CHEERS to the female-staffed SoEx, for successfully pulling off the grand opening of a beautiful permanent home.
CHEERS to Stephanie Syjuco, for successfully bridging her interest in black markets with a commercial art fair, to critical acclaim. It’s a dicey proposition to put other artists and galleries’ livelihood (and by extension, one’s own popularity and career if there’s a bad fallout) at stake but Stephanie forged (ahem!) ahead with a great idea, and it’s proven to be a timely commentary on the art market and the economic climate. Read about Copystand, her project at the Frieze Art Fair on NYTimes.com and Guardian.co.uk.
These feats are admirable. It’s pretty extraordinary to be so committed to a vision and a practice. You could say that being an artist is like being a small business owner — the fact is, most people don’t have the stomach for the financial ups and downs, much less the creative ones.
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious.
Calvin Tompkin’s recent profile of contemporary artist Urs Fishcher in the New Yorker left me with two major takeaways. Curiously, they had nothing to do with art practice — Fischer seems too mercurial to extract much substance in that area. Rather, I was quite impressed with Urs Fischer as an organization.
Tompkins described a visit to Fischer’s studio, where the staff ate lunch — loaves of french bread and cheese — communally in the studio kitchen. I loved this. If I ever have staff, I’d like it to be the kind of work environment where a convivial meal is part of the day. (I’d add tea, fruit and chutney to the pantry.)
Second, Fischer employed close friends whose honesty and judgment he could rely on. Only very successful international artists can command fees that allow for full-time staff, yet I find the idea of paying people who I love and trust, and treating them well as colleagues, to be really beautiful and inspiring.
It’s wildly ambitious for me to imagine myself in Fischer’s shoes. Yet these mental notes form a welcome alternative to the model of the lone artist toiling away in isolation and struggle.