5 questions (and then some) with Carla Camacho for Yale University Radio

I recently sat down with Carla Camacho, partner at Lehman Maupin,  to discuss her path through the art market, as well as some hot topics like art flipping and art fairs. 

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Interview with Carla Camacho


Carla Camacho is a Partner at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, where she has worked for nine years of her now almost twenty-year gallery career. Prior to making Partner, Camacho acted as director of sales at the gallery for seven years. Since her arrival, she has helped guide the team through the gallery’s expansion to the Lower East Side in 2007 and in Hong Kong in 2013. She began her career at the landmark Leo Castelli Graphics, a gallery devoted to prints and photographs, before moving on to work for New York-based dealers, Cheim & Read. A required visual arts class during her undergraduate degree at Marymount Manhattan College sparked her initial interest in contemporary art. Carla Camacho graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, with a Masters degree in art history and a focus in conservation.

>> AF:  This is Angela Fraleigh for The Art World Demystified.  Today we're talking with Carla Camacho about her role as partner and director of sales at Lehmann Maupin Gallery.  Thank you for being with us today.

>> CC:  Thank you, Angie.  It's my pleasure.

>> AF:  I guess what I'd like to do is begin with your beginnings.  So what was it that first interested you in working in the arts?  How did you first become interested in this field?

>> CC:  For me it started in undergraduate school.  I went to school here in the city, Marymount Manhattan College.  And I had really no previous exposure to contemporary art.  But as part of a requirement, I took a visual arts class, and we went around to the galleries.  And I was just really blown away by what I saw, in particular installation art I remember.  And one of the ‑‑ the artists that I really remembered that struck me was xxx Ahmet Mesajay who had a show at the xxx Caposium Gallery, and I just thought that this was a world that I wanted to be a part of.  So I started interning.  And I interned at Leo Costelli Graphics, and at White Columns.  And from there I started working in galleries.  I worked at Cheim and Read, Paul Morris Gallery, and ultimately was here at Lehmann Maupin Gallery.

>> AF:  Wow, great.  And so how many years between that time ‑‑ or like working in all those galleries, if you don't mind me asking?

>>  CC:  Well, I started as an intern in 1996. So you do the math.

>> AF:  Great.

>> CC:  Aging myself here.

>> AF:  And so where did you say you went to undergrad?

>> CC:  Marymount Manhattan College.

>> AF:  Okay.  And was your art major in art? art history?

>> CC:  So I switched.  It was International Relations to begin with, and then I switched to Art History.  And then I took a year‑and‑a‑half off before I went to grad school at Pratt and got a Master of Science in Art History there.

>> AF:  Okay.  And what was your focus in art history?

>> CC:  Well, at that point I really focused on the contemporary art, and I wrote my thesis on Ed Ruscha.

>> AF:  Oh, interesting.  So what was it about his work that drew you?

>> CC:  I was really interested in his artist books.

>> AF:  Okay.

>> CC:  And, you know, for me the thing that I've always found most interesting in art are, you know, work that is beyond the canvas and beyond, you know, a sculpture that goes on the table, because that's what I grew up thinking what art was.  So I was, really early on, fascinated by work that just went beyond those borders.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.  Have you spent any time in LA?

>> CC:  I have.  I have ‑‑ I love Los Angeles.  And if I wasn't tied to New York, I would love to live there.

>> AF:  Yeah.  Where did you grow up? 

>> CC:  I grew up on Long Island.  So I've always been a New Yorker.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.  And, let's see, so you began working at Lehmann Maupin when?

>> CC:  In 2006.

>> AF:  What was your role when you first started working here?

>> CC:  So my role was a sales associate.  And at that time the gallery was a much smaller operation.  We had one location on West 26th Street.  And the team was definitely growing.  The gallery was growing.  So I came in as a sales associate.  And from there the sales teams ‑‑ the sales team started to grow.  After a couple of years I became a director, and then a partner in 2013.  Now the sales team is eleven people.

>> AF:  Oh, my goodness.  So I guess I am wondering if you can kind of break down all that you do in your multiple roles now, as both director of sales and a partner in the gallery.

In terms of sales, what's a normal day look like for you?  I guess we can start there.

>> CC:  It's hard to say that any day is normal.  There are a lot of plans that I make in the beginning of the day in terms of people that I'm going to call, collectors, or artists.  And then a lot just kind of happens, especially because we are a public space, and people come in throughout the day.  So, you know, I might have a meeting with a collector that was planned, or somebody might just show up and, you know.  So there are always things that are planned, like a viewing that you have a week or two in advance knowing that somebody is going to come in to look at a particular work, or somebody who will just drop in and ask to see something.  So there's a lot of, you know, thinking on your toes and improvising.

>> AF:  Right.  Is there a lot of outreach in your part of the work?  I mean are you going out and finding people who might be a good match for your particular artists? How does that happen?  Or being so established, are people mainly kind of just coming to you?

>> CC:  Well, there's a lot of both that happens.  The gallery is now 19 years old.  So as you can imagine, we have a huge database of collectors that we are constantly reaching out to thinking about who would be the right match for a particular artwork.  And then we are constantly meeting new people, mainly at art fairs.  So that Rolodex is constantly growing.  So there's that ‑‑ there's definitely the day where somebody calls us and is very specific in what they're looking for.  But on our end, we're always trying to do a better job in placing work with collectors that we know whether they might have expressed interest, you know, last week, a month ago, or two years ago, and having that information stored so that we know the right people to [inaudible].

>> AF:  Right.  Right.  And I imagine there's waiting lists for a number of your artists' work, and so kind of figuring out where that work would best be suited is always an issue as well, right?

>> CC:  It is.  I mean it's a great problem to have.  And, you know, we always want to do a good job for the artist and make sure that the work is going to the right place.  And that ‑‑ that ‑‑ the definition of what the right place is is constantly changing as well.  There are more and more museums, more and more collectors who are affiliated with the museums.  And even just, you know, the typical person who maybe doesn't have an affiliation, but is really acquiring an interesting collection.

>> AF:  As you know, there's a lot of conversation around the collector who isn't necessarily attached intellectually or emotionally or psychologically to the work but is using it just as an investment or kind of expanding a portfolio of financial investments, and how damaging that might be for artists in the long run.  And I wonder how ‑‑ how galleries kind of maneuver or navigate those waters?

>> CC:  Well, it can be tricky.  And the part that can be tricky about it is that there are even within that realm of let's say buying for investment, there are people who are maybe buying for short term investment, and that's really what's been very dangerous in the art market these days.  But ultimately we have to accept that art has become somewhat of a commodity.  And if, you know, somebody is buying and they hold it for several years and then they eventually sell it in the right way, I really can't condone that type of behavior, because it is part of what the art world is today.  And it's so big, and so global, that that is really something that is more difficult to control, and not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion.  But what is really dangerous are the people who are buying works and then flipping them kind of the next day.

>> AF:  Right.  Yeah.

>> CC:  That is ‑‑ it's really difficult to navigate.  I think most galleries, ours included, try to keep lists of these people who are kind of known to do things like that.  And I often share them with colleagues from other galleries, you know, just be careful about so‑and‑so.

>> AF:  Oh, that's great.

>> CC:  Yes, well, because a lot of ‑‑ it's tricky.  Some of these people seem like they could be great collectors, and then you find out later that they're not.  Even ‑‑ even actually people who are museum trustees are engaging in this type of behavior.  So not even that kind of affiliation means what it used to.

>> AF:  Oh, wow. So, that's a really great strategy.  And one way to protect artists is kind of sharing that information.  Are there any other ways that you've already ‑‑ that the gallery has in place that ‑‑ to help kind of ‑‑ like if something does come up for auction, does the gallery have a strategy in place for how they monitor or help collectors ‑‑ I guess you probably point them towards particular ‑‑ 

>> CC:  We do.  We do.  We are watching the auctions very closely.  And we do a lot of outreach to our collectors, because not all collectors watch the auctions.  So sometimes it's a great opportunity for someone who maybe was looking for an artist's work that we don't have, and so we always try to alert them to those opportunities.

>> AF:  That's great.  That's wonderful.  You mentioned art fairs a little while ago.  And I think a lot of artists have a love/hate relationship with the idea of art fairs.  And I know a lot of galleries do too, because it's really changed the landscape entirely for ‑‑ obviously there are some real benefits.  You can see a lot of art in one place.  But it almost takes ‑‑ it's almost like the equivalent of the ‑‑ you know, lost album syndrome in music, where you can kind of just handpick sables.  It's similar in ‑‑ with art where you don't see the exhibition necessarily anymore, you just see individual pieces at these art fairs.

What's your relationship with art galleries, and what are your feelings on ‑‑ I'm sorry, on art fairs?

>> CC:  Well, I agree.  It is a love/hate relationship.  I tend to love them more.  And I think on the gallery side, you know, it's unfortunate but true that viewership of exhibitions has gone down.  And the reality is that you see a lot of collectors and a lot of people that you know that you don't get to see on a regular basis at an art fair.  So for me that's always a great, you know, reason to be there.  And, you know, not just the business side of it, but just really connecting with a lot of people that you don't see, and showing them the new art from your artists is always a great thing, you know, for me.

The downside, and I think something that we really need to work on I think as a community is getting people to galleries more.  And you're right, it's ‑‑ it's ‑‑ a gallery, you know, to see a solo show of an artist is where you really see the context of that artist's work.  And galleries are still working as hard as ever to make good gallery shows.  And the artists obviously are making the work for these shows.  So, you know, I really wish that there was something that we could do to change that.  But I'm hearing more and more from collectors that they just don't go around to see shows as much.

>> AF:  Right.

>> CC:  So that's really what's changed.  But I think that in a way it's kind of not just about the art world.  It's really about our society in general.  Even, you know, if you can relate it to shopping and how much, you know, shopping is done online now.  And, you know, people don't go to stores and just find things.  It's really just about art ‑‑ consumer habits now.

>> AF:  Yeah, right.  So in some ways the brick and mortar isn't necessarily as ‑‑ well, vital, I guess, a player in that.

But ‑‑ but your gallery is expanding into several different versions of its brick and mortar.  Could you talk a little bit about that?

>> CC:  Sure.  So we have three spaces, two in New York, one here in Chelsea and one on the Lower East Side.  And in 2013 we opened a space in Hong Kong.  And for us it's really about the artist, because the artists are really at the core of everything that we do at the gallery.  And the artists are still making shows, still making works that deserve to have the proper space to be exhibited.  And each of our spaces has something unique about it.  Our Chelsea space is a very typical white box space, and our Lower East Side gallery has a much warmer feeling and a double height exhibition space with skylights.  And that offers a different challenge to artists that they really enjoy working with.  And then our Hong Kong space is really about bringing our program to Asia. 

