Ok, well maybe Peter Halley‘s work looks good, still his neon registers poorly.

qi peng: What are your future plans for your art career? What types of ideas do you desire to execute within an upcoming MFA program?

Angela Knowles: As I told my aunt, when we went to visit SFAI together, “I can not tell you exactly what I am going to do with an Art degree. I DO know that I will be a working artist.” Of course, she was not convinced that I should spend 40k/yr for an undergrad art education; neither was I. Anyway, I wanted a universal education and went to UC Berkeley. And here I am, still making works, even though I did not go to a top-notch art school. Most importantly, I have a big chunk of academia ingrained in my being and now I am on my own until an MFA. Even then, I am preparing to be on my own. I’d love to teach at the college level, but first things, I need to work.

qi peng: What are some of your favorite hobbies? Do you have any favorite musicians, movies, or other artists you wish to recommend to the readers?

Angela Knowles: Long distance running (just ran around Oakland‘s Lake Merritt today), gallery going, taking care of other people’s pets (that’s what keeps me alive), making first, then second talking about art, teaching.

Hmm. favorites. Bay Area artist, musician, James Cordas offers audiences a variety of synesthesiac thrills, even for those that does not see colors in response to sound.

Look up Ehren Tool, Combat Paper Project, Patch Kientz, Ernesto Caivano, Josh Keyes, Sarah Lasley, Kristen Lucas, Allison Smith, Twist,  and the one-man wonder (with a huge work force) Matthew Barney.

I really have been on a female-combatant kick, being that I was in the Air Force for five years and came from a military family; these themes play a lot into my work. So, my favorite movie right now would be G.I. Jane and book, The Few. The Proud. by Sara Sheldon. Also, a German book, Frauen und Waffen -or- Women and Weapons.

qi peng: Noting your fascination with German engineering and science, how do you incorporate those ideas into the individual pieces? How do the separate pieces form a series?

Angela Knowles: My fascination extends beyond lab science in the popular sense into the original definition of science taken from German, Wissenschaft, as a philosophical endeavor. Etymologically, wissenschaft breaks down to wissen- to know/ knowledge & schaft- making or creating, which incorporates all fields, even humanities, art inclusive. The lab scientists are dedicated to Wissenschaft.  In the a show I had called, Komm Das Will ins Königslabor (Come Will in the Royal Lab) , I introduced the lab’s iconography, members, tri-linguism (German, English, & Greek) and specifically one room within the greater lab that housed specimens that documented objects that were used by my stepfather to abuse/form me. I made object-embossments on paper that I made from my military uniforms, plaster plaques for specific objects (2×4, flyswatter, duct tape, Sno Balls) and other installation pieces. During the opening, I performed as the 1-1-a Scientist, spoke only in German, and conducted analysis that I scrawled directly onto the gallery wall under relative plaques. Within the gallery, the lab and its contents exist beyond static artifacts; the visual forms maintain an internal dialogue, between themselves, and externally with the space and the viewers.

In addition to the aforementioned dialogue, German and Greek stress my interest in the integration of languages that heavily guided Western aesthetics and Weltanschaungen, or “world-views.” These languages began to pose many questions and spread perspective. I have devoted my studies to German metaphysics in search for a bridge to the real that preserves the ideal. The dialectic does not have to die with the metaphysician’s loftiness. The Royal Lab scientist persists in exploring the Hegelian master-slave dialectic with a Heiddegarian emphasis on implements (human relationships and objects that inform/shape those relationships).

qi peng: What would you say are your predominant themes and concerns within your overall series of artworks?

Angela Knowles: Conceptual & physical architectures, visualizing the subject-object-subject relationship, organic growth.

qi peng: What are the techniques behind the “Universal Fluid Medium expressionist movement” painting series? How would you place those pieces within the context of art history, say, color field painting like Morris Louis, etc.?

Angela Knowles: I used spray paint, water guns, spray bottles, and anything other tool that acts as a medium for the Universal Fluid Medium, a term coined by Hegel. Basically, it’s paint, a lubricant between us all that cuts friction.

qi peng: What are some of your favorite physical galleries that you have visited and which exhibitions impressed you within those places?

Angela Knowles: Joe ColemanKunstwerk, Berlin
Kiefer Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
Barry McGeeRed Dot, LA
Anniversary Show, Luggage Store, SF
Drawing Restraint, SF MOMA

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 51: ASSASSINATION: Camilla Fallon, Artist Represented by The Barbara Ann Levy Gallery

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Camilla Fallon in her studio. Courtesy of Roberta Fineberg Photography.
Camilla Fallon: Point Lobos Cypress 3, 2007, oil on canvas, 30 by 40 inches. Courtesy of The Barbara Ann Levy Gallery.

Last year, meeting Camilla Fallon, a fellow artist who graduated from the same university that I went to, was quite a beautiful and fascinating experience. When I headed over to her website, I saw some of the most exquisite paintings rendered in mostly black and white with a tinge of grey and blue within the ground of the paintings themselves. It was like looking at the poetry of Robert Frost or humming the last symphony of Schubert. I couldn’t explain what drew me into her world of poetic imagery that captured my feelings as much as when looking at Brice Marden‘s Cold Mountain series over a decade ago.

I was honored to be able to get in touch with the woman who had inspired me to explore the poetry of the sinewy line and curve within my own spray paintings and street art. Her series of black paintings remain a triumph of the forceful imagination in newly explored avenues into the secret world of the psychological caverns.

If you have any questions about Fallon’s artwork, feel free to contact her gallery at

Now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s revealed details of this reputed “assassination”:

qi peng: You are represented currently by The Barbara Ann Levy Gallery. What is the story behind how Ms. Levy found your artwork for presentation? Do you feel that having your work displayed in a physical space differs substantially than an online website? Which do you think works better for presenting art?

Camilla Fallon: I met Barbara Levy when she had a gallery in Chelsea. Unfortunately it got too expensive and she had to give it up. She is in West Palm Beach now.

I had a friend who had a show there and I stopped by to see it, she struck up conversation and we hit it off.

I can’t tell you enough how much my (and all) paintings need to be seen in a physical space. A painting is more than a mere image. A painting has scale, can be architectural in relation to the viewer, not to forget tactile and a good painting has a presence cannot be duplicated.

qi peng: Your work has been featured in two art fairs, the Bridge Art Fair last year through The Barbara Ann Levy Gallery and The Affordable Art Fair through Artlog. What is your opinion on art fairs? Do you think that artists hate them? How does being featured within the art fair context enhance or detract from a career?

Camilla Fallon: Art fairs can be fun if you can go with the flow and not invest too much time or money.

I never expected any substantial exposure there, a gallery is a much better forum. I had a fantastic time in Miami, though. I don’t think one can have great expectations for oneself and one’s career. Looking at art, so much in one place that was not NYC was a revelation. There was a small Picasso collage that blew me away and some huge dreadful painting nearby. All in all a fresh look at the art market and a lot of interesting work. I don’t anybody ever gets a good introduction to an artist’s work at an art fair. The web provides a better forum for an overview and context in terms of how a piece fits into an artist’s development.

I’ve always heard people talk about how some shows detract from their career. I was in a Salon type show in Williamsburg recently and people remarked that nobody took the place seriously, I found the show’s premise interesting and I had my own reasons for participating in a show celebrating John Milton.

(It’s not my aim as an artist to live my life to please the rule makers whoever they may be.)

qi peng: What would you consider to be your studio practices? Where do you derive your ideas from for your paintings, both figurative and abstract?

Camilla Fallon: I am not sure what you mean exactly by studio practice: painting as an art form that one needs to do regularly over along period of time on order to develop? I was schooled in the History of Western Art for the most part my direct influences are from Post- Impressionism and early Modernism, late Monet through Picasso and Matisse, and French Symbolism, German Expresisonism, Mannerism, Titian and surprisingly Poussin. My influences are classic.

There are perceptual influences too, the way I see: response to blinding light, planes shifting in space, my physical body in relation to the scale of paintings I see.

Tactile response to the materials in my studio.

The idea to press stencils into the paint was from an exercise I used in a high school class that I taught making prints with bubble wrap, It was alive, unpredictable and graphic. The kids taught me a lot about surprise. I taught drawing in the AAS program at Parsons in the early 90’s; drawing with its primary aim to draw objects as coherent and readable planes in space. I learned a lot through teaching. I work as a Graphic Designer.

Imaging with Photoshop is a huge influence.

(I have turned a blind eye to Theory. A number of the people I knew stopped making things, and I think were lead down the garden path out of fear of being judged and then attempting to turn Art into an intellectual exercise that was so arcane that it couldn’t be judged) I mention this only to show that it wasn’t easy to stay within the realm of traditional painting. It was a conscious choice.

qi peng: What do critics and/or curators think about your ability to switch between abstract and figurative paintings? In what ways do you find painting each type differ from one another?

