The Exchange Project: Series 1
At the Navarro Residence 5/12/2012
Photos by Lee Joseph and Cindy Schwarzstein.
CARTWHEEL’s first curated show, “The Exchange Project: Series 1” took place on Saturday, May 12 at The Navarro Residence, a Highland Park house which contains the collection of curator Jessica Navarro. The space allows the viewer a unique experience and intimate setting for viewing the works and spending time with the artists.
With the arrival of spring in Southern California, the near perfect weather gave Navarro the opportunity it to install the group show in the backyard of the residence. Artworks were displayed on easels, