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The Conversation Art Podcast Profile

The Conversation Art Podcast

English, Arts, 1 season, 114 episodes, 5 days, 2 hours, 8 minutes
A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.
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Epis. 360- How to Navigate Downward Mobility as an Art Worker- Valerie Werder, Part 2

In the 2nd conversation with author, recovering art worker and academic Valerie Werder, she talks about: the travails of clothes shopping for her job in the blue-chip gallery, not only how fraught it was but how much it brought up class issues as she moved through the sartorial gauntlet, where her appearance as a frosty, inaccessible object was part of her role; the complicated variations of class when it comes to precarity and poverty, including a culture where those who are cultivating an aesthetic of bohemianism or even poverty are existing alongside those who are actually financially poor, the latter of whom sometimes don’t even have culture on their radar; her fictional and, perhaps, real relationship with the enigmatic character ‘Ted’ from her book Thieves, which is complex in its values, dependency, and deceptions, and which coincided with her own attraction to anarchism and anti-capitalism, and how ‘Ted’ in some ways embodied these tendencies; the complex social roles and hierarchies that Valerie is living within, and the experience of downward mobility while simultaneously being connected with an upper echelon of culture; how transitioning to the hierarchies and bureaucracies of Harvard was fairly smooth and easy after being in the blue-chip NY gallery world; and how while she still sporadically writes about art, she’s for all intents and purposes stepped out of the art world proper. NOTE: in the Bonus episode w/Valerie, she talks all about the very real shoplifting she participated in and is a main feature in Thieves.
5/11/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 15 seconds
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Journalist Bianca Bosker: a ‘normie Philistine’ dives into the art world working for artists, dealers and as a museum security guard in attempt to unravel its mysteries

Bianca Bosker, journalist and author of Get the Picture, talks about: The genesis of her deep dive into the art world - working with gallerists and artists, doing art fairs and galleries with collectors, and doing a stint as a security guard at the Guggenheim Museum – which largely came out of her need to learn whether she could learn to ‘see’ like an artist, as opposed to a ‘normie Philistine,’ as she was called by many (she was also, as a journalist, called “the enemy”); the elitism, opacity and various exclusionary art world rules she discovered from dealers and artists she encountered through her immersion process, and how “dishearteningly little” artists themselves often knew about how the art world works; how parts of the art world use secrecy as part of their survival, to build mystique, among other reasons; how she worked for five different artists in the course of researching the book, but ultimately only wrote explicitly about two – Julie Curtiss and Amana Alfieri – in the book; how Context – everything about the artist (social cache, etc.) EXCEPT the art itself is often overly valued, and something she pushed back against; how she was drawn to working with emerging artists, and wound up working with the painter Julie Curtiss at a turning point moment in her career, in which she was both starting to make a living from her work but also getting bullied on social media for her work’s huge price escalation on the secondary market; how brave it was for Julie to let Bianca so thoroughly into her studio and make herself so vulnerable; and why she got so pumped after making sales while on the floor of the Untitled Art Fair with Denny Dimin gallery, without actually getting any payment for those sales (due to journalistic integrity).
4/6/20241 hour, 6 minutes, 36 seconds
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Valerie Werder turns her intense years working for a blue-chip gallery into an inspired novel, Thieves

This episode features the 1st half of the full episode. To get the full version, please visit:    The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon Recovering art worker and author of the novel Thieves, Valerie Werder talks about: Her entrance into the art world via her demanding position at a fancy gallery in her attempt, as a newbie, to get access and proximity to the art world;  her ability to conform and comply under pressure (in the gallery environment), and the what the flip side of that looks like; what the coercion, that came thru various forms of care and the engendering of a ‘family’ dynamic at the gallery, looked like and how it played out, including through fancy paid meals and credit for fancy clothes so she could look and act the part; how working at a gallery gave her a completely different relationship to language, including the quick turnaround she had to produce, becoming a ‘language producing machine’ in the process; the craft of writing a gallery press release, and how she ultimately became, upon writing her novel, the ‘commodity’ herself that she in turn needed to sell. In the 2nd half of the episode, Valerie talks about: her creative workarounds to promote her book, including using two very different kinds of publicists, and how throughout her professional career she’s been aware of and pushed against the given economic constraints, and how she believes it’s important to be explicit and unashamed about everything from her day jobs to the creation of her (writing) brand; the difference between the mythologizing/branding of artists back in the days of a much smaller (yet cut-throat) New York art world (of Donald Judd, Robert Smithson and Walter De Maria et al.) and the more diffuse, digital world of today, and how in her book she wanted to explore the legacy and imprint of the peripheral art world figure ‘Valerie’ the character who herself was invisible but whose writing, through catalogues and press releases, was/is all over the art world, and in the process the real Valerie the writer becomes a visible figure, a brand herself; the strange relationship she had with her former gallerist boss, whom she became the voice for in press releases and personal emails and even interviews, and how she studied her and had the writings of her voice vetted by the gallerist herself, for which she was valued highly for absolutely being ‘her voice;’ how she wrote her book on an ‘unpaid sabbatical’ from her job at the gallery, in a friend’s cabin in Tennessee, and the complicated circumstances in which she quick her job upon returning from that ‘sabbatical,’ which she told the gallery was an artist residency; her doubts about whether her gallerist employer read her book (Thieves); the actual front desk worker (aka gallerina) protocol employed at the gallery where she worked, as far as how to treat different people who came into the gallery, whether they were VIPs who should be greeted by name (through the gallerina memorizing the faces of those collectors) or lowly artists/nobodies who could be ignored; her experience getting a once-over from a wealthy collector at the gallery, and giving that once-over right back to him; Frank Stella and his provocative artwork titling, and how it somehow wasn’t Valerie’s job to really do research about his work, despite the gallery selling it.
2/24/202456 minutes, 21 seconds
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Epis. 357- Seattle artist Debra Broz on her studio routines, love of work as well as successfully navigating "the feel bad machine" that is Instagram

 Seattle-based artist and restorer Debra Broz talks about: Living in Seattle, where she moved to from Los Angeles a year and a half prior to our call; how Seattle is full of rule-followers who are also anarchists/anti-capitalists; how she found her Seattle studio, where it was important to have decent heat, especially for her sculptures; her reasons for leaving L.A. for Seattle, and some of the lifestyle differences between the two cities, and how welcoming Seattle has been to her as a new artist; how various sites, specifically Colossal and the Jealous Curator, have been huge in growing her art & design-focused Instagram followers; her pacing and general approach towards her IG feed, where she’s made peace with the fact that she can only go as fast as she can go, nor does she want to try and gamify the system, and how, ultimately, IG is a “feel bad machine;” how Instagram has been punishing people who use it to have sales; the “enshitification” of apps (including IG and Tik Tok) and how it’s made our experiences on them so much worse; her sculptures, made from ceramic figurines, which were originally made for American middle-class homes; how the best places to find her sculptural elements are “out in the wild,” i.e. thrift stores, as well as friends giving her objects, which is her favorite way to acquire her materials; the “if we look for what we need, we’ll find it” serendipity that’s a driving force in Debra’s making process; and how the meme, “I didn’t realize being an artist was making the same thing 1000 times until you die,” is a sentiment very familiar to most artists.
1/27/20241 hour, 27 minutes, 1 second
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Zombie Formalism, Debt aesthetics, and AI & Art: New Yorker writer/critic Chris Wiley

Chris Wiley- Artist, New Yorker photography critic, and contributing editor at Frieze - talks about: His fleeing upstate to the Catskills during the pandemic, and what his relative disconnect from the art world and the city has been like since the move (though he still keeps a small apt. in the city); the differences between English and American artists in terms of academia vs. the market; his epic two-part articles on Zombie Formalism, which covered not just the movement as a market phenomenon but also what it’s led to, including economic precarity and eventually what Wiley has dubbed ‘debt aesthetics;’ the term from the Crypto phenomenon that Wiley applies to many artists of Zombie Formalism, ‘Walk Away Like a Boss,’ to describe those who were able to earn a very solid chunk of money over their brief careers, often parking it in real estate for long-term security; how Zombie Formalist paintings were, as he put it, “’fast, fungible and friendly,’ just like what currency is;” artists who have the ‘it’ factor, an authenticity demonstrating they would be making their art no matter what; the great promise of a Universal Basic Income for artists, particularly in the context of a debt aesthetics that virtually forces artists to compromise their visions instead of getting to be weirdos; his current thoughts on the implications of AI, which he’s been interested in for a long time, having a father who was interested in computers and science fiction when he was growing up; how and whether artists will be safe in terms of jobs and sustainability in an A.I.-dominant landscape, and how the art world isn’t ready for the kind of speed with which A.I. advances will affect art; the AI-generated photography of Charlie Engman, who has been making a bizarre and prolific body of work using the platform Midjourney, despite being a ‘technophobe,’ in his own words; the challenged viability of a career as an editorial photographer with the rise of A.I.; and how his article on A.I. and Charlie’s work, in The New Yorker, pissed a LOT of people off, and why.
12/2/20231 hour, 44 minutes, 44 seconds
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Epis: 354- the Art Thief, the remarkable story of art history's most prolific stealer, with author Michael Finkel

Michael Finkel discusses the remarkable story of Stéphane Breitwieser, the subject of his recent book, The Art Thief, including: The genesis of the book project, starting with a three-paragraph article, and eventually turning into a 10+ year-project; the style and methods of theft that Breitwieser and his partner, Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus, put to work; Michael’s favorite Breitwieser crimes; his widely oscillating perception of Breitwieser, from a selfish brat to ‘the best art professor I’ve ever had;’  how Breitwieser protected both Anne-Catherine and his mother by lying on their behalf, but ultimately told the truth to authorities when it came to his own role in the crime sprees; Breitwieser’s Icarus-like trajectory playing out over several years as a result of his increasing addiction to art theft; a teaser of an ongoing plot point related to one of the Art Thief’s main characters, one which may very well be revealed in the soft cover release of the book; and how what Breitwieser and Christopher Knight, the protagonist of Finkel’s earlier book, The Stranger in the Woods, have in common is that they’re extreme outliers who make their own rules.
10/14/20231 hour, 24 minutes, 4 seconds
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Epis. 351- veteran co-host Deb Klowden Mann joins to discuss Money on the Wall, an epic profile of dealer Larry Gagosian

This special episode features return-guest-but-more-co-host Deb Klowden Mann to discuss the recent New Yorker profile of mega-dealer Larry Gagosian. Deb starts us off by updating us on her closing of her eponymous gallery due to multiple health issues, which made the work unsustainable. We follow that update with our discussion of the article, including: Our respective histories with Gagosian and/or his collectors mentioned in the article; how Gagosian’s decision to allow the profile may be because it humanizes him to the audience, but also, as Deb proposes, to make him and the gallery more appealing to younger artists they could possibly take on; Deb sites a book from the early ‘80s, “The Art Dealers: The Powers Behind the Scene Tell How the Art World Really Works,” which illustrates how when it comes to collectors treating art as investments, it’s been happening for nearly 200 years; how the funding that goes to high-priced artworks sometimes comes from the same people who fund grants/grant foundations, Deb suggests, and she advocates for a more transparent, as well as more evenly distributed financial model for the art world(s); Gagosian’s gallery courtship of the English artist Issy Wood, and what that scenario points to as far as his courtship process, the future of the gallery and his legacy plans, and the vulnerability apparent in that dynamic; Deb’s desire for more really well researched and written pieces (like this one by Patrick Radden Keefe) about how everything works in the art world; and finally, Deb brings up the book The Art of Death as a counterpoint to one’s amassing of power and wealth to stave off mortality, because in many cultures up until the 1800’s, one of the main functions of art was in fact to help people understand death as part of life and prepare them for it.
9/2/20231 hour, 30 minutes, 34 seconds
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Epis: 349- Narsiso Martinez on his epic story from Oaxaca to California, from picking produce in the fields to becoming a full-time artist

Long Beach-based artist and former produce field worker Narsiso Martinez talks about: Growing up in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico (Santa Cruz Papalutla), with several brothers and sisters, and a mom and dad who were often on the road for work; his resistance and questioning of working in the fields, something his family did when he was growing up as a way to have food on hand in tighter times; a very condensed version of his travails in crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S., which took him 4 tries to do; his initial settling in Los Angeles with one of his brothers, who is in the car upholstery business; going to an adult high school to learn English as well as other classes, on his way to going to Cal State Long Beach for an undergraduate, and eventually an MFA degree; how he made his adult high school studies a higher priority than his day jobs, so if a job conflicted with school, he would leave the job; his ups and downs at LA City College, where he got his associate degree and may have gone into biology if it wasn’t for his lack of resident papers; what it was like working in the fields – physically as well as mentally – up in Washington state, where he picked produce including asparagus, cherries and apples, both for one full year, as well as over the summers between Cal State Long Beach school years; his gradual discovery of produce boxes that became the surfaces/objects for his paintings, starting with collecting a few boxes from a Costco; his complex thoughts and feelings about class differences, including thinking of himself as something of a role model for who people can become, as well as the importance of education, and family support, in making his long journey, which he describes as many different lives.
8/5/20231 hour, 37 minutes, 11 seconds
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Epis: 347- Alexis Rockman on 'owning' natural history

Connecticut- and New York City-based artist Alexis Rockman talks about: His semi-exodus from Manhattan, where he’s lived his whole life, to a fairly rural part of Connecticut called Warren; leaving his Tribeca studio of 33 years and building a new one on the property of their house in Warren; his early love and interest in animals through his anthropologist mom’s encouragement which led to everything from keeping fish, turtles and iguanas in his childhood room to going scuba diving and spending a lot of time in Australia, where his stepfather was from, encountering wombats, Komodo dragons, and large flightless birds; his appreciation of science fiction movies of the late 60s and early 70s, and how the ideas in those movies were an influence on his apocalyptic paintings; the origins of his painting ‘Manifest Destiny,’ which is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum; his recent work, which is in conversation with historic painters – Courbet, Clyfford Still, Peder Balke – and the joy of painting in addition to addressing climate change; how he jumped for joy for ‘owning’ natural history, as a painter, when he first established his artistic vision at the start of his career in the mid-1980s; working as a vision artist for films, including Life of Pi and the remake of the Little Mermaid; and how he feels about his relative ‘fame,’ and the ebbs and flows of success.
7/1/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 27 seconds
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Epis: 345- House-hunting with a Billionaire;

Hungarian billionaire Gabriela and artist and architect Andi Schmied talk about: Andi’s residencies, across Asia and Europe, as well as the Triangle Arts residency in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she first connected with her fellow Hungarian, the billionaire Gabriela; some of the developments around the world that led her to the realization that there’s a glut of useless, ultra-wealthy housing that’s not actually being used, particularly a complex of villas about 100 miles outside of Beijing, where the groundskeepers wound up squatting in the empty units; doing a residency in New York in 2016, when she encountered Gabriela for the first time, who would become her key collaborator for what would her project ‘Private Views;’ the world of ultra-high end real estate, including the dynamics of a real estate agent showing a penthouse apartment of a very tall building to a client, and how Gabriela navigated these experiences; the questions the real estate agents showing these penthouses and other very expensive apartments asked, and what that revealed about the world of the ultra-wealthy; the various ways super-tall buildings in Manhattan are impacting everything from income inequality to changing the flora and fauna in Central Park from the long shadows they cast.
6/4/20231 hour, 44 minutes, 12 seconds
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Art Adivisor Lisa Schiff- a Re-Release of Episode 99 from 2015

Art Advisor Lisa Schiff has been in the news over the last two weeks, because of lawsuits being filed against her by clients who weren't given the artworks they paid for, and Schiff has subsequently filed for bankruptcy. How did this happen? Was there any indication, from the warm and thoughtful conversation I had with her in late 2014, that anything like this would happen down the road?  We re-visit Episode 99, from early 2015.
5/26/20231 hour, 26 seconds
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Bonus Epis: 344- the Bay Area art scenes, healing out of ancestral trauma, and seeing Philip Guston through the lens of a Jew: artist Alex Nowik

In Bonus Episode 344, San Francisco and northern Virginia-based artist Alex Nowik talks about: The art communities he’s been part of in the Bay Area, which have been fruitful for him as a self-taught artist, and how he feels that there are little ‘bubbling’ art scenes that are continuing to thrive around the Bay, whether in Oakland or San Francisco, with young artists; his complicated family background, including a half-Japanese, half-Polish mother who grew up in California, often passing as white (she sometimes called herself ‘Eurasian’) and his father, who was from Poland and escaped the Holocaust through a harrowing series of hidings and passing as a gentile with fake names until he was able to emigrate to Montreal; his ability to distance himself from his parents’ respective traumas; his various day jobs over the years, which he describes positively, particularly working as a gardener; his car-free lifestyle both in SF and in Virginia, just outside of D.C.; and his thoughts on the Philip Guston exhibition at the National Gallery (which he’s seen twice), and how he thinks about the controversy around Guston’s hooded figures in terms of the Jew in America and assimilation. To access this Bonus Episode of the show, please consider supporting The Conversation on Patreon here: The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon
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Epis: 343- Flora, Public Art and loving New York even if NY doesn’t love you back: Brooklyn-based artist Nancy Blum

Brooklyn-based artist Nancy Blum talks about: Her relationship with Judaism, both growing up and as an adult, where her exploration of healing and self-soothing from generational trauma, which ultimately connects with her art; her alternative interpretation of the word ‘therapeutic,’ in relation to art-making, how it can be something deeply personal that artists are trying to share; the use of flowers in her work, which was radical when she started using them 20 years ago, and how their use has risen since the pandemic; her experience making it work as an artist in New York City, where she’s settled after many years living and working as a nomad; how artists can now have successful, legitimate careers anywhere in the U.S., and why she’s chosen to live in NY because it meets her needs and she loves it, even if it doesn’t love her; bringing a Buddhist approach to the way she thinks about her work can career, and how important it is for artists to have the tools to deal with discouragement so that they keep going; questioning what defines success for an artist, and how the distorted perceived norms of success and what we should be or have become vehicles of defeat and low self-esteem for artists; how meaningful it’s been for her to make the public art mosaic for the 28th Street Subway station, and how she wants her public works to do the work- healing, bringing joy to people, etc. – for her; her earliest public projects, which got her into making public art; and why university art teaching was unsustainable as part of her career path.
5/6/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 7 seconds
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In-Between Episode including fresh OLD NEWS

In this in-between (342 and 343) episode, I talk about the new Bonus Episode with Stefanie Kogler-Heimburger (for subscribers only), and recent OLD NEWS including a photo contest winner who used AI to generate his image and subsequently withdrew his win; a successful Union strike at RISD; and art vs. advertising in the form of a muffin mural for a bakery in Conway, New Hampshire. To access the newest Bonus Episode 342 plus all other past Subscriber-only episodes, become a Patreon donor for as little as $1 a month by subscribing here: The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon
4/22/202314 minutes, 12 seconds
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Epis. 341: Class Issues- artists and class with Berlin artist Norbert Witzgall

Berlin-based artist and co-curator of the exhibition ‘Class Issues: Art Production in and out of Precarity,’ Norbert Witzgall talks about: The term/phenomenon of “Hope Labor,” which drives the economy of fine art and is based on the presumption that your hard work will pay off when you ‘make it;’ how Berlin has become prohibitively expensive for artists, which among other things has led to artists creating platforms such as the Ministry for Empathy to help artists in need; mental health in connection with artists’ labor conditions; the challenge for migrants in getting German grants, largely because of accessibility and knowledge; the intersectionality of exclusion, which is essentially how access includes less frequently acknowledged statuses such as class background and housing in addition to race and gender; art’s struggle to represent the society at large, using the example that there are no Germans of Turkish descent who are recognized in the art world; homeless artists, in particular a German collective, ‘Anonymous,’ included in ‘Class Issues;’ the poverty of some artists in old age; the transparency they used in ‘Class Issues,’ including production costs for the artworks, the family background of the artist, and what an artist’s pension is/will be; his at one time 11 simultaneous freelance jobs, which meant a big ‘class journey,’ or class switching, between gigs; his decision to re-train as a fine arts school teacher, which he started but then left at 19, coming back this time because he has the life experience to bring with him; and the hope that we can decrease the amount of ‘hope labor’ being put out by many, many artists.
4/8/20231 hour, 19 minutes, 1 second
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The Conversation MIDWAY- Bonus episode announcement, plus a rant on the art services industry

In this Conversation MIDWAY - between epis. 340 and 341 - I talk about the bonus episode for Patreons, featuring Blum-Weinberg-Keinholz-Rottweiler, as well as talk about the art services industry via the Worst Job Posting Ever Created, the Nan Goldin documentary, and Tom Sachs, among other related topics. If you would like to access Episode 340A, which features four great stories from Art Can Kill, you can support The Conversation on Patreon here: The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon
3/26/202314 minutes, 30 seconds
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Epis. 340: Veteran art handler Bryan Cooke on 50+ years in the art handling business, including several brushes with death

Episode 340- Veteran art handler and preparator Bryan Cooke talks about: Cooke’s Crating, the business he started back in 1975, and how it’s essentially a service business, one that has grown with the art market, particularly in the last 10 years; why they don’t use the word ‘art’ in the company title, and how they discreetly move art around, especially high-priced works; how and why he self-published his book, Art Can Kill; some of his near-death experiences in art handling, including two involving elevators (one of my least favorite places); why he put himself in the line of risk, shielding his employees from danger; and he tells a condensed version of an epic story from the book in which a client for all intents and purposes kidnaps Bryan and his colleague during a moving job, on a large estate outside Chicago.
3/9/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 54 seconds
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Preview/Teaser for Epis. 339A- Art Can Kill: The Art World's Crooks, Clowns & Connossieurs

In this Teaser for Episode 339A, which is only available to Patreon supporters of the show, we talk about becoming a supporter of the show, read from a bit of the intro to the book Art Can Kill, and talk about the comments from an article on the collector Adam Lindeman's upcoming March 9th auction at Christie's. If you would like to access Episode 339A, which features three great stories from Art Can Kill, by Bryan Cooke (an upcoming guest on the podcast), you can support The Conversation on Patreon here: The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon
2/26/202313 minutes, 55 seconds
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Epis. 338: Former pro surfer and current arts writer Jamie Brisick on why success is its own form of failure, and Raymond Pettibon, Paul Chan and Francis Alys, among others

Arts writer and former professional surfer Jamie Brisick talks about: w hat it was like being on the pro surfing tour back in his late teens and early 20s, and how he developed his Plan B career initially as a surfing writer before moving into arts & culture writing; how he comes to art/the art world with a relatively fresh perspective, and has experienced some unsavoriness in the upper spheres in its being too much like high school in terms of popularity, etc.; what it means when, to quote the artist Paul Chan in this case, ‘Success is its own form of failure;’ the varied and fascinating work of Francis Alÿs, whom Brisick tried to get an interview with but was essentially blown off, but whom he still highly respects and reveres as an artist; the artworks, storytelling, and other idiosyncrasies of quintessential surfing-art artist, Raymond Pettibon, whom Brisick has profiled extensively and become friends with; the surf-skate pioneer Craig Stecyk (also a mentor of Brisick’s) and his crazy performance art stunts; and his relationship with the journalist and writer William Finnegan, whose struggle with his memoir may be a source of inspiration for listeners.
2/11/20231 hour, 16 minutes, 58 seconds
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Epis. 337: Art & Politics- how can they co-exist? The Conversation's 14th Virtual Cafe

n the 14th installment of the podcast’s Virtual Café, we take as our prompt a Dec. review by NYTimes art critic Holland Cotter about politics in art: About 10 artists in the Virtual Café (including past guests Ianna Frisby of Art Advice and William Powhida) talk about art and politics, including successful examples of political art; the nimbleness of capitalism to absorb all things protest; the challenges and failures of artists to organize, particularly artist unions; the question of whether artwork being in a gallery is neutered, in terms of its political/social power; virtue signaling in art, particularly political art; Theaster Gates as a strong example of an artist changing a community, and of socially engaged art; the importance of the rhetoric around so-called political art (including the good side of the word ‘didactic'); the lack of transparency in galleries reporting where their donations to (political) causes are allocated; and how to take political art to the people, as opposed to through the gallery system.
1/28/20231 hour, 50 minutes, 54 seconds
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Epis. 336: on The Death of the Artist, a frank conversation with writer and cultural critic William Deresiewicz

Writer and cultural critic William Deresiewicz, author of The Death of the Artist, talks about: His motivations in writing the book, largely motivated by dispelling the myth that this (our current internet/social media era) was the greatest time ever to be an artist, as well as trying to understand how artists (not just visual, artists across all fields- writing, music, film & television) were adapting to making art and surviving in an this world; why he strongly believes that not everyone can be an artist; how and why the monopoly on taste has been broken through a more middle-brow level of connoisseurship; how we can’t dispense with the gatekeeper, whether it’s the curator of artists or our listening playlists; artists’ relative comfort (or discomfort) with using social media, which isn’t as tied to age as you would think; the wide variety of day jobs that artists do (including a list of 50 jobs/gigs that Deresiewicz compiled), and the degrees of poverty artists live with; the delicate and complex dynamic of artists walking away from being artists (which is of course very hard to document); the artist Paul Rucker (perhaps the only artist profiled in the book whom I should have heard of) who’s had a wide-ranging and remarkable career; the challenge of finding and working with the ‘typical’ working artist- artists whose careers were coming up but not yet well known; and what a solid work-lifestyle balance looks like for one of the artists in the book, as well as for Deresiewicz himself.
1/7/20231 hour, 31 minutes, 33 seconds
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Epis. 335: Mashed potatoes hurled at Monet, Artists being replaced by AI Robots, a Bad Studio Visit cartoon, and new email etiquette for the Uffizi Gallery, with a very special guest-host

