I don’t find anything to be more compelling, perplexing, challenging, exciting, or moving than art. There aren’t many spaces in life that allow for something so entirely impractical to exist. In what other arena is it acceptable to knit with excavators and telephone poles, for example? Creative thinkers and visionaries are the ones who shape culture and influence change.
“The spaces between art galleries are filled with small businesses, soccer games, bodegas, thieves, and a small woman who flaps her arms and makes cawing bird sounds.”
Interior View, Dodge Gallery, Courtesy of Kristen Dodge. Photo Credit: Tirzah Brott.
I don’t find anything to be more compelling, perplexing, challenging, exciting, or moving than art. There aren’t many spaces in life that allow for something so entirely impractical and wonderful to exist. In what other arena is it acceptable to knit with excavators and telephone poles, for example? Creative thinkers and visionaries are the ones who shape culture and influence change.
Honestly, I don’t identify as a curator, though some would say that that’s exactly what I do. I choose the artists for our program and work with them to put up strong shows. Most of our programming is made up of solo exhibitions presenting new work by the artists on our roster, but we also organize group exhibitions like our recent show, Twisted Sisters, with 30 women artists. A few times throughout the year, we invite independent curators to collaborate with us and break our seams a bit. I sought a gallery that would allow for two shows to run concurrently—each retaining its autonomy while at times encouraging links to be drawn between them.
As far as the Lower East Side is concerned, I find it to be a textured environment. The spaces between art galleries are filled with small businesses, soccer games, bodegas, thieves, and a small woman who flaps her arms and makes cawing bird sounds. It’s a place where art and life intertwine, and galleries operate less like one big island of cultural self-reflexivity and more like many small islands with young MacGyvers carving out niches. At some point, when you’ve been in business for a few years after hitting it hard with your head to the ground to get things started and steadied, you step back and look around, take a breath and gather perspective. This is where I’m at now.
Our program is diverse and sculpture is integral to it, though it’s not an exclusive focus. I’m interested in work that engages the body, whether this is through the artist’s process, the viewer’s experience, or the subject of the work—or all of the above. I believe in the intimate and rigorous relationship between the artist and their materials, that making is important. I don’t believe that conceptual and material rigor are mutually exclusive, or that one has to override the other. There is also something fundamental about work, as in labor, that feels critical to me. We can’t fully know something unless we work at it, turn it over, and get our hands dirty.
The stereotype of LES galleries is that they act like they don’t give a shit. The idea of such an attitude deeply irritates me. This is a business that is demanding, filled with risk, and requires taking ownership of your vision. Anyone who runs a gallery and is able to keep running their gallery is a workaholic and gives innumerable shits about what they are doing.
I am not interested in being elsewhere anytime soon. I love our space and am very happy that we have a long-term lease. I expect to continue to grow and will decide how this our growth manifests when the time comes.
In all, I am interested in art that either challenges or moves me. To me, the best artists make work that I can’t turn away from, can’t get enough of, and don’t fully understand. There has been talk recently about the responsibility of artists to make important and therefore political work. Politics are critical but being human is multifaceted. I believe being an artist means taking on incredible risk- and the best art shows us new ways of seeing and experiencing life. It changes you. I am of the mind that being an artist is itself political.