Camilla Fallon: Very few of my paintings are abstract in the true sense. They almost always refer to nature in some way or are perhaps symbolic. The History of Black series literally began by covering up psychological imagery that I hated. I wanted to strip down the painting process and make it more about itself and give myself a break. Simplify it. That’s why History is in the title. So I worked with black and white and a little color. The paintings are always evocative. It could be light coming through or something else, and there is often a ground plane or horizon line somewhere that you might not see. They are playful. Most critics and teachers said to me that you can’t do both. I don’t think too many people care about consistency anymore in terms of Art, look at someone like Gerhard Richter. The dealers want consistent work because it’s a product and they like to be able to predict what an artist will do.

This work isn’t abstract or nonobjective like Barnett Newman or Ad Reinhardt.

This is work that is rooted in nature and has a structure that comes from it. If you see it together in one space its all obviously by the same hand. One of the most interesting shows I ever saw was one of Mondrian’s flower paintings. Most people only see the work an artist is famous for. The art world likes a signature—like branding, consistency. Over the years I have moved back and forth and for me the need to make is also the need to let the work evolve. Even though I blur the edges, some people cry foul but I find that for the most the work is not pictorial. I cry foul when I see work that is merely pictorial or illustrational.

In a lot of painting now there is emphasis on craft. There have always been artisans and skilled people who manufacture images. Painting is different than that for me.

qi peng: Whom do you consider to be your artistic or cultural influences on your work? What excites you to enter the studio to execute a piece?

Camilla Fallon: I think I touched on that in


Some of my early was blatantly sexual with precedent from Hand Buldung and Balthus, I did it in way that scared people at the time. I was reacting to a culture that was becoming increasing conservative,

A few years later the stage was different. The provocative was de riguer.

In my studio what motivates me is time to work, space to work in and new materials.

Looking at paintings makes me want to paint, even at Miami Basel and the Jasper Johns show at MOMA. Seeing something that I respond to will set me off.

qi peng: Having attending the Yale MFA program, what are some of your memories and thoughts of your experiences there? Which professors did you find most crucial for your methods and philosophy?

Camilla Fallon: It certainly validated my own perception and experiences as an artist. I worked with the three B’s and a C: Bailey, Bochner, Berthot and Chaet and Roger Tibbets who I TA’d for. At that time I had no desire to painting anything but figures and I was blasted for my blatant sexual content, It was difficult. Another topic for another day. That aside, I learned about painting and the difference between Painting, making picures, ie the mere pictorial. Chaet, Berthot and Tibbetts were very much about the mark, handwriting if you will. Seeing and making understanding complex pictorial spaces trumped the pictorial with all of them. Bailey, I reacted against later. He liked to talk about the order in Poussin, for instance and how the Rape of the Sabines was about order that was cool and formal, therefore it is good. I was like WHAAAAT???? How divorced from the real can one be?

I think he was really off on that one.

But I am grateful that I know how to look for formal structure and the underpinnings of a painting particularly in the representational.

qi peng: What is some advice that you have for young, emerging artists graduating from a BFA or MFA program? Any suggestions for them to find gallery representation? Any ideas for how they should conduct studio visits/open studio exhibitions?

Camilla Fallon: The recent gallery scene was a good thing for a lot if people . it was open and young artists had comraderie. The Yale crowd that I knew always seemed backstabbing. I think one needs to cultivate relationships with other artists that are based on mutual respect. As I got older I saw a lot of people burning their bridges. The new crop of artists that I’ve met, the painters, I mean, seem to relate to each other in a positive way. Make your Art and cultivate people who understand it and care about it.

qi peng: In what ways do you think that the economic recession will influence the international art world and the way galleries behave? Do you see a direct impact on the works of New York artists specifically? Is any of your work influenced by the mood or ideas from this recession?

Camilla Fallon: If the pickings get slim and they will in the new economy, people will have to be flexible. Making Art is a life long process. I got burned in the early 90’s when there was a mini recession and the uproar about the NEA created problems for all of us. I lost my studio. It took a few years to get another one. I thought I would lose my mind.

It could happen again.