For this latest roundup of OLD NEWS stories, we’re joined by a very special guest, to talk about: The MASS MoCA union; the new monument to the Central Park 5; the debate about bringing attention to the climate crisis by throwing food and attaching body parts to famous artworks in museum, as analyzed by Jerry Saltz in his piece ‘MASHED POTATOES MEET MONET,’ as well as through our own lenses on the phenomenon; how a stolen painting was turned into a popular throw pillow (which you can purchase online for $18.40 plus shipping); the struggles of Pace Gallery’s Superblue, and the history of Pace through the Glimcher family, including a botched diversity hiring of Marc Glimcher’s daughter; Guy Richards Smit’s cartoon, “WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOMEONE AFTER A VERY BAD STUDIO VISIT?”;  a consideration of big tech’s plundering of art and illustration for its generative AI projects, as poetically analyzed through Molly Crabapple’s LA Times Op-Ed, “BEWARE A WORLD WHERE ARTISTS ARE REPLACED BY ROBOTS;” why the director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is demanding employees follow strict guidelines for email etiquette; and what our respective OLD NEWS favorites for the week were.
12/25/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 16 seconds
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Epis. 334: The challenges in green-lighting public art that’s actually good- curator and arts administrator Zoë Taleporos

Oakland-based curator and arts administrator Zoë Taleporos talks about: Her straddling independent curating and government-supported public art curating/administrating in her role working for the City of Berkeley; how her curating is more about bringing artists in, as artist outreach, but not cultural gatekeeping; why public art looks the way it does, and why the language of public art has remained unchanged for so long, as well as the problems professionals are faced with in trying to change the face of public art; how one sculpture in San Francisco, while avoiding the problem of becoming a target for skateboarding, but instead became an ad-hoc BMX bike ramp; the alternative and more interesting version of public art: temporary public art, which allows a lot more flexibility and freedom; how panelists judge all public art candidates (Zoë has presented) by a list of criteria, and how she’s always in the room, but never voting as a panelist; the tension in the room when panelists with a wide range of experience with contemporary art weigh in on the candidates who are submitted; the strong mural history and presence in the Bay Area, which are not necessarily a deterrent to graffiti; and how it’s exciting for her to take a given artist’s work and translate it into public art.
12/10/202251 minutes, 47 seconds
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Epis.#333- Tjebbe Beekman, Amsterdam-based artist on how a major life turning point became a turning point for his art

Amsterdam-based artist Tjebbe Beekman talks about: His show in New York at GRIMM gallery (which just opened when we spoke); his 9-year stint living in Berlin, before moving back to Amsterdam at the time his son was beginning school, and how he misses the big-city benefits of Berlin; the big turning point in his work and in his life, when in a span of less than a couple of years his mother died followed by his father’s tragic death in a boating accident, early on in a journey attempting to travel the world; how his father’s death was complicated by the slow to non-existent communication about what happened, and then the time it took to get his remains back, all of which led him to stop painting for half a year; how he re-engaged his artmaking by visiting friends at the Luceberthuis residency in the Netherlands, where he also found himself listening to a lot of John Coltrane, and between the music and getting in the heads of well-known painters, he got his mojo back; the influence the legendary painter Luc Tuymans had on him while doing a residency at the Rijksakademie; and how he’s thankful to make a living from his work, because even though the Netherlands offers lots of funding to artists, most artists who rely on it need to have 2nd jobs.
11/25/202252 minutes, 8 seconds
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Epis. 332: U. of Michigan art historian/scholar Joan Kee on Korean contemporary art, emojis, and going through law school & corporate law on her way to becoming an art historian

Joan Kee, University of Michigan art historian and current Ford Foundation Scholar in Residence at the Museum of Modern Art, talks about: Her residency at MoMA, where she has been looking into expanding their programming to include art that is more international/not from the U.S., but from the ‘global majority;’ her career trajectory, from art history in undergrad to law school and then corporate lawyer for long enough to pay off her $100+K in debt, a calculation she was able to make partially due to her poker-playing experience); the obstacles she faced getting into a PhD art history program with her focus on modern and contemporary Korean art, and how she strongly believes that tuition for BA and MA programs are completely out of control (for out-of-state students at U. or Michigan, where she teaches, it’s currently 70K/year); her interest and expertise with emojis, including her repeated attempts to get a kimchi emoji approved by Unicode, the world text and emoji consortium (she also taught emojis in a graduate seminar); artists working in emojis, including Rachel Maclean, Laura Owens, John Baldessari and Antoine Catala, the latter whose work she calls the best emoji work she’s ever seen; the benefits and challenges of living in Detroit, and why she chose to live there instead of Ann Arbor, where she teaches; how she’s the first full professor of color in her department; how her book, “Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method,” was turned down nine times before it was accepted by U. of Minnesota Press, and subsequently led to a show she curated at Blum & Poe in L.A.; and the state of the art scene in Seoul, including the challenges for younger/smaller galleries’ survival amidst a pricey real estate market that’s regularly gentrifying.
11/12/20221 hour, 21 minutes, 20 seconds
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ICA San Diego director Andrew Utt: on the curatorial process, and how to increase the art reputation of a city not known for its art world

ICA San Diego director Andrew Utt talks about: Moving back to San Diego, where he grew up, after years away in the Bay Area and South America, and why he did; why San Diego’s art community/culture isn’t known as an art destination, and how he tries to address that deficiency; his route to becoming a curator, starting with his undergrad years at California College of the Arts, when he went to grad students’ studios and had the conversations that would inform his prolific studio visits over the years; the importance of bringing in outside artists, sometimes to be shown alongside local artists, but at the same time, the ‘brain drain’ of artists emerging from SD-based art schools and leaving for L.A. (or elsewhere) for more opportunities, the exodus of which becomes a generational loss over time; teaching artists, and the challenge of their retention; the ICA’s 5-foot and 10-foot rules for interacting with new visitors outside the museum; and where art engagement is headed, in terms of infiltrating cities, and through the growth of VR, AI and other interactive platforms.
10/30/20221 hour, 27 minutes
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Epis.330: Cole Sternberg, from painting with the elements to his Free Republic of California project to moving to a farm during the pandemic

Cole Sternberg, artist and creator of the Free Republic of California, talks about: His painting process, which involves exposing his paintings to the elements, including in extreme form, starting with his (and his team’s) 22-day-long journey from Japan to the West Coast on a container vessel, exposing his paintings to the wind and even skating them over the surface of the ocean; what went into planning this expedition, the various friends he brought on in professional capacities, and the challenges of making the journey, the successes along the way, and its future life as a documentary; his epic Free Republic of California, a conceptual art project that uses California as a canvas to imagine and explore what’s possible for us as a society and as a civilization; how he writes letters to people in power, giving himself a title appropriate to each recipient, whether ‘conceptual artist’ or ‘chief conceptualist;’ the value he places in the Free Republic of California’s Constitution, which is the item he would own if he were to collect his own work; his relative openness to actually becoming a politician, while also realizing that the political sphere is not only too dangerous but ultimately simply not a productive route to making change; his first exhibition, in a bar during law school; his transition from having a day job as a lawyer to that of an artist, and how he actually never made as much income from law as from making art, surprisingly; and his rescue-animal-based farm in Santa Ynez, where he and his family settled during the pandemic. BONUS EXTRA: in an extension of our conversation, Cole talks about his epic t-shirt collection, which is currently at about 1000. To listen to this EXTRA, please consider becoming an ongoing or one-time donor to the podcast via:
10/15/20221 hour, 31 minutes, 19 seconds
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Epis.329: Ben Davis on the Ordinary World Record Egg, what to do when Apple co-opts your artwork, and where high art meets immersive art

In part 2 with ArtNet News critic Ben Davis, we talk about: environmentalism and our approach to the climate, as well his emphasis on finding a good middle ground between overly dire and overly sugar-coated perspectives on the conversation; Christian Marclay’s video works “Telephone” – which Apple co-opted, making their own version when Marclay wouldn’t sell it to them – and “The Clock,” which Ben considers to be Marclay’s response to Apple and its iPhone, and images’ ‘place-lessness’ (which “The Clock” returns to us); how he frames the immersive art trend as a question of ‘what’s at stake here?,’ and how there are many trends that he feels needs to be seen from both sides; Alfredo Jaar’s immersive video in the most recent Whitney Biennial, prompted by the very short time window artists now have to gain viewers’ attention; the case of the lovably ordinary @world_record_egg, an Instagram feed that both parodied and addressed concerns about the effects of social media on our individual psyches as an artistic provocation; and Ben’s own tricky relationship with social media (IG).
10/1/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 16 seconds
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Epis.328: Ben Davis, National Art Critic for Artnet News and author most recently of Art in the After-Culture

Ben Davis, Artnet News's National Art Critic and author most recently of Art in the After-Culture, talks about: Cultural Appropriation in its many forms, including in the context of Dana Schutz’s controversial “Open Casket” painting; Conspiracy Theory culture, including how videos connecting Marina Abramovic with satanic cults are far, far more viewed than videos about Marina Abramovic herself or her work; the culture that Conspiracy narratives come from, how they persist (often through individuals’ alienation), and why they become so popular; the luxury of people who get to say ‘neener-neener-neener’ in judgement of those who buy into them (the socially superior judging the inferior); Rubem Robierb’s ice sculpture at a fancy club during Miami Basel, which spelled out Greta Thunberg’s “How Dare You” addressed to politicians, and what that said/says about Art and Ecotopia, i.e. art and climate change; his experiences with the groups ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and its splinter group, ‘Extinction Resilience,” and his continuing involvement with Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), among other causes.
9/17/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 38 seconds
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Epis.327: Val Zavala on the Extinction Circle, Death Cafes and the New 10 Commandments for Future Generations

Val Zavala, former anchor/reporter for the long-running KCET (L.A. PBS station) series SoCal Connected and Life & Times talks about: The ‘Extinction Circle’ group that she was part of for a couple years, meeting once a month to discuss likely human extinction (before the pandemic led the group to slowly disband; meantime she continues to be an active member of her local ‘Death Café’); how approaching humanity’s future is akin to Elisabeth Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief; the oil industry’s campaign of disinformation and its effect on the climate crisis; a profoundly thoughtful Buddhist take on our (humankind’s) fate; relating extinction to former guest Fernando Dominguez Rubio’s study of the preservation of artworks in the museum, and what Val thinks of the lengths museums go to maintain artworks’ longevity; the concept of EA, or Effective Altruism, in relation to human longevity; “Seeding” the future, which is to say leaving a better foundation for future civilizations; and her “New 10 Commandments for Future Generations.”
9/3/202255 minutes, 39 seconds
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Epis.326- NYC art appraiser David Shapiro: from valuing a work of art to shifting from his own art career

New York-based art appraiser David Shapiro talks about: What he does as an appraiser, whether in-person inspections or putting together reports using photographs at the computer; his involvement with the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection appraisal, which was connected to the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the country; how appraisers value a work of art, from auction records to gallery sales (to the extent that can be verified) to the market as a whole, including trends; turning down offers to appraise works that have no apparent market value; his own career as an artist prior to becoming an appraiser, which included having success selling his work before he was even out of high school; how, when he returned to making art after grad school in art history he had less success, learning about “the fickleness and vicissitudes of the art world,” as he put it; and how he appraises emerging art, including within a market with a lot of movement in values, both up and down.
8/20/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 40 seconds
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Immersive art installations: who visits them, why, and where they're headed...with Kate Sharkey, painter and a 'host' at ARTECHOUSE

New Jersey-based painter and immersive art museum ‘host’ Kate Sharkey talks about: Transitioning from being a preparator (at MoMA) to getting a job as a ‘host’ at the immersive art museum ARTECHOUSE, where she also does AV/tech work w/the projectors; what her job as host entails, including interacting with and managing guests’ experiences (some who do something called ‘candyflipping')whether or not immersive art experiences are actually ‘art,’ and which immersive art shows have worked best at ARTECHOUSE, particularly a work by Julius Hosthuis; and we talk about whether immersive art exhibits qualify as ‘art’ or ‘entertainment,’ and what other forms of entertainment they’re competing with.
8/6/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 4 seconds
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Epis.#324- Maria Brito, her path from emerging singer to corporate lawyer to art advisor; and how she scored a Banksy for a client

Maria Brito, art advisor, entrepreneur and author of How Creativity Rules the World talks about: Giving up on her teenage ambitions to become a singer because of the restrictive culture she grew up in; how from there she wound up being a corporate lawyer as a financially stable option that she thought made the most sense; how she made her way into the world of art advising as a disrupter, seeing that there was a clear lack of passion among many of the advisors and consultants she was encountering; the reasons behind the popularity of figurative painting (of course it has to do with collectors); getting a hold of a Banksy painting for a new client; her approach to becoming an art advisor, including her ambition to demystify the art world; the success of her business coinciding with the democratization of the market via social media (i.e. Instagram); and why she focuses so much on prices and values in describing artists in her book, partly as a way to challenge the stereotype of the ‘starving artist’ that so many non-art people hold on to.
7/23/20221 hour, 24 minutes, 10 seconds
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Epis. 323, Dave Kinsey: post-graffiti, post-illustration, post-skate art, and the BLK/MRKT gallery scene in the early-to-mid-2000s

