Powhida_AFC_DonationIt’s basically spring in New York and that means it’s benefit season until summer gets here.  I’m happy to be making an effort to support ARTFCITY, Momenta Art, and Smack Mellon this year.  This painting is available through Paddle8 or at the ARTFCITY Spring/Brk Fundraiser at Otto’s Shrunken Head Tuesday March, 15th.  Even if you’re not able to layout $2k to support Paddy and the blog, you can still support these awesome arts organizations by purchasing a ticket.  Seriously, as museums increasingly rely on commercial galleries, we need non-profit arts writing and exhibition spaces, so we don’t see the same artists from the same galleries.
Now that Art Fair Week Part 1: The Destruction of the Middle is over, think about spending a fraction of what it would cost to buy my garbage awesome art or any art fair art and buy tickets for these great events.  Paddy’s hosting a wet t-shirt contest for manboob, Momenta and Smack Mellon’s tickets guarantee you a piece of art and with a bit of luck you might get something you can live with! If you’re really luck you’ll have something you can sell at auction in ten years to help me you move out of New York into small home in upstate New York…Sorry! I’m just thinking out loud here.  I’ve got to get out of New York City before I kill someone at an opening with a corkscrew or broken beer bottle.

 

Image Caption:

10:07 PM – 30 Sept 2010, 2015
Acrylic on panel
22 x 17.5 x 2 in (55.88 x 44.45 x 5.08 cm)
Framed
Courtesy of the Artist and Charlie James Gallery

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Artist statement on the occasion of participating in PULSE Miami 2015 with Gallery Poulsen:

The art world isn’t quite as separate from the rest of the world as you might imagine, although it may seem rather alien to outsiders . What happens in the art world from the spectacle of the Miami Art Fairs  to the proliferation of biennials is representative of a particular set of values and preferences, our global elite. As the International Art English of the art press release reveals with its acrobatic and impenetrable language, these values are embodied and performed by everyone looking to participate in the art world.  It is within and through these systems of distribution, production, and reception of art that I create forms of oppositional critique.

Relying on humor, satirical analysis and performative parody, my work draws attention to the vertiginous and absurd paradoxes of the art world’s social and political values. Art is a radical concept embedded in a deeply conservative social order based on growing wealth inequality that belies the art world’s progressive self-image.  Using the art market to deliver this criticism further reveals art’s dependence on the concentrated wealth of our global elite, who are after all, the subject of my critique.  As critic Clement Greenberg noted in 1939 “The paradox is real,” but the crucial difference today is that the elite is not rapidly shrinking as Greenberg observed, it is in fact growing wealthier.  This unbridled accumulation of capital poses an existential threat to democratic institutions across the globe.  Art should respond to that threat. 

 

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My new show,  Mediations, opened Saturday at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles.  The show wasn’t just a negotiation between the satirical voice in my drawings, my grating social media presence, and some of my thoughts about being an artist, but also between myself and my dealer Charlie.  I sent Charlie about 22 paintings for a specific installation and 30 works on paper.  I had intended to hang these as distinct bodies of work, but Charlie ended up curating the show.  I think the show he organized ‘looks’ great fwiw, but it is a different show than what I had intended.  After seeing the work he selected and making a few interventions of my own, I suspect Charlie may have saved me from my anxiety-filled overproduction of images, I caved and did not stand up for the show I intended. Now that the show is open, as it is, I will post images of all of the works* I made for Mediations in an order that might suggest a slightly different vision of the show that will exist here. There is a PDF of Charlie’s show available here.

Working with galleries often requires a bit of negotiation, a push and pull between interests, but I don’t think art dealers need any more encouragement to focus on “financial performance.” Magda Sawon, my New York art dealer, and I wrote a fairly long critique of Magnus Resch’s book “The Management of Art Galleries” for Hyperallergic. I also offered a few thoughts about the book in the Art Newspaper just after it was published.  Being an artist is difficult proposition and offers a life of precarity for most of us (OK, almost all of us), and the last thing we need to do is to start accepting less of a share of sales in the only part of the art market US artists can really earn any money.  Having seen Adam Lindemann’s cavernous warehouse of a gallery in LA, it’s pretty clear that not everyone needs to worry about selling (or understands how big a difference a few hundred dollars can make), which is all the more reason artists ought to.

*Half of the works on paper remain unphotographed to date.

Mediations runs from October 24th through December 5th, 2015 at Charlie James Gallery in LOS ANGELES. 

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It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything new here. Social media has largely overtaken blogging as a way for me to (mis)communicate and figure out what’s happening in the (art) world. Still, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are fairly terrible places for actual thought.  Here are some recent essays and interviews that go a bit longer than a series of tweets or status updates.

Artistic success in America means wearing the right old school tie
Despite paying lip service to diversity, New York’s major museums, galleries and university programmes are bound tightly together in a system that favours the privileged –The Art Newspaper

Distribution is 80/20: A Presentation Transcript
Here is a copy of my remarks for the Artist as Debtor Conference at Cooper Union organized by Coco Fusco and Noah Fischer. artanddebt.org

Why Do We Expect Artists to Work for Free? Here’s How We Can Change the System
My Creative Time Reports piece exploring the economic realities and possibilities around artist’s payments.  Creative Time Reports

Pass/Fail/Incomplete Podcast Interview
In which I talk about Alien(s), Capitalism, and the art world with Peter Rostovsky and Oliver Wasow. We banter. –PFI
The Undergang Armchair Podcast Interview
Here I spend some time with Ando discussing the challenges and possibilities for artists working in and around the art market before the opening of my show “Dear Copenhagen” at Gallery Poulsen.  We sat in the storage room in the basement for this one along with my jet lag. –Undergang Armchair 

The Conversation Art Podcast Interview
Michael Shaw asks many questions about my art and I try to formulate answers.  I hope I have not embarrassed myself or slandered any friends.  The Conversation
Image: William Powhida, State 1 – Solidarity Economies, 2014. Copyright William Powhida. Commissioned by Creative Time Reports.

Dear_Copenhagen3Dear_Copenhagen4Dear_Copenhagen1 Dear_Copenhagen2Dear Copenhagen opens today, February 27th, at Gallery Poulsen in Copenhagen.  Press release.  Click here for more images from the exhibition.

William Powhida

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