Leah Oates: You are one of the creators and founders of Curate NYC. How did the idea for Curate NYC take shape and how do you envision Curate NYC growing in the future?
Danny Simmons Jr.: Curate NYC took shape when Brian Tate my partner and fellow founder of Curate NYC saw a request for proposals from the Economic Development Corporation. We were in the car on a comic book run and he brought the notice to my attention. We pulled over and began bouncing ideas off each other until we decided on a direction to take in our response. Over the next week or so we continued to refine the idea until we felt it was ready for submission.
As for where this is going we have several ideas that we are kicking around. A few of them include expanding Curate NYC to other states and other national and international cities. We aim to curate the world (laughs). Other ideas include deeper penetration into particular areas of the city involving nontraditional art spaces such as stores and restaurants. The goal is always to include more artists and art professionals and create greater economic opportunity and exposure for artists.
LO: Please speak about your life in the arts and why you think art is important.
DSJ: My life is fully emerged and integrated in the arts as I’m a working painter and writer, a collector, a curator, a gallery owner, have an arts foundation that serves adult artists and employees artists to work with children in NYC schools and the two galleries I run. I sit and have sat on many arts and culture boards of directors and have served as chairman of New York States Art Council. The arts are my life and one which is supremely satisfying.
The importance of the arts in everyone’s and especially children’s lives is incalculable. It feeds the spirit and fuels the imagination, it brings people together and promotes diversity, commonality and dialogue. Creating and viewing art in any form is soul satisfying. It is also a great source of economic activity for local and national economies providing thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue for New York City alone.
LO: Do you think there is a difference or connection between making art and curating?
DSJ: Not all artists are curators or curators are artists. In order for an artist to be a curator one has to detach from a bias for work similar to ones own and understand the merits of styles and content of other artistic visions. Thats not always an easy task. The connection is an overall love for art. Both curators and practicing artists must bring a love for the arts when doing either.
LO: How where artist selected for Curate NYC?
DS: Curate NYC is an open call to join in the project which means any artist with a NYC studio or home address is eligable to participate. All an artist has to do is provide proof of NYC residence and upload an image of their work and biographical information and bang your apart of curatenyc.
LO: Curate NYC organized exhibitions in all five boroughs. How are the various art scenes in boroughs the same and/or different?
DSJ: I find that each borough has a different artistic identity as far as density of exhibition spaces and artists. The public is more accustomed to finding art in Manhattan than the other boroughs but as artists expand living throughout the city so do the amount of venues that show their work and the nature of the other businesses that support artists increase ie art stores coffee shops clubs music venues etc.
LO: What kind of advice would you give artists who want to show their work in NYC galleries, museums etc.
DSJ: My advice to artists is mingle and go to shows to meet other artists. Join CurateNYC and go to galleries to talk about your work. Get out there and let folks know what your doing.
The New York art scene is very varied and lively with many interesting shows and events going on but it can also be commercial and market driven. What are your thoughts on the art scene in NYC?
The art scene in NYC is the liveliest in the world but there are other markets that are very important. Africa, Asia, Europe and other cities in the USA. The art market is fast becoming a global one. CurateNYC recognizes this trend and has engaged curators from around the globe to help market NYC artists.
LO: Who are your favorite artists and why?
DSJ: My favorite artists today are too varied to mention but from modern art history…Paul Klee, Cy Twombly, Norman Lewis, Wifredo Lam, Romare Bearden , Jean Michel Basguait , Andy Warhol, Ed Clark , Picasso, and the list goes on and on and on.
LO: To wrap up please share any upcoming shows and/or projects or shows.
DSJ: I have a newbook of poetry and painting coming spring 2014 as well as several exhibits around the country. An exhibition on abstraction I’m curating in three NYC galleries. I will be at Art Basel Miami and I have many day to day art activites and of course CuratenNYC 2014 and its new surprises.