Vista, CA-based artist Dave Kinsey talks about: The gallery BLK/MRKT, that grew out of a design studio he co-ran, and launched as a gallery early in the 2000s in Culver City; his coming from a design and skate and graffiti background, and how he and his artist cohort were all generally making post-design, post-skate kind of work, and how they transitioned from street and/or skate and/or graffiti artists to more ‘fine’ art, working across genres; his love and appreciate of KAWS’s work, an artist whom he almost worked with, were it not for a disagreement with his partner; how he bought a property in Three Rivers (near Sequoia National Park), where a pipe broke which led to flooding and the ground turning into a ‘milkshake,’ and forced him, circuitously, into figuring out how to be a full-time artist; his commercial collaborations with big brands (Nike, etc.) and growing his own work in a more personal way; how and why he left advertising and design, and developing a financially sustainable art career; and how he has collected other artist’s work to support their careers as much as his being a fan.
7/9/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 322- Profound effects on the art market, ‘Rich-Kid’ art, and a painting of a polar bear

In this OLD NEWS-oriented episode of the show, I talk about: Immersive art exhibits, which are booming, much to my chagrin; a follow-up on the art world’s ‘ponzi-like scheme' involving a new participant, “Rich-Kid art,” effects on the art market in both the UK and the U.S. through new laws and regulations, a union formed at Pasadena’s Art Center, reconciling NFT’s with their environmental footprint (and their financial decline), and a painting of a polar bear in the Royal Academy’s Open Call.
6/27/202240 minutes, 12 seconds
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Epis. 321: Working as an artist's assistant, learning to pay attention, and dedication to the process- James Griffith, part 2

In the 2nd part of our conversation, James and I talk about: working as an assistant for various artists, including making large-scale paintings for other artists, and wanting to be credited for his work, with a title such as “lead painter,” something that officially acknowledges his contributions; and meanwhile, how important the process of the making is to his own work; the things that keep James up at night, from the climate crisis to worldwide political bifurcation…basically, “human tragedy is running deep…;”  further connecting collectors to his work through his artist talk at his recent show; a story he accidentally left out from his talk, that has to do with searching for enlightenment; buying a piece of land in the canyons of Malibu, which became an education in native plants and paying attention to the landscape (his wife is now a landscape designer emphasizing native plants); and how the person he’d like to emulate is not an artist but rather a zen master or the like, someone who lives as fully as possible.
6/11/202259 minutes, 25 seconds
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Epis. 320: James Griffith, L.A.-based painter, on painting with tar, and re-building his home, studio, and outdoor amphitheater- part 1 of 2

Altadena (in L.A. County)-based artist James Griffith talks about: Discovering the town of Altadena, where they first bought a house, and then a studio building, formerly Altadena’s fire house, back in 1999, and fixing them both up from tear-down conditions; being connected to nature while also being in the city, and not ever buying into owning a cell/mobile phone (although he does use an iPod, which he can text with); having renters in both the converted garage at their home, and in a section of their studio building, providing he and his wife with more freedom to make their art without needing ‘the monthly nut;’ working with tar as his primary medium, which he’s done for well over a decade and gotten a lot of mileage from one 5-gallon bucket of the stuff; and his and his wife’s decorative/faux finish painting business, which his wife launched in the 80s, and allowed them to buy their fixer upper house and studio building.
5/28/20221 hour, 3 minutes, 19 seconds
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Epis. 319: Sarah Thibault, S.F.-based artist, on residency hopping, conversing with ghosts, and being the last artist in San Francisco (or so it seems)

San Francisco-based artist Sarah Thibault talks about: How she’s the last artist in S.F., or at least so it seems; a ghost encounter she experienced in Edinburgh (Scotland), as well as her engaging in Tarot cards and other new-age spiritual pursuits, largely as a byproduct of the pandemic; her experiences going to a range of artist residencies, from remote ones with just a couple fellow residents in Portugal, to a more professionalized one at Plop in London; the Minnesota Street Project, a subsidized artist studio and gallery complex in SF where Sarah has a long-term lease at ‘below-market rate,’ and the barriers for entry there; her transition from working in executive assistant jobs to becoming a recruiter; and we talk about my concerns about Sarah’s giving me a tarot reading (and spoiler: we eventually do one in a bonus episode to come).
5/14/20221 hour, 24 minutes, 27 seconds
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Epis. 318: Andrew Russeth- art writer formerly in New York, now living in Seoul, South Korea

Freelance art writer (often for the New York Times) and past guest royalty Andrew Russeth talks about: Why he moved to Seoul, South Korea, where he’s expanded his freelance writing opportunities; a book on Chris Burden’s unrealized sculpture projects, which he wrote about for the New York Times- the book includes a one-stop pneumatic subway under the Gagosian gallery; artists using assistants, and the optics that go along with the various levels of production that certain artists employ, for us as viewers of their work; the art scene(s) and community in greater Seoul, which has a metropolitan population of 25 million, nearly half that of the whole country of South Korea; the vast artist-run gallery scene in Seoul; how some of the trends in Korean contemporary art overlap with international contemporary art, including airbrushed figuration, humor, and meme culture; and last but not least, Andrew holds forth on South Korea’s incredible food and drink culture (including Bibimbap and soju), which has been heaven for him.
4/30/20221 hour, 7 minutes, 50 seconds
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Epis. 317: museums’ Invisible Labor, and how exhibition rooms are suspensions of common sense- Fernando Dominguez Rubio, part 3

with Fernando Domínguez Rubio, author of Still Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum, he talks about: Storage- how much it takes to maintain it; how museum curators put the longevity of artworks in the context of geological time, when thinking about ‘eternity,’ and how exhibition rooms in museums are effectively ICUs for the art- conditions must be monitored and controlled carefully, because humans, just by their organic natures, are an immediate threat to artworks’ longevity; how exhibition rooms in museums are highly mediated spaces by exhibition designers to control viewers’ experiences; the complex logistics and mimeographic labor that goes into the maintenance of artworks within the museum- where and whether they get loaned, get exhibited, etc.; Fernando’s own experience of violence when he first encountered contemporary art, because, as is the case for most individuals, he didn’t have the grammar for reading the exhibition room; how his working class background, and change in classes as an adult, has informed his focus on the invisible labor at the museum, as opposed to its ‘celebrities;’ and how exhibition spaces have been “conquered for a suspension of common sense.” 
4/16/202248 minutes, 57 seconds
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Epis. 316: Why MoMA goes to great lengths to recreate what's dying or only existing in the past- Fernando Dominguez Rubio, part 2

In part 2 with Fernando Domínguez Rubio, a professor of communications at UCSD and author of Still Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum, he talks about: The astonishing resources that go into some museum artworks, starting with David Lamelas’s conceptual installation “Office,” which MoMA bought and decided to reproduce, but were reproducing an installation that no longer existed, and yet they did everything they could to be true to the original piece, based only off photographs; the ‘modern aesthetic regime of art,’ and how art that once rebelled against museums and museum inclusion – was anti-institution – is now embracing as many angles of commodification as it (via the artist) can; the savvy machinations of the artist Tino Seghal; and, as part of our discussion of art words and conservation-based artist interviews, we play out a MoMA interview with the artist James Rosenquist, which raises one of Rubio’s big questions: “what is a museum-- is it not a necessary absurdity?” 
4/2/202245 minutes, 1 second
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Epis. 315: What goes on behind the scenes of a museum (specifically MoMA), and why it matters, with Fernando Dominguez Rubio, author of Still Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum, part 1

In the first of several parts with Fernando Domínguez Rubio, a professor of communications at UCSD and author of Still Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum, he talks about: How he got started with the massive eight-year project of this book, beginning with his post-doctoral thesis interviewing numerous people who work at the Museum of Modern Art; how he gained entry into the museum (hint: via the Conservation dept.); the hidden labor that’s done at the museum, as part of something he calls “mimeographic labor,” a process to make objects of ‘the same;’ how most art in the world is in storage – it isn’t seen art – which is definitively the case for museums; how much invisible labor goes into what visitors see in a museum, and to what extent that labor, spread around various parts of the museum and its numerous artworks, is sustainable.
3/19/202256 minutes, 12 seconds
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Epis. 314: Oligarch Shortage, SuperBlue Indictment, and the Cinema of Transgression: the Guest-Less Episode courtesy OLD NEWS

In this guest-less episode, we ( that is to say 'I') talk about: a new OPEN CALL for future guests of this podcast; the opening reception and the show 'It's My House!,' a group show in Ojai that I'm in; and numerous recent excerpts from Jeff Weiss's OLD NEWS, including stories about the Sacklers' name being taken off institutions, the Waste Museum in Nigeria, the indictment of the (former) sales director for Superblue, and the recently passed auteur Nick Zedd, among other recent art news. It's all capped with a very short story about the Pearlfish, which can be seen here:
3/7/202231 minutes, 20 seconds
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Epis.313: Sam Francis- king of desire,

In Part 2 with writer Gabrielle Selz, author of Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis, we talk about Sam Francis as he: Settles into his compound at West Channel Road in Santa Monica, and became the big-man-on-campus of the young (1960s) L.A. art scene; his relative absence as a father, his kids being left to run wild or spend time with Sam’s assistants; Sam’s self-empowered and grandiose painting process which included his mantra, “I am an Original” as he began to paint; the profound impact that his fifth (and final) wife, Margaret, had on Sam’s life, because of the way she corralled Sam off from the large and freely flowing group of friends who came in and out of the house(s), as well as how she enabled Sam’s adherence to bogus alternative medicine when he was suffering from cancer; the Dream Machines of his studios in the works, including many compounds simultaneously in development in northern California towards the end of his life; the resolution of his complicated Estate, including a contested will by his last wife; and where one might find Sam Francis paintings these days.
2/19/202252 minutes, 41 seconds
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Epis.312: Writer Gabrielle Selz on Sam Francis, an abstract painter who broke all the rules

about: the important first phase of Sam’s long art career, in Paris, where he started working on a big painting from his bed in a tiny hotel room he shared with his girlfriend Muriel; how he was a shrewd businessman and cocky self-promoter, a sort of Orson Welles of the art world; how his first patron, Franz Meyer Sr., told Sam he would buy anything he made, thus freeing Sam and bolstering his confidence and security; how Sam wasn’t tied to place (he was constantly traveling and living in different countries), nor to style; and how lucrative Sam’s career was, including having bank accounts (including Swiss) all over the world, and his philosophy that money flowed through you, and that you should spend it.
2/5/202255 minutes, 10 seconds
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Epis. 311: Sydney Croskery, part 2 of 2-

In part 2 of 2 with Los Angeles-based painter Sydney Croskery, she talks about: connecting with a gallerist -- who has come to represent her – on Instagram, synchronistically; the benefits and travails of her day job as a server, which can be very intense, and could make for a whole other episode; her “Failure CV,” which accompanies the traditional CV on her website, and how in addition to being self-deprecating, has also been empowering; and as a final grab bag topic, Sydney wonders why there are a number of artists who want their work to have no meaning whatsoever (if you know of an example of such work, please reach out and let me know; Sydney didn’t want to call anyone out).
1/22/202251 minutes, 10 seconds
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Epis.310: Sydney Croskery, Los Angeles artist

In part 1 of 2 with Los Angeles-based painter Sydney Croskery, she talks about: transitioning from representation to abstraction during pandemic lockdown; transitional imagery which included using buffering Instagram screen shots as a source for her painting; making it OK when things are ‘wrong’ in the painting, part of a mandate of being nice to herself; her ambivalent relationship with abstract painting and being an abstract painter, and how she’s navigating that conflict; and her effectiveness telling stories and connecting with artists and other art world folks on Instagram.
1/8/202254 minutes, 7 seconds
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Epis.309: Running a gallery, creating community,

In part 2 of 2 with multi-hyphenate and Artist Decoded host Yoshino, he talks about: Working through an art-like writing phase, in which he does a mix of automatic writing and poetry, as a counterpoint to his existential crises; NohWave, the gallery in Little Tokyo that he ran with fellow multi-hyphenate Justin Hopkins, and how he saw it as a way of giving back to the community by creating community, citing Sir Isaac Newton’s “I see further because I stand on the shoulder of giants…;” letting go of a competitive mindset as an artist, podcaster and even gallerist- his approach to running NohWave was experimental, thanks largely to a sweet deal given by their landlord; why he stopped doing commercial cinematography; and how for now he’s able to work on his art, his podcast and related projects thanks to a little cryptocurrency investment and a lower cost of living in Joshua Tree.
12/25/202158 minutes, 11 seconds
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Epis.308: Yoshino of Artist Decoded (the podcast), part 1 of 2

In the 1st of two episodes, visual artist, writer, entrepreneur and host of the Artist Decoded podcast, Yoshino talks about: how he shortened his name to the iconic ‘Yoshino,’ thanks to an existential crisis involving leaving the commercial and fashion photography world for the fine art world; doing Brazilian Ju jitsu, Muay Thai, and boxing on a professional level; how he identifies himself, and what being an ‘artist’ means in his case, how as an artist you want to be fluid, which runs counter to capitalist realities; growing up Christian, and his current spiritual place (a spiritually open-minded individual who doesn't have any answers (!)); his move to Joshua Tree, partially due to the spiritual wokeness of LA, and his desire to process information outside of the noisy machinations of Los Angeles.
12/13/20211 hour, 2 minutes, 21 seconds
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Epis.307: a Spanish painter (Antonio Murado) goes to New York City-

