Episode 56: Curt and Jennifer Conklin

September 25, 2006 · Print This Article

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Amanda, Duncan and Richard talk to Collectors and swell hosts Curt and Jennifer Conklin. Rapping! Ranting!!

The Residency is coming soon!

Kurt Conklin & Jennifer Conklin
Steve Martin
Robert Kelly
Scott Stack
Alison Ruttan
Laura Letinsky,
Tony White
Susie Giles
Britney Spears
Sean Preston
Artadia Grant
Conrad Bakker
Devendra Banhart
Daniel Reich
Jessica Simpson
Carl Hammer Gallery
Wesley Kimler
Rockford Art Museum
Susan Caperelle,
Joan Livingstone
Monique Meloche Gallery
Bob Knox
Katy Grannan
Cathy Opie
Suzanne Ghez
Dominic Molon
James Rondeau
Francesco Bonami
Thomas Struth
Michael Raedecker
The Peter Miller Gallery
Bucket Rider Gallery
Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi
Direct download: Bad_at_Sports__Episode_56_The_Conklins.mp3

42 thoughts on “Episode 56: Curt and Jennifer Conklin”

  1. leonardo da vinci says:

    i feel dirty. eeew.

  2. mkaysen says:

    It was very interesting to hear that collectors do get get influenced by the curators from the mouth of a collector. However, I found it somewhat disheartening that a collector would put as much stock in a curator as Mr. Conklin alluded to. Having worked in the business as long as I have, I am sure that curators are NOT the be all/end all when it comes to art with a capital “A”, even the really educated, enlightened curators have their moments ……. as we all do.

    Even more interesting was the bit-of-a-bombshell that collectors(!) can and are frozen out of the market based on their collections “status”. In my nieve world the possesion of green, folding cash admits one into the art world, not who you know and blow. If someone has money, they can have my work (on a VERY simplistic level); they don’t have to be “in the IN crowd”. I would have liked to have heard more about this side of the collecting market, although I imagine that may be dicey for the Conklins to talk about if they care ……….

    It is this reality combined with curator influence that seems to lend a bit of creedence to Mr. Kimlers position, no??? It definetly is the “dirty” side of commerce that artist in general try to stay away from and is probably the position that Duncan was stake out earlier in the show.

    Yes Leonardo, I too, feel dirty ……..


  3. Richard says:

    You are a very dirty boy Leo.

  4. leonardo da vinci says:

    i vomited, and swallowed. then vomited again.

  5. barry goldwater says:

    omg. your money’s not good enough?


    end the world.

    bomb them.

    damn it.

    this is a traVESTY.

  6. Michael says:

    Wisconsin is America’s Bong!

  7. Michael says:

    What of this business of having the shoppe lights turned on and off? Sounds like someone needs an electrician.

  8. James Cole says:

    Mr. Conklin is 10 years older than Mrs. Conklin.

  9. mkaysen says:

    and your point is, Mr. Cole???


  10. Richard says:

    How does the age of a couple reflect on anything related to this show???

    I expected a livelier debate here as this view into the collecting world had some interesting insights.


  11. James Cole says:

    Well, I thought this might be useful as a point of departure in discussing their slightly different persepectives in addressing artwork.

  12. leonardo da vinci says:

    i think we’re all still dry heaving, when we catch our breath maybe discussion can follow….

  13. brad says:

    Waitaminute… I distinctly remember Duncan and Richard saying there weren’t any collectors in Chicago.

    I can only conclude that, like the ‘moon landing,’ this entire episode is a fake, ginned up by the federal government, to pacify the masses. Ah, BAS, infiltrated by the man, so soon.

  14. brad says:

    ps – guys, where’s the ‘direct download’ link for this episode? thx.

  15. James Cole says:

    I would like to not how much I enjoyed this episode, despite my earlier nonsense statement. This segway into different niches of the art world that are not normally discussed was very engaging. How much do they spend a year on art. Are they using these as investments? This episode plus those ones with Conger and Devening are outstanding. I also have been thinking that this show represents the energy of Chicago, which, when harnessed like 1.21 jigawatts, could push Chicago into an offensive role in the art world as opposed to our regional defensiveness, plagued by self-doubt and whining.

    Jay: See, all these movies take place in a town called Shermer, in Illinois. And there’s all this fine bush running around, and we could kick all the dude’s asses because they’re all whiney pussies. Except Judd Nelson – he was harsh. But best of all, there was no one selling weed. So I says to Silent Bob “Man, we could live phat if we were the blunt-connection in Shermer, Illinois!” So we collected some cash we were owed, and caught a bus. But when we got here, you know what we found out? There is no Shermer in Illinois. What kind of shit is that?! Fucking movies are bullshit!

  16. tony tasset says:

    dear richard holland,

    one small criticism-your repeated assertion that you don’t make saleable art doesn’t hold water or fog. the artword can sell anything. rirkrit sold dirty woks, a manzoni can of shit recently sold for a million at auction. a gallery dealer in chicago once told me it was impossible to sell a tom friedman, because the work was too ephemeral. the history of art is full of abject gestures intended to challenge consumer culture only to become the new canon. not selling work is not the same as not making saleable art. sorry man. maybe you should stop calling your work non-saleable, it might help sales.

    dear jennifer and curt,

    nice job. i admire collectors. people spend money on the dumbest things- $10,000 purses, bottled water, $5 coffees. if somebody wants to spend their money on unique, challenging objects for their home, right on. besides, look at any major museum in america, they began as private collections. i find collectors are in a tough position. often artists are suspicious of them, which makes no sense, and institutions are constantly hitting them up for support. i can’t tell you how many conversations i’ve had that eventually bemoaned the lack of young collectors in chicago. when i first moved to chicago and worked for rhona hoffman gallery for awhile, i was fortunate enough to see the great collections of jerry elliott, the hoffmans, the manilows, the stones, the neisers etc. many eyes are on curt and jennifer, because they are two of the few newer collectors. a personal hobby/passion/decorating scheme suddenly becomes the hope of a cities art community-that must feel like an awful lot of responsibility.


  17. Richard says:


    You’re hired! I need a publicist. I didn’t realize I said it that much. My comments are directed more at scale and site specificity but hey the art institute bought Bill Viola’s reasons for knocking at an empty house, a piece I have personally set on fire (long story), and if that thing can be sold to an institution anything can.

    I suppose that responding to you, a man who just fabricated a bronze tree about scale is probably a fairly pointless lament. I retract.

    I’m in the business for the glory and the groupies really, with that fat bank I am earning at work, I scoff at financial gain.


  18. Richard says:

    The downloadable thing is being worked on.

    I use i-tunes, and for its flaws it does a decent job. I’m not the tech guy so I’m not sure what changed. Our guru Christopher is on the job.

    James Cole,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, and I do now see the point you were trying to make. What was funny, and got cut due to time, was Jennifer giving Curt shit about not being podcast saavy due to his age, which was pretty hilarious, particularly considering Curt’s level of techno-geek-boy prowess. Although I’m still not sure if he listens to the show or not.

    Alas, some day when the directors cut of BAS gets released you can get those gems that hit the cutting room floor.


  19. Richard says:

    Last but not least.

    Who won the Deb Sokolow kills Duncan piece during the West Town Gallery shindig?

    I’m dying to know, and Duncan already died to know. Anyone note his mysterious absence during the intro to this show, and …. complete absence from this forthcoming show. Do I feel a whole Paul-is-Dead conspiracy coming on (for those of you under the age of 50 there was a whole theory that Paul McCartny had been killed at one point, google it, it is hilarious).

    Deb is being investigted, although I think Teena is trying to frame her.

    Lastly, there are no collectors in Chicago (did I ever actually say that?) Curt and Jennifer were out-of-work actors and we have run out of people to interview.


  20. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio says:

    Leonardo you suck and you bore me.

  21. leonardo da vinci says:

    fuck you too mickey. never did like yo fleabag shit.

  22. Having listened to the episode (itunes was easy; thanks richard) with a sense of dread, I came away impressed. I think Duncan and Richard were arguing different points vis-a-vis capitalism: Yes, the artists should not be producing work just to sell it (or we’re no better than other widget makers) but we also have to realize that the art world is, like anything else, based on a social network of people who have to make a choice as to whether or not they will support you. Like most situations, you’ll get more support if you can form a good relationship and make a convincing case for why you deserve that support (i.e. my art is relevant, interesting, and important).

    As for the dogs riding monkeys (where *are* these dinner parties? they sound great!) I don’t think anyone was saying “hey, be totally fake and weird,” but more like “hey, if we know you and you’re interesting, we’re more likely to take a second look at your work” and you can probably achieve “interesting” with your real, rather than dog/monkey persona.

    Though I personally guarantee that, if anyone shows up to a dinner party of mine with a monkey riding a dog, I will buy their work. Even yours, Richard.

    Jennifer and Curt seemed intellectually engaged in looking at art (way beyond your museum-level “that’s pretty” or “that’s famous”) and were genuinely excited about it. How often does anyone even look at contemporary art, let alone get excited about it? I mean, they’re buying what they like aesthetically, what they find conceptually interesting, and trying to make a collection out of it that they enjoy even after staring at it for a year. Frankly, it seems exactly like how the art market should work, if we could just get a whole shitload more people doing it.

    And here I thought they were going to have fangs and buy art because it matched their couch.

  23. Michael says:

    I had exactly the same reservations while listening to this lastest podcast with the Conklins, but came away feeling more informed.

    One greater question that this opens up is; Who are these gate keepers that keep people like the Conklins from buying work they like? That once you are established as an artist in the system someone may selectively place your work into one collection and not into another. As an artist does this matter? Going back to the comment “How often does anyone even look at contemporary art, let alone get excited about it?” shouldn’t we as artists be thrilled when somone throws down their hard earned cash for your work? Shouldn’t anyone be able to have access to buying a piece that they like?

    Then – I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – but what are you doing hanging
    We’re here to pick up chicks.

    Excuse me?

    We figure an abortion clinic is a good place to meet loose women. Why else
    would they be there unless they like to fuck.

  24. Admin says:

    Sorry about the direct download link not being there I thought I wrote that in. It is there now.

  25. Bill Dolan says:

    I had never realized that there are collectors that are being shut-out by dealers. I find that totally absurd. Although, I must say that that is very encouraging in a way, that there are collectors that are being underserved and there are those that are up-and-coming that will be dismissed by the established scene. With the groundswell of activity here and the emphasis on DIY for artists to create ther own scene, this means that there will also be interest in the work and that a new art scene can be sustainable.

  26. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio says:


    I killed once and I can kill again, bring it!

  27. Hudgens says:

    Oh, and I am quite surprised that no one has mentioned the immense love that Richard has for rapping on the air going all the way back to episode 12 where he broke out the parachute pants and let it rip.

  28. leonardo da vinci says:

    ya know mikey we don’t have to hate.
    now the rest of yo sychophants, find some stamina you gutless wonders.
    a couple of rich folks talk about how they like to flash their wad and we all lap it up.
    more vomit comin outta my ass.

  29. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino says:

    Peace, men!

  30. William Conger says:

    I liked the show with the Conklins, partly because it seems they have some work by young artists I admire. And I certainly want to second comments by Tony T. and others who think it’s fine that there are some collectors who are supporting new art in Chicago. I agree that we should admire and foster the interests of serious collectors because it takes enormous commitment and guts to buy art on the basis of its merits. But I need to say I am not so sure that quality in art depends on an artist’s social graces at a dinner party, verbal explanation of his or her art, or self promotion. All of those are indicators of how one may access art but they are not sufficient to reveal its quality and ultimate importance. Yes, artists should be informed and articulate. Anyone who was my student knows my attitude on that! Yet it’s simple and true that intentions alone cannot validate art. No artist’s explanation of his or her art can assure its quality or even its ultimate meanings. That being said, it’s still more reassuring to have confidence in an artist who can say something interesting than it is to believe in a tongue-tied dunderhead even if the dunderhead might be an inarticulate genius. My other concern relates to Mr. Conklin’s comment regarding the (his) need for that “extra layer” of content he finds in some art but not in the geometric abstraction he used to prefer. Fair enough, if the abstraction is just a decorated surface, but of course it’s also quite true that much imagistic or subject-laden art is mere illustration. The key to quality is in the form and its allusive evocations. Yet, just as with intentionality, no subject guarantees content — the two terms signify separate domains. Nevertheless, collectors should buy what they like and for whatever reasons they embrace because liking and reasoning both reflect some undefined and truthful spiritual resonance that connects them to the work. If they are as open-minded, diligent, and as informed as the Conklins seem to be, the results will always be good for artists and art.

    William Conger

  31. Scott Speh says:


    A U of C professor named Darby won the Sokolow during the WGN hop. I sure hope that Duncan is not dead.

    rock on,

  32. Richard says:

    Bad at Sports has no comment at this time.


  33. katie sehr says:

    it’s very easy for people who have money to tell people who simply have talent to “market” themselves – i should not write the rest of what i would like to say unless it is ink on paper.

    katie sehr

  34. Michael says:

    I heard that Duncan, with his weak Canadian immune system, is suffering from a terrible plague. I guess that’s what you get for trying to smuggle Gibbons. Can Duncans taste for bush-meat ever be met.

  35. brad says:

    (quoting William Conger:)

    “I agree that we should admire and foster the interests of serious collectors because it takes enormous commitment and guts to buy art on the basis of its merits. But I need to say I am not so sure that quality in art depends on an artist’s social graces at a dinner party, verbal explanation of his or her art, or self promotion.”

    Interestingly, I don’t think that most collectors (or artists) would have the hubris to claim they know what the ultimate quality of a work of art is. For that matter, I think we could probably argue that what is spoken of as ‘quality’ often isn’t really an intrinsic part of the work of art, but a label assigned by some sort of consensus, led by a small group of art-world tastemakers, plus random chance, and is often reconsidered at a later date.

    Certainly, there is an aspect of first-ness, as well as virtuosity, historical significance, etc., but most of these are characteristics external to the work itself. The other idea of a work’s ‘quality,’ one born out of a personal resonance with a work (even when informed by all those other external factors) is what, I think, we hope for in a collector, because it implies a personal relationship to a work which mirrors how we, as artists, feel about our work ourselves.

  36. I agree with Tony T too about sales (oh my God, and I’m a Shark, agreeing with one of “the enemy”!).

    I had wanted to write in about that for some time, as you Richard, and Amanda, do indeed assert that often. Come on, you are in Chicago where they have a vast market in Crop Futures — where one simply buys the opportunity to buy something in the future. Modern Capitalism can and does sell anything and everything! And site specific and/or event artists win most of the grants nowadays, which means they are also good at selling a product — their written proposals, in effect. I’ve won lots of those things, so I’m not complaining, I just want to point that out — and that the Object must be construed in a linguistic sense — even a rumor can be an object — we can put it in the “object” case in a sentence. Or in the philosophical sense — an aesthetic object can be a performance, a sneeze, whatever. So often, even those artists who win all the grants (thus working for and selling to corporations, agencies or governments) seem to state the same stuff about “oh poor little me, I have no object to sell.” It’s bad thinking, sounds disingenuous and is simply untrue.

    Duncan got the Shark complaint correct too, Richard, but you did not. The “problem” is not with collectors — it is wonderful that people want to give us money for art AND want to live with it! I personally love to sell my art, and always say thank you very much. The “problem” is also not with gallerists — they have a rather difficult time too, mostly (although turning down “uncool” money is pretty damn short-sighted). The Shark problem is with a small, clique of decision-makers establishing an anti-productive Academy. I realize that some people, especially of my and your generations, find that thought threatening because they would like to believe that they had the opportunity in our expensive schools to memorize a list of What Is Correct and a list of How To Succeed. And such an anti-academic critique places that all in doubt. But in my experience of the newest generation(s) of students (I teach too), they don’t have that fear, often seem more punky-DIY. Perhaps this was a temporary aberration, certainly hope so.

    Don’t mean to pick on you Richard — just all that came to me from your comments this time. But, just to bug you even more — Go Canada, Go Montana!

    Interesting show. A big Thanks to the Conklins! I would love to see their collection. And hear him do a rap about it!

  37. katiesehr says:

    how to succeed – don’t sit on a blog all day.

  38. katiesehr says:

    digital eraser digital eraser.

  39. Also, it would be great if artists, in order to succeed, would learn to concentrate long enough to write entire sentences, with verbs, capitalization, content and so on. And best of all, ones with lots of typos like mine.

  40. katiesehr says:

    no need

  41. katiesehr says:

    thats what writers are for

  42. katie sehr says:

    that was in reference to the interview by the way.

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