Tom Weinrich

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Tom Weinrich (Image courtesy of Katarina Hybenova for Bushwick Daily)

Nothing’s in moderation with Tom Weinrich. Two years ago, Weinrich set out for Bushwick to start a woodshop business and his gallery Interstate Projects. It did so well that the venue was able to move from 56 Bogart to an expanded warehouse space down the road, quickly becoming one of Bushwick’s largest and most innovative galleries. This is thanks to the fact that Weinrich is clearly plugged into contemporary art landscape, both online and in the galleries; like NUDASHANK, Interstate tends to show work that’s responsive and feels very of-the-moment.

Despite all of that, Weinrich is careful not to forget his roots. “…I’ll always remember the hand written note that Hudson at Feature Inc. sent back to me in 2004 when I submitted work to his gallery,” he tells us. “It was very simple, saying something like “really interesting work, keep me updated”, but the immense generosity of that note was so important to me as an artist, and I think it means even more now as a gallery owner.”

Rachel de Joode at Interstate Projects (Image courtesy of http://www.interstateprojects.com/)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mars, Pennsylvania.  It’s a very small town outside of Pittsburgh with a flying saucer in the middle of a park on Main Street.  The beginning of the movie Kingpin was filmed in a bowling alley there, it was a big deal.

When you started Interstate, were you responding to anything you particularly wanted to change in the arts?

I was really interested in bringing work that I saw being made by artists in other US cities to New York and Bushwick specifically.  Jesse McLean’s video Magic For Beginners was the real spark that set the gallery in motion.  I first saw it on Vimeo while having a miserable time working in Miami during Art Basel in 2010, and was overwhelmed by the thought that something so good wasn’t being shown in NY.  Two months later I opened the first Interstate at 56 Bogart St.

What gallery was that?

I worked for bitforms gallery, which was a great experience.  I learned a lot about how galleries run, and the history of new media art, but at a certain point in any job it’s time to move on. (We weren’t at Art Basel in Miami, we were at Pulse.)

Has the gallery’s focus or your outlook changed at all since you started it in 2011?

The gallery has become more international than I expected.  This year I’ll be doing solo shows with artists from Berlin, Georgia, and London.  But I think this is just a natural progression from the original intent.  Also, moving spaces last year really changed the scope of the program.  Having a larger space allows for a deeper look into an artist’s practice, especially for solo projects, which is the gallery’s main focus.

Do you have any major influences? An artwork or a person?

I’ve got a lot of influences and tons of artwork that I think about constantly, but I’ll always remember the hand written note that Hudson at Feature Inc. sent back to me in 2004 when I submitted work to his gallery. I was still a student in Pittsburgh.  It was very simple, saying something like “really interesting work, keep me updated”, but the immense generosity of that note was so important to me as an artist, and I think it means even more now as a gallery owner.  It’s the reason why I keep an open submission policy on the website, and try to write back to as many people as I can.

Do you have any advice for people starting their own spaces in Bushwick?

Do as much stuff as you can for the first two years (very important to do things outside of Bushwick), make sure you have another job/income stream to live off of, and don’t get caught up in the hype.  Also, if you’ve got the stomach for it, get a long term lease, rents aren’t going down anytime soon.