You have to go with the flow and stay true to yourself. In 5 years the Art World will be a different, Even if comes back, it’ll be different, the preferred type of work—whatever.

qi peng: What is your opinion of the mercurial and quick, rock-and-roll ascent of young artists from obscurity into blue-chip fame overnight? An example is Rosson Crow, who is represented by Honor Fraser. Do you feel that age allows maturity and experience in artistic style which contains a more developed vocabulary? Can young artists be truly insightful or should continued exploration be encouraged?

Camilla Fallon: I don’t think it has much to do with me. I think Rock and Roll fame is more the province of celebrity which is a whole different thing.

qi peng: What are some of your favorite hobbies? Do any of them relate to your studio practice?

Camilla Fallon: Listening to piano music, Schumann, Scbubert, the 3 B’s and some contemporary and trying to play, people see a rhythm and patterns in the work and are comvinced that it derives from that.

I never danced, but I love movement. I did gymnastics and now I do yoga, When I work with the figure which always a favorite I feel that I feel it. When I draw from a model, I feel that weight and posture. I must be intune with the physical body in some way.

It’s funny because in yoga and painting I have to have symmetry around me . If there is something weird on the wall I can’t balance. If I don’t have the right space around my paintings I can’t paint. The painting is like an extention of the room, architectural.

I read a lot which influences my thinking but I don’t see a direct link right now,

I used to read poetry and try to evoke it in some of my work, its been a while.

The History of Black is loosely based on a series of poems. But I’ve know those for a long time, they were written by someone close to me.

qi peng: What is your opinion on juried competitions such as Studio Visit Magazine and New American Paintings, etc.? Do you think that entering and/or winning will help to get critical attention for an artist’s work?

Camilla Fallon: I don’t like juried competitions much. I was in few a long time ago I gave it because it was too much like a cattle call, If its not difficult though I would apply for everything. You have to be able to prioritize. If its time consuming and expensive and you don’t get much out if it, move on.

qi peng: Do you enjoy reading art magazines? Which ones do you favor and recommend to the general public or collectors who are starting out?

Camilla Fallon: I don’t read them much, I look at the pictures in ArtForum see what’s hot.

I enjoy Jerry Saltz’s crticism in NY Mag. I almost never agree with Roberta Smith however. Since they are a pair I don’t know why that is. Some the online blogs are wonderful, ArtCal & Roberta Fallon and Libby Kossoff (Libby Rosof).

(No relation.)

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 50: ASSASSINATION: Mike Long AKA Dipsetmuthaf—–, Performance Artist

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Mike Long AKA Dipsetmuthaf—-. Courtesy of Mike Long.
Performance artist Mike Long at an unspecified public venue gets his groove on in black and white. Courtesy of Mike Long.

I was looking accidentally all over YouTube for some fabulous video clips to provide me a soundtrack while I was writing the interviews last week at the Apple Store (as the interviews are part of a long-term conceptual art project). I accidentally was looking at music samples for rap songs that I had enjoyed and came up on the channel for a Dipsetmuthaf—–, otherwise known as Mike Long who is a Canadian performance and video artist who was not well known yet.

There are some painters (mostly boring) who do a painting a day which has become a cliche but Long does a dance performance once a day which is recorded. According to his blurb, “I made a dance video, almost always in public places, every single day for an entire year…. I am only here to make you smile and hopefully change the way you think about ‘genres,’ show you what honest reactions to music look like on the daily, teach you some stuff, SPREAD POSITIVITY and provide a new addiction for the masses.” Very articulate, both in speech and his footsteps!

If you wish for more information about getting Long’s videos or special requests for design work or dances, please contact him at and he will answer accordingly.

qi peng: Alas, it is most wonderful to meet up with the wonderful Mike Long. Knowing that you did a version of a Black Sheep rap song, are you related to Mista Lawnge from that group? How do you go about crate digging for the obscure goodies that you choose to implement within your performance art pieces?

Mike Long: Amazing that you made that correlation, it didn’t come to me until I’d had that tape for a few years.  I doubt that we are related, but Black Sheep were very important to me as a young Hebrew interested in the hip hops.  Everyone hated that full length too, that’s why I chose a track off that one.  I used to dig crates for about 12 hours a week,  I’d say from about the ages of 13-21.  I have a lot of very amazing friends who like to share music.  My whole life it’s been that way, starting with mix tapes…

qi peng: How did you get the concept behind executing a single dance per day and videotaping all of them? What are some of your signature Mike Long moves that we need to observe within a typical video? Do you go about maximizing your sexual or dance appeal using a combination of moves? Is there any influence of martial arts on some of your wilder dance steps?

