In July, Jeffrey Deitch reflected on his years as Director of Deitch Projects while defending his record as Director of LAMOCA. “I was completely engaged in everything,” he told the LA Times, “But how did I do it? I had a great team.” Drawing from that simple question and answer, this new column for On-Verge titled How Do You Do It? features a short Q&A with significant people working tirelessly throughout New York City to help marginal art grasp attention of the general public. Jason Stopa, Editor of NYArts Magazine, kicks off our first column and highlights his experiences as an artist and curator as well.
1.) It seems like you’re constantly working the content at NYArts, both online and off – how many hours do you put into it a week?
I put 40 hours in the office and about another 5-10 outside of it. It’s tough to keep on top of everything that’s going on so sometimes interviews, openings, and press events have to been done after you’re done “working.” There’s a great sense of accomplishment when an issue comes out in print or when artists and writers share articles on Facebook, websites etc.
2.) You’re also a painter. Do you exhibit your work?
I do, though it’s a challenge sometimes. I graduated from Pratt with my MFA two years ago. Since then I’ve exhibited in group shows throughout NYC such as Rogue Space, Momenta Art and White Columns Gallery. I recently was part of a group show in Toronto at Fran Hill Gallery, it was my first time exhibiting internationally.
3.) What are some recent curatorial projects that you’ve worked on?
My first serious curatorial show was at a space in North Carolina called Flanders Gallery. The show was called In The Flat Field, the title taken from Bauhaus’ first album. The show featured a lot of monochromatic, flat, austere work with some splashes of humor and gesture thrown in. It was compromised of familiar NYC artists including Michael Brennan, Cassandra Baker, Matthew Hassell and Rebecca Morgan among others. That show shifted my interests a bit as an artist, writer and curator. I’m very interested in gesture right now, gesture up against the digital, works that feel playful but serious at the same time, with a focus on work that tows the line between figuration and abstraction. Right now, I’m curating a group show that will open this September at BOSI Contemporary in the Lower East Side. Featuring Trudy Benson, Ian Swanson, Joyce Pensato, Katherine Bradford, Devin Troy Strother, Jason Stopa, Polly Shindler, Russel Tyler, Amy Feldman and Austin Eddy, this exhibit features highlights simple gestures, digital culture in subtle and overt ways. Paramount to this exhibit is the artist’s capacity to employ simplicity of form and color to create images that are visually powerful.
4.) What are some of the most interesting new developments that you see taking place in New York City?
Abstraction is back. Painting is back. I think this is one of the most positive developments NYC has seen in a while. We’ve been living in an art era for the past 20 years or so that has been rife with a lot spectacle. Then we had a lot of Bush era ironic art that I felt was a real downer. For a while, it seemed that any talk about abstraction or quasi-figurative abstraction was re-opening an old conversation about paintings’ history that was outmoded, outdated and passe. I think this was way off base and had a lot to do with popularity and trends and less to do with substance.