Know More Games

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"Openly Ceremonial" at Know More Games. (Image courtesy of knowmoregames.com)

It’s no surprise that Know More Games came recommended to us by Cleopatra’s. They’re a small, new-kids-on-the-block art space in a not-yet-fully-gentrified part of Brooklyn (Red Hook), with a heavy emphasis on group activities. (Technically, the award should be split three ways with neighbors and frequent collaborators Primetime and 247365, but, the Bestivus is not fair.) Founders Miles Huston, Jacques Louis Vidal, and Brian Faucette share a similar DIY engagement, but their most important priority is fun– because, as Faucette tells me, “[B]eing a real art gallery isn’t fun anyway.” That spirit comes across in anything from “Must Love Dogs,” a screening of William Wegman videos, to an installation of stools (by Lukas Geronimas) with dance (by Jen Rosenblit), to hosting a one-night-only NPR-themed bar. They tell us about opinions on fun, and dreaming beyond New York. As for professional advice? “ Agree on one brand of white paint and always only buy that brand.”

AFC: Why Redhook?

Brian Faucette: Jacques was helping to run Primetime when it first opened, as a result we saw an opening for a lease on the block at the same time Jacques and Miles were also looking for new studios. Originally this was all out of convenience, but with so many artists moving their studios to Redhook, Gowanus, and Sunset Park we have really been able to hold a niche that wouldn’t be possible in places like Bushwick and Williamsburg.

Jacques Louis Vidal:We are also next to the BQE which despite any specific proximity to any other neighborhood is ITS OWN neighborhood. , BQE is life, etc, etc.

Miles Huston: In NYC it is true, it is all about location, but that being said it is expensive anywhere so be where you want to be. Initially we looked at trying to get a space in the “old green elephant”, the mcgraw hill building near 42 street. It was always an idea about distinction and destination. We really lucked out with having multiple storefronts, especially in such a family friendly fancy neighborhood. I would say our location is “age appropriate”.

J: I think it is important to note that having two other artist run spaces (PRIMETIME and 247356) next door from one another is a very unique situation, even for new york. We all have very different ideas/goals of how we want to run our programs, but having that in such close proximity to one another creates a kind of productive and competitive scenario. They are all having great shows that expand into larger networks that we aren’t familiar with. We share space and there is debate in there, this a good thing, especially when we are dealing with an idea of “emerging” art. It’s challenging, its not free, and it’s fun.

AFC: How did you all meet?

B: Specifically I met Jacques when he snuck in to steal food from the Berkley cafeteria where I had a meal plan, we bonded over a mutual fondness for The Strokes. I just knew Miles from around the music shows in Boston he was in a band called Dreamhouse that performed under a tarp. I thought he was intimidatingly cool-dude

J: We all met in and around Boston through the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which at the time was a kind of black hole of disciplines and tendencies, lots of ceramic bowls, performance, and goofy painting, there were little pockets of focus that brought us together in avoidance of the dark side of democratic art making.

AFC: What’s your focus in your own work? (Individually)

B: I paint pieces of wood and make thumbtacks

J: I am a specialist

M: Demonstrations and Consulting

AFC: When you started Know More Games, were you responding to anything that you wanted to see change?

B: Personally, I just wanted a place to hang out, where there could be art and kind of a party, and all the people I liked would come over.

J: I think I wanted to create the illusion that I was not living in New York, that I was living in a place where conversations between me and my friends were going to be of consequence, and would spur action. In terms of the arts as a larger “thing”, I wanted to start a structural argument and without any fear.

M: Structural indeed, in many ways, even the way we dealt with critique formats coming out of grad school at Yale, which was also going through a structural crisis of its own. Our ideas of art making and presentation were becoming rooted in trying to look at different strategies of showing and talking about information. The Drudge Report and other civil libertarians broadcasting from their bunkers seemed like an interesting model for art production. The space is important, but it works in concert with many other factors.

AFC: Has the focus changed at all since you started KMG?

B: When we opened “Openly Ceremonial” which was a junk store/hang out spot, I think we were all tempted to leave the Gallery as a junk store. All three of us have different ideology about the space and how it should run, and we are all really firm about those beliefs. But that confusion is maybe where interesting things happen. But we all agree that a room is a room, and it can be multifunctional, like a refinished basement.

J: The space has become much more of a drug to me, I felt very casually about it originally, now the conversation is started and i constantly feel like the experience needs to be revived/relived AND enhanced.

M: It is kind of paradox, you want to create an idea of something but also fight that from becoming something. We want to keep having interesting shows,  or rather, maybe we feel like we should keep having interesting shows, but maybe we shouldn’t. This would be the fundamental problem, cause things are still changing here and should. That problem is, do we really know what we are doing? I would say yes, we do, but also, in terms of structure, its good to build in some questionable variables into the program. I just hope NPR Bar goes on tour.

AFC: Any major influences? An artwork or a person?

B: There are so many awesome ladies out there who are much better at organizing people and things than me. Just sayin.

J: I am always looking for a chance to get really close to a painting by WIlliam T Wiley, the rosemary trockel show at the New Museum really is a new standard, Kate Levant is one of my best friends and I am lucky for that. Meredith James has been working on a video for two years that is going to change the conversation about integration between theater and art. Boru Obrien Oconnell is a great man.

M: I think Vito Acconci needs an exhibition that shows the transition between his performance artwork and becoming an architect. Lauren Boyle of DIS mag hired me when she was working at Acconci studios and had me sift through a mess of his models, proposals and pavilions that were all stuffed into a room. Some days I really think people are just waiting for him to die to so he can become a great architect and it makes me sad, but he is a real renegade that has produced a lot of amazing work that shows how more artists need to expand into other fields as well as shift academic pedagogies to incorporate more collaboration.

AFC:What’s your favorite art event or venue outside of Chelsea? Why?

B: 247365, Malraux Place (sp?) Primetime, Dan Heidkamps studio, Ray Smith’s Studio, MR. FINE ARTS!!!! Ryan Foerester’s house in Brighton Beach in the summer.

J: I think Ive have been very influenced/challenged by Cleopatra’s, their commitment is pretty obvious. The Menil Collection is incredible, pretty much anywhere art is happening in Houston.

M: Susanne Hilberry gallery in Detroit is the best example I can think of that makes me understand that you can do it anywhere. It is true destination and her walls are amazing, she believes in the artwork she shows and you can feel that.  Also, the Perfumer Frederic Malle, his stores are works of art. He uses fragrance like no other, it is a true creation of fantasy, memory and myth. He has also designed ways to interact with scent that goes deeper into the psyche.

AFC: Any advice for people starting their own spaces?

B: You’re not a real art gallery, being a real art gallery isn’t fun anyways. Agree on one brand of white paint and always only buy that brand. Invest in a sound system. People always show up late so don’t freak out and drink all of the beer in the first 30 minutes of the opening.

J: Create your own standards.

M: Small groups of power, three is ideal, there is always a witness and moderator– contending for hegemony. Also, figure out in the beginning how you are going to deal with money so you don’t have regret when you don’t have any.