Mike Long: I figured I’d get better at dancing if I did it every single day.  Plus I wanted an excuse for being unemployed.  Tai Chi for sure, I do that every day.  I’m not interested in dancing for sex, or for anything else really.  Just doing what I need to do, what I want to do.  I want to dance for burritos.  To eat them, and to perform for them.  Guac can watch.

qi peng: How do you go about researching the proper venues for executing of the public performance? For example, you did your Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings at the Pepper Jack Cafe, so what was the reasoning behind choosing that for example? Do the song have to match the environment at all? Why do most of the outsiders appearing in your videos tend to ignore your seemingly outrageous, Dada-like moves? Is it because the general person is ignorant of awesome art skills?

Mike Long: I got really excited a few times and jumped out the door with a rocking jam, didn’t care about the scene.  Very rare though, those ones turned out to be decent shots and good videos, but not particularly relevant to the backdrop.  I made puns a bunch of times, some more obscure than others.  Dancing to “Paid in Full” at a bank, or “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” at a sex shop, people still don’t even get it.  I get, “where is this?” or people assuming I’m somewhere I’m not all the time.  The observant people aren’t walking around while I’m making videos, or this initiated world that we think exists does not, only a few people really paying attention to what’s happening.  I feel like most of the world is asleep.  Very, very tired world.  They don’t get their vitamins or exercise and they play too many video games and eat too many processed foods to figure out what’s happenin’.


Sharon Jones has played at Pepper Jack twice, that’s why I did that video there.  Ken, the rad dude who books the place, is my roommate as well.  I have good luck.

qi peng: Which artists, music or visual, are the greatest influences on your ingenious craft? For example, how much do other performance artists provide a context for what you do?

Mike Long: Back in the day, I did some real fun stuff that is illegal.  I suppose Guy Debord would have been pretty into some of those activities.  I am a cinephile more than a music snob, that’s for sure.  I wish everyone was into all music and we could share it all like silly hippies, but movies are a singular activity for me.  So is writing!  I just wrote two books, third one is coming.  I’m like Henry Rollins (less macho) but I don’t have any more questions, only silly answers.

qi peng: How did you manage to dance so vibrantly to stuff that is considered to be “undanceable” such as the Wu-Tang Clan? Have you ever gotten in trouble for the “sampling” or for offending the sensibilities of the original artist who looked at your work and was repulsed? Have you ever gotten props from the original artist before?

Mike Long: I’ve never gotten in trouble from an artist, but a friend of mine has!!  About two dozen groups or solo artists have contacted me due to the videos and it has been overwhelming and positive.  I’m able to use a lot of music now for future film/video projects because people are into what I do.  Glass Candy and D-Sisive are super amazing people!!  I just react to the music though, I don’t really think anything is “undanceable” if it’s honest and has soul.  If it’s honest, it’s got soul, you can groove to soul!!

Thanks, and I knew I’d forget something other than an error or two, but I want to say that the Sweet Divines flew me to New york cause they are the best.

qi peng: How do you about choosing the directors for your dance video art pieces? What is the cinematography style or particular shots that you aim for? What is the difference between shooting a video which is based on a hip-hop song versus that of a rock song?

Mike Long: I just work with my friends.  I try my best to make my own shots a mix between Tsai Ming Liang and Bergman (Sven Nykvist was Bergman’s main main on the lens).  Is that pretentious enough?  I will clarify…I want to shoot reality, but closer up, more humane than Tsai, but more removed than Bergman.  But with a webcam.  (laughing now)

qi peng: How did you acquire such a broad knowledge and taste in all varieties of music? Do you ever plan to compile the whole collection of dance videos into one place that your fans can add to their collection? Do you ever hope to have your work exhibited at a major gallery or museum someday as a cultural artifact?

Mike Long: I’d like to do some sort of gallery showing in HelsinkiGlasgow would be nice too.  A few people have approached me, I will have some videos screening on a monitor round the clock at a group show in New York this summer (actually in Manhattan, woah), but I don’t think they want to fly me there.  I was there last year anyway.  I don’t like being the best dancer at a club in New York City, and I don’t want to stay in when I’m there either, so it’s uncomfortable.  Someone else called me the best dancer in New York, so I can get away with that, right?  Also the weed there is not good.

qi peng: Which videos are your personal favorites? Which videos are your surefire masterpieces? Why do you consider them as such?

Mike Long: You know, I always thought Lars Von Trier was a piece of s— for saying that he hated everything that he’s done in the past, until I made 600 videos in two years.  I like the books I’ve written, I have more control over words on a page, but I wish I could re-do the entire project without having the worry of “what do I eat today?” and “what if I die of the flu because I have to go out and dance today and it’s snowing and -30?”  Mainly because I’m a much better dancer off video, and now I don’t care about being too showy, cause I’m not.  I’m showy enough, but not The Scene showy.  I think that the realism comes across, sometimes I lose myself a little too much.  I don’t like any of the videos any more, but I do appreciate the videos that 42 Liberty made for me, especially the MC5 video for “Kick out the Jams” which got taken down,” and the video that Peter Michael Wilson shot, Glass Candy’s “Life After Sundown.”  The ones I felt the most were made in Stockholm, Sweden.  I felt very comfortable there.  The Brogues let me use their song for my first feature because of a video I made there.  My favourite, if I must choose, is Barry and the Remains – “Don’t Look Back.”

qi peng: What is the most controversial piece that you ever achieve? How do you deconstruct the nature of the soundtrack? What is the most difficult piece to dance to? Why is that song the hardest to get the beat down?

Mike Long: J Dilla“F— the Police” in front of a Police station in Denmark.  That is my biggest video, Stones Throw (the record label) commented on another video I made for one of their artists, and they liked that video too…not sure if anything I do is really “controversial” on a grand scale.  I don’t worry about getting it down.

qi peng: What is the story behind your getting tossed out of a shopping mall doing the Black Sheep piece? Does it make you proud that your performance art can provoke such a vicious response from the authorities?

Mike Long: Security guards are the lowest form of scum, and mall cops are the lowest, for sure.  What’s the big deal?  Oh wait, it’s because that mall got f—ed when someone was beat to death outside and it got on camera.  Just protecting themselves, the law and all that.  It doesn’t make me proud that I live in such a stupid world, no.  Almost everyone else likes it, the war I’ve fought is long over.  It’s hard to work up the nerve to do such a silly thing every day, but I’m pretty sure it was worth it.

qi peng: What are some of your favorite movies, music, books, artworks, or cultural artifacts that you want to recommend your Dipsetmuthaf—-ing audience out there? Do you believe that your celebrity will be growing in a positive way that makes society better? Can you dance your worries away? Can you dance to protest the Iraq war?

Mike Long: My friend Sam once said that he believed everyone should be aware of the genocides that took place over the last hundred years or so.  All of them, very important to study these.  Alfred Hitchcock did not have any skill until he shot concentration camp footage and came back a new man with a completely different vision.  There is no success without struggle.  Witness the horrors before you can make beauty, or you are false!  I have a lot to offer in the way of goodness, but I’m pretty sure it’s only going to effect a small sub-section of the population, and I’m very contented by that assumption.  I might do something really huge in the future that gets my presence out to a bunch of new folks, I might not, but only a select group of people are going to get what I’m really about in the end.  I want everyone to have fun all the time, to be themselves, to break the rules because they are only made for the fools, and life is whatever you want it to be.  No one can get in your brain!!  I want to tell everyone that a new perspective changes everything, or can change everything, the ability is there if the thought is there.   Drugs don’t solve problems, but they might be a good idea every once in a while, do your research!  Google is amazing!! Every problem in one’s life can be solved using the tools in that person’s toolbox, no need to buy new ones.  In the end, I feel like this is a very boring world and I’ve cracked enough eggs (although I’m vegan).  I hope to get in front of as many 8 year olds as possible to tell them that they need to save rock and roll, and to also get into all forms of art and music.  Look outside of your backyard, the world is big.  Think about your life on a global scale because you have the ability to effect everyone’s life on this planet.  That is not bullshit, that is real.  Drama and greed, say goodbye.  BE REAL.  Once they get those video games in their hands, they’re gone.  We need to buy back our culture!!

Oh, but movies and books…Iranian/German/Taiwanese cinema, early Hollywood, ’70’s indies.  I love silent cinema as well, it’s too bad that the good stuff is so hard to come by!  I wish everyone would see The Passion of Joan of Arc and The Docks of New York.  The Harlem renaissance was really something, and I dig Sedaris, Murakami and Fante.  The LIBRARY is FREE and wicked cool to hang out in.  EVEN IF YOU’RE THE ONLY COOL KID THERE.  Actually, I want to tell the kids that the world they live is false, get to work on music and new ideas, f— your style.

qi peng: Do you do song requests? If I asked you to “illustrate” my favorite song “Send Your Love” by the Born Jamericans, would you be willing to do and what would be the time frame? Would you like to send me the final results of this collaboration concept mash-up?