Antonio Murado, a New York City-based painter originally from Spain, talks about: His background in Spain, including several years in the Madrid art scene, before moving to NYC, which he began with a Spanish grant; the commissions that he’s done- how they function as competitions, and then if he gets one, a collaboration with the client, rather than the sort of top-down dynamic that came across in his depiction in Hannah Wohl’s ‘Bound by Creativity;’ the importance of the art agent in setting up a commission; how competing for a commission is like an actor casting for a role; how the sales of his work rise and fall, not only by year but by month, which means there’s no stability;  and his time in the studio (around 65-70 hours/week)- how he spends his days there, and how he takes an old-school craftsman approach, from sizing canvas with rabbit-skin glue to building his own stretchers.
11/26/202158 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 306: Collector disconnect, enjoying without owning, and

In the final episode with Hannah Wohl (Bound by Creativity), we talk about: her experiences with mega-collector couple Sherry and Joel Mallin, who have an impressive collection and are known as being philanthropic in their approach to helping artists, including having some of them live in their homes; a purchase the Mallins made that entailed their flying from New York to London just so they could see the (six-figure) work they were considering in person before committing fully to the purchase, and how people’s reactions to this anecdote are something of a Rorschach test for where they’re coming from; the issues of inequality that being around collectors inevitably brings up; her brief history of being a (modest) art collector herself; and finally, in comparing contemporary art with the arts at large (the culinary arts, musicians, actors, etc.), she describes the ‘radical uncertainty’ that goes along with it, how the artists and the art world make decisions within this uncertainty, and the narratives that artists bound themselves within.
11/13/202151 minutes, 55 seconds
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The challenge of describing contemporary art (even for a writer):

In my penultimate conversation with sociologist Hannah Wohl (author of Bound by Creativity) she talks about: the cynicism of sociologists, particularly when theorizing about art (and in relation to the sculptor St. Clair Cemin in particular); the emergence of the artist Ginny Casey, through her show at Half Gallery; how she describes her own contemporary art sensibility (like most of us: with difficulty), including her appreciation of Wong Ping’s show at the New Museum, and in turn demonstrates the challenges of talking, and writing about art, even for a sociologist who’s written a book about contemporary art; and she begins recounting her experience ‘playing’ a gallery assistant at an art fair (as an unpaid volunteer) for the purpose of her sociological research).
10/30/202157 minutes, 5 seconds
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Epis.304: Virtual Cafe w/special guest Rose Bricetti

In The Conversation’s latest Virtual Café (which took place on 9/24/21, on Zoom), special guest Rose Bricetti and participants talked about: how memes break down institutional critique; the Instagram account Jerry Gogosian, which was revealed to be run by Hilde (former guest of the podcast); The Dirtbag Left, defined, as well as their use of memes; how the image and meaning of Pepe the frog has changed over time, depending on who appropriates it and how the media covers those appropriations; Rose’s art-making process, which has been influenced both by memes and her prior work as a museum designer at a natural history museum; her consumption of Tik Tok vs. her consumption of Instagram, and how the two compare content-wise; and how the leisurely and the political are so intertwined in memes that they’re inseparable.
10/16/20211 hour, 17 minutes, 33 seconds
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Epis.303: Status Signals, and risking a Lower Status

In part 4 of my conversations with sociologist Hannah Wohl (author of Bound by Creativity), we discuss: Competing claims to expertise between artists and gallerists; the fiduciary responsibilities that some art advisors take on, which involves a very pointed analysis of artists’ pedigrees when choosing work for their clients; how art advisors and collectors operate in such a way that perpetuates systems of value based on status signals; how Hannah tries to strike a good balance as an ethnographer, in between being an objective, invisible researcher on one hand, vs. it being too much about the ethnographer’s ego on the other hand (and that balanced approach also applies to her take on the art world); and Antonio Murado, a painter who has produced highly-paid commissions for corporate banks, and in the process grappled with issues around selling out and compromising his work, or, in Hannah’s research terms, he was willing to trod on his creative vision and in the process potentially relegate his work to a lower status level, based on the perception of doing the commissions.
10/2/202151 minutes, 27 seconds
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Epis 302: Hannah Wohl, part 3-

In digging into Hannah’s book, ‘Bound by Creativity,’ we talk about: the continued existence of the artist as bohemian (even as ‘enfant terrible’), as personified by the pseudonymous Simon Moser, whose gallerist and collectors affectionately boast about how crazy he is, and yet who occasionally goes to far, even with his cultural clout; the collector-artist dynamic in studio visits, where a power imbalance is the norm, and collectors are often hesitant to buy work by an artist who they haven’t already invested in; collectors’ light-hearted competition with each other, not unlike a catty teenager style of play; trust-fund kids, and how artists often adopt bohemian lifestyles (or at least appearances) so as not to be seen as having or coming from wealth, whereas collectors coming from wealth tend not to hide that fact; and the uneasiness artists often feel in their direct relations with collectors. Here is a related discussion, about ‘the Anxieties of Affluence,’ with sociologist Rachel Sherman, from my other podcast How I Get By.
9/18/202151 minutes, 43 seconds
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Epis. 301- Bound by Creativity, pt 2 with Hannah Wohl

In part 2 with sociologist Hannah Wohl, we continue our conversation by talking about whether the terms ‘Creative Vision,’ or ‘Signature Style,’ are euphemisms for ‘brand’; how there was resistance (from artists in the book and others) to the prospect of Hannah using a sociological model to analyze patterns of creativity, something that struck them as anathema to their unique visions and processes; the relative importance of the art world, in that it moves the conversation(s) forward, even as an admittedly collector-supported system; how cultural consumption tends to reinforce the status of the elites, rather than undercut it;  and what the big difference is between trust-fund baby collectors and trust-fund artists (hint: one gets to be more transparent, the other has to hide their background).
9/4/202143 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 300- Hannah Wohl on her book Bound by Creativity: part 1

In the first part of a multi-part series, Hannah Wohl, sociologist and author of Bound by Creativity talks about: her general studies of the creative industries more broadly, in addition to her focus, for this book, on the contemporary art market in particular; her two-year ethnography of a ‘sensual figure drawing’ class at an erotic arts club in Chicago; how she earned entry into some of the inner sanctums of the art world, starting with artists but then eventually through the support and generosity of one legendary gallerist; the process of artists developing a signature style for which they become known; and the challenges for artists with a recognizable ‘creative vision’ who try to transition into another style and/or medium, largely because collectors want to buy the work that represents a given artist’s creative vision. 
8/21/202142 minutes, 3 seconds
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Epis. 299- NYC artist and writer Melissa Stern:

New York artist and writer Melissa Stern talks about: Living in a large Chelsea co-op apartment where also has her studio, in a building she calls ‘a community in a box’; her joining an all-women-artist text group during the pandemic, which has been a great source of support and community; her shows that got canceled because of the pandemic, one of which got re-scheduled, and disappeared by ghosting; going down a dark rabbit hole with a couple of bogus dealers – one of whom was a meth-head – and how that led to, among other things, a great experience among a wide assortment of New Yorkers at Small Claims Court (it also led to a great article on Hyperallergic);  her piece ‘The Talking Cure,’ which is a collaboration with 12 writers, 12 actors and 12 sculptors (and will be shown at the Fuller Museum in 2022), and has presented great opportunities to both interact and connect with audience members in parts of the country outside of her New York area bubble.
8/7/202159 minutes, 41 seconds
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Best-Of episode with Ben Davis (ArtNet News and

In addition to being a replay of episode 138, from May of 2021, art writer Ben Davis also provides an update on what he thinks about art and activism today, in conjunction with his new book, 'Culture Collapse.' In this episode, Ben talks about: His time in Australia at the (x) conference, and his meetings with artist Ben Quilty (also a social activist work); art and activism, and art & politics; the mutually incompatible art tribes that exist among the different 'art worlds;' how the fact that all the different complaints from various factions of the art world(s) can all be true at once, and how disorienting that can be (for Ben); how outside of the cities where there's a market, the conversation is almost always about social aesthetics (what Ben calls "social practice") instead, and how that's where government arts support tends to gravitate; how some of the most interesting art – art that's 'underground and weird' - is being made outside of the art world bubble, among them Fee Plumley, an artist based in Adelaide; sections from his book "9.5 Theses on Art and Class" -- the title and also a specific chapter of his book which was originally written as a pamphlet and intervention of an art show in NY on art and class – including trickle-down theories of both economics and art; and art education, and particularly what for Ben was a profoundly moving article: A Eulogy for Hope: The Silent Murder of Gallery 37 ; what explains the fact that grad schools are made up of 2/3 women, but galleries represent 1/3 women…what happened in between?; what the mechanisms are that make up the art world/how it works; his piece "Do you have to be rich to make it as an artist?"; how the conversation about the art market is a complete dead end; how cities with much smaller art markets, but much cheaper housing, are better for artists; and how without the writing, without the intellectual circulation around the production of art, art's just an overpriced piece of decoration.
7/24/20211 hour, 52 minutes, 59 seconds
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Epis. 298: from cedar salvaging to becoming a landlord

Brooklyn-based artist Doug Beube talks about: his internship with photographer Minor White; photographing the circus, and later freelance gigs to make a living and support his art-making, including verité photos of John Kennedy, Jr.; doing cedar logging salvage in British Columbia; his journey from Ontario to New York, and eventually getting his Green Card; why he stopped doing commercial photography; buying the brownstone he now lives in, rents out, and Airbnbs in 1998 as a form of retirement; and the art of pulling apart books and repurposing them into objects.
7/10/202158 minutes, 20 seconds
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Sharon Butler, painter and the

Sharon Butler, NYC Artist and creator and publisher of Two Coats of Paint, talks about: Leaving a tenured teaching position in Connecticut so she could get back to the action in NYC; the origins of Two Coats of Paint, her illustrious blogazine, which was born out of her interest in painting and following painting-focused writers and bloggers around the country, and evolved from being an extension of her painting into a full-fledged digital magazine that involves multiple contributing writers; how she considers herself a lifelong DIY-er, and has made it a point to cover the galleries in Brooklyn, the types of spaces that don’t get coverage in the mainstream publications; the mini-art movement that Sharon wrote about and essentially coined, Casualism; and how much having a permanent studio (for her, a three-year lease was huge), versus being a studio nomad, affected the type paintings she made. This episode is supported by the podcast Wireframe. Please check out their podcast- we think you’ll enjoy it, plus subscribing to Wireframe is a way for you to support The Conversation!
6/26/202145 minutes, 8 seconds
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Epis.#296: Jennifer Moon, Los Angeles artist, would-be revolutionary, & professor

Los Angeles artist Jennifer Moon talks about: getting sober after a long string of drug use benders; navigating ambitions for revolution with a traditional artist career path, including her inclusion in the 2014 version of Made in L.A., which led to sales and accolades; how her commercial success – and the connection of an artist she was working for – eventually led to the security of a professorship at Otis, where she attempts to lobby for changes in the power structures; how, before her career broke, she thought she might give up art and become a therapist (she had been doing a lot of mediation with several organizations already; and a bit about her work with Revolution School, including the theory of ‘Scrooging’ and tackling collective trauma.
6/12/20211 hour, 6 minutes, 28 seconds
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Epis.#295: LA-based photographer Rakeem Cunningham

Los Angeles-based artist Rakeem Cunningham talks about: growing up in essentially a small town (Pacoima) within Los Angeles, where he still lives and works out of a custom-built studio under his bedroom (though he’ll be moving out soon); his day job as the gallery manager for Gavlak in Downtown L.A., work which he really appreciates, and where he especially enjoys being a warm and welcoming host to black visitors to the gallery; how he started working in self-portraiture in lieu of hanging out with friends, and how it became a form of self-love as well as a way put his work out there via Flickr and Tumblr, before the Instagram era; and how he navigates photographing himself nude while avoiding fetishism and objectification.
5/29/202155 minutes, 51 seconds
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Epis.#294: the art of art forgery

Law school professor, former general counsel for Pepsico, and novelist (most recently of The Forger’s Forgery) Clay Small talks about: visiting Amsterdam’s notorious Six Collection, which he was only able to do through creative means (largely through this article), and what the experience was like; art forgery, particularly European forgers of the 20th century- what they got away with, and how they largely avoided prosecution by cultivating charming personas, which ultimately led to their being forgiven in the public (and legal) arena; and his consequential and bizarre visit to Michael Jackson’s compound, in working on the contract negotiation for Jackson’s concert tour at the time.
5/15/202159 minutes, 54 seconds
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Epis.#293: When the aim is the immaterial- artist Mitchell Chan

Toronto-based conceptual artist Mitchell Chan talks about his epic “Digital Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility,” a blockchain-based work which was inspired by Yves Klein’s late 1950s precursor, “Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility;” we talk about Klein’s legendary work The Void, the apex of his ongoing project of making invisible, or nearly invisible, artworks, and how his revolutionary work may have been interpreted at the time; and we talk about the NFT (non-fungible token) market- how it’s helped his Digital Zones work, how a lot of great conceptual work has been made on blockchain, even if it’s not dominating the marketplace… and his philosophical take on the NFT trend from the perspective of an artist who’s been working in blockchain for at least the last five years.
5/1/20211 hour, 19 minutes, 17 seconds
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Epis.#292: the chirp-less crickets of Kauai:

Artist, choreographer and former ballet dancer Madeline Hollander talks about her brief but dramatic professional ballet career and her subsequent transition into becoming a visual artist via choreography and performance; her project Flatwing, a search for the elusive silent/chirp-less crickets on the island of Kauai, which led to a deep dive into evolutionary biology and a video that’s being exhibited as part of an installation at the Whitney Museum; the turning points that led to her being included in the Whitney Biennial and now to have this solo exhibition at the museum; the pros and cons of working in the still-nascent niche of dance/choreography in contemporary art; and how the decision to invest in the Masters program at Bard College has already paid off.
4/17/202158 minutes, 51 seconds
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Epis.#291: How did he make that??! plus...

Berlin-based artist Lee Wagstaff talks about his paintings and his recent career boost through his use of the Artist Support Pledge (#artistsupportpledge) platform-- how he learned of it, his strategies in using it, and how the smaller paintings he’s been making are an ideal format for it. The Support Pledge has also provided him with artistic/financial independence, without having to rely on networking (something he’s averse to), and how he’s turned it into a sustainable living; he also talks about how he makes his optical-yet-visceral paintings, which involve a proprietary process that even his painter friends can figure out.
4/3/20211 hour, 26 minutes, 19 seconds
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Katarina Wong, part 2 of 2

In the 2nd of two parts, artist Katarina Wong talks about: her collective +1 +1, which fosters artist community serendipitously based on a non-competitive ethos, with sharing small works as an ice breaker; our shifting priorities since the pandemic, and our approach to FOMO and guilt when it comes to seeing, or not seeing, everything that’s out there; re-directing our focus on what we do throughout the day (including art making), so that instead of checking off boxes, we’re being intentional about our decisions, and not including the word “Should” as part of those decisions; working on her memoir about renovating an apartment she bought in Havana, which has brought her closer to relatives, while otherwise she struggles with feeling like an impostor for not fitting into any of her respective cultures, whether Cuban (her mom), Chinese (her dad’s Chinese), or even American, despite growing up in Florida.
3/20/202142 minutes, 13 seconds
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Epis.#289: Can an artist get completely immersed in the making? Katarina Wong, part 1 of 2

Host Michael Shaw speaks with Katerina Wong, a New York City-based artist, curator, and writer (among other things), about working her way up to VP of Curatorial Engagement, a position she invented for herself at the corporate communications company where she worked for over a decade; getting good at managing her (limited) time in the studio with a full-time job; the pluses and minuses of teaching, in particular tenure-track positions; going back to school for a masters in theological studies at Harvard, and how she wound up there; how we’re conditioned to make work for an audience, as opposed to having, as Katarina calls it, “pure dialogue” with just the work itself; and we begin talking about the art scene in Cuba, including its misconceptions, which will continue in greater depth in part 2.
3/6/202151 minutes, 4 seconds
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Epis.#288: Being a Museum Director during the Trump era

Curator, writer and museum director Laura Raicovich talks about the challenges she faced as director of the Queens Museum, particularly around actively addressing the vulnerability of many Queens residents during the Trump era, including meeting some resistance from some the museum’s board members. She also discusses issues around diversity and where museums need to be moving, topics she’s addressed in her upcoming book, “Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest.” We also discuss the controversy around the postponed Philip Guston retrospective, and the various projects she’s taking on as her run as a museum director winds down.
2/20/20211 hour, 2 minutes, 10 seconds
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Epis.#287: Can art workers organize?

Artist, writer and art world worker Robin Kasier-Schatzlein talks with Michael Shaw and several listeners in the podcast's latest Virtual Cafe. Robin talks about his 'mini-memoir' from The New Republic titled "The Artist Isn't Dead: Eulogies for the creative class are premature. Art workers can organize—and survive," partially a book review of Shannon Clark's "The Making of The American Creative Class: New York’s Culture Workers and Twentieth-century Consumer Capitalism," and partly an introduction to Robin. In the Conversation via the Cafe, which features several listeners in the Q&A, Robin expands on his own experience being an artist, a writer (he has a newsletter, a twitter feed, and a Patreon page all worth checking out), and working in the art world as a preparator, and organizing with his colleagues at MoMA PS1, where he's the shop steward.
2/6/20211 hour, 8 minutes, 4 seconds
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Curator and NYU Professor Miriam Basilio Discusses Breaking the Museum Diversity Barrier

Michael Shaw talks to Miriam Basilio about her job at MOMA  curating Latin American Art, helping to integrate the curatorial landscape as a woman from Puerto Rico,  low curatorial salaries, her current work at NYU as a tenured professor, her annual 6-week stints in Spain and the Spanish art community, her forthcoming book, and the importance of representation in the art world. 
1/23/202158 minutes, 2 seconds
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Matthew Burrows, MBE- English painter

English artist Matthew Burrows - founder of Artist Support Pledge, number 37 in ART REVIEW’S Power 100 list 2020, and 2020 Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) - talks about building his studio in East Sussex, and why he left London; the perils of ultra-marathoning, including facing his fears (and getting hypothermia); his artist Support Pledge- how and why he started it, its successes, and how it has provided him with a full-time income thru the sales of his works; he also talks about how to set up your own Support Pledge, and who sells well on it and why.
1/10/20211 hour, 17 minutes, 8 seconds
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Epis.#284: 'Best-of' episode with Carolina Miranda

For the end-of-year holidays we're re-running our fantastic conversation with Carolina A. Miranda of the L.A. Times, which originally ran as episode 110 back in 2015. In addition to a new tighter edit of that original episode, we also share two 'Words of the Year of Little Importance," and read a brief, art-world-relevant passage from "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" by Ottessa Moshfegh. In that original conversation, we talked about: her philosophy and approach as an arts journalist; the issues around race brought up in her piece on the Donelle Woodford/Joe Scanlon Whitney Biennial scandal; her posts that went viral, including breaking the story that Hello Kitty is not a cat; as well as stories on a velvet painting museum, and a pool in the middle of the desert. Carolina also makes her world debut reading of "Jeff Koons Cut-Up Poem," culled from the many flowery-worded articles about his retrospective.
12/28/20201 hour, 13 minutes, 23 seconds
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Epis.#283: Los Angeles-Based Artist Colleen Hargaden:

Colleen Hargaden discusses her exploration of subcultures and how to live sustainably, and even potentially survive as our climate changes and we move closer to apocalypse. These subcultures involve doomsday prepping, DIY culture, and tiny house culture, which she says focus too much on self-sustainability when they need to be more about communal sustainability. She also discusses how she’s drawn to the open-ended aspects of making fine art, as opposed to something that’s practical. She also breaks down the former life of Roger’s Office, an artist-run space co-founded by her and her partner. As a special bonus addendum, the episode concludes with Hargaden’s experience with “100-person crits” during grad school.
12/12/20201 hour, 6 minutes, 53 seconds
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Epis.#282: Nato Thompson's Indig-Nation

In The Conversation’s first guest-featured Virtual Café – our once every few weeks gathering with fellow listeners on Zoom - former guest of the podcast (epis. 152 and 153) Nato Thompson talks about “the Indignation.” He riffs on how our emotional space, the space of the personal, becomes a political space... and how in that emotional space, the things that get the most traction are the things that provoke the most emotion. He points out that our biggest emotion- fear - is the modality of the internet, and how most internet chatter takes the form of social media- which has, ultimately, become our political discourse. He also talks his departure from the Philadelphia Contemporary (and nonprofits), and his new post directing the Alternative Art School, and ends with a great anecdote about his turning point towards becoming a curator.
11/29/202039 minutes, 18 seconds
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Epis.#281: Steve Lambert (part II of II), on how Capitalism works -

In Part 2 with artist Steve Lambert, he discusses his most well-known artwork, Capitalism Works For Me, wherein he prompts participants to decide between “true” and “false” on whether capitalism really works for them on a personal level. Lambert himself says “false”, it doesn’t work for him, despite being in a better position than others and lists reasons why within the episode. He also weighs his career making more gallery-friendly art with his art for social change, and how he’s ultimately come down on the latter. His social change work thru the Center Artistic Activism was just featured on CBS News:
11/14/20201 hour, 1 minute, 20 seconds
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Epis.#280: Steve Lambert, artist and co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism

Beacon, NY-based artist and professor Steve Lambert talks about the perils of working in ‘new media’ (as opposed to ‘old media’), particularly around scarcity and the market. He discusses the Center for Artistic Activism, the non-profit he co- founded, including a project in Macedonia that addressed the rampant corruption with a "Bribe Box," a clever workaround for illegal protesting in Barcelona, and training artist-activists in actually achieving ‘wins,’ unambivalently, and the complex relationships between art and activism and how they can come together.
10/31/20201 hour, 13 minutes, 46 seconds
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Epis.#279: NYC-based Artist Michelle Vaughan

Michelle Vaughan discusses her life as an artist in New York City, pre- and during the pandemic, including living and working out of her Chinatown apartment. She dives deep into her heavily research-based process as seen in projects including Generations, which examined inbreeding among the Habsurgs family of 16th and 17th century Europe. She also discusses at length her current show up in Bushwick, called A Movement of Women, which features a full gallery installation detailing the history of conservative women in America over the last 100 years, through a research nook and numerous portraits. 
10/18/20201 hour, 12 minutes, 52 seconds
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Epis.#278: Los Angeles-based sculptor Alicia Piller

Los Angeles artist Alicia Piller talks about gradually moving westward, winding up at Cal Arts for her MFA after being charmed during her interview visit. Her time in grad school is described as being a close-knit community where she also was really able to push herself. She discusses her post-grad breakdown, being driven to create without choice, the lessons she learned from having a solo show with a shady gallerist, and selling a big sculpture to the Hammer Museum.
10/3/202049 minutes, 40 seconds
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Epis.#277: New York-based art critic Seph Rodney

Senior Editor for Hyperallergic and New York Times regular contributor Seph Rodney talks about his long journey to becoming a full-time art critic. As an undergrad he was an English Major, before moving on to an MFA that would deepen his storytelling abilities, and then to his PhD. The road has been long and tumultuous with financial struggle much of the way, getting by with the help of friends, family, and, on one occasion, a tech billionaire. Rodney talks about his current place in the art world, the principles that guide his pen and his mind, “threading the needle,” elitism in the art world, American culture’s White Supremacist foundation, and winning the 2020 Rabkin Art Journalism Prize.  Rodney says that when it comes to writing, he “does not aspire to be unbiased but, rather, aspires to be upfront and honest about his biases.” 
9/19/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 56 seconds
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Epis.#276: Greg Allen on "Naked Stratification"

  Greg Allen expands on a thought from Part 1: “selling baubles of the anointed few to the billionaire class.” He proves this is true through what he calls the “naked stratification” of museum galas, the epitome of “art or art-like things done for a tiny audience that either bought their way in or control an institution.” Even with a global pandemic wreaking havoc throughout the United States, Galas are still taking place over Zoom with elaborate catering delivered to your door. Allen contemplates where to shift away from this, especially in light of upcoming museum closures. He also discusses moving from his adopted home of New York to D.C., his resistance to hyping up the “market darlings,” and his wish-list artists as a collector.
9/5/202059 minutes, 55 seconds
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Epis.#275: Greg Allen of

Host Michael Shaw reviews some of artist and cultural critic Greg Allen’s tweet history, providing the opportunity to deconstruct some of his cultural criticisms, including a defense of Cady Noland; Allen also talks about his ability to speak Japanese, thanks to his Mormon mission, leaving the corporate world for film-making and the art world, and becoming something of an art world (and contemporary art) expert without an MFA, but instead by simply putting in the time.
8/22/202058 minutes, 5 seconds
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Epis.#274: 'A Delightful Nightmare:' LARP-ing the 'Great Success Machine'

Artists Till Witwer and Netta Sadovsky discuss the art of creating, facilitating and executing a live action role-playing game--by artists, for artists. This isn’t your standard ogre-in-the-woods, dressing up as a knight with a sword in the middle of nowhere kind of LARP-ing, but rather a fully immersive investigation of the career-building workshop format. With alternately paralyzing, cathartic, and surprising outcomes, Witwer and Sadovsky are interested in discovering what stands between artists and “The Great Success Machine.”
8/8/202057 minutes, 47 seconds
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Epis.#273: Los Angeles-Based Painter Forrest Kirk

