The Best of Us, For the Rest of Us: A Three Part Interview Series (Part 3 of 3)

by Whitney Kimball on May 2, 2013 Bestivus

By now, we have a fairly good handle on New York art stars, but we hear less about the people who love them. In two years of writing for AFC, I’ve owed my art-viewing as much to artists as I have to devoted curators, gallerists, and writers working diligently behind the scenes, knee-deep with the rest of us.

Who are these unsung heroes of the art world? I asked leaders of various emerging art communities for their recommendations, and gathered a series of interviews. The Best of Us for the Rest of Us!

Matt Kalasky

The Nicola Midnight St. Claire

Image from Matt Kalasky's performance "A Play With Bodyguards" (Image courtesy of

There’s no one in criticism (or maybe anywhere) quite like the Philadelpia-based artist Matt Kalasky. His own autobiographical narrative work ranges from pop culture-inspired story telling and plays to painting and sculpture, so it’s unsurprising that he shows similar range as an editor and art critic. His online magazine The Nicola Midnight St. Claire integrates creative writing, podcasts, and online art (“the centerfold”) alongside calls-to-arms (on “Fire Your Internship”: “They are like giant foggy farts in the room that everyone pretends not to smell”) and his own semi-fictional creative reviews, often influenced by his background as a playwright.

“Is a monkey wrench the right tool for every job?” He asks. “Does it makes sense to use the same structure to write about both a performance piece and a painting?” Nothing drives the point home like Matt as interviewee, who talks about the state of criticism– and shoots from the hip.

Read our interview here.

Grizzly Grizzly

Image for Grizzly Grizzly's 2012 show of Community Supported Art, from Material Proxy An Exhibition of Community Supported Art by Sarah Kate Burgess, Brian Giniewski, and Linda Yun (Image courtesy of Grizzly Grizzly)

With others like Bodega, Little Berlin, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Marginal Utility, Napoleon, Practice, Vox Populi, and 1026, Grizzly Grizzly is a prime example of a collective model that forms the backbone of the Philadelphia art scene. Much of what they do also has a community goal in mind, for instance, “Dog Is in the Details,” an exchange with the Nashville collective COOP, or Community Supported Art, an art subscription program based on community supported agriculture that’s been looking at new ways of growing the local collector base. I ask them about some of those initiatives. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they sound enthusiastic.

Read our interview here.

Emerging Faggies

E.E. Ikeler and Ariel Roman

Garden Party/Arts

Garden Party/Arts July 2012 show "MASCULINISMS." (Image courtesy of

It’s easy to forget that you don’t need a gallery to see and discuss art, and Garden Party/Arts serves as a good reminder. Last spring, emerging painter E.E. Ikeler teamed up with artist and art director Ariel Roman to create what they call “No Wave Feminism in Your Backyard,” a nomadic series of feminist-focused art events in friends’ Brooklyn gardens. Ariel tells us: “It felt like everything that was being done had “re-” in front of it: re-contextualize, re-purpose, re-visit… I didn’t want to re-anything anymore!”

Read our interview here.

Rachel Steinberg


Opening night for Videorover Season 3 - Program #1. (Image courtesy of NURTUREArt)

Fans of democracy will love Rachel Steinberg, who’s been tirelessly sorting through thousands of emerging video submissions for NURTUREArt’s thematic “Videorover” program, which she’s curated now for the past five seasons. What started out as a one-off by-submission show has since expanded to regular screenings from Brooklyn to New Orleans, and is beginning to become an index of video artists in the emerging New York scene. This season, Videorover will work with Chicago’s video-performance festival RAPID PULSE, co-curating the video component with RAPID PULSE’s Giana Gambino. Needless to say, Steinberg’s a faggie to watch.

Read our interview here.

Fjord Space and Studios

Image of Fjord's upstairs studio spaces. (Image courtesy of Fjord's facebook page.)

In 2010, Stephen Truax described Regina Rex as a “cold curatorial knife” to Bushwick’s “lovey-dovey house party.” I can’t speak to the nature of Philadelphia’s art scene, but the phrase “curatorial knife” seems a good fit for Fjord. Their program places a heavy emphasis on curatorial intensity, with text that reads like parables, and titles like “Considering the Provisional” or “Bleach Blue.” Since opening their studio/gallery building a year ago in Philly’s low-rent neighborhood Kensington, the group of artists (and friends of mine) have objectively been on a roll. But for a handful of young artists, Fjord is more than just a gallery; it’s the course a group of artists has  taken to survive and keep making work after school. If you’re debating whether to move to New York after graduation, they’re a space to visit.

Read our interview here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: