“I do believe that there is cosmic synchronicity that we don’t understand,” Rachel Mason told me on a chilly night in her Long Island City studio. Eight years ago, she began researching an eighty-year-old newspaper story for her new opera “The Lives of Hamilton Fish”– the making of which, alone, is a long story.
The power of portable video can not be understated. At the time that the first Portapack, a small, handheld battery-powered video camera, was released in 1967, most people had only three major commercial networks, and early cable was confined to major cities. Getting on TV was only for actors and newsmen, companies decided what the public would view, and nobody said “fuck.” So for early video collectives like the Videofreex, the consumer camera was a tool for complete social upheaval—reflected in names like Raindance’s publication “Radical Software” and the “video revolution.”
I first heard of Thomas & Associates in 2001. I had just finished grad school and was looking for work. A professor who was friends with the company’s current president, Geri Thomas, told me I should check out the art recruiting and consulting firm. I sent out a resume to them and never heard back.
I now see that as a sign of a good recruiter. I had no experience or particular aptitude for commercial arts administration, and that would have been clear from even a quick look at my resume.
Founded in 1999—just two years prior to my own discovery of the firm—Thomas & Associates provides staffing, consulting and professional development seminars exclusively for arts and culture. The company has taken on top-tier clients like the Studio Museum, James Cohan Gallery, and Sean Kelly. Thomas herself has taught arts administration at NYU since 2002, and helped to create a certificate program at the university in Art Collections Management and Display. Prior to that time, Thomas owned a gallery, worked in PR for Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, and held the Director of Exhibitions and Collections position at the Jewish Museum.
13 years after my original application, I reached out to her again. I wanted to know what recruiting firms do, between fielding grad student resumes and helping museums put on major exhibitions. Now that I’m a blogger, I finally get to find out what happens behind the scenes at the offices of Thomas & Associates.
A peculiar 1986 protest involving a nest of bees and parade of sheep prompted filmmaker Woody Morris to investigate a lost turf war between a working class community and international banks on Canary Wharf. The result, “Hardworking People”, is a Jeremy Deller-esque documentary about the radicalization of a blue collar community, and conservative rhetoric, which seems more relevant than ever.
Ever notice how all of those alternative spaces don’t look all that different from the establishment? Flux Factory’s residency is different. Creativity seems to drip from the walls: there’s a doorbell that rings in the bathroom, a disco ball and a chicken hang from kitchen ceiling, and the studios are often coated in art. No other space in New York looks like this.
So, when I heard that Nat Roe (formerly of Silent Barn) would be taking over the role of executive director from Christina Vassallo, I wanted to see what kinds of plans he had in store.