Last week Open House did a 2-for-one double studio visit, with two artists who live and work in the same space, and also happen to be best friends. Ara Cho and Shavana Smiley invited us into their living room studio space, where we were greeted with large oil paintings that felt wispy and bright, yet at times charged and violent. These were the works of Ara Cho, featuring gestural flowers and airy figures inside domestic spaces. Loose hands sprung out of body parts and stood like trees in forests. We caught glimpses of Shavana Smiley’s galactic works during the studio visit (stay tuned for Part II).
As the 2017 Armory Week art fairs in NYC come to an end, I reflect on the hundreds and hundreds of pieces of work on view. It was a lot to digest, booth after booth, gallery after gallery, work that was polished, new, old, fresh, tired, bright, flashy, sculptural, political, humorous. You name it and it was at one of the many fairs. Overall the displays were impressive. Here’s my run down of some unforgettable work.
We were lucky to snag a few words with Brooklyn Based artist Tirtzah Bassel at Volta NY. She has four large works on display with Slag Gallery in booth C22, on view through Sunday. Last year, Bassel participated in the exhibition Homeland Security hosted by the For-Site Foundation
Listen to the full interview here:
TILL WILL: This is Open House, we are here at Volta New York, Pier 90. We’re here with Tirtzah Bassel and we are sitting in the booth looking at some big paintings. Do you want to tell us a little more about Tirtzah, Debbi?
DEBBI KENOTE: Yea. Tirtzah Bassel is an Israeli artist based in New York City. Her drawings, paintings and site-specific installations explore the relationships between power and space and the permeable borders between public and private domains. We are sitting here looking at the large paintings around us. There’s one to the right of us that has some pinks and blues, there’s a crowd that’s apparent, a lot of brush strokes, kind of pastely with some cobalt mixed in, and there’s some other works around us. Do you want to follow up on that [Til]?
At some indiscernible time of the afternoon my phone made a loud *DING* from the corner of my studio. Distracted, I looked down at it; an email with the title “DUDE.” from Debbi. Of course, with a title like that, it had to be breaking news.
From Taos, to Bellingham, to Richmond to New York City, Open House corralled some of the most interesting contemporary emerging artists of 2017. They were kind enough to share with us some of their secrets to navigating the powerful social media path and their insights on how they use social media. Along the way they put some of our mounting suspicions to rest, discussing the make-or-break reaction to likes, and what kind of benefits they are really seeking–and getting–from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.It is safe to say a few things are certain and that while not everyone needs the help of the internet to survive in the art world, it does seem that most believe it is a valuable tool. From researching artists to posting homemade cat gifs, these artists are not only creative with their posting, but also personal. In the age of social media, where all images, as Jake Reller says “are not fit for mass consumption,” perhaps it is this personal touch that keeps us interested in what these photos on small screens have to offer.
WHAT MEDIUM DO YOU WORK IN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
ON AVERAGE, HOW OFTEN DO YOU POST IMAGE OF YOUR WORK OR PROCESS O SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU PREFER INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, OR FACEBOOK?
WHAT DO YOU DO TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE OR INCLUDE YOUR FOLLOWERS, OR DO YOUR POSTS FUNCTION MORE AS GLIMPSES INTO YOUR ART PRACTICE?
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES, OR TO MEET/ LEARN ABOUT OTHER ARTISTS? ARE THERE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE MET WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA? HAS SOCIAL MEDIA EVER LED TO A SALE OR OTHER OPPORTUNITY?
DO RECEIVED ‘LIKES’ AFFECT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CONTENT YOU POST?HOW DO YOU THINK THE ONLINE RESPONSE AFFECTS YOUR WORK?
CAN ARTISTS COUNT ON PEOPLE SEEING THEIR WORK WITHOUT USING SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU KNOW AN ARTIST WHO DOESN’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
The results are in; the people have spoken. Thanks to you, we’ve been injected with our dose of adrenaline to keep digging, to keep that pickaxe swinging. There’s gold out there.
I am fascinated by the origins of ideas, especially half-finished or unfulfilled ideas. As part of our New Year’s Ring-In, we put out a call for submissions to our readers. We prompted folks to think of a photo that they took as a reference for an art idea in 2016. This could be a snapshot of an interesting texture that might look good in a painting, or a sketch, or just a snapshot of something that they thought would kickstart an idea. Maybe this is an idea that was abandoned completely.
With so many great submissions, we couldn’t narrow it down to 5 as we said we would. So here’s our top 6.
“I see myself as a figure painter,” says Kate Liebman, as I sit in her studio, absorbing her large dynamic paintings in front of me. I see for the first time a repeating pair of eyes in an abstracted painting behind where she is sitting. As I spend more time sitting and talking with the artist, the large well-executed paintings seem to become something more unexpected. Liebman begins walking me through her process, her sources, and her perspective on her own history. Paint tubes and splatters cover the floor almost completely. Her studio is located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and she has agreed to an interview with me, after having met me at Bushwick Open Studios this past fall. As our conversation progresses, topics of distance, viewer insight, and political responsibility are tackled, and I learn that this body of work has been sourced from a drawing she made of a photograph — taken during the Holocaust, showing prisoners lined up for a daily count in Buchenwald, Germany. In the time spent in her studio, she also shares with me her perspective on the current painting discourse, including artists she considers to be inspirational and her process of setting productive goals in the studio. In addition to maintaining a studio practice in Brooklyn, Liebman also writes for the Brooklyn Rail.