Mike Long: You wanna dance?  Send me the tune!!

qi peng: How do you interact with your environment? What is your opinion about public places and being able to act self-expressive in a society which is getting to be more dehumanized?

Mike Long: Take that space back!  It’s yours!  I’ve been doing it since I was very young, getting all rowdy at restaurants and the like.  My mom hates me for being a crazy kid still, ask her.

qi peng: What is the story behind your collaborations with Katie? Who is she?

Mike Long: Katie is a super rad pal I met on YouTube, one of the Kate crew along with K80Blog and KateReadsBooksfancyrants has a crush on Katie and it’s creeping her out, but she’s getting married so it doesn’t matter!!  Lay off, mens!!!

Sure thang!  There’s another Katie:

And K80Blog is cool too…she’s in one of them I think….

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 49: EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Buck Naked, Owner of How’s My Dealing? Blog

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Partial screenshot of “How’s My Dealing” blog using Screengrab!, moderated by Buck Naked. Courtesy of Buck Naked.

Conceptual artist Buck Naked decided to open up a simple and rather function blog called “How’s My Dealing?” His or her stated purpose was, “Artists: Please share your postiive/negative experiences with critics, curators, and galleries. Comments from those with direct experience only, please.” From that straightforward request, Buck Naked’s blog began to explode to the point where it was described by Paddy Johnson, moderator of Art F– City in the following excerpt from her 2008 interview with Hrag Vartanian as follows:

HV: Do you have a guilty pleasure online that is related to the art world? Mine for instance is bad student videos on YouTube.

PJ: Mine is How’s My Dealing, a blog that rates dealers, curators and critics by their reputation and solicits comments from artists on their experience.

HV: Do you check it daily?

PJ: Oh no, it’s impossible to read five million multicolored updates at the top of the blog, none of them with links. It’s pretty annoying but then every once in a while a gallerist will answer claims that they’ve been unfair and it gets really juicy.” (“Art F– in the City, IMing with Paddy Johnson,” Art21 Blog; October 3rd, 2008)

Apparently with this sort of props that Buck Naked’s initial experiment, the blog began to run wild with craziness. Gallerists who saw their reputations on the line began to attack their ex-artists with a polite viciousness that many would have thought that the blog was a record of a divorce court case. Things were flying around like insults and often dirty gossip inked with the core of truth but not UFO’s. It was scary to see how quickly the staff at Freight + Volume shot back responses to a disgruntled “artist” or suspected rival gallery owner. We may never know the actual truth. “How’s My Dealing?” could be the equivalent of The X-Files for the contemporary art world.

Even more enigmatic was the man or woman behind it all called Buck Naked. I decided to try my luck to be the first person to interview this brilliant person who decided to open up a can of well-needed worms and the fascinating responses I received were similar to Zen koans, full of pithy truths like haiku. Out of respect for the privacy of the legendary figure, I decided to leave out the contact information. So here are the details for this exclusive “assassination”:

qi peng: How did the idea for the “How’s My Dealing?” blog come about? Was it in response to a disgruntled artist’s complaint? Knowing that many art professionals consult with the blog everyday like a drug fix to check their reputation, in what ways do you feel that the website is a resource for those who are interesting in buying art or finding gallery representation?

Buck Naked: The blog was created as an art piece.

I did not expect that the site would catch on with collectors, and am happy that it has. The blog will be auctioned when I am finished with it.

qi peng: Once, a few people got you mixed up with New York artist William Powhida. What would be possible reasons for this mix-up? What do you think about art that criticize the way that the art market functions?

Buck Naked: William Powhida has a reputation for institutional critique within the commercial New York art world.

qi peng: What is the most controversial event that your blog got involved in? Do you feel that artists use this blog before they attempt to look for gallery representation? What advice do you have for budding artists who graduate recently from BFA or MFA programs? Would you advise artists that it would be better to be tangled up with a bad contract with a problematic gallery director rather than lose the opportunity to exhibit at a New York venue?

Buck Naked: a. ?
b. No. I don’t know.
c. Take care of your teeth.
d. No answer. Each individual needs to decide what is best for themselves.

qi peng: What accounts for the dishonesty of art dealers in today’s world? Do you think that the economic recession will have a positive effect on art ethics as collectors and curators focus more on the spiritual and cultural value of the artwork rather than its monetary value? What trends are you seeing within the New York area, particularly the Chelsea and Lower East Side and Brooklyn areas?

Buck Naked: a. I don’t know, and would not like to generalize that art dealers are dishonest.
b. I have no idea.
c. Smiley faces.

qi peng: Do you ever fear the revenge that art galleries might take against your blog or you if you were revealed? I do admit that I admire your bold step in making the contemporary art world more democratic in its process and force more art dealers to act transparently. Why is the art world so secretive in its background dealings?

Buck Naked: a. No.
b. Can’t answer briefly. Too many things.

qi peng: What is the dirtiest strategy that you have seen a gallery director do to gain a particular advantage? How was it effective or ineffective for the long term?

Buck Naked: Nothing particular comes to mind.

qi peng: What is your opinion about artists’ cooperative galleries such as Pleiades Gallery and others which offer artists the power to control how their artwork is being handled and marketed? Why are those types of galleries not reviewed in the major art magazines? Why are art reviews based heavily on how much the gallery advertises within the issue?

Buck Naked: a. They are fine.
b. I don’t know. Maybe because they don’t do much advertising, or the shows are not interesting enough?

qi peng: Are there any art conspiracy theories or stories which are worth sharing with the public? What are some of the spiciest stories that you have overheard within the art world?

Buck Naked: [no answer]

qi peng: What is the point of reviewing curators or art critics? Would this be considered a postmodern notion of the idea “Who will watch the watchmen?”

Buck Naked: It is sharing information and experiences, not reviewing.

qi peng: Have you ever attended an art fair? What was the experience like? In terms of rating art fairs, which aspects do you look for? How do you think that art fairs have changed the way that exhibits are curated and artworks are presented?

Buck Naked: a. Yes.
b. Fun. Lots of art, lots of people.
c. Good art, people I would like to meet or hang out with.

qi peng: What direction do you hope to take the “How’s My Dealing?” blog into for the future? Do you find that Blogger is a good hosting website to feature a straightforward tool that people can use?

Buck Naked: I am satisfied with Blogger.

qi peng: How do you want artists to use “How’s My Dealing?” blog for their own career development? What is your moderating style and how do you determine which comments are problematic and not worth featuring?

Buck Naked: a. I don’t want anything in that regard. Do what you want with it.
b. Comments that include insults to a person’s appearance or personal life (with no relevance to professional life) do not get published. Opinions are not wanted. HMD wants facts and first-hand accounts. But some random opinions are too well written and funny not to post (Joao Ribas thread comes to mind). Comments posted are not reflective of my own opinions or experiences.

qi peng: Why do some galleries get a lot more responses and even responses from the gallery owners themselves such as 303 Gallery, ATM Gallery, Bellwether Gallery, Cheim & Read, Claire Oliver Gallery, Deitch Projects, Envoy Gallery, Freight + Volume, Feature, Jack the Pelican Presents, Lisa Cooley, Lehmann Maupin, Leo Koenig, Inc., Mary Boone Gallery, Maccarone Gallery, Michael Steinberg Fine Art, Moti Hasson Gallery, Roebling Hall, RARE, Taxter & Spengemann, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Winkleman Gallery, and Zach Feuer Gallery than other ones in the area? When artists personally e-mail you their comments or post their comments online, do you feel that this forum could be a way of leading into corrective actions for past wrongs? Do you see that this blog is a court of justice in some ways?

Buck Naked: Yes.

qi peng: With the “deathwatch” feature on your blog, how is this a barometer for what goes on within the New York art world? Are you seeing any trends in whether the mass closure of Chelsea galleries will lead to new galleries in other areas of New York City such as the Lower East Side or Brooklyn? Will there is a cultural resurgence in art that takes more risk rather than cater to people looking for mere eye candy?

Buck Naked: [no answer]

qi peng: Would you like to share any gossip, scoop, or cool stuff with blog readers or fans of how art dealers must behave?

Buck Naked: [no answer]

And by the way, it’s definite that Buck Naked isn’t William Powhida either ways. And for those who think that the answers were a bit concise, that is the way it’s going to have to be. Buck Naked isn’t going to cover things up.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

May 12, 2009 at 2:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized