Dear American Folk Art Museum,

August 31, 2011 · Print This Article

The American Folk Art Museum in New York has been in the news a lot lately–and sadly too; it looks like they’re closing. Faced with the pressure of massive debt, the AFM sold its flagship building on West 53rd Street to MOMA and shrank to its smaller, auxiliary 5,000 sq ft location  in Lincoln Square–what they allegedly rent for $1/year. The building on 53rd was built from scratch by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects specifically for the collection and opened in December, 2001. At the time “it was widely hailed as a sign of hope, both for the museum and New York. Here was evidence the city could recover from the terrorist attack of a few months earlier: a shiny bronze structure smack in the heart of Midtown that would be the first major art museum to open in Manhattan since the Whitney Museum in 1966,” (NYT, August 24, 2011). Since then the AFAM seems to be a lightening rod for particularly relevant trouble. “For example, its former chairman, Ralph O. Esmerian, promised to donate his collection of folk art, including a version of Edward Hicks’s ‘Peaceable Kingdom,’ but Mr. Esmerian also put the painting up as collateral against money he owed, and in 2008 it was put up for auction. In July Mr. Esmerian, who is no longer on the board, was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud,” (NYT, August 19, 2011). Perhaps again, as an indicator of our socioeconomic environment, the AFAM was forced to default on its construction loans in 2009. Their projected income from ticket sales and donations alike exceeded the reality of their position. The museum defaulted on its debt and this past May, its board decided to sell the building to its neighboring institution, the MOMA. While the sale got the museum out of its immediate hole, they were unable to raise additional funds for operating costs. Now the question seems to be, how to dissolve the institution? Where will these objects go?

Martín Ramírez (1895–1963) Auburn, California c. 1960–1963 Gouache, crayon, colored pencil, and pencil on lined and pieced paper 17 x 78 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, promised gift of the family of Dr. Max Dunievitz and the Estate of Martin Ramirez, P1.2008.1

What happens when a museum with such a carefully and specifically curated collection sells/donates its collection? The work itself seems as much defined by its relationship to the institution as the institution is defined by its work. If, for instance, Henry Darger is repositioned within the Brooklyn Art Musuem’s repertoire, and should they exhibit his work in conjunction with contemporary works does that change the way we view Darger? Does he start to emerge from the margins of “Outsider Art” into a space with different categorical potential (and therefore influence)? Obviously and for various reasons, Darger would never (nor should he) hold the status of a Pollack, for instance, but would his position and relation in our history-of-art-timeline change depending on his status within a specific collection? Would the same apply for the quilts in AFAM’s collection–how would these objects be integrated in other exhibits? Were everything to end up in a National History Museum, would we forget to think of these objects as art objects, considering them first and foremost practical artifacts endemic to a new country developing a cultural vocabulary? The historical implications/academic associations created by an institution’s curatorial hand suddenly becomes apparent to me.

As AFAM collected and exhibited this particular body of work it sought to define the significance of its collection, simultaneously reinforcing the significance of its own institutional contribution. Suddenly the work of curators shows its essential contribution to discussions around art. (While an obvious point, well curated experiences are often so seamless, that I take their curatorial authority for granted. I hardly notice it, focusing instead on the narrative it propagates.)

That said, and appealing to the internet ether (sometimes I feel I’m sending messages to outerspace) I don’t want the AFAM to close. Obviously I’m not in a position to fully comprehend the circumstances or needs of this institution as it goes through what must be a devastating time, but here are two postcards to metaspace:

Dear American Folk Art Museum, While we never shared the same state, your presence has helped me develop over the years, pressed me to follow paths of my own work and insight that I might have otherwise diminished and dismissed.  Thank you so much. Yours truly.

&

Dear MOMA,

Please don’t tear down the AFAM building. It would be such a waste! Perhaps instead you could incorporate its structure into your own and bring a new life to the building’s history. We must all protect one another, somehow. Yours truly.





Episode 293: The New York Art Fairs 2011

April 11, 2011 · Print This Article

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This week: Amanda and Martin talk to artists and gallerists at differing 2011 NY art fairs. Breaking away from the megahub of the ARMORY, we visit exemplary booths at the Manhattan “satellite” shows, getting a feel for the variety within the ever growing gala.

With Volta’s one-artist-per-booth, we focus on Bradley Castellanos at MARX & ZAVATERRO with his ominous photomontages. Kimberly Johansson of Oakland’s Johansson Projects introduces us to Jennie OTTINGER and her lively novel-inspired pieces before a surprise by a mock art tour.

The SCOPE fair finds interviewing in a bodega cooler typical of the art installed by artist Andrew Ohanesian. At SPINELLO PROJECTS we meet with featured artist Barnaby Whitfield and Paul Bruno of DIRTY MAGAZINE. Bruce Livingstone and Peter Teodoric talk about the SAATCHI ONLINE project.

On the Hudson River’s panhandle barge, Tom Burtonwood of WHAT IT IS captures the boisterous atmosphere of the floating FOUNTAIN fair.

 

The party continues with Amanda speaking with Hudson of FEATURE INC. at INDEPENDENT fair’s second year after its’ upstart inauguration.

Martin Esteves can be found here… http://thelifeofstmartin.blogspot.com/

There you will also find his textual perceptions of the Armory.




Episode 291: Polly Apfelbaum

March 28, 2011 · Print This Article

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This week: Tom and Amnda talk to contemporary artist, and all around interesting person Polly Apfelbaum!




Episode 286: Eric Doeringer

February 24, 2011 · Print This Article

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This week: Amanda and Tom speak with artist Eric Doeringer about his work, humor, disgruntlement (is that even a word?).

Eric Doeringer was born in Cambridge, MA and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BA in Visual Art from Brown University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Doeringer has had solo exhibitions at {CTS} Creative Thriftshop (NY), Apex Art (NY), Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (Toronto, Canada), and Another Year In LA (CA). Doeringer has exhibited in group shows at venues including MUSAC (Spain), The Currier Musuem (NH), The Bruce Museum (CT), Albright College (PA), and Muhlenberg College (PA). Doeringer also curated “The Matthew Barney Show”, an exhibition of Matthew Barney fan art and ephemera, at Jack the Pelican (NY) and boca (San Francisco). In 2007, Doeringer received a production grant from the Whitney Museum’s IPO program.

 




Come See The “Big Picture”

July 6, 2010 · Print This Article

Tom Sanford with friend, collaborator and fellow genius painter, Ryan Schneider have been working on the show “Big Picture” for about a year and are very proud and excited for it.

In simplest terms BIG PICTURE is just that, a show of big pictures. The pictures – all paintings – are big in terms of size, subject matter, energy, ambition and visual generosity. Many are aggressive or even garish in the color, they are often over worked, heavy layer upon layer of paint, combining dissonant styles and subject matter. These paintings are big in that there is a hell of a lot to look at. Some of the pictures are so big in scope that they seem unresolved, open ended, too big for the canvas they are on.

Schneider & Sanford organized this show to make a case for a young generation of New York picture-making painters who have emerged over the past decade. We asked each of 19 painters that we invited for one big picture that would serve as a strong argument for that artist’s position. Ostensibly, these paintings vary widely and wildly in style, subject matter, and point of view. However, when we look at the show, we like to view it in terms of the big picture.

These are all painters who make pictures of things, in that they all refer to the culture at large; their paintings are about painting, but they are about other things as well. The pictures deal with the biggest of universal themes, like Love, Sex and Death. The big subject matter is often juxtaposed with more idiosyncratic information about subculture or the extremely personal, political or emotional. These are painters of a generation to whom irony and collage-like juxtapositions are second nature, where high/low cultural distinctions are meaningless, to whom technology allows access to every image that has ever been seen or even imagined. These are painters who take advantage of the vastness of their surroundings, the open-endedness of their culture, and this Big Picture is reflected back in their work.

Featuring paintings by:

Kamrooz Aram, Colleen Asper, Paul Brainard, John Copeland, Holly Coulis, Justin Craun, Van Hanos, Dan Heidkamp, Aaron Johnson, Emily Noelle Lambert, Wes Lang, Liz Markus, Eddie Martinez, Brian Montuori, Lisa Sanditz, Tom Sanford, Ryan Schneider, Michael Williams, and Jeremy Willis
BIG PICTURE
JULY 8 – AUG 7 OPENING PARTY JULY 8 6-9PM
Priska C. Juschka Fine Art
547 W 27th street, 2nd floor.

Opening Reception 7/8/2010 6-9 pm