Forrest Kirk is a figurative painter based in Los Angeles; as this episode releases, he has a sold-out show at Parrasch Heijnen gallery. In the Conversation, Kirk doesn’t back away from describing the pressure the art world has placed on Black creators to make “Black Art.” He also talks about his living room-studio setup; discusses collecting -- both as a collector and an artist being collected; his experience in the art world as a black man and a painter; and he lets us in on part of how he's risen to success in the art world within just four years.
7/27/20201 hour, 1 minute, 49 seconds
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New York-Based Ayana Evans Reveals Her Honest Experience

Ayana Evans discusses her 7-year career as a fashion designer (between being a painter and a performance artist), her impressive endurance-based performances, being part of a community of performance artists who are all on the same playing field (unlike the hierarchical art worlds), her first experiment/performance, in which she walked around MoMA in her signature catsuit while a friend covertly filmed (mostly) white women taking pictures of her exploitatively, and her frustrations and struggles with justice for black artists and women of color at large.
7/11/20201 hour, 20 minutes, 4 seconds
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Kate Mothes, nomadic curator behind the platform Young Space

Nomadic curator Kate Mothes of Young Space talks about the pros and cons of curating shows in pop-up spaces; how as a curator she's always wanted to be part of an artist's community, the bottleneck of younger artists trying to get their work out into the world, and how she's built Young Space into a major virtual gallery platform - especially on Instagram - that many galleries pay attention to, and sometimes even borrow from.
6/27/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 38 seconds
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Epis.#270: NY-based “Truly Rebellious Artist” Joanne Greenbaum-

Joanne Greenbaum talks about her time in Berlin, being one of the few young artists of her time to have a full-time day job, showing up for friend’s art shows but intentionally not having an extensive art world network beyond that, being able to live off of her work, the exhausting parts of being an adjunct professor, the hellscape that is being a mid-career female artist, and her steadfast belief that not everything has been done, especially within Abstraction.
6/13/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 1 second
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Epis.#269: William Powhida (part 2 of 2)

In part two, Brooklyn-based artist and activist William Powhida talks about the ivory tower syndrome that accompanies working at an ivy-league institution, his project Store-To-Own,  which allows people to store his work in their home for free under contract, his exhibition After The Contemporary, which satirizes life after contemporary art, his ongoing critique of the art world and its service to and for the ultra wealthy, and the 'Dirtbag left,' which promotes left-wing politics through vulgarity and online attacks.
5/30/20201 hour, 5 minutes, 56 seconds
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Epis.#268: William Powhida (part 1 of 2)

Brooklyn-based artist and co-host of the Explain Me podcast talks about the highs and lows of being the art world court jester (including alienating art world players along the way), what it’s like when your visibility as an artist dissipates, our various complicities in an art world that’s tied to tremendous wealth, and how activism, even in art, relies on activating the media to accomplish its objectives…
5/16/20201 hour, 10 minutes, 50 seconds
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Epis.#267: SoCal artist & professor Elizabeth Folk

Central California artist and professor Elizabeth Folk discusses the pros and cons of online higher education during the boom of Zoom. Folk also touches on performance art, being able to access it virtually through Instagram Live, as well as performing a little piece live, here, on the podcast. 
5/2/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 43 seconds
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San Francisco-based artist Danielle Baskin

Danielle Baskin discusses how being an artist and app developer has, now more than ever, helped her create experiences and fulfill the needs of her patrons. Her latest projects include: a platform called ‘Quarantine Chat’ that pairs callers with random people all over the world, addressing facial recognition technology challenges via personalization, tarot readings and spells over the phone.
4/18/202059 minutes, 52 seconds
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Epis. 265: on Jordan Wolfson's 'Hot and Toxic' art,

This episode of The Conversation we discuss the profile of artist Jordan Wolfson in the March 16  issue of The New Yorker magazine by Dana Goodyear, which in part follows a thread Deb and I talked about in a recent episode about social justice and censorship in contemporary art; because neither of us have actually experienced Wolfson’s work in person, we focus on the story arc of Wolfson’s career as portrayed in the piece, as well as the context in which the art has been received; in remarking on the way Wolfson’s work has been described as capturing certain sensibilities of the internet, Deb says that “so much of internet culture is like a different kind of internalized road rage;” Deb talks a bit about the Netflix movie Velvet Buzzsaw, in which Wolfson’s work is quoted; and we wrap things up by discussing the phenomenon of artists who are ‘cranking work out,’ including when they say ‘no’ when asked for greater production, when it makes sense to make that extra work for vital art fair opportunities, and being grateful for being on the ‘carousel’ (as Deb calls it) in the first place.
4/4/202059 minutes, 35 seconds
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Epis.# 264: the COVID-19 Special

In this Covid-19 special of The Conversation, Deb Klowden Mann and I talk about: Our respective experiences with the pandemic, including lots of cons but a few pros as well, and how she’s sheltering-in-place more strictly due to health vulnerabilities; Deb’s experience coming back from the Armory art fair in New York as a surgical-masked traveler, and bonding with another woman who was even more geared for the pandemic; our prescriptions for limiting/avoiding internet and especially TV news for health’s sake; our respective challenges with rent, especially Deb’s in light of her having not only a substantial commercial rent but payroll as well to maintain, all while sales having come to a halt; and some perspectives on moving through this new world as a community, and gracefully.
3/28/202046 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 263: Brooklyn-based artist and adjunct professor Alex Strada

Brooklyn-based artist and adjunct professor Alex Strada talks about: Why she makes specialized artist’s contracts even though her own work tends not to be object-oriented, which is a feminist-based approach to addressing inequities in the art market; her great admiration for Mark Dion, the artist and her former teacher who has always credited everyone that has worked for him; her various adjunct teaching gigs, at Columbia, Fordham, Cooper Union and Studio in a School; the socially engaged tendency of the work of her students, which she acknowledges comes out of her syllabi emphasizing diversity of all kinds; her film project “Save the Presidents:” how she and her collaborator were able to shoot these immense sculptural busts, which are eroding on a private field owned by the busts’ purveyor, how the screening of the film in Times Square, as part of the Midnight Moments project, was the most surreal experience of Strada’s life; and her life and citizenry as a native New Yorker who grew up in the West Village and still cherishes that neighborhood, but could never live there now – only Julianne Moore can, as she put it – and how the Chelsea gallery system, with rents so high, perpetuates an art world that has to play it safe in order to survive, and how we as individual artists need to fight for our opportunities and our space.
3/14/202056 minutes, 8 seconds
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Epis.#262: Amy Kisch, Bay-Area curator, art advisor and organizer

Bay Area co-director of Art+Action, head of AK Art Advisory and former Sotheby’s gatekeeper Amy Kisch talks about : Her organizing work to bring awareness to the Census in the San Francisco Bay Area, through various partnerships with organizations and artists, as her favorite hybrid of art and social justice coming together; her time working at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, first in the proposals division, followed by running Sotheby’s Preferred, their VIP program for top clients, which put her in a sort of ‘bouncer’ role; why she thinks her friends who have stayed at Sotheby’s have chosen to do so, whereas for Amy, having come from a social work background, it just wasn’t going to be a long-term fit; differences she’s encountering living in the Bay Area compared with the much more market-centric New York, where there’s much more “drafting FOMO” guiding how people collect; her love for the Bay Area, and yet her significant awareness of both the housing crisis and the homeless crisis, which she calls ‘post-apocalyptic.'
2/29/20201 hour, 23 seconds
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Epis. 261: interim Co-Host Deb Klowden Mann

Interim co-host Deb Klowden Mann, a gallerist based in Culver City, and I talk about: Why I continue to do the show and the desire for and challenge of finding a permanent co-host; Gen-X, and how Gen-Xers and social media don’t mix well together; the Twitter storm that Deb got caught in after a high-profile individual came to her gallery and didn’t receive the glad-handing they thought they were entitled to; my ambition to make Hyperallergic’s “Least Powerful People in the Art World” list, and the relative power of a platform; Deb does a little business, with one of her colleagues, via text on air to give us a taste of a day in the life of a gallerist, and later she explains what it’s like working with a large roster of artists and how she and her team are engaged in addressing a range of needs depending on the artist; social justice today in terms of censorship; the difference between DJs who ‘curate’ music and curators who curate art; and L.A.’s mid-February art fair week, and what Deb’s activity (her gallery has a booth at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, aka ALAC) will look like, and what it’s like for her.
2/15/20201 hour, 1 minute, 23 seconds
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Epis.#260: painter and professor Sara Frantz

Painter and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Sara Frantz talks about : Photographing the landscape in Texas and in Iceland, and surprisingly what they have in common; her unusual marriage-divorce-remarriage scenario that coincided with her getting a teaching job at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; how she’s juggling motherhood (with a toddler and baby on the way shortly) in relation to the studio, and navigating doing schematics for her future work while keeping it fresh and not overly tight; the various ‘sketchy’ things she’s been told, as a woman and an artist, including that you shouldn’t have kids if you want to be taken seriously/have a real career…a male professor even told her she shouldn’t wear makeup for her oral review presentation; she also worried about becoming too visibly pregnant would scare away potential gallery relationships; how the painter Alice Neel was the example of the artist who was an absent parent; what it meant to her, and to her parents, when she came home with her first tattoo; and she talks about the kinds of students in grad school (at U. Texas) who didn’t pass their orals, and the kinds – like her – who did, because they had the grit that it takes to be an artist. .
2/1/202048 minutes, 28 seconds
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Epis.#259: Carl Baratta, L.A. artist and co-director of TSA L.A.

L.A. artist and co-director of Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles Carl Baratta talks about: Moving to L.A. from Chicago, to get away from the cold but also to tap into a broader art scene; the kind of art scene he’s building through the TSA L.A. (and some of the other galleries in the Bendix building downtown), one that’s more socialist-oriented in style and tone, compared with the commercial model, and how he feels more connected to this model as a ‘human being;’ the various logistics around TSA including membership dues, budget, how they recruit members and how he’s trying to grow the collective through international exchanges; how he’s learned as much about himself in the last 5 years being part of TSA LA than his whole life prior to that, thanks to self-reflection and learning to see things from others’ points of view; how important ‘appreciation’ is in his model of gallery/artist’s space; and the history and origins of his last name, which not only means ‘inexpensive’ in Italian, there’s also a story about horses for sale.
1/18/202059 minutes, 15 seconds
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Epis.# 258: The 'Meta' Episode/Search for a Co-Host

The Conversation is seeking a co-host for the podcast- to switch gears and tweak the format. It is also the perfect opportunity to talk with several past and current contributors to the show: multiple-time co-host Deb Klowden Mann, and producers Amanda Roth, Chris Ford, Andy Davis, Adam Veil and Megan Bickle. We hear what they all think about the co-host idea and also a little about them and what they're up to.
1/7/20201 hour, 9 minutes, 58 seconds
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Epis.#257: Nick Brown-- L.A. painter and director of the Davyde Whaley Foundation

L.A.-based painter Davyd Whaley Foundation director Nick Brown talks about : Quitting all his teaching jobs in favor of bartending while in New York because he needed to be making significantly for the high cost of living; how he got his current day job as director of the Davyd Whaley Foundation, which gives artist’s grants in the Southern California region, and what the job entails; how his being involved in the jury process has made him more sympathetic to artists who apply, advocating for prospective grantees; how he’s found artists in L.A. to be more generous in sharing opportunities than he experienced while in New York, and how he really likes to making art world introductions; his career successes and struggles, and how he sees the Whaley grant for emerging artists as a way for them to get a boost of recognition and advances their career; how he’s maintaining his UCLA extension teaching job in addition to being the Foundation director because he loves teaching so much, despite its challenges; how he sells his work, both to collectors he’s been able to cultivate without a gallery, as well as small watercolors on Instagram; the story of when a collector rang him up out of the blue and bought $10k of his work at a moment when he was really hurting financially; and how he applied to New American Paintings two years in a row with the exact same work, getting in the 2nd time (because it was all about the viewer, he said--not the work).
12/21/201959 minutes, 56 seconds
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Epis.#256: Sarah Friend-- internet artist and software engineer--

ᐧCanadian but now Berlin-based artist and software engineer Sarah Friend talks about: Living in Berlin as an ex-pat among an ex-pat community so large that it tends to keep her and others from properly integrating into a big German city, and yet the Ven diagram of her kind of people - artists and people in tech - is in full force there; her day-job projects vs. her own art projects, which sometimes have a little overlap (she’s working on a Universal Basic Income-based cryptocurrency called Circles as a recent paid gig, for example); how she got started in software engineering (on her own, self-taught, early-20s), born out of her disillusionment with the class realities of the art world vis-à-vis her fellow graduating art students, as well as needing paid work coming into the great recession job market, and becoming an Occupy-er; her Remembering Network, an interactive digital memorial to all the species that are reaching extinction; and the existential questions, in light of that piece but other works she makes as well: when does something become art, and when does it not? And the way she sometimes she’s her art-making as having an extra limb: it would be a phantom limb if it were somehow taken away.
12/8/20191 hour, 1 minute, 26 seconds
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Epis.#255: Laura Krifka-- painter and professor--

Painter and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Laura Krifka talks about: How her work is at its core about seduction, built through scenarios of being seduced, and how she constructs each painting to both seduce, and, by revealing subtle (metaphorical) cracks in the foundation, she also plays with repulsion; the frank reactions she’s received from more non-Art World audiences about being a ‘weird lady’ for the things she paints; her process of working with models, whom she really enjoys collaborating with and often become friends, and the ‘violence’ that she feels she brings to their painted visages… she feels more comfortable using herself as a model for the more distorted and/or vulnerable characters; how she meets the tremendous adulation she’s been receiving for her fall 2019 show in Los Angeles with the steadfast belief that it won’t last…she always leaves the house expecting some sort of disaster (and yet on the flip side, she’s very grateful for everything she has--including a tenure-track professorship); how she’s always planned on having a side hustle, and still plans to even if her work completely blows up (let’s hold her to that).
11/23/201959 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 254: Ingrid LaFleur-- Detroit-based curator and artist, as well as

Detroit-based artist, curator, Afrofuturist and former mayoral candidate Ingrid LaFleur talks about: Running for mayor of Detroit- why she did and what she learned in the process; her platform of Universal Basic Income, combatting economic violence, and using block chain for a local currency; how and why she started using block chain—mainly to use as an alternative currency that she would like to see implemented into Detroit’s economy; and the Detroit art community: how it’s segregated, ideally the kind of acknowledgement she would like from the white male artists who move to the city (which is 85% African-American)…plus, she offers a thoughtful prescription to anyone (white artists in particular) who may be moving to the city, of how to do so mindfully and respectfully.
11/9/20191 hour, 15 seconds
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Epis.#253: Lauren van Haaften-Schick--

ᐧArtists’ rights and laws expert and PhD Candidate Lauren van Haaften-Schick talks about:  Her first big experience with the secondary market via the runaway auction sale of a work by an artist showing at Nicole Klagsbrun – where Lauren was working at the time – and how it set her on a course re-considering artists’ contracts, resale royalties and activism for artists’ rights; how many of the resale royalties going to artists in the U.K., where they actually have a law supporting artists this way, have been on the small side, supporting the premise that resale royalties don’t only benefit big-name artists in big auctions; the Scull Auction of 1973, which marked the first time that contemporary American art was sold in such a brazenly speculative way, and led to a famous encounter between Robert Scull and Robert Rauschenberg; how activism works in artists’ rights in terms of potential redistribution, and ‘smart’ contracts; how big-name artists in the past (Robert Mangold, Jenny Holzer, Hans Haacke) showed up at congressional hearings for artist’s royalties, whereas recent generations of big-name artists have been relatively absent; and the ‘Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, Seth Siegelaub’s 1971 contract which has had a long-lasting effect in this realm of the art world, despite the lack of awareness of its existence.
10/26/201959 minutes, 36 seconds
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Epis.#252: Oakland-based artist Ann Schnake

Ann Schnake, an East Bay artist and the co-founder of the Oakland project space Dream Farm Commons, talks about: Her background as a nurse practitioner before she more formally became an artist, working in very intense environments (emergency rooms in communities with turmoil) and how those experiences affected her generally and left her yearning to become involved in the ‘poetics’ of art; why she continues to choose to live in the Bay Area after living there the majority of her life (she’s proud of its diversity, for one: Alameda County is 2nd only to Queens, NY for having the most diversity in its population), and how Oakland has such a vital history as well as present by way of the people who were pushed out of the area financially but come back to visit; starting to organize art in the county health centers via a program called Arts Change; how going back to school – for an MFA at California College of the Arts – at an older-than-usual age informed her experience, which was very positive as far as what she was able to get out of it, though she couldn’t avoid ageism from many of the younger students, and which she’s experienced in the art world at large, which she theorizes is connected to younger artists’ m.o.’s to stake out formidable peer groups for most effective impact; how she came to found her space Dream Farm Commons, largely because she “always preferred starting my own things…as opposed to applying to somebody else’s,” and the intentions and trials of running the space, which include finding ways to keep the doors open and adapting to walk-in computer thieves.
10/11/201959 minutes, 58 seconds
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Epis.#251: Berlin-based Greek artist Valentina Karga

Berlin-based Greek artist Valentina Karga talks about: Her artwork (and project from Max Haiven’s Art After Money…book) Valentina and Pieter Invest in Themselves—the collaboration as well as its ramifications in her greater life as an artist, in terms of their precarity and ‘generating parallel economies;’ her workshop in Glasgow, which eventually led to her project “the Institute of Spontaneous Generation” (2016); her background in architecture, and how it relates to/informs are art projects; a recent project her art students (she’s a professor at HFBK in Hamburg) completed, in which they were instructed to make artworks for the future, and how what they came up with was work that was ‘super negative, like a Black Mirror episode…’ post-apocalyptic, in other words; her project Temple of Holy Shit, which was conducted in a public park as part of a design biennial in Brussels, and entailed turning the human waste of visitors to the park – combined with compost, and the process of anaerobic fermentation – into usable soil…and how the problem with using this process on a wider scale actually has much more to do with the taboos around human waste than the actual science itself; her perspectives about working in collectives or collaborative projects in relation to working on one’s own, and how learning to know oneself is ultimately a necessity in most productively working with others.
9/22/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 27 seconds
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Epis # 250: Turning studio art into socially engaged art—

In a follow-up conversation I had with artist Cassie Thornton (of epis. 248), I share with her my interest in moving some of art-making into the socially engaged realm, in particular related to real estate development issues that I’ve begun to investigate. Cassie provides advice and strategy suggestions in addition to sharing some of her own experiences related to building development in the San Francisco Bay Area, including a writer whom she sees as invaluable resource, and an artist, the German Sibylle Peters, as an ideal role model. She describes art institutions as ideal access points – highways, even - to people in finance or real estate, particularly board members; and ultimately describes this type of (socially engaged) work as the opportunity to both make a difference and at the same time to create an ambitious practical – even grandiose – joke.
9/7/201957 minutes, 30 seconds
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Epis.#249: London-based artist/Furtherfield founder Ruth Catlow's journey

Artist and co-director of London’s Furtherfield (London’s longest-running arts organization dedicated to de-centralized network culture) talks about: Her experience being a sculptor in London just as the YBA (Young British Artist) scene began to emerge, and the troubling effects she saw it having on the city as a livable community for artists; the early internet art projects she made and curated; the first trans-humanist project (that she knows of), produced by a Finnish artist she worked with, in which he recorded everything happening in his life to the point that his consciousness could be uploaded to the net; the origins of her gallery Furtherfield, which is London’s longest-running arts organization dedicated to de-centralized network culture; and her work with blockchain and cryptocurrency- how they work in relation to art and artists, and how in her (web-based) community, blockchain is a way to re-think the world’s social order – including live-action role play -  as opposed to just being leveraged as another capital-focused tool (Bitcoin etc.).
8/24/20191 hour, 17 minutes, 33 seconds
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Lisa Schiff, art advisor: a re-release of Epis.#99

It's mid-August of 2019, and while The Conversation takes a week off, we are re-releasing this Blast from the Past, Lisa Schiff from episode #99, which was originally released on Jan. 3rd, 2015. She is the president and founder of SFA Advisory. We selected this episode both because it's one many listeners may not be familiar with (since it's too old to show up in podcast platform queues), and because we feel it's a nice counterpoint to the recent programming we've been doing that's tended toward way outside the mainstream art market...whereas Ms. Schiff generally operates very much inside of it. Here are the original notes included with that episode: The Conversation, Episode 99:  Lisa Schiff of Schiff Fine Art in New York talks about: what she does as an art advisor; the art market, vis-a-vis the Miami fairs, being bullish and the biosphere; why she’s an advisor and not a dealer; and the artists she’s visited and is passionate about.
8/10/20191 hour, 3 minutes, 57 seconds
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Epis.#248: Cassie Thornton, the ultimate socially engaged artist

Thunder Bay, Ontario and Bay Area artist Cassie Thornton talks about: Her origins in northern Illinois, where she mainly grew up with a mom who struggled financially and was at the cutting edge of the downside of the financial crash, which planted an early seed for Cassie to eventually make artwork about debt; how she applied to CCA’s (California College of the Arts) Social P-Word program 3 months after the deadline, in a fever dream, and went on to have a seminal experience there, including attempting to start an artist-in-residence in the school’s finance department, and other feats of radical imagination; the genesis of her seminal artwork, “Give Me Cred!,” which started with her and a colleague deciding to not pay their credit card bills, and eventually led to her creating alternative credit reports for people based on their wherewithal to survive ‘a financial system that’s trying to eat them alive,’ and then become a way for them to get jobs and apartments; exactly why she advertises on her website,, that “if you steal my idea, tell me how it goes;” why she moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario (primarily to co-run the ‘Reimagining Value Action Lab’ with Max Haiven at Thunder Bay University, but also for other reasons); why she finally gave up living in the Bay Area, after having lived in a succession of  6 places over a very short period; her Oakland pop-up real estate project ‘Desperate Holdings,’ which was part spa, part faux real estate agency and  total social engagement project, in which she got to know many of the residents, including becoming friends with a woman who was nearly a daily presence there; and her video “I trusted you I trusted you I trusted you,” a marginalized yet epic piece which is representative of the out-of-the-box work that has led to a very bizarre fan base, including a feminist hedge fund that reached out to her to be their artist-in-residence.  
7/28/20191 hour, 33 minutes, 46 seconds
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Epis.#247: Art After Money, the Final Chapter--

In the final episode with Art After Money author Max Haiven, we talk about: The history of and the current fate of artist collectives, as prompted by a listener’s thoughtful question; Le Freeport, the ultimate art storage facility, a crypt-like structure which Max visited in Singapore, and describes his experience of being there, and subsequently we discuss what a Freeport, a crypt for rich people’s art and antiques, means for the greater world of financialization; the structural violence (systemic violence) committed by the global capitalist elite, and their tendency to morally insulate themselves from their actions, up to and including building escape hatches and bunkers from New Zealand to Mars; Debtfair and Strike Debt, collectives that formed out of Occupy Museums, which itself was spawned through Occupy Wall Street; the art world politics that led to the creation of Art Prize, and how its populist response to the secretive and collusion-oriented market art world has been a problematic response; how Debt Fair, which was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, operates by calling out the institutions and sometimes even individuals whom participants are literally indebted to; what the future of debt in the U.S. and beyond looks like, vis-à-vis mainstream political support for eliminating debt; the Commons, as seen in collectives formed during the Occupy movement and also how they manifest in relation to art and the history of art; Max’s call for the abolition of art as borne out of the abolition of prisons, and in asking the question “what if were to abolish art?,” including museums, galleries and other institutions, what would creativity then look like?; and how everyone, not just billionaires, but even artists, create structures of avoidance to carry on with our work and not get into too dark of a place.
7/13/20191 hour, 26 minutes, 36 seconds
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Epis.#246: Paolo Cirio, New York-based political artist, activist and hacker,

New York (and sometimes Europe)-based artist, internet activist and hacker Paolo Cirio talks about: How he makes a living as an artist, mainly through commissions, workshops and guest appearances (and the occasional sale), and spread through several European cities as well as New York, and also how he keeps his expenses (including his rent in NY) low; his near future as an artist, as far as how sustainable his career is financially, should he choose to start a family; his activist roots growing up in Turin, Italy, which he describes as very working class and a lot of consciousness around politics, as well as early interest in computers and eventually the internet; his epic artwork, Loophole for All, in which he hacked into the General Registry of the Cayman Islands and published over 200,000 entities (many of them anonymous shell companies), then offered a certificate of ownership of those companies for $.99, and subsequently what it was like for him dealing with the fallout from that grand action, and how the piece tapped into complex logistics around how legislations are exploited by big global companies; why he chose the Cayman Islands for his project, as opposed to Delaware, which has a similar culture of offshore money laundering, according to Cirio; his contention that the art market is highly censored due to conflicts of interest on museum boards, including board members from tech giants like Google, in addition to his work not being ‘financially exploitable,’ thereby making it very difficult if not impossible for Cirio to exhibit his work in the U.S.; and why he isn’t going to be making an artwork that takes on Trump in conjunction wtih the upcoming election.
6/30/20191 hour, 29 minutes, 54 seconds
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Epis.#245: Samuel Harvey- Aspen, Colorado-based artist and gallerist--

Samuel Harvey, Aspen-based artist and gallerist (Harvey Preston gallery) talks about: How he initially settled in Aspen, through his various times working and teaching at the Anderson Ranch Art Center, as a ceramic artist; the many kinds of Aspen, including the 1%-ers and the regulars, and how he makes his way among them both, through his gallery, which he describes as a satisfying operation, but also very unpredictable in terms of what it provides to his income, in addition to the fact that he’s in a tenuous situation with the gallery’s commercial space lease; the “happy disaster” of his studio, which is a three-car garage just below his apartment, where the work that he makes as an artist brings him “endless joy,” something that we joke about because of our contrasting in-the-studio experiences; why his gallery is open seven days a week, which is an Aspen thing that has to do with the short on-seasons of sales activity; what he’s doing with his U.S Artist Assembly grant money; and the types of clients he has (people who really love the work, not speculative buyers).
6/15/20191 hour, 18 minutes, 46 seconds