>> AF:  And so with this many spaces now to exhibit in, are you adding a number of artists to your roster?  How are you filling those spaces?

>> CC:  Great question.  Yes, we are adding artists to our roster.  In the last year we've added a couple of artists that we're, you know, very excited about.  Some have had exhibitions already and some have not.  Last year we showed Kader Attia, who is a French Algerian artist.  And this year we'll have a show with Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, who is a Belgian artist.  And we just added Nicholas Hlobo, who is a South African artist.  And he'll have his first show next year.

>> AF:  Great.  How do these artists get on your radar?  Where do you find them?

>> CC:  Really, just by seeing art in ‑‑ all around the world.  We're constantly traveling.  The owners of the gallery, David Maupin and Rochelle Lehmann, are constantly going to biennials, and visiting studios, you know, really ears to the ground, getting referrals and recommendations of interesting artists, often from other artists.  And, you know, it's really, you know, when you're on these trips and seeing as much as you can where you identify someone who you really feel like has a connection to the program.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.  So these are already established artists.  It's rare that you would take in someone who is an emerging artist; is that correct?

>> CC:  Generally, yes.  But we do look at emerging artists as well.  And sometimes that ‑‑ that happens very, very easily, where, you know, you see someone who is young and doing something that we feel like it's ‑‑ is really interesting and fresh.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.  What's coming up this summer, exhibition‑wise?

>> CC:  Well, our next shows are Tony Oursler in our Lower East Side gallery, and Mary Corse in the Chelsea gallery.  And Tony is an artist that we've had a long relationship with.  And his multimedia work is constantly evolving and changing with ‑‑ with media itself.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.

>> CC:  And Mary Corse is an artist based in Southern California dealing with light and space.  And she's an older generation artist that we have come to love and was highlighted in the Pacific Standard Exhibitions, and we feel like she's having a really great moment.

>> AF:  Great.  Just a couple more questions.  I know that Lower East Side space, what ‑‑ what's its history?  It was something else.  It has like a real beautiful detail ‑‑

>> CC:  Yeah.  Well, previously it was a glass factory.

>> AF:  Oh, okay.

>> CC:  So there are even these old kind of tracks that run along the ceiling that used to transport large panes of glass out the door.  And it really then was kind of an empty space for a while.  And I think there were some pop‑up exhibitions that happened there.  Like I think FAIL! had an exhibition there.  And then we took it over in 2007.

>> AF:  Oh, wow, okay.  [Inaudible].

>> CC:  Um‑hmm.

>> AF:  Can you talk a little bit about the vision or mission of Lehmann Maupin?  You know, like what are some of the underlying values that kind of drive the program?

>> CC:  Um‑hmm.  So Lehmann Maupin I think is really attracted to artists who are using a universal language to discuss topics like gender, politics, identity, religion, class.  And a lot of our artists come from all over the world, really every ‑‑ I think every region of the world is represented in the gallery.  But what we find very interesting about these artists is that they are making work that is really universal, that doesn't necessarily tie them to being South African, or Brazilian, but bringing a language together that really everybody can ‑‑ can identify with.

>> AF:  Um‑hmm.  And I know that we're meandering here a little bit through a labyrinth of questions here, but what are some of the best ways you've seen artists promoting themselves?  So I know that you're finding artists through all of your travels and through, you know, these art fairs and biennials, et cetera, but, you know, we're speaking to an audience of makers for the most part.  What do you think are some successful models for artists to follow?

>> CC:  Well, it's hard to identify a single model that works for everyone, but what I find that ‑‑ that I ‑‑ that I connect with in terms of looking at new art is really artists who have a community, artists who are part of some kind of a community that really support each other and, you know, in some way by word of mouth you get a studio visit, because you're ‑‑ you're artist friend had a studio visit and then recommends you also to see this artist.  So a lot of times I go on studio visits like that where people say, oh, you should look at this artist, or you should look at that artist.  And it's really about this network of connections.  And I think that that's kind of crucial, particularly in today's world where there is so much competition.  And I think that, you know, starting at a place like Yale, where you have this community of your fellow students, and then once you graduate from there kind of keeping some kind of a network together, I think is really important.

>> AF:  That's great.  I mean, it's the old cliché, but it's absolutely true, [inaudible].  Not only does it further your career, but just in terms of making the work better and ‑‑

>> CC:  Getting feedback.  I would just imagine it would be really hard to have that kind of lonely artist making work somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  Or not even that they are in the middle of nowhere, but with no connection I think that you really need to ‑‑ to work hard at keeping those connections.

>> AF:  Yeah, absolutely.  I wonder if you could offer any advice as to how those artists might make connections with curators or gallerists in a way that seems less ‑‑ I don't know, that seems in keeping with the professional approach for you?

>> CC:  Um‑hmm.

>> AF:  I mean other than the word of mouth through that community, is there anything that you could recommend for our listeners?

>> CC:  Well, that is a little bit more difficult for me to answer, because I ‑‑ you know, I'm not a curator, so I don't know what methods curators use to go on studio visits.  But I ‑‑ I find that, you know, just asking for studio visits, you get.  It's like if you don't ask, you don't get.  So even if you don't have a connection, you know, I'm sure there are places even like, you know, the typical nonprofits, like a White Columns, where, you know, you make submissions, and you get them to come to your studio, or things like that.  I hope that helps.  But, like I said, I don't have a lot of expertise in the area.

>> AF:  No, I agree.  And I think a lot of artists have actually gotten their start at White Columns.  So it's a perfect example of a nonprofit that helps forward the work of young artists.

Well, thank you so much, Caral Camacho, for talking with me today.  I really appreciate it.

>> CC:  My pleasure.  Thank you. 

5 questions with Ridley Howard

I've been following Ridley Howard's work for a while now and was fortunate enough to meet him in person during his exhibition at Koenig and Clinton, where he generously shared his thoughts  and processes, about his gorgeous paintings, with my Moravian students. You may remember a post about Ridley's  other half, Holly Coulis, a few months back?The  adorable dynamic duo share a studio where all the painting magic happens and how lucky that we get to peek through the window into that world this week. Enjoy!

Where do you live, where is your studio?

I live in Bushwick now, close to Ridgewood. We lived in 'East Williamsburg' at the Montrose stop for over 15 years, but were pushed out of our apartment in October. It's such a common story these days. My studio is in Williamsburg over by the water. Somehow I have managed to hang-on. I've had the space, an old hardware store, since 2001. There are only a few artists left over there, now it's mostly luxury living. My landlord is just a really nice guy, and an artist himself. I think he likes having an artist in the space. The rent has gone up some, but it's still manageable by Brooklyn standards. 


Who makes up your day to day world? friends? partners? pets?kids? 

Well for a long time it was just me and Holly, my wife, who is also a painter. In our old apartment, sadly we weren't allowed pets.. so with the recent move came a kitten at Christmas. Now there are 3 of us, and the cat has quickly become the center of our universe. It's ridiculous. I do see friends pretty often. Usually for a beer, or a game of some sort on tv. But that isn't a daily thing. And I typically go to openings one night a week.. can't handle much more than that. Holly and I also run a small gallery space, 106 Green, with our friend Mitchell Wright. So I see him pretty often, sometimes for gallery things, sometimes for drinks. 


What’s an average studio day like? 

It depends on where I am with my work. When I am really busy or into the paintings, I get in before 9 and stay until late. Now it's a bit more relaxed.. so I arrive before 10 and stay until dinner time. I like to keep office hours, even if I'm not painting constantly. Maybe it's my dad's work ethic... I like to go to the office and put in a solid day's work. Most of the time it's 7 days a week, but I am learning to chill out on the weekends.

In the mornings I listen to talk radio of some kind. Could be NPR, or podcasts, or maybe Howard Stern interviews. I usually do a music break for a few hours mid-day. I typically start with slow and melodic, and then go up-tempo after lunch. Sometimes sports radio, if it isn't too meat-headed. I like Jim Rome depending on my mood.. sort of a cross between Letterman and ESPN.

What are you working on now?

Well, I just finished a couple of shows. One in NY this fall, and I have a small work show up now in Miami at Fredric Snitzer Gallery. I am sort of picking myself up now, and thinking about what is next. With every body of work, or group of paintings, it seems like new problems are presented, new issues to resolve or explore. So that's kind of where I am.. reflecting on those shows. Recently I have been making small gouaches, which is really enjoyable. There is something about the medium that suits my work.. it is so flat and matte. It's both graphic and soft, and I love the range of color. I have a few more extensive 'work on paper' projects that I'm thinking about. 

What do you do when things aren’t going “right” or you’re having a fallow period in making/ thinking?

I do a lot of drawing. Bad drawing. I make drawings all of the time anyway.. but if I am struggling with ideas or hesitating for some reason, I get a roll of cheap paper and do large charcoal drawings. Most of the time they are just cartoons.. very simple, like enlarged sketchbook thumbnails. Just to get something down and to consider images in space. I either come to terms with bad ideas.. or something new will present itself. And most of them get thrown away. I do go through periods of looking.. at films, or paintings, or just mining tumblr for random images. It feels like research, and sometimes leads to a spark of some kind.


How do you sustain your creative life? (how do you pay the bills or what kinds of jobs have you had in the past?)

We've been pretty fortunate to keep a low overhead for years. We were always serious about keeping expenses down, and didn't accumulate extra stuff in our lives. So I've managed to just paint recently, and take some teaching work here and there. Holly teaches part-time in the city. In the early days, I worked for a few artists.. and did typical odd jobs. But it's an interesting question now, as rents and living expenses in Brooklyn continue to skyrocket. I've always thought that the key to being an artist long-term was eliminating unnecessary costs.. but that is becoming impossible to do. 


What advice would you give a young artist just starting out? 

Well, advice.. this changes weekly, but I think now it seems really important to have a position. With your work. And I don't mean a brand, or creative inflexibility. There is just so much art being made and being seen.. Instagram, tumblr, facebook.. it's endless. I think in the blizzard of art, it is important to feel like you are arguing for something, to find a real connection to what you're doing. Even if nobody else recognizes it or cares. Otherwise you just get sucked into the tides of trend chasing. A lot of young artists struggle with that now, I think.

Also be loyal and good to your friends. I think because of corporate and academic models, young artists think they are climbing a career ladder. It's more like being on a raft at sea. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. The same is true for everyone around you. 


website/ gallery where can we see your work next? 

You can see my last new york show on the Koenig and Clinton site, and other recent work on the Andrehn-Schiptjenko website. I did a show with them in Stockholm last year.  I have work up at Frederic Snitzer right now and I am going to be part of a small group show at Alon Segev in Tel Aviv this September.. other than that I am on studio lock-down for a bit. Once again, I feel like I'm at the bottom of the hill looking up. Gotta work through it.


5 questions with Ann Toebbe


One of the best things about this blog, for me, is learning new things about friends I've known for years. Ann and I met in grad school and I've loved her playful narrative abstractions ever since. Looking at her paintings makes me feel like I'm eavesdropping, or reading someone else's mail, while reveling in the quirky, delicious color arrangements. Ann has recently received some well-deserved love from some of our favorite arts writers for her exhibition at Monya Rowe (please see end of post.)  Congrats to Ann and many thanks for sharing with us. 

Where do you live, where is your studio? Who makes up your day-to-day world? friends? partners? pets? kids?

 I live in Hyde Park, a neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago. My studio is in a one-bedroom garden apartment. It’s just two minutes from our home in our condo complex. My day-to-day world is centered on my family. My daughters are 4 and 6 and my stepson is 16. The kids have school and various activities. My husband, Eric, is a lawyer so I do most of the heavy lifting for the household. I’m very involved in my daughters’ schools as a volunteer and a public school activist. We live right on Lake Michigan so we spend our summers swimming. No pets. We had a fish, Heart, for two years but she died. Occasionally I go out with a friend and, as often as possible, to an art event.


What’s an average studio day like? 

My studio workweek and day is very regimented. During the girls’ school year I work Monday -Thursday. Weekdays I wake up at 5:30/45am to run or swim. Between 6:30 and 8:10 I get my daughters ready for school and straighten up the house. I drop them off, pick up my coffee, and arrive in my studio at 9am. I come to the studio very prepared with a packed lunch and I have tea and a dessert on hand so I won’t need to leave during the workday or procrastinate. I listen to University of Chicago’s djs until noon then switch to NPR. I work until 3:10pm then pick up the girls from school. If I’m on a tight deadline I go back to the studio and work when Eric arrives home around 7:30/8pm and stay no later than 11:30. More often I eat a late dinner with Eric, burn out watching a tv series, or catch up on household stuff and emails. I work weekends when necessary and sometimes have to juggle part-time teaching. Eric and I are always negotiating our weekends to make sure I have enough time in the studio.


What are you working on now? (What are you most excited about/ confounded by/ obsessed with?)

Last year I worked on back-to-back solo shows in May ‘14 and January ‘15. So I’m not working much right now. A friend and curator/consultant is starting an online gallery and asked me to make prints from original work. I’m working on finishing several preliminary drawings for paintings to be scanned for prints. I often finish drawings after an exhibition while I decide what’s next. I’m scheduling a show with fort gondo in St. Louis. It isn’t a commercial space so it’s an opportunity to experiment and take some risks. Work larger? Make drawings? Large drawings?

Art-wise I’m confounded about how I want to approach my next few paintings. I always want to be more expressive, looser, faster but I’m not at my best this way. I’ve found ways to work process painting and looser painting into my work with collage and in window scenes. I love Soutine and Bonnard. How could I be little more like Amy Sillman or Dana Schutz?

I’m obsessed with order. I’m always organizing my house, my life, and my paintings. Only my paintings seem to reflect this, the rest is chaos.

What do you do when things aren’t going “right” or you’re having a fallow period in making/ thinking?

Since I have a family there’s less time for things to not go right in my studio. Once I commit to a painting I rarely set it aside. Instead I fight it, coax it, curse it until it’s good. I have so much time outside the studio I tend to work out bad ideas before I have a chance to act on them. All the stress happens when I’m trying to go to sleep, cook dinner, grocery shop. This will change as my life dynamic changes. I look forward to mucking stuff up and having ideas worked out in the studio again.


How do you sustain your creative life? (How do you pay the bills or what kinds of jobs have you had in the past?)

 In my twenties I was a server, art mover, and art preparator. I was always with artists and dated an artist for many years. During this time I didn’t have much money, job security, or health care. Grad school took me out of NYC and I never returned. During grad school I applied for grants and a residency in Berlin. I met my husband at Yale. I moved to Chicago after a year in Berlin and have been here since 2005. I haven’t had a full time job since I lived in New York. I’ve received grants, part-time teach, and sell work. I don’t make a lot of money, but if I was only supporting myself, I would be able to sustain my art career. I would have to live on a tight budget, no frills - yet.  

My husband is a lawyer at a small firm. It was total luck or fate that I met someone who loves art and kids and is willing to be married to an artist and is not an artist! Being an artist is lonely and I only like to mix in any art scene in small doses. My daughters keep me company and give me a purpose. They keep me from myself and in the world. My role as a mother has been integral in sustaining my art career. 

What advice would you give a young artist just starting out?

There’s no recipe for success. If you want to exhibit and be in the art world, pursue every opportunity. Don’t be afraid to ask, to fail or be shot down. Expect it and move on to the next thing. In the beginning make your own opportunities. Write for small publications, curate, and apply to everything. Get up early, exercise, and don’t drink too much! If any of my answers seem easy going or I have it figured out, I don’t. I’m as anxious as ever and that’s what drives me to keep making work.


Monya Rowe Gallery, New York

Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston

Check out all the amazing press Ann received for her exhibition "Remarried" at Monya Rowe below. The show is up until February 22, 2015. Don't miss it! Ann will have an exhibition in 2015 Miami – not sure which fair yet, stay tuned and in 2016  at fort gondo, in St. Louis.


New York Magazine

New York Magazine

Print Magazine

The Huffington Post

The New York Times



5 questions with Dannielle Tegeder

I love this lady. Dannielle Tegeder is a good friend, and an artist at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, where we both have a studio space. A day in the studio is always made better with a quick break to see what she's up to, sharing a joke or conversing about art over coffee. She is super smart and super fun and her interview is just delightful- just like her. Enjoy.

Who makes up your day to day world?

Other artists, my students, my husband Pablo Helguera, and our kid.

What’s an average studio day like? 

My day begins early at 6:30 getting my daughter ready for Kindergarten. I am usually e­mailing by 7:30 responding to things, and am in the studio by 8:30 or 9:00. I usually work with my studio assistant, and we begin with a list for her to work off of doing administrative tasks, including grants, e­mails, mailing our catalogs, sizing images, setting meeting, etc.

1. Instructions for Utopian Gray World Machine & Copper Inner Structure Ink, dye, pencil, marker, acrylic, gouache on Fabriano Murillo paper, 59 x 82 in. 2014-2011

1. Instructions for Utopian Gray World Machine & Copper Inner Structure Ink, dye, pencil, marker, acrylic, gouache on Fabriano Murillo paper, 59 x 82 in. 2014-2011

Depending on the day, I am either drawing or also working on other things. I finish around 6. I am usually listening to silence or NPR, and look at art books or readings for inspiration. Right now I have the Whitechapel: Documents for Contemporary Art on Networks, and Abstraction.

2. Monument to the Geo Chemistry After Structure with Yellow DISTURBANCE Code and Disaster Averter and Atomic Station, Gouache, ink, colored pencil, graphite, and pastel on Fabriano Murillo paper, 79 x 110 in. (200.7 x 279.4 cm), 2014-2011.

2. Monument to the Geo Chemistry After Structure with Yellow DISTURBANCE Code and Disaster Averter and Atomic Station, Gouache, ink, colored pencil, graphite, and pastel on Fabriano Murillo paper, 79 x 110 in. (200.7 x 279.4 cm), 2014-2011.

What are you working on now? what are you most excited/ confounded/ obsessed with?

At the moment I am working on a new series of large drawings on paper in the studio. These pieces become the framework or legend for all the installations, and on site pieces. I am also very excited to be doing my first public art piece with Percent for Art in NYC in 2015.

3.  Xanthicia, Solar System Drawing and Atomic Daylight, Installation View, Nature Interrupted, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY. ink, acrylic, house paint, and colored pencil on wall, 16 x 34 ft, 2012.

3.  Xanthicia, Solar System Drawing and Atomic Daylight, Installation View, Nature Interrupted, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY. ink, acrylic, house paint, and colored pencil on wall, 16 x 34 ft, 2012.

I am also quite excited about starting a new gallery in my faculty office at CUNY where I teach. It is called “Faculty Office.” The current show is entitled Soccer Mom” and has over 30 artists including: Jackie Saccoccio, Angelina GualdoniElana Herzog, and Alison Elizabeth Taylor among many great others. The show
was in response to Ken Johnson’s recent review of Michelle Grabner’s show where he called her a soccer mom. The show has over thirty successful women artists that are also mothers. The last show was called “Higher Learning” and had over 30 artists who also teach, it traveled to another faculty office at Hamilton College. The space is a boring no window office, but is located inside a historic Marcel Breuer building in the Bronx. The space is experimental, and is also used as a pedagogical tool­ where I bring students in to see the work. I also wanted to
see more contemporary art shown in the Bronx, and have it more accessible. It has been an exciting project.

What do you do when things aren’t going “right”? or if you’re having a fallow period in making/ thinking?

4. Death Rock City, Wooden platforms with mirror, structures created from glass, Swarovski crystal, cardboard, tile, rubber, and paper; large drawings, 4 x 27 ft., 2013-2010.

4. Death Rock City, Wooden platforms with mirror, structures created from glass, Swarovski crystal, cardboard, tile, rubber, and paper; large drawings, 4 x 27 ft., 2013-2010.

I usually sense things aren’t right if the work is becoming to much of a struggle to make, or I am distracted. I usually just stop for a while, go see shows at galleries or museums, or work on my side practice of writing conceptual poetry.


How have you gotten where you are? How do you sustain your creative life? How do you pay the bills or what kinds of jobs have you had in the past?

I have gotten to where I am by being persistent and patient. I sustain my creative life, by keeping an organized schedule and organizing a lot of support, studio assistant, baby sitter, back up babysitter, my mother, my husband etc. I am also a professor at CUNY, and teach throughout the year. I have also taught in a number of schools, and regularly do visiting artist visits. I live through a combination of my teaching salary, grants, and art sales. I have had every job under the sun, waitress, cocktail waitress, studio assistant, gallerina, Macy’s fragrance model (those are the people who spritz you)!

5. Death Rock City, detail, Wooden platforms with mirror, structures created from glass, Swarvski crystal, cardboard, tile, rubber, and paper; large drawings. 4 x 27 ft., 2013-2010

5. Death Rock City, detail, Wooden platforms with mirror, structures created from glass, Swarvski crystal, cardboard, tile, rubber, and paper; large drawings.
4 x 27 ft., 2013-2010

What advice would you give a young artist just starting out?

There are a number of things...remember you are in a community and to be generous and give out, artists that are alone stop making work 2. Get used to rejection for grants, residencies, etc. not once but most artists apply ­10 times. 3. Apply for lots of things on a regular basis, this is how you will meet people, and sustain your practice. 4. Think of a side skill, and get your job down to three days or less. 5. Learn to write well, and do good public speaking 6. Learn to manage your money, and budget 7. Keep up with your references 8. Curate a show or start a blog. 9. Get organized with your time, and work when you can 10. Get a studio with a group of serious artists.

6. Speed Secret Grain Crash, Triangle Line Manifesto, Silver Grass Alchemy, Group Acrylic and ink on canvas, 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm), 2013-2010

6. Speed Secret Grain Crash, Triangle Line Manifesto, Silver Grass Alchemy, Group Acrylic and ink on canvas, 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm), 2013-2010

Dannielle has upcoming museum shows in Germany at the Kunstalle Osnabruck, the large Percent for Art installation in NYC, Seed Space in Nashville, and Real Art Ways in Hartford.
Her drawing videos are up now at the Frist Museum for Visual Arts in Nashville at the end of the Kandinsky exhibition. 


7. Suspended Galaxy System, Wire mobile, Copper, stainless steel, stained glass and ceramic 32 x 22 x 17 in., 2013-2010

7. Suspended Galaxy System, Wire mobile, Copper, stainless steel, stained glass and ceramic 32 x 22 x 17 in., 2013-2010




5 questions with Rebecca Morgan

I've been following this lovely lady's work for a while now. She shows at one of my favorite galleries in NY and I'm thrilled she agreed to answer a few questions this week. Check out Rebecca's work while you're in Miami this week at Untitled Art Fair.





Where do you live, where is your studio? Who makes up your day to day world? friends? partners? pets? kids?

I currently live in my hometown of Clearfield Pennsylvania. Central Pa, in the Appalachian/Allegehny Mountains. It is a very quiet, very rural, remote and conservative place, but it is exceptionally beautiful, genuine, slow and picturesque. My day to day world consists of my Mother and my family who live in town- my two aunts and grandparents. I go to New York as often as I can for openings and errands- pretty much twice a month. (I live four hours away) I am in an intermediary zone of living- a transitional time, planning where my next move will be. This is the first “studio” I have paid rent for- it is a tiny room above the community theatre building. I have only been working here for about two months, so It is starting to feel like “my own space” which is really important to me. It has bright blue walls that I keep meaning to paint white!

What’s an average studio day like?

I usually get into my studio at around 10am. It is essential to have the internet where I can talk to others, take periodic breaks to read or look at images. I will work for short bursts, maybe an hour or two at a time and then “rest my eyes” on the internet. A lot of time is spent looking for source material on the internet and books- recently I have been looking at Greek sculpture, which provide me great figurative stand-ins. Music has always been difficult for me when I’m working- it has to be very specific high energy; It can get me too emotional and melodramatic in the studio. I love pop music/top 40 and have unabashedly been listening to T.Swift album, Run the Jewels, Kanye, Exmag, Jack White and Drake. Sam Smith has been really big for me this year; I’m even making a painting of him as a cherubic rural field nymph.  If it is not music or silent in the studio, I am listening to comedians/interviews or talk radio like Joe Rogan and Opie and Jimmy. Comedy is very important to me- it lifts my mood, as working in the studio is really cerebrally and physically taxing for me. I like to spend the whole day here, sometimes achieving a lot and other days maybe next to nothing. I usually leave anywhere from 9pm to 12, but if a deadline or show is coming up, it can be much, much later. I usually work on wood panels when I paint (sanded smooth, gessoed surface where I usually do a very thourough under drawing and build color up with layers of glaze) or drawings on very large paper. I have a lot of scrap paper on hand for smaller cartoon work. I like to work on a few different paintings at once- it breaks up the energy. If something is drying, I mess around with something else. I like to leave at a good stopping point- when I am waiting for glaze or paint to dry or if I feel particularly accomplished about a certain area, or if I am making too many mistakes or creating more problems for myself- it is time to go!


What are you working on now? (what are you most excited about/ confounded by/ obsessed with?)

I have been making ceramic face jugs and sculptures in relation to my two dimensional drawings, paintings and cartoons. Ceramics really excite me. I am really pumped about making three dimensional versions of my two dimensional ideas. Generally, I am making work about scenarios and archetypes of the wilderness and pastoral, virginal flower picking maids, witches and mountain men and the scenes and situations that they find themselves in—debauchery, trauma or repose. The work is being driven by a narrative, as it always is, but I hope to make them more ambiguous, more interpretive, maybe more mysterious and ominous. I have titles like “Pie Eater” “Love Stump” “Passed Out” “ Sleeping Maid with Creeper,” “Terror Elope,” “Smoker,” “Judith,” “Bride and Groom” that are general concepts for a painting or drawing that I will then expound upon. The image and narrative always come first. I am trying to get back to formal experimentation, as I feel like I have been somewhat formulaic in my approach to art making. I want to respond more innately and be more formally loose and take more risks outside of my comfort zone, which is very difficult for me, as my hand naturally wants to tighten things up and make things very specific. I am trying to find a good balance between all of this. I work in three modes of representation; cartooning (looser, crude, more rudimentary, less fussy) traditional cross hatched drawing and more naturalistic representation and somewhere in between, a cross between cartoonish and naturalistic representation.


I am obsessed with my smartphone/the Internet and social media—I think it is a very important tool on so many levels. Right now, it is how I stay connected to the art world and my friends, as I often feel pretty far removed, geographically. I can be in the middle of nowhere and still see studio shots of my favorite artists and people on Instagram and feel in the loop and informed. I use it as a diaristic catalogue and I like revisiting images, like a personal archive. I am constantly inspired by the images I see on social media; peers from the country posting unintentional source material, portraits, anything can trigger an idea.

What do you do when things aren’t going “right” or you’re having a fallow period in making/ thinking?

For me, it is absolutely crucial to take breaks. I get on the internet, make a phone call, run an errand or get a snack. It gives me a little distance from the problem and helps me reassess how to solve it. Solutions can be hard to see when you are right on top of the work and too invested, staring and obsessing at the issue. Sometimes I have to abandon a work or drastically change it, or start over, and while that is a difficult thing, taking a break and getting “fresh eyes” helps me come to terms with it, or prepares me to do what I have to do. Regardless, the answer lies in working through it. Painting can be pretty stressful for me, so I sometimes switch formal modes and make something out of clay- It is a refreshing break and totally different approach.


I will say that art making is easier when you are committed to a daily practice as best you can, whether it is making something small and seemingly insignificant, or writing or reading or planning, it is all important and relative. This is something I’ve struggled with. Because the nature of the work I make can be so highly detail oriented (a self portrait needs to be convincing, figuration has to anatomically and spatially work, technical issues with glazing or reworking areas again and again) it was easy to want to avoid the studio and art making; it was hard to sit myself in a chair and physically make the work. For the past six months or so, (coming off of a three month residency at the Bemis Center in Omaha reinvigorated my daily studio practice) it has been easier to come in and be in a routine; once I felt like I was coming in to have fun and not take things as seriously or as preciously. For me, I had to find new ways to make work that made me excited yet also didn’t emotionally exhaust me in a way that was unhealthy to a daily studio practice.  I am trying to find new ways to be less critical and hyperaware of the impact of my formal decision making and trying to respond more innately to the work.  It is still a struggle to accept that everything that I make does not have to be a “masterpiece” and that is in learning to let go and not treat everything so preciously. Coming off of a show in the spring, I essentially have an empty studio, which can be a point of anxiety for me, but I feel like it is an opportunity for a fresh start, and hopefully new modes of art making outside of my comfort zone. Basically, art is hard.

How do you sustain your creative life? (how do you pay the bills or what kinds of jobs have you had in the past?)

Living in my hometown in Pennsylvania has a low cost of living, so I am able to exist on very little. I am currently living in my childhood home, so that also helps. To pay bills and school loans I am a substitute teacher, which allows me to take days off if I need to be in the studio or travel for openings or other obligations. When I lived in Brooklyn, it was obviously much more of a hustle and slog to make things work. I couldn’t get a job after graduate school, so I was doing odd jobs- I would prepare and gesso canvases, paint gallery walls, move artist studios/art handle- it seemed like I was driving a box truck a lot! I interned at four galleries at the same time (for no pay) I worked at a paint your own pottery place and a corporate art supply store and didn’t make more than 10 dollars an hour. I had a little savings that I used in conjunction with working, but it went away quickly to rent and living. It was difficult in that I wanted to be in the city for the cultural opportunities and immediacy of the art world, but also wanted the slowness of the rural. It is and was a daily struggle to determine where the right space for me is- somewhere intermediary is where I exist on a daily basis. I want and need both.

What advice would you give a young artist just starting out?

I would say that to expect a life of “hustling” is a stereotypical answer, but that has a lot to do with it. Very few times are artistic opportunities just given to you- you have to put in the time and research on your own to understand where your place in the art world is. If there is a gallery that you are interested in, attend the openings, introduce yourself, sign the guestbook, follow them on the Internet etc. etc. It is very helpful to be present and a familiar face.  Put yourself out there, even if it is uncomfortable. A lot of great opportunities for me came out of interning at galleries. It was not always ideal, but I met a lot of great people that way.  It is very insightful to see first hand the general energy and day to day workings of the art world. You see how things happen. It also helps you determine the kind of places that you do not want to align yourself with. You need to understand the right gallery or the right exhibition space for the type of work that you make. If there is a void, fill it yourself and take it upon yourself to make those opportunities happen. Surround yourself with the people you want to be around, not those that you think you should be, or have to be. They will not determine your success, but it is true that it is exceptionally helpful to be socially connected in the world that we exist in. Don’t get hung up on your peers success- there is not one other individual making the same work that you are; we are all running a different race. Reach out to people if you appreciate their work. You will be rejected A LOT in a myriad of different ways and you will have to learn to cope with it in a healthy way. Some of the best experiences I have ever had have been attending artist residencies; I have met extraordinary and like minded people and had the chance to make work in a new environment. They are so much fun; it is like going to adult art camp! Learn not to crumple under pressure- especially if there is a deadline or a show approaching- learn how you can use it to your advantage and work through it.


Rebecca shows with Asya Geisberg Gallery in New York, NY. You can see Rebecca's work in Miami at Untitled Art Fair December 3rd-7th.