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. Monica LoCascio, the Executive Producer of SCOPE Art Fair, delves into why she is drawn to non-represented artists and discusses their sustainability within this top-heavy art market.
1.) As Executive Producer of SCOPE Art Fair what is your relationship to emerging artists and galleries?
SCOPE’s relationship to emerging artists and galleries was one of the main reasons why I was so eager to start working with the organization. I have always been inspired and energized by “the new,” and working as executive producer for SCOPE has allowed me a large amount of exposure to a vibrant group of emerging entities. I’m particularly excited to start working on and developing the special projects component of the fair in which we highlight larger sculptures and installations. For the year ahead we have some incredible things planned, and the whole team is energized by the new ideas that galleries and artists alike are bringing to the table.
2.) Did your previous work for Paper Magazine as Production Director provide a firm connection to this new experience?
Absolutely, I gained my expertise in managing extensive projects with a minimal team in a fast-paced environment while at PAPER. More importantly, it was through my PAPER connections that I started my work as a curator and began designing art books. While working under such notable mentors on the staff including Carlo McCormick, Kim Hastreiter, David Hirshkovits and Carol Lee (to name a few) I wrote about art for papermag.com and, under their guidance, the way I looked at artists and their work evolved and I developed a more critical eye. All of these skills are essential to my work and will always be crucial tools for my development as a curator and producer.
3.) You recently introduced the work of Ricardo Cid at the Roger Smith Hotel’s new program called The Introducing…Series. Cid is emerging and not represented. Any thoughts about the population of non-represented artists?
Discovering an un-represented multi-talent like Ricardo Cid should remind us all to keep an open mind and a clear eye! Formal representation (or classification) doesn’t make the artist and it certainly shouldn’t be a defining factor as to whether or not their work is considered by the greater audience. I have encouraged him to stay a free agent as he is still crafting his methods and deciding on the best forums for his expression. Time is no factor at the moment, but if he were to align with a gallery he may find himself unable to work on some of his favorite projects (these usually involve collaborating with scientists and research facilities) because of commercial considerations, time restraints, or the personal bias of a director. The most intriguing element of the non-represented artist is that they are left to their own devices and have the freedom to create for themselves and work with whomever, whenever.
4.) Could you explain the show that you recently curated for Artists Wanted?
Daria Shapiro (who is now happily a colleague I get to work with on a daily basis at SCOPE) and I co-curated Cosmic Architecture for Artists Wanted to inaugurate their gallery space in Long Island City. It was a group show of paintings by Matt Jones, Maya Hayuk, Max Gleason and Greg Hopkins, along with a giant neon sculpture by Jason Peters. We had very little time to conceptualize and execute (we were invited to be a part of the project a month before to the show) but Daria and I have a longstanding partnership and can really understand where the other person is coming from quickly and creatively. We started by picking an artist, and then another, and pretty soon we had the theme to build from; and the title became abundantly clear soon after. I am proud to say it was a very strong show, and an original idea that I look forward to expanding on for a future project.
5.) There seems to be a paradigm shift going on in the art world. Do emerging artists stand to benefit from the higher visibility that the Internet now has in the exhibition, sale and visibility of contemporary art?
This higher visibility is something that I think everyone in the art world is really paying attention to at the moment. An artist absolutely must have a digital presence—whether or not that presence actually represents the true nature of the artist, or successfully advertises the work, is somewhat hit or miss and usually depends on how much time and resources they are able to spend on developing that content. That’s not to say that a seemingly simple campaign can’t also be a very successful one. Take for example, Jayson Musson aka Hennessy Youngman, who began his Art Thoughtz project in 2010. In two years he’s become something of a sensation in a relatively short amount of time—curating a big-buzz show at Maurizio Cattelan’s Family Business gallery and being lauded by Artinfo magazine with having one of the “100 Most Iconic Artworks of the Last 5 Years.” All of this because of the ability to use a free website to launch and distribute his work.
6.) How has your interest in street culture shaped your outlook on contemporary art?
I landed in NYC in 2006, and was very fortunate to be instantaneously sucked into the chaotic and lusty street art scene during its true apex. I remember the energy surrounding the 11 Spring Street show and its artists as being incredibly captivating. As a classical and contemporary art enthusiast, I had had very little education on the history and significance of street culture but from there I completely immersed myself in it for the next few years. I will always have a love for the genre, but my participation in its discourse has made my return to the more traditional forms of contemporary art and exhibition that much more fulfilling because it’s as if I’m discovering it all over again. I’ve found a fresh joy in my participation and a renewed appetite for discovery.