Saturday, January 31, 2009

Art Space Talk: Dan Duhrkoop (EmptyEasel)

EmptyEasel, founded by Dan Duhrkoop, is an online art magazine that contains practical advice, tips, and tutorials for creating and selling art. The goal of EE is to publish helpful information for both new and professional artists—without any of the vague or confusing “artspeak” common to the art world. EmptyEasel helps new or unknown artists reach a wider audience by encouraging ALL artists to use the internet to promote and sell their artwork. Since 2006 EmptyEasel has become one of the most visited advice sites for artists on the World Wide Web.

Brian Sherwin: Dan, EmptyEasel is an online art magazine with practical advice, tips, and tutorials for creating and selling art. The site also features reviews of social art sites and other online art communities. Can you give our readers a brief history of Empty Easel-- how long has the site existed and why did you decide to establish it?

Dan Duhrkoop: Sure—I started EE near the end of 2006, so it's been going for just over 2 years now. My original idea was just to share information about oil painting techniques and feature some of my favorite artists, but I began adding art marketing tips and some business advice when I realized that many artists were looking for information on selling art as well as making it.

Then in early 2007 when several big-name art-startups began picking up steam (Redbubble and Imagekind in particular) I started researching and comparing various internet art galleries in addition to my other articles.

Mid-2007 I redesigned and enlarged the site, and opened up EmptyEasel for article submissions. A lot of folks have gotten involved and I've been posting at least one reader-submitted article just about every week in addition to everything else published on EE.

BS: Who is Empty Easel—as in, who are your writers?

DD: All of my writers are also artists: Dianne Mize has contributed a lot of the recent painting tutorials found on EE, Margot Dinardi explains the digital side of things (GIMP help) and Denise Telep covers art marketing, motivation, and a lot more.

I focus most on where to sell art online and how to optimize your blog for search engines, but I also write the weekly featured artist section and dabble in everything, really. I'm working at lining up a few more writers for 2009 as well.

BS: So how can individuals interested in writing for Empty Easel contact you? Are there any specific topics that you prefer to include on the site?

DD: Anyone can submit an article via our article submission form—it's a great way to introduce yourself to a pretty big audience of artists and art lovers while promoting your art blog or art profile at the same time. Every author gets credit for their article and two links back to their own web page.

Suitable topics for EE range from tutorials on any medium (pencil, pen & ink, oils, watercolors, acrylics, etc) to business advice, art product reviews, or just opinion articles that relate to the world of art. Pretty much anything goes if it's on topic, interesting, and well-written.

BS: Dan, you are an artist with extensive knowledge of selling art online. Do you have any general advice concerning online exposure and promotion for artists? What do artists need to know in order to take full advantage of what the internet provides as a tool for success?

DD: You know, you've hit the nail right on the head. The internet is a tool, not a pre-packaged solution. I guess I have two pieces of general advice for artists who want to start selling online. First, it's not going to happen immediately - it may take months or even years to become successful. That's OK though. . . I'm a big fan of the slow and steady approach, and I really encourage my readers to stick with it and make it work. Second, the level of success you reach has EVERYTHING to do with the effort you decide to put into it. No one else will do it for you, but you CAN do it yourself. That's what's great about the internet.

For example, imagine two artists, one who pays for a premium listing on some big online art gallery, and another who does their own thing, blogging each day, posting new paintings, learning about the internet and search engine optimization, and so on. At the end of the year, I'd put money on the dedicated art blogger, not the artist with the premium listing. Effort gets you farther than anything else will, and I know that both from my own experience with EmptyEasel and by looking at other successful artists who have done exactly the same thing.

BS: With that in mind, can you point our readers to any specific articles on Empty Easel that you think would be helpful?

DD: Well here's an article which shows EmptyEasel's own visitor numbers from 2007 and gives a good idea of what to expect from your own efforts if you stick with blogging for a whole year. A while back I also posted some tips for creating an authority art website that are just as true today as they were when I published them in 2008. Both of those articles are great places to start.

BS: In regards to buying and selling art online do you have any specific suggestions? For example, is there anything that an art buyer should look out for when purchasing original art online?
DD: Just little things. . . make sure you know the size of the piece you're purchasing, whether or not it comes framed, and if you're responsible for paying shipping and insurance. See what the seller's return policy is, too, since some artwork can look different in person. You should always be allowed to return the artwork for a full refund within 7 days, if not longer.
That being said, there isn't (in my opinion) a whole lot to worry about when purchasing art online. Most folks aren't trying to scam you, and if they are, you'll probably know it just from looking at their website. Misspelled words, requests for money transfers to Nigeria, hard-luck stories, and anything else that seems shady should be avoided. If you're an art seller, take a good look at your blog or website to make sure that you're not scaring people away yourself. Accepting PayPal for payments is a good way to ease a lot of fears right off the bat.

BS: Can you give our readers some general advice about starting an art blog? In your opinion, why is it important for artists to maintain an art blog today?

DD: If you're just now starting an art blog, my first recommendation would be to go to and download the files for your own self-hosted blog. You'll need to buy your own domain name and sign up for a paid hosting plan if you decide to go this route, but it's hands-down the best blogging solution anywhere.

Understandably, a lot of artists are a little nervous about buying a domain name and hosting and uploading files, etc. If that's you, I'd point you toward Blogger or (note the ".com" not .org). Either of those are extremely simple to get started on.

Once you've got your blog you should set up a consistent posting schedule (3 posts per week, for example). At the same time, do whatever you can to start networking online. This may include joining art forums, Twitter, social media sites like, etc. Everywhere you join, make sure to leave a link to your blog—especially in forums and blog comments. These are the basic building blocks of internet art marketing. There's a full-length article at EmptyEasel explaining how to develop your own online art marketing strategy if you want more information on how to go about it.

In answer to the second part of your question, the reason why blogging is so helpful to artists is that it gives you an even footing with the big guys out there. Over the course of a year, for example, your blog could easily grow to encompass 150-300 posts. That's 150-300 chances for someone to find your website, and the more posts you publish the more likely you'll be found. When you think of the millions and millions of searches that people type into Google every day, I'd say that it's nearly impossible for a determined blogger NOT to be successful at gaining traffic and exposure online.

BS: What other advice do you have concerning social media marketing for artists?

DD: Don't spread yourself too thin. After 3-6 months of networking and getting your link out there, pull back to your own blog. You should have some decent traffic by that time (a few hundred visitors per day, perhaps) and you can focus on creating high-quality posts and more art. If you've done your social media marketing correctly, others will now be promoting your blog for you.

Of course, if you find that Twitter, Stumbleupon, or some other social site is working really well, you don't have to stop using them. Just start focusing your efforts there towards a specific goal, like getting people to sign up for your blog's email list.

BS: It appears that sometimes fans of specific social art sites and other online art communities are not always happy with the reviews that you post. I suppose one could say that there will always be controversy with criticism. With that in mind, do you see your site reviews as a form of feedback to help those specific sites improve? Have you been known to change your opinion of a site after improvements are made?

DD: I definitely see my reviews as feedback, and if they help spur a company towards better service and better results for their artists, then I'm more than willing to go back and update what I've written.
Ultimately, however, EmptyEasel has a responsibility to the individual artist, not to the big companies—so when it comes down to either writing what I believe and making some people upset or glossing over the truth just so they're happy, I've got to stick to my guns and point out whatever flaws I see (and how to correct them).

BS: In your opinion, how will the internet change the art world of the future? For example, do you think that brick & mortar galleries will eventually catch on to eCommerce and other aspects of the internet that artists have been exploring in mass?

DD: You know, it might be too late for the B&M galleries. Just like the music industry is seeing a surge of independent, self-marketed artists, so is the visual arts community. The power is shifting to the people now, and although we're just getting started, we're learning fast.

If traditional galleries ARE going to successfully transition to the internet, they'll need to start adapting and listening to what both art buyers and art sellers want. The prestige of being shown in a gallery isn't as important to artists as it once was. Now we're looking at page views and sales. We're looking at reach and engagement of our viewers.

Buyers, on the other hand, are looking for everything—all types of art. The internet is simply making it possible for them to find what they're looking for, no matter how obscure. It's a very different world than what it was 20 years ago. With such a large community of artists online who are determined to figure out how to make things work for themselves, I don't see the traditional art establishment catching up anytime soon.

BS: Finally, do you have plans to expand Empty Easel? Can you give us some insight into your future plans for the site?

DD: Well, beyond adding more articles and tutorials, I do have a super-secret project in the works that will be launching within the next few months (hopefully by March 1st). I don't want to say too much until we've finished it, but as you might expect, it's geared toward helping artists succeed online. Anyone interested in learning more about that can sign up for EE's free weekly newsletter and I'll keep you posted on our progress.

You can learn more about EmptyEasel by visiting the EE site-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange
London Calling

Friday, January 30, 2009

Patrick Cariou Versus Richard Prince

The issue of copyright infringement and fair use concerning visual art has been a hot topic as of late. When said issues are discussed it is common for individuals to defend the alleged infringer by mentioning names of artists who have ‘sampled’ or ‘referenced’ copyright protected works in order to support the validity of the practice as well as to solidify it as mere fair use. Richard Prince is often one of the names used to defend aspects of fair use during debates about copyright and infringement. That may no longer be the case if photographer Patrick Cariou has anything to say about it.

Patrick Cariou has filed a lawsuit against Richard Prince claiming that photographs used by Prince for a series of collages were illegally borrowed from his book Yes Rasta-- which was registered in 2001. Cariou claims that his photographs were illegally used in at least twenty collages exhibited by Gagosian Gallery in 2008. Cariou did not stop with just Richard Prince-- the suit, which was filed in a U.S. federal court in December, also targets the Gagosian Gallery, the owner of the gallery Lawrence Gagosian, and the publisher of the exhibit catalogue, Rizzoli. Cariou’s suit claims that all parties were involved in the infringement.

Cariou learned of the alleged infringement after the Richard Prince exhibit at Gagosian Gallery opened in New York in 2008. Upon viewing the images and press materials the photographer promptly sent a cease-and-desist letter to the gallery. However, the gallery did not acknowledge Cariou’s letter-- the exhibit did not close until the scheduled closing date. Since then the photographer has researched the extent of the alleged infringement. In fact, the lawsuit is using the words of Prince and Gagosian to support the infringement claim. The lawsuit cites interviews and press releases that state that Prince had scanned images from a book-- Patrick Cariou claims that the book mentioned was his book, Yes Rasta.

In the suit Cariou demands that the unsold artworks and exhibit catalogues be destroyed. He also demands that the owners of the sold paintings be informed that it is illegal to display the work-- which means that if the court sides with the photographer you will be hard pressed to find the collages exhibited in a public collection. Needless to say, this case could be groundbreaking in that it will establish some order concerning fair use-- either for or against it. If the court sides with Cariou and his demands are honored it would mean that there will be drastic changes in the art world. Gallerists, curators, and publishers may think twice before promoting an artist with a history of copyright infringement allegations. A ruling in favor of Cariou would no doubt open the door for others to file against alleged copyright infringers.

Individuals within the art law community have suggested that the outcome of this case-- if it goes to court-- will help to define what exactly fair use is. The case may set the standard for how fair use can be used in defending against allegations of copyright infringement. Currently a work of art that “transforms” a copyright protected image can be ruled permissible under “fair use”. However, that is not always the case. That is why this ruling will be groundbreaking-- the judge may help to define the point at which an artwork is "transformative" or not.

Links of Interest:

Photographer Patrick Cariou Sues Richard Prince for Copyright Infringement -- Photo District News

Color This Area of the Law Gray -- The Wall Street Journal

Lawsuit filed against Richard Prince -- The Art Newspaper

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange
London Calling

The Value of Art: Recession and the Rise of Art

What attracts us to art exhibits featuring key players in contemporary art? What attracts us to art fairs that involve millions of dollars worth of art? Could it be that art appreciation today is defined by dollar signs-- the monetary value of the work rather than the meaning? Does money come before the idea? If this is the case, how is art to be appreciated during times of recession? Furthermore, how is art to be appreciated during a borderline depression? Or does money play little part in our interest?

Are we still captivated by the intrinsic value of art-- or must specific pieces be attached to a lengthy and “successful” sales history in order for it to have value within our collective conscious? Needless to say, the current status of the art world-- closed galleries, rescheduled art fairs-- has me thinking. During the ‘best of times’ does our sense of art appreciation falter only to be rediscovered during times of economic turmoil? I think so.

The irony of the current economic situation is that we have seen it before-- perhaps not on this scale in our lifetime, but we have seen it. If you look at recent art history you will find that select artists rise during times of financial turmoil and recession. One could say that people, in general, focus on meaning rather than the value of art during these times. In other words, it appears that specific artworks are more apt to make a connection with the public during times of financial struggle. Thus, I have no doubt that a handful of artists who are currently living on the edge for their art will eventually be the key players of tomorrow.

The cycle continues. Those who rise today will first be acknowledged for the meaning behind their art only to be embraced later down the road-- once the economy recovers-- for its high monetary value and strict
marketability. After all, when we read about important works it often seems that the money involved with the art or the wealth of the artist himself or herself plays a significant role in how the art is reported on. It begs the question-- why do we lose the philosophical or emotional connection with art once the economy is stable?

There is a direct connection between recession and the elevation of art. Look at the recent past-- the YBAs found their voice during a time of recession. Indeed, the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin went on to define the contemporary art scene in the United Kingdom. Before that many artists, including Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and a long list of art world ‘titans’, were launched into the mainstream during the span of three recessions.-- 1953-1954, 1957-1958, and 1960-1961 respectfully. Their work was embraced during times of uncertainty.

Many of the artists from those years-- living or deceased-- have went on to define how contemporary art is perceived while their works have dominated the art market at the same time. One could say that their art formed the foundation for the contemporary art market that we have come to know. Unfortunately, when we read about their work we are more apt to find articles that are focused on money rather than meaning. Take for example an article I read about James Rosenquist recently-- the author had to throw in the fact that his work has sold for millions-- as if that is why we should value Rosenquist as an artist. The same can be said for artists who made their mark during recession in the early 1980s-- Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente, among others.

It appears that recession creates the perfect condition for specific artists to rise to the next level due to ideas and meaning that are embraced during times of economic woe. The question-- is meaning lost once the economy recovers and the art that resonated during the time of struggle becomes more about monetary value than its philosophical or emotional value? When art is thought of on terms of financial gain does it lose meaning as far as art appreciation is concerned? Does the financial aspect of art foster the idea that only art involving high monetary value is of cultural significance?

Consider this an open debate about the value of art and the connection between the rise of art-- and specific artists-- during recession compared to the market for their art when the economy is stable.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange
London Calling

Thursday, January 29, 2009

James Rosenquist: Painting is done with a paintbrush

Intellect Seeking a Worm Hole, Oil on canvas with mirror, 66 x 59 inches (167.5 x 149.9 cm), 2007. By James Rosenquist

An HBO film crew was recently on hand for an event at the Miami Art Museum. Their focus-- a lesson by James Rosenquist. Those in attendance observed as Rosenquist turned a blank canvas into a study of color. The 74 year old Pop Art titan, as labeled by the Miami Herald, displayed painting techniques as onlookers-- including 28 art students selected by the youngARTS program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts-- observed the artist in action.
Rosenquist showed students different ways of mixing and applying paint while discussing his paintings. During the event Rosenquist offered advice about painting. At one point he warned students that using ready-made black paint will result in “mud”-- a basic lesson that is often missed in art classrooms. After the lesson Rosenquist answered questions about his career, art, and world issues.
During the event Rosenquist did not shy away from the fact that he is not a fan of computer based art. He stated, “Youngsters want to push a button to create artwork”. He went on to say that painting is, “done with a paintbrush.''. Rosenquist’s opinion comes as no surprise to me. In a 2008 interview I conducted for the Myartspace Blog he stated, “I'm not all that interested in the Internet. I don't use the Internet as a source for my work and I doubt I ever will. This goes for other types of high technology as well-- such as virtual reality. I'm just not interested in it. I guess you could say that I like things simple. I like painting to be simple. It fascinates me to create beautiful paintings with the simplest means. I'm more interested in the way that people paint with sticks, cloth, or brushes instead of high technology.”
Art critics and the media often describe James Rosenquist as a “Pop Art titan”-- the Miami Herald went as far as to call him “one of the last surviving titans of the Pop Art Movement”. I find that interesting because Rosenquist is not exactly fond of the labels. In fact, he stated the following when I asked him if he is comfortable being labeled as a Pop artist in 2008-- “They called me a Pop artist because I used recognizable imagery. The critics like to group people together. I didn't meet Andy Warhol until 1964. I did not really know Andy or Roy Lichtenstein that well. We all emerged separately.”
Consider this an open discussion about James Rosenquist, labels that art critics and the media attach to artists, and how the practice of painting is changing-- is it? Is a digital paintbrush just as good as the 'real' thing? What say you?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Art Space Talk: Poster Boy

The street artist known as Poster Boy has been turning heads in New York City. Poster Boy, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has been described as being a rare breed of visual revolutionary who can't be bought. Poster Boy will make any street art purist proud-- his work is fresh considering that so many before him-- Shepard Fairey, Ron English, and Banksy-- have ended up meshing money with their social message. I don’t blame them-- once older even a street artist must think about his or her financial future, true? I suppose with the old street/urban art vanguard we can stomach the contradictions. That said, it is exciting to see that a young street artist like Poster Boy is starting to make waves without a dollar attachment.

Poster Boy captures a youthful energy with his work. The 20-something artist has stated that he strives to establish an art movement-- he hopes that others will use the Poster Boy alias in order to add to the dialogue on the streets. Of the movement Poster Boy has said, “No copyright, no authorship. A social thing, as opposed to being an artist making things for bored rich people to hang above their couch.” It will be interesting to observe how this movement grows.

Brian Sherwin: My understanding is that your work is focused on change-- your hope is that people will follow the path that you have chosen in order to make their environments informative about issues that are important to the general public. However, the problem with that is that change often involves a price tag-- do you have issues with artists who attach a price to social change? For example, do you have any thoughts concerning Shepard Fairey and other Street / Urban artists who have meshed money within their message?

Poster Boy: Art doesn't have to be the vehicle. I'd like people to be inspired in any way. I disagree that change comes with a price tag. I understand that very few things in this world are free. However, I think some of the most powerful statements have been made on little or no money. All you need is love and the truth. With truth comes understanding. With love comes the courage to do something about it. Consider what I did with a razor, Flickr, Hotmail, and Youtube account. Total cost: 0.50

As for artists who attach a price tag to their "social" cause I remain skeptical. It depends on what their involvement with the cause is. I don't pretend to read minds and know what their ulterior motives are, but I know a good business scheme when I see one. You mention Shepard Fairey. In regards to his Obama Hope poster I think it was a good business scheme. Sure there are good qualities in Obama, but compared to the last administration my dirty underwear has good qualities.
What about Obama's stance on Gaza? What about the political system, where my concern lies, in general? People only heard two voices during election time. Where was Nader's and Ron Paul's voice? I think there are more pressing issues than Obama being elected. The late Paul Newman was an artist that was genuinely concerned with social change. R.I.P.

BS: So what about artists who sell their work in general-- and the art market in general? In your opinion is there something corporate about that? If you had the opportunity to spend one night in a mainstream gallery what would you do? Would you add to those works as well?

PB: There's nothing wrong with making a living off your own hard work. When it's done through a creative outlet it's especially desirable. I do have a problem with the art market. The market's primary function is to make money. This is accomplished by forging the artist's persona to fit the whims of the market. In other words the artist becomes a marketable brand. Like Pepsi and Corn Flakes there will be certain expectations of the artist. With brands it's good business to find a formula that works and stick with it.
Applying this practice to artists and their work is detrimental to the creative process. The purpose of the artist is to constantly question. I refuse to be a brand. However, I would work with a gallery or any organization willing to work with me, but it would be on my terms. So this doesn't come off as a total contradiction people should understand that my physical work will never be for sale. The point is to reach as many people as possible. Some sacrifices have to be made.

BS: I understand that you work is very public-- as in you will work freely within a high traffic area. What are some of the reactions you observe from people when doing you work?

PB: New Yorkers are very bright. The response is always positive because they understand the work. Many people laugh or smile. What more could I ask for?

BS: Can you go into further detail about the meaning of your work? What is the specific message that you strive to convey to viewers?

PB: In regards to art, I want people to understand that authorship, copyright, and originality are terms that should be excluded from the discourse of aesthetics. The idea of originality always bothered me. There has and always will be a precursor to your idea no matter how "original" it seems. Should we attribute the invention of graffiti to the Norwegian engineer Erik Rotheim? No more than we can say that amphibians produced the first line when they carried their slimy asses over the sand a few hundred million years ago.

In regards to social change, I want people to interact with their surroundings differently and reconsider private property. People should understand that there is a difference between what is legal and what is just. If there is a law that is outdated, impractical, and/or immoral, people have the right to challenge it. Remember, slavery was considered legal at one point. I consider the World's current modus operandi a modern day slave system. I intend to challenge it in any way I can.

BS: Can you describe your thought process when working on a mash-up? What concerns do you have while working? Is the work that you do intuitive or do you have a plan before starting? In other words, do you scope out an area in advance in order to plan out the piece or do you simply create as you go?
PB: I guess you can compare it to freestyling on a mic. Without anything planned I approach a station and work with the posters available. Armed with some knowledge of current events, creativity, and a razor I go to work. There are times when there isn't enough material at a given station so I'll destroy a few posters out of principle and move to the next station. My only concern is getting caught by authorities. I'm not afraid of controversy, but getting pinched would slow me down.

BS: There have been some critics of your work-- especially on art forums where your work has been discussed. I recall that one commenter described you as a “counterfeit Banksy” due to the fact that you remain anonymous. Others have suggested that you should be more open about your identity regardless of illegal issues since Shepard Fairey is very open about his illegal works and is known to document his activity on his website. Can you go into detail about why you have chosen to remain anonymous? Is Poster Boy an individual or do you see it as a movement-- is that why your identity is concealed?

PB: That's hilarious. I guess Banksy invented the idea of working anonymously. What I do is illegal. What more can I say? Those guys (Banksy and Fairey) are comfortable these days. I love their early work, but if they continued to push the envelope I bet they'd have a bandana on their face too. What's the easiest way to quell a revolutionary? Hand her/him a grip of money.
There's another reason for remaining anonymous. Going back to the issue of authorship I think people would be less inclined to participate in the Poster Boy "movement" if I attached an ego to the name. An artistic free-for-all. No copyright. No authorship. No ego.

BS: Why New York City?
PB: New York is the hotbed for aggressive ad campaigns. Besides, there's no place like home.

BS: Can you go into further detail about your concerns over mass media and corporate branding in the United States?

PB: Mass media is a blight. Plain and simple. We are force fed this stuff everywhere. Advertisers prey on our insecurities and attack us on every front. It's time we fight back.

BS: You have been called a revolutionary-- among other things-- do you see yourself in that light? Or do you try to avoid labels?

PB: I don't like labels at all. Humans beings are way too complex for labels. Revolutionary has a nice ring though.

BS: Do you document your work? Can people view it online? Any links?

PB: I try to make my work as accessible as possible. Due to the transient nature of my work I have a flickr account where my work is showcased: (coming soon)

BS: Finally, how long will you continue to do this? If your identity were to be made known would you stop? Or simply switch your methods in order to once again conceal yourself?

PB: I will do this for as long as it is needed. When public advertising is banned I will use the Poster Boy model to address other issues. Till then expect Poster Boy to push the envelope.
You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Art Space Talk: Bob Shore

Bob Shore is a printmaker who is originally from Dublin, Ireland. Shore has had solo exhibits at the Manhattan Graphic Center and Berlitz Gallery in New York. His work can be found in various private collections both in the US and India and at the Newark Public Library. He is an artist who is focused on process.

Untitled. A drawing of a tree engraved on a photogravure plate and then printed. By Bob Shore.

Brian Sherwin: Bob, my understanding is that you studied at the Art Student's League and Studio School. Can you discuss that aspect of your background? Have you had any influential instructors?

Bob Shore: Brian, my experience at the Studio School was two evening drawing classes over one semester. I took one summer evening class at the Art Students League; the instructor was Sherry Camhy; the class was good but very crowded. All of my art instruction has been on a part time basis.

The instructors that have most influenced me were Marcel Franquelin who greatly improved my drawing, Lothar Osterberg who taught me photogravure, Pasha Ouperov who taught me engraving and Fred Mershimer who taught me how to make multi-plate images.
Six Mile Run Series No. 2. Photogravure, aquatint. By Bob Shore

BS: Can you give our readers a brief history of your practice in general? For example, how long have you pursued art?

BS: My art practice started in 1994 with a drawing class at NJ printmaking council. From 1994 to 1997 I did some dry point and silkscreen there. During that time I also took various drawing classes. In 1997 I took etching with Bruce Cleveland at MGC and I've been doing intaglio printmaking there ever since. From 1998 to 2007 I took drawing classes with Marcel Franquelin at his studio.

BS: What interests you in depicting nature as you do? Can you discuss some of the themes or symbolism that you draw upon?

BS: I don't really know. A particular scene or pose attracts me and I put it down on paper. There's no conscious theme or symbolism.

BS: Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work.

BS: I'm simply trying to get something of my enjoyment into the final image. Once I have an image in mind my concern is with the process.

46 Jacque‘s Lane. Photogravure, aquatint. Two plate image. By Bob Shore

BS: Do you mind discussing some of the techniques that you use?

BS: Not all. My recent work is all done directly on the plate; engraving, dry point and more recently mezzotint. My engravings are usually on the backs of old copper plates (many of them failed photogravures). I leave most of the scratches, dings, etc. I like the contrast of the engraved line with the rough random marks. Some pieces such as Stripes I and II were done simply for practice.

My dry points are usually on styrene. The principal attraction of this material is cost. It's cheap but scratches very easily and unlike copper can't be cleaned up. So I've learned to live the odd random marks. One advantage of the softness is the ability to draw with sandpaper. The portrait that I have on MyArtspace was done that way.

The Six Mile Run series consists of two plate images. The key plate is a photogravure and the second an aquatint. In printing I ink and wipe two colors on each plate (a la poupee). My intent was not to produce color photogravures but to produce something of an old hand tinted photograph.

Six Mile Run Series No. 3. Photogravure, aquatint. Two plate image. By Bob Shore

BS: Is there any specific message that you strive to convey within the context of your work? In other words, what do you desire viewers to take from your work upon viewing it?

BS: No. All I hope for is that the viewer quietly enjoys the image.

BS: What are you working on at this time? Also, will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?
BS: I'm currently working on some small (4 square inch) plates, which I plan on entering in the International Miniature Print Competition at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

BS: My primary concern and enjoyment is with the process and the problem solving aspect of getting something on paper, which matches the mental image. I've always got an internal picture of the hoped for final result. Once I've got a close enough approximation or have decided that it's never going to work, I'll go on to something else. My work is image driven not idea driven.
You can learn more about Bob Shore by visiting his profile-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Damien Hirst: Does ‘Human Skull in Space’ Capture the Origin of Species?

Human Skull in Space (oil on canvas) by Damien Hirst. The painting is the cover art for the 150th anniversary edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

Damien Hirst is a fan of Charles Darwin-- so much so that he has created the cover art for the 150th anniversary edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Hirst has stated that he loves the “contentious aspects” of On the Origin of Species and has noted that Darwin’s controversial theories have served as an inspiration for his art. Hirst agreed without hesitation when asked by Penguin Books to create the cover art for On the Origin of Species-- which will replace the existing 1968 edition of the book. The Hirst painting, titled ‘Human Skull in Space’ has sparked some debate over how well it depicts the views of Darwin.

Hirst has stated that the painting is a “nod to the scientific”. Of the painting Hirst has said, “The painting sits firmly in the tradition of "still life" and is made up of objects I've come to imbue with my own meanings, some of them Darwinian in origin, and that I guess are seen in other areas of my work. The painting has an X-ray-like quality to it, as if it is revealing something about the structure of the objects painted. I suppose the work, in a modest way, acknowledges Darwin’s analytical mind and his courage to believe in those ideas that questioned the very fabric of existence and belief in his time.” However, not everyone shares the view of Hirst concerning his painting and its link to Darwin.

Some interesting comments have been made concerning the choice of using a Damien Hirst painting as the cover. One commenter stated, “would a nice picture of Darwin not have sufficed? Or leave it like previous editions with just a plain cover. I expect that the vast majority of the audience will be those scientifically minded enough to be embarrassed to have that mess on their book shelf”. Another commenter mentioned, “Damien Hirst is a phenomenon of irony as marketing, Darwin reveals the organic beauty of truth. Putting them together is like Laurel and Hardy.” Others suggested that the cover art is an “insult to Darwin and science.“-- while another asked, “What's next - a birthday serenade by Britney Spears?”.

Darwin aside, what are your thoughts on ‘Human Skull in Space’? Does the painting come together nicely or does it fall short?
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lawyers and Law Professionals Weigh-In on Shepard Fairey Copyright Infringement Allegation

A comparison of the Obama photograph taken by Jim Young (bottom) and the Obama photograph taken by Mannie Garcia (top) concerning Shepard Fairey’s ’Hope’.

The issue of Shepard Fairey, Mannie Garcia, and fair use has sparked a debate among the copyright law community online. The debate is centered on a press photo of Obama taken by Mannie Garcia that Shepard Fairey used in order to create his stencil portrait of Obama titled ‘Hope’. The story has caused an outrage among photographers and supporters of copyright protection due to the fact that Shepard Fairey did not ask permission to use Garcia’s photograph and failed to give the photographer credit.

Fairey has stated that he did not know who the photographer of the Obama photograph was and that he found the image randomly online. However, Mannie Garcia claims that the Danziger Gallery, which represents some of Fairey’s art, contacted him on the 21st of January 2009 to inform him that his photograph was in fact the basis for Fairey’s Obama posters. These conflicting reports demand answers. Could it be that Shepard Fairey knew who the owner of the photograph was all along? If so, why did he not reach out to Mannie Garcia? Did he intentionally avoid contacting Mr. Garcia due to monetary reasons?
Did he willfully infringe upon Garcia’s copyright?

From what I’ve read it appears that art law professionals are split on the issue. Peter Friedman, a visiting Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School, has stated, “The photo could not begin to be considered a substitute for the poster. I think the poster is in fact “transformative”. However, Michael Madison, a Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has stated that though the photograph is “transformed” to a “sizable extent” the photographer should have had the right to charge Fairey or the Obama campaign a fee to use the photo.

The Art Law Blog has mentioned that Bob Clarida, an expert in copyright and intellectual property laws, has stated that, “This would be a tough fair use argument (for Shepard Fairey) to win because the 'transformation' is purely in the look of the work, not the purpose. There's no commentary going on. Also, a large and significant portion the work is used, and campaign posters are certainly a reasonable and traditional market for licensed uses of photos, so there'd be a strong argument for market harm even if there's been no measurable lost sales by the photographer.”

Richard Lacayo , writing for TIME, has stated that Mannie Garcia will have difficulty if he changes his mind about taking Shepard Fairey to court. Lacayo stated, “And if he changes his mind about the not-seeking-money part? He might find it hard to make a case in court. In lawsuits over image appropriation, judges commonly try to decide whether an artist's re-use of earlier material is "transformative". If the new image passes that test, the appropriation is protected by the fair use doctrine, which permits limited reproduction of copyrighted material.”. However, Lacayo goes on to say, “the law in this area is vague and outcomes are very unpredictable. That's even the view of Pierre Leval, the federal appeals court judge who first proposed the influential "transformative" standard in a 1990 Harvard Law Review article.”

Based on the comments I’ve read concerning this issue it appears that many individuals in the art and photography community would like Mannie Garcia to take legal action against Shepard Fairey in order to send a clear message to other individuals and corporations who infringe on copyright protected images. Mannie Garcia may actually take some form of action against the use of his image by Shepard Fairey-- at least in the form of discussing appropriation with Shepard Fairey. The photographer has stated that he hopes to contact Shepard Fairey in order to discuss Fairey’s use of his photograph in order to “work this out“. Garcia pointed out that "Photographers are always getting ripped off,". However, Garcia has made it clear that he is not going to seek money from Shepard Fairey.

A debate among lawyers and other interested individuals can be found at PrawfsBlawg . Shepard Fairey has yet to comment about the copyright infringement allegation involving Mannie Garcia’s Obama photograph. However, he has stated that the Obama posters, “Belong to everyone”. That said, he has previously threatened to take legal action against individuals who have profited off the posters and artists who have infringed on the posters copyright.

In the past Fairey has stated that artists who question the validity of his work are “jealous” of his success or that they are distracted by “apathy”. Some of those charges have been thrown at me for being critical of Fairey's art. Mr. Fairey, most artists just want to make sure that copyright is acknowledged and that the rights of fellow artists are respected. A businessman such as yourself-- having defended your own copyrights-- should understand that. If you feel that my opinions are wrong you are more than welcome to contact me in order to set the record straight. If you want a gloves off interview… I’m game.

Links of Interest:

Ripped and Altered? What You Need to Know -- Myartspace Blog

Imagine Fair Use -- Myartspace Blog

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Daily Art Feed from, the premier online social network for the art world, has launched an exciting new offering The Daily Art Feed. This service is free and available to all and provides a new contemporary piece of art to be viewed each day from the community. Each message contains an image of an artwork along with the name of the artist. The art can be delivered in one of three ways through a daily email message, our Facebook widget, or through the RSS feed.

Catherine McCormack-Skiba, Founder and Creative Director at myartspace noted “We have a growing base of art dealers, collectors and appreciators on our site – whether they be in New York, London and Los Angeles. This group is looking for new vehicles to better view and appreciate the very wide range of high quality contemporary art on the myartspace site. Our Daily Art Feed offering really helps address this need.”

To sign up for the Daily Art Feed visit,

Art Space Talk: Ariane Bartosh

Ariane Bartosh is a figurative painter with a background in interior design. Her earlier work involved candid photos of her friends that she would then compile and use as references for her paintings. Bartosh’s newer series involves ideas that are already drawn out. Bartosh describes her current process, “I pick a person in my life, then I find photos of objects, wallpaper, and furniture that remind me of them. Then I collage everything together with photos of the person I have taken specifically for the painting. After all that I paint.”.

Bartosh has stated that her earlier work was focused on social commentary about youth, specifically young women in our society. In a sense, her work explored the beauty and awkwardness during the transition between youth and adulthood. A time where freedom, independence and self expressions is highly valued. For this Bartosh examined her own experiences and observed the actions of her peers. These paintings reveal the chaotic process of coming into ones self possession.

Ariane Bartosh’s recent work is focused more on identity itself rather than the development of identity. She has stated that in each painting she is trying to show a person with their possessions and belonging in a way that they believe defines their personality. This is where her training as an interior designer influences her art.

Sara by Ariane Bartosh

Brian Sherwin: Ariane, I understand that you attended San Diego State University where you major in art with an emphasis in interior design and a minor in painting. Can you discuss your academic years? Did your studies have an impact on your development as an artist? Also, did you have any influential instructors during that time?

Ariane Bartosh: I always new I wanted to do something creative with my life. I feel like I was born to design, and like most designers I want to design everything! I started out as a painting major in college, I have always loved painting and the process but as time went on i found myself staying awake at night fantasizing about home designs. I literally could not sleep! I would get up and sketch out all these crazy plans. That's when I decided to switch to interior design.
I love finding interesting objects, furniture, and textiles and creating an awe inspiring space. I really strive to create interiors that are like works of art. But I never gave up my love of painting, my work as an interior designer has really influenced my new series of paintings that I am still working on.
Strangers, Friends, & Lovers by Ariane Bartosh

BS: Ariane, tell us about some of your works-- for example, 'The Party Never Ends', 'Strangers, Friends, & Lovers', and 'Sara'. What are the social implications of these works? Do you strive to convey a specific message concerning culture-- specifically youth culture in the United States?

AB: In my earlier works like "The Party Never Ends" and "Strangers, Friends and Lovers" was a social commentary about youth, specifically young women in our society. Exploring the beauty and awkwardness during the transition between youth and adulthood. A time where freedom, independence and self expressions is highly valued. Drawing upon my own experiences and the observation of my peers. Conveying the chaotic process of coming into ones self possession.

BS: Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work…

AB: My newer work which I am still evolving expands on the ideas of my later series but is directed towards a youth that is a little more grow up. Someone that has already found their self identity. "Sara" is my first example of this new series. In each painting I am trying to show a person with their possessions and belonging, which they believe defines their personality. This is where my training as an interior designer has really started to influence my work.
What do you do when nobody is watching? by Ariane Bartosh

BS: What about other influences. For example, are you influenced by any specific artists, art movements, or world events?

AB: When I was younger I was really influenced by fashion. I think I was mesmerized with the beauty of the models and the human figure. This is what drove me towards creating figurative work. My favorite artist is probably Eric Fischl, I also love the work of John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton. I just recently discovered the work of Mathhew Cerletty and I absolutely love it, some of it really similar to what I am trying to convey. I really feel that figurative painting has really had a come back in the last decade.

BS: Can you tell us about your process? Perhaps you can discuss some of the methods and techniques that you utilize?

AB: With my earlier work I would always go out with a camera at hand, taking candid photos of my friends then later compiling them and drawing ideas from their actions. But my newer series is very planed, I already have my whole series drawn out. I pick a person in my life, then I find photos of objects, wallpaper, and furniture that remind me of them. Then I collage everything together with photos of person I have taken specifically for the painting. After all that I paint.
Untold Anxieties of the Uncontrollable by Ariane Bartosh

BS: What about exhibits? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

AB: I'm not involved an any upcoming exhibits, I'm trying to get into grad school and have been really focused on that lately. But after I finish my current series I hope to start exhibiting.

BS: In your opinion, how is the internet opening doors for artists? Do you feel that the World Wide Web is changing the way we approach the art world in general?
AB: The Internet is definitely broadening peoples horizons about art. There is a plethora of inspirational images that are so accessible because of the web. I feel that blogs are especially influential. Not only does artists work become widely exposed and discussed by a large audience, but a new and larger generation of artists are emerging because there is so much out there that inspires!
Into the Ocean I Sank by Ariane Bartosh

BS: Finally is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

AB: My ultimate goal is to really produce more! But there is so much I want to do! I have 15 paintings in my head waiting to come out, a whole line of furniture I have designed that needs to be created, a million interiors waiting to be thought up! I also own a vintage clothing store that I obsessively shop for! ( something ha ha) There is so much to do I feel bad if I stop for a minute!

You can learn more about Ariane Bartosh by visiting her profile-- You can purchase art by Ariane Bartosh on the New York Art Exchange-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange (NYAXE)

Sunday, January 25, 2009 Competition: London Calling at Scream London

myartspace is sponsoring a competition juried by a world class panel from The Tate Modern, The Hayward Gallery, and the Barbican Gallery all in London. Fifty finalists will be selected and three winners will have their work represented at the Scream London in June 2009. Located in the heart of the West London art district, Scream is just a moment away from Sotheby's, Cork St and the Royal Academy, and rubs shoulders with some of London's most established art galleries in the traditional hub of the capital's art market.

Scream is run by Tyrone Wood as curator. Scream is focused on contemporary art. The Scream Team has quickly developed a reputation as being an innovative gallery. Scream has exhibited works by Robert Indiana, Matty Small, Ingrid Baars, Rene Ricard, David Montgomery, among other artists. Notable guests and patrons have included Tracey Emin, Claire Danes, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Beverly Knight, Meg Mathews, and Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones. is a social networking site for the art world.

Competition Snapshot:
-Deadline for registration and submission is May 15, 2009.

-Competition is open to myartspace members. Membership is free.

-The early registration fee is $25. After March 31, 2009 the registration fee will be raised to $50. Register early and save.

-Up to 20 images in a myartspace gallery can be submitted.

-Jury panel includes Vanessa DesClaux from the Tate Modern, Tom Morton from the Hayward Gallery and Francesco Manacorda from the Barbican Gallery

-Fifty finalists will be selected and announced by the jury panel.

-Three winners will have their art represented at Scream Gallery London, in June 2009. Winners to be announced on May 31, 2009.
On you can network and connect with artists, art collectors, art dealers, and other individuals who are focused on the visual arts.

myartspace, the premier online venue for the contemporary art world, is sponsoring a Juried competition. We want to represent three contemporary artists at a venue in London, England during June 2009. The competition, like others from myartspace, will have world-class jurors reviewing the work of the submissions. Fifty finalists will be selected and three winners will have their work represented at the show.

Info about is a social art site for the art world. With over 50,000 members, and more than two years of history, myartspace has been a key force in the art industry at availing opportunity for its rapidly growing community. Membership to is free, and members can upload an unlimited amount of art work, music, video and audio narration. Myartspace galleries can be embedded on other websites-- one goal of the site is to provide tools that artists can utilize in order to promote themselves online. Members can also utilize the New York Art Exchange (NYAXE) --, an eCommerce platform for buying and selling art online. New features are regularly implemented as the community continues to grow at an alarming rate.
The New York Art Exchange connects art buyers to art sellers. provides art competitions involving jurors from the Tate Modern, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other prestigious institutions. The site also provides a free to enter art scholarship competition that is open to undergraduate and graduate art students throughout the world. The 2008 myartspace scholarship competition involved $16,000 in cash prizes. $8,000 was split between three undergraduate winners and another $8,000 was split between three graduate winners.
*2008 Undergraduate and Graduate myartspace Art Scholarship Winners:
*Past winners of art competitions: is home to one of the largest collections of online interviews with artists, art critics, gallerists, and other art world professionals-- with over 500 interviews with artists such as Michael Craig-Martin, James Rosenquist, Sylvia Sleigh, Sarah Maple, Christian Schumann, Julian Stanczak, Aidan Hughes, Thornton Willis, Mark Ryden, Susan Crile, Wafaa Bilal and many others.
*Myartspace Blog
*Interview Archive

For more information about London Calling visit,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Art Market Reflection and Predictions for 2009

Predicting the future of the art market is always a gamble. After all, very few were prepared when the ills of the economy pulled the floor out from under the feet of gallerists and other art dealers. Not long ago people reported on how the art market was unstoppable-- now it is obvious to everyone that more than a few wrenches have been thrown into the art marketing machine. Art market insiders predict that average art prices, specifically at art auctions, will drop another 40% before the end of 2009.

However, it has been suggested that the issue really involves prices returning to where they should have been in the first place-- allegations of price inflation that occurred during the ‘boom’ have stirred debate. Thus, one could say that the crippled economy is forcing dealers-- and artists-- to face the realization of a market that had been artificially matured. The irony is clear-- the unwarranted increases in art prices may have an end result of decreasing the market value of those involved far beyond where they should have been in the first place.

The problem with examining the art market-- just like any market-- is that eventually fingers are pointed. Very few are willing to accept blame. Some blame the artists while others blame the art dealers. To be fair I would say that both sides played a role-- especially with regards to works by living artists. After all, living artists normally communicate about pricing with their dealers. The problems fall on the shoulders of the living-- you can’t very well point fingers at Andy Warhol and other deceased artists if the prices for their art were higher than they should have been in recent years.

At the same time, what can one art dealer do if another art dealer-- who is not directly associated with the artist-- increases prices? In that scenario the only way to sustain the market for the artists work is to match the price. Fluctuations in prices from one dealer to the next is not a good thing. Thus, I think part of the inflation in pricing occurred due to the rat race of staying on the ball, so to speak. In that case, more blame falls on the auction houses than traditional art dealers since they spurred some of those increases.

That said, I suppose you can question art dealers who fed a youthful market by pushing recent graduates into the five or six digit range before they had even cleared out their art school studio space. In the years leading up to the crash it was common to read about gallerists dropping mid-career artists in favor of ’hot’ emerging artists. I recall people describing it as an assembly line of raw-inexperienced talent--- profitable and ’fresh’.

The thing to keep in mind is that all the finger pointing in the world does not matter now. The market is what it is. All that is left is to hang in or cash out. Those destined for obscurity will surely find it now while those destined for something more will eventually rise once the market skies are clear. Old faces may become new faces in the art market-- New faces may never be seen again. Doors will open while others close-- careers will bloom while others fold.

My predictions for 2009:

*Art dealers will not be so eager to take on 20-something artists simply to create hype.

*Mid-career artists will be dusted off and re-established within the art market.

*Gallerists will focus more on selling quality art instead of selling the experience of the exhibit itself. In other words, there will be no room for slacking. That goes for artists as well.

*Hype, as suggested above, will not have the same level of dominance.

* Defecating on a plate while eating jelly beans and waving a political sign will not make you famous.

*There will be an increase in war themed art as men and women return home from Iraq. They will no doubt open up about what exactly they experienced and what exactly they fought for.

*Art world politics will become even more political with aspects of government involvement-- at least in the US. (Which could be bad depending on how it is done.).

*Art dealers will explore alternative markets for selling art-- such as eCommerce and selling art online.

*Independent artists will continue to utilize the World Wide Web for exposure, marketing, and networking. In connection with this there will be an increase in co-op gallery ventures and other alternative spaces.

*The political, economic, and social climate will spur an increase in art movements based on those specific issues. Things are chaotic today-- drastic change will occur… the perfect conditions for art movements to take off and make a statement about our times.

*With the above in mind, the public will expect artists, gallerists, and curators to be more responsible for the message conveyed in the work they display in spaces that are open to the public.

*The public will expect works of art to be authentic. There will be an increase in interest concerning copyright, orphan works legislation, and other issues facing the art community.

Links of Interest:

Public Knowledge and the Orphan Works Bill -- Myartspace Blog

Brad Holland Responds to Public Knowledge -- Myartspace Blog

Appropriation Art and the Internet -- Myartspace Blog

Art Space Talk: Martin Trailer (Concerning Orphan Works Legislation) -- Myartspace Blog

Shepard Fairey: Obey Copyright -- Myartspace Blog

Controversial Art Damaged by Protestors -- Myartspace Blog

ArtTactic: Art Market May Take Years to Recover -- Myartspace Blog

The Arts Under Obama: A Brainstorming Session -- Winkleman Blog

Why the art world should care about the old folks -- Guardian

Art Auction Prices May Fall 40% in 2009, Larasati Chief Says -- Bloomberg

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange

Friday, January 23, 2009

Art Space Talk: Andrea Cote

Andrea Cote is a multi-disciplinary visual artist living in New York. She has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally at venues including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Islip Art Museum, Rotunda Gallery, Delaware Art Museum, Abrons Arts Center, Jack the Pelican Gallery, The Rochester Contemporary, Maryland Art Place, Art Center South Florida, The Print Center, The Moore Gallery, and 911 Media Arts Center.

Her performances have been presented at The Philadelphia Fringe Festival, The Neuberger Museum, Chashama, Scope Art Fairs, The Dumbo Arts Festival, and Photo Buenos Aires . Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Miami Herald, The New Times, Newsday,, and Wynwood Art Magazine.

Andrea received a video residency from the BCAT/ Rotunda Gallery and a Fellowship from the Center For Emerging Artists. She is represented by PanAmerican Art Projects in Miami, Florida.
Cathexis Series, Digital Print, 20" x 30"2007. By Andrea Cote

Brian Sherwin: Andrea, you studied at SUNY Purchase and at Florida International University. Can you discuss your academic years and the impact they have had on your development as an artist? What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying art at those schools?

Andrea Cote: Both FIU and Purchase are state schools with strong art departments and loose structures that can work well for a self-motivated student. All the resources are there, but you have to figure out how to make them work for you. I’ve always preferred a flexible structure that allowed me to pursue my varied interests and explore different disciplines.

At FIU I was very involved in their renowned creative writing department, and studied with John Dufresne, Jim Daniels and Campbell McGrath. Some of my best critics were poets. I discovered early that I was often trying to speak in the language of one medium through another, testing the limits of each - I recall trying to create a visual work that might read like a poem, or through writing conjure an image impossible to paint– a challenge that guides my current work.

FIU, being in Miami, also has students from all different backgrounds and stages of life. For my thesis show, I worked on my first collaboration with seven other women, from Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, France. It was there that I first discovered the challenges and surprises that arise from collaboration - that sense of working on something larger than any one of us.

At Purchase I worked with the music and dance conservatories, and was involved with different areas of the Visual Arts department- printmaking, video, sculpture. I developed many personal and lasting mentor/friendships that continue to this day with Warren Lehrer, Margot Lovejoy, Phil Listengart, Dede Young and many others. I really saw that community as family.
One of the advantages Purchase has is that is in a rural and secluded setting - great for focusing on your work, but it's just an hour from the city, with a great pool of visiting artists and professors. One very special class I had was "Field Trips" to the NYC galleries with Irving Sandler, who has the most infectious enthusiasm and reverence for art and artists. Whenever I looked at art with him the work seemed to open up in an ever-expansive and magical way.
Cut, Video Performance and Installation, 2007. By Andrea Cote

BS: You have experience as an instructor as well-- having taught at the Eugene Lang College, The New School, SUNY Purchase and University of Washington. Have you found it difficult to find balance between teaching and creating your personal work? Or would you say that one feeds of the other, so to speak?

AC: I find that together they create balance. When I'm in the studio it's very intimate and personal, I can get quite self-absorbed. That's just the kind of work I do. When I teach I lose myself and am there wholly for the students. In the classroom I try to create an atmosphere that encourages all of us to go beyond ourselves, our preferences and preconceptions, to take risks, engage in dialogue - this is important to be reminded of. There is a personal space and then the social space - and I am very much a creature of both.

BS: Andrea, you have stated that your work questions the boundaries that traditionally divided artistic disciplines. You achieve this by taking on multiple roles using your own body as subject, object, and medium. Can you discuss the thoughts behind your art and why you feel it is important for art to have crossroads, so to speak?

AC: I think discipline is important. I want to learn the language of each discipline, pare it down to its essentials - whether you are working within printmaking, sculpture, photography, or for that matter dance, there is a language unique to that medium. I take each and explore what it's like to inhabit the process, its tools, its methods, its history. I look for the central metaphors embedded in the medium and where they overlap with the body’s experience.

For example, with printmaking I think about “trace”, replication, the indexical mark, and loss of the original (the plate, the body, the moment past.) I use this critical language as a guide to form the work and also stretch it to see where it's boundaries lie, where might it cross over and become something else. What does printmaking share with photography, with sculpture? In the end I'm often operating in the space between mediums- it's not quite this and not quite that, or both this and that. At the same time I am crossing these structured languages with the direct and sensory experience of the body, which slips around and evades language.

You could take Hairbody, a performance I created that I wanted to read like a painting. There's a flattening of the figure-ground relationship, a very frontal point of view, a square "frame" the piece takes place within. The movement is continuous but excruciatingly slow. I wanted the viewer to have the experience of stillness and mesmerizing contemplation I associate with sitting before a painting- the way one can go deeper and deeper and enter into an image, but it requires time.

So there is this formal investigation that creates a framework inside of which I play. Once I had the structure for that piece, I practiced before a video camera to find the body’s movement and imagery. I freed my body to discover the gestures very intuitively, through improvisation. I have to surprise myself. In the end I can speak about a work like Hairbody through all these different lenses, but at its core there is a real mystery to the piece that still stuns and astounds me for its sense of true feeling beyond words.

Hairbody Performance, Video Stills, 2004. By Andrea Cote

BS: You have also stated that your paintings both honor and defy the physicality of the canvas or surface that you work upon. Can you go into further detail about this? Also, would you say that you have created a personal philosophy as far as art is concerned?

AC: It is only over the past year that I feel I have begun to explore what painting is. I kind of stumbled into it while intending to create one of my hair drawing installations. At the last minute I couldn’t paint on the walls so I brought sheets of MDF to the gallery and created the work on site over 5 days. In the end I realized it was a triptych painting- in that I had to respond to this format.

What is it that makes a painting a painting? It might be illusionary space versus real three dimensional space, it might be something about the picture plane, the window of the canvas, the wall versus the floor, a painted line versus one drawn in space with hair. The lines spill off the canvas and run onto the floor, it has a scale and "theatricality" like installation or performance, but it's still the canvas format I am responding to.

Over the last year I have been compelled to explore painting further, and am currently in the middle of several paintings. I have been thinking a lot lately about the process of painting - that it requires a different kind of studio practice and commitment. I don’t know if I can articulate this yet because it seems so new to me, but painting asks for a deeper sense of space and materiality than drawing – I feel that I can’t get away with certain things that I could when drawing on paper or walls. It confronts the body in a different way. And it really demands a regular studio practice- I can’t jump in and out of multiple projects the way I have in the past. This will all probably sound very naive to long-time painters out there, but I’m really in awe of the process.

As far as a personal philosophy, I aim to create something that is impossible. I know I will fail many times in the struggle to create it- and I have to, if that project is worthwhile. I have to make work that is vital, and I have to be surprised.

Refrain, Mixed Paints and Hair on Board, 72"x 132", 2007

BS: I understand that you have also worked as an artists’ model. How did that experience impact the direction of your personal art? Can you explain the connection if there is one?

AC: I worked as an artists model full time for a number of years after undergraduate school, and it completely affected the way I approached my work. My subject matter had always been the body, very sculptural, inspired by artists such as Kiki Smith and Leslie Dill. Through working as a model, I discovered the need to inhabit the work more directly - it became more performative, and my vision became clearer.

The artist's model resides in an interesting space. You are fully exposed – literally naked – and at the same time sort of invisible. You are the object in the room everyone is focused on, and yet also ignored. The artist’s model represents "The Figure," or "The Human Body," and yet when you look at the drawings, something of the specificity of the individual escapes through.

In my work you often see this struggle- both to assert one's identity and remain anonymous. My body is at once seen and hidden, a kind of camouflage that dresses the body with itself. There is something about disappearing inside oneself that recurs in my work- it's not something I focus on, and yet it always seems to emerge.

In addition, many of my performances occupy a kind of movement within stillness, explore different aspects of "the pose,” experiment with the myriad ways a body can be represented, and express the desire of the artist/model to fully merge with the artwork itself. The model is the bodily link between the studio, the process, and the work of art. Once the model asserts her place as creator, it completes that circle.

I also enjoyed this role of being a collaborator and a muse- a kind of inspiration for further creativity, which requires you to be fully present and giving of your energy. You learn how to create a presence, which is necessary for both a body and an artwork.

Cornerspace, Digital Print, 14"x 10.5", 2003. By Andrea Cote

BS: You have done several collaborations as well. Can you discuss one of those projects? Also, how does your mindset change when you are working on a collaboration compared to when you are working alone? Is there a change?

AC: Every collaboration is different and creates its own rules and challenges. There have been projects, like the BodySite piece, where the main vision was mine and I brought on a costume designer, Mary McKenzie, and a choreographer, Ann Robideaux, and encouraged their input. I collaborated with a Slovenian artist who uses hair, Elena Fajt, and that was more of a partnership. So was my work with Joelle Jensen as co-curators of the show “Posing,”– we had such a great rapport that one could write half a sentence and send it to the other to finish. Then there was the Gesture Jam,– a mash up of musicians, models, artists- it was really like a Jazz improvisation with everyone responding moment to moment to each other’s actions all in the name of a drawing session- pure process.

I probably learned the most about collaboration from my year-long experience with Robert Treat back in 1996-97. Robert and I used to travel all over Seattle presenting modeling as performance art. Between Robert’s years of experience as the best model in town, and my experience as a teacher and visual artist, we had a built-in trusted audience. And those audiences were always making art, so the worst that could happen is that they’d come out with some strange drawings.
We’d throw out ideas daily- practice shapes at home, try them out in class. Robert would discover an interesting piece of music or poetry and he would set a score for our poses, or he’d create interesting juxtapositions with the body like giant sculptural urns or bizarre rubber masks. I had a more conceptual approach – I’d introduce mirrors, clay, draw while posing -I liked to switch roles between model, teacher, student and artist (all these elements later became integral to my solo work, but emerged here.) We each indulged the other’s impulses and meanderings. We’d improvise and build on the ideas, which over time developed into “pieces.” We had a strong trust, and respected each other as artists.

I think the important thing in collaboration is to let go of your ego - you really have to give all of yourself, and it has to be equal. I have worked on unsuccessful collaborations where members did not communicate and bring enough to the table with each other. Some ideas are really worked out better solo.

In the work I do alone, of course, it’s quite different, though I feel I have many voices within myself. I often think of myself as a collaborator, especially in video or photography work, where I let the "other Andreas" out to play. You can see this explored in some of my pieces like “Dialogue,” that is about these multiple personas interacting.

BodySite, Mobile Performance, 2006- Present

BS: Andrea, your performances have been presented at the Dumbo Arts Festival, Scope Art Fair, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and several other venues. Can you discuss your performances and the feeling you have when viewers are observing you?

AC: I try to be in the moment, aware of both how my body feels from inside and how it looks from outside, what each gesture conveys. I might recall my intention, stay with a score that's been set, or veer off on an impulse. I focus on my breath, try to move on the inhale, exhale. It can be thrilling, fearful, exhausting. I can suddenly feel very self-conscious and absurd, but have no choice but to keep going. It's a risk- but when the 
magic happens, you feel it, and the audience responds. With performance the work only exists in that moment, you create it and share it together with the audience, they complete the work.

Modeling at the Gesture Jam, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, 1997
Gesture Jam with Robert Treat at Pratt Fine Arts Center, 1997

BS: Your art has been exhibited at Jack the Pelican Gallery, Delaware Art Museum, and at several other spaces. Where can our readers observe your work in person at this time? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

AC: I have a two person show with my friend Etsuko Ichikawa coming up in March in LA at Tarryn Teresa Gallery. I will begin a printmaking residency at Robert Blackburn Studio in NYC in February and that will be followed by an exhibition. I am curating a show in July at Art Sites, a fantastic gallery in Riverhead, NY- it’s worth the trip! That's all I have on the calendar for now, but things are always coming up. If you want to be kept posted, please join the mailing list on my website.

BS: Andrea, I would like your opinion about gender issues in the art world. I have had discussions with several artists about the issue of women having a harder time finding exhibit opportunities compared to men. For example, Dianne Bowen and Nancy Baker both agree that women don‘t seem to have the same influence as men in the art world. Sylvia Sleigh mentioned that while the situation is better for women in the arts there are still issues that need to be dealt with. What is your opinion on gender issues in the art world? Have you experienced anything negative due to your gender?

AC: That is difficult for me to say, for I don’t know if I’ve been discriminated against in any way for my gender (to my knowledge not openly.) When I look at the artists I know, the men and women seem to be showing fairly equally. Now it may be that there is a disparity between my personal experience and the one that is “out there.”

I myself have been incredibly influenced by female artists, to a greater percentage than male ones. Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Joan Snyder, Ana Mendieta, Ghada Amer, Yoko Ono… these artists I find brilliant, moving. Curators such as Catherine Zegher, Olga Viso, Dede Young... the writers Peggy Phelan, Amelia Jones, Rebecca Schneider. They are part of my world. Whether other parts of the art world wish to focus more on what Damien Hirst has done lately… well, that’s a choice. We need to promote those whom we think are creating really important work, contributing to the dialogue around it. Look for those who want to have a dialogue with you. Last year when the MOMA hosted a Feminist symposium I believe it was the most attended in their history.

BS: What about gender as a way to define an artist? For example people will say "female artist" or "woman artist"... should they just say "artist" in your opinion? After all, when one describes art that has been created by someone who happens to be male they never-- or rarely-- say "is a male artist" or "is a man artist" when describing the artist in question. What are your thoughts on that?

AC: I suppose it depends on what the context is. Sometimes gender is relevant and informs the work or the context of a show, sometimes not. I was in a group show last year that included seven artists who all happened to be female. It was not a focus of the show, it wasn’t mentioned in the curatorial text. However it was an interesting note, especially since many of us were versed in feminist theory. We discussed it a bit at the panel, but it was more of an ancillary coincidence.

This is all not to say that there are not strides still to be made in the awareness and agendas of Feminism, but I do believe it’s happening organically- the younger generation is very much aware of it and we all need to continue to acknowledge and discuss these matters (a topic for a more complex and nuanced discussion.)

I have thought for some time of a curatorial project exploring the legacies of feminism that I see in the work of a younger generation of artists, and it includes both men and women. In some pieces gender is an issue, in others the lineage emerges along the less acknowledged lines of community activism, performance, and social and ecological issues.
Dialogue, Video Stills from Installation, 2003

BS: What other concerns do you have about the art world at this time?

AC: One of my main concerns now is how to be both an artist and a mother. I have a seven-month-old. In school I didn’t have many role models for this among my female professors, but I am heartened to see that the role of active artist mothers is growing and I hope becoming more accepted all the time. I know so many artists right now that are mothers or becoming mothers, and also a number of gallerists, curators, critics.
I think it presents challenges certainly, but I am in complete admiration of the artist mothers I know. And I think it is important to respect that some are able to get back in the studio right after birth while some take some time off but return later. I hope that residencies, grants and exhibition opportunities start to take family and child care into consideration. I am optimistic- I think it is inevitable and will have an impact on the art world.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the thoughts behind your work?

AC: I have been thinking a lot lately about risk and doubt. I’ve been reading a biography of Willem de Kooning. He lived in perpetual doubt, but there was a conviction in his doubt and you can read it in the work- it is alive with decisive uncertainty. With each painting, every day, he was willing to risk what he had already achieved in order to go further.
When he had achieved success with a work, he never chose to repeat it. He always moved toward the unknown. That is reassuringly unassurring to me. I have learned to embrace my contradictions, frustrations and fears as a fertile space in which to play. Maybe that’s part of my “philosophy.”
You can learn more about Andrea Cote by visiting her website-- Andrea Cote is currently a member of the community-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
New York Art Exchange