HARVESTING THE NEW ART WORLD
Since 1999 Edward Winkleman has been organizing "hit
& run", a three-day
"Curating is about taking the initiative
and doing it. I never got paid for
it but I keep doing it"
Omar Lopez-Chahoud, Artist & Curator
group exhibition to be held at different locations every six months.
run" has a website, www.fastfatfun.com.
SP- How did you start "hit & run"? Can you tell me what
prompted you to
become a curator?
EW- I worked as the New York agent for a gallery in DC for several years
before deciding to curate the "hit & run" shows. The decision
to start "hit
& run" was influenced by several trends I saw, both good and not necessarily
good, in the way emerging artists were being curated. What I saw that I felt
was really good and exciting were the approaches taken by Kenny Schachter
and Joe Amrhien. The neutrality of the spaces Kenny holds the Rove shows in
makes perfect sense to me. Further, there's no need to be precious about the
space, and so greater risks can be taken. For a three-day show, this is very
important. I can't imagine any white cube type space being so altruistic as
to allow major construction for such a short exhibit. Something Joe said
about the way he chooses artists for the flat files was also very influential
in the way I choose artists for "hit & run". He said that not
artists in the flat files were at the same level (and I interpreted that to
mean that he liked some of the work more than he liked other work), but that
they were all working hard and deserved to be given a chance to be seen.
What I saw and heard that I thought might be tried another way was the
length of the shows. Many emerging artists said that the openings they had
in alternative spaces were great, but that when they went to de-install
their work they noticed that only a few (if any) people had come to the show
after the opening, leaving them with a anti-climatic or even negative
feeling after the show. There's no time in the "hit & run"
format to feel
anti-climatic about it. There's the opening, then a performance the next
night, and then the show comes down the following night. It's designed to be
a one-two-three punch with as much exposure and feedback as possible for
each artist involved.
SP- How do you pick your artists? Do you have a specific agenda or
EW- I choose the artists for "hit & run" based on the formula
for the show
(i.e., a variety of media, background, and previous exposure), minor
subthemes that I choose, my genuine appreciation of the work, and my belief
that the artist deserves to be seen. There is a specific agenda, or rather
an area of exploration, that guides the mix of the artists. Essentially it's
designed to test whether the so-called pluralistic state that defines the
current New York scene is merely a temporary political pose, or whether it
represents a true shift from a linear narrative into a more organic, more
encompassing attitude about what type of art is important. I hope to draw
some conclusions after the 8 planned "hit & run" shows are
complete, and to
present them in the "hit & run" reunion.
When you give studio visits, do you pick the works or the artists?
EW- For "hit & run", I choose the artist. If they're unsure
what they want
to show, I'll choose the work, but I encourage them to make the choice. The
other main part of the formula for the show is to offer artists an
opportunity to realize a project they've been working on, even if only in a
preliminary state. Again, this is why the neutrality and un-pristineness of
the space is important.
Artists who have run with this opportunity have had the best experience with
the show. And I've had the best experience working with them. It's a
thrilling part of putting the show together. I have to admit that not all of
these experimental projects have worked out as hoped for, but I work hard to
make sure the environment is one in which the artists feel comfortable
trying to realize their projects and feel good about having tried it.
How close is your collaboration with the artists during the preparation
of an exhibition?
EW- It depends on whether they are simply including work they have complete
already or are trying to realize an installation or performance for the
first time. I work much more closely with the artists who are pushing
themselves because, well, they can use the help. Essentially, I try to make
my assistance available, but let artists who want to do it themselves have
the room to do so.
My approach in the show is to work with the individual artists so they
personally have as positive an experience as they can. This means different
approaches for different personalities.
Have you had any difficulties with artists?
EW- I've not had any arguments with artists, but I have thrown up my hands a
few times. It's difficult to be demanding when all you're offering an artist
is a three-day show. I try to keep that in mind. Further, because I'm
telling the artists that I want them to try something new, I have to back
that up with the support they need, so I try to be extremely patient. Once
or twice I've muttered an obscenity under my breath, but that's more because
of the time and money constraints than because anyone had been unreasonable
or too demanding.
Who are the curators you most admire in New York?
EW- The curators I most admire are those working in "the trenches."
Lopez-Chahoud, Kenny Schachter, and Joe Amrhein come to mind. I've learned
(or stolen) directly from all
of them. I also think the curatorial experiments at Exit Art are important
for both artists and curators.
Who are the artists that you feel are under represented?
EW- I truly feel there's a sense that anything is possible now, in terms of
what can be shown
in a gallery. Painting, video, sculpture, photography, installation,
abstraction, figuration, formalism, conceptualism...you see it all. However,
there's a seemingly unquenchable thirst for eye-candy in the galleries that
debut emerging artists right now. If anyone is under represented, it's
artists working in less accessible, less glossy vocabularies. This
celebration of bite-sized innovations for their own sake must be close to
running its course, though, so I'm fairly confident that artists with more
depth and vision will start to get more attention.
Do you foresee any particular trend in New York for the next season?
EW- Again, I suspect we'll be seeing more depth in the work that gets shown.
Whether this means a return to "message" art or political art or
psychological art, I don't know, but I do
sense an intolerance for eye candy for its own sake growing. Also, there are
many artists doing really time-consuming, almost obsessive work, with lots
of small marks or many pieces (maybe as a way of testing the "eventually
quantity equals quality" theory) and I think we'll see much more of that
being shown. It's almost as if years of deconstruction left a landscape of
scattered bits, and out of shear human curiosity or inclination, people are
taking the bits and building things out of them again. Themewise, there's a
wide interest in systems and especially fractal-like
representations of systems. Categorization also seems to be something people
are turning to, but this could all be related.
Jennifer Karady is an artist who recently joined forces with Fritz Chesnut
to curate the group exhibition "Posers" at White Columns.
SP- You recently had your first curatorial experience with the group show
"Posers", can you tell me the highs and lows of the whole
JK- The most exciting part of the experience for me was finally getting all
the work into the gallery and figuring out how it would work in the space.
Also, the camaraderie with other artists who were installing their own work
was exceptional. After the show had opened, it was just a matter of waiting
around to see if it would get reviewed and this was a bit anticlimactic.
How did you find the collaboration with the artists? Were there any
JK- I enjoyed immensely the different sort of collaboration that a curator
has with an artist. I felt free to become an advocate of each artist's work
and experienced the kind of excitement that only an outsider (not a
co-creator) can have. The only real complication that occurred was when we
were choosing the final pieces for the show and found out that some of the
works that we had intended to include had already been promised to other
galleries. In one case, this resulted in not including one of the artists
that had been part of our original proposal in the final exhibition.
SP- I must say, yours was probably the best curated show
at White Columns in
"I think of curating as telling a story,
every show I curate is a different
Amy Cappellazzo, Independent Curator
a long time, was your priority on the artists or on each individual piece
JK- My co-curator and I made a conscious decision to commit to the
individual pieces and choose work that would contribute to the show overall.
Originally, we proposed the show to White Columns with ten artists. After
doing a second round of studio visits a few months before the show opened in
order to choose the final pieces, the roster changed a bit based on the work
we encountered. Although some of the artists were creating new work for the
show, there were no surprises. If an artist was making new work for the
show, they proposed the piece to us formally, with sketches, written
summary, etc. We were in close contact with each artist as his/her work
progressed, and in a few cases, we even did a third studio visit as the
Is there anything you would have changed after this experience?
JK- I probably would not want to include my own work in the next show I
curate. The reason I was interested in organizing Posers was because it
contained subject matter in which my own art is deeply invested. In terms of
future projects as a curator, maintaining a certain distance from the
artwork allows one to do something as simple as describe a piece in a
sentence or pinpoint precisely what it is that you respond to in a work of
Who are the artists that you feel are under represented in New York?
JK- Although the climate has improved for artists in general, I feel that
female artists are still undervalued in the art world.
- Do you think showing your own work in the exhibition you curated will
be helpful for your art career?
JK- I think that any time one is able to exhibit one's work in a reputable
gallery it will prove beneficial to one's career. It affords you the
opportunity to develop new relationships with people in the art world and to
find a wider audience. In my case, this experience with White Columns has
led to another show in June at Von Lintel and Nusser that Paul Ha is
Ultimately, why did you decide to become curators?
JK- It began as an experiment with a group of artists who had recently come
out of the MFA program at Rutgers. During a graduate class taught by Ava
Gerber, Todd Alden had visited as an independent curator and had advised us
on how to put together an exhibition proposal. After graduating, a group of
us decided to "do it ourselves" and find spaces to produce
shows. Last summer, we exhibited as a group called Locus at a space in
Tribeca. Fritz Chesnut and I decided to curate together because our
interests as artists overlapped. As our idea for Posers solidified, we
realized that in order for this project to fulfill its potential, it had to
take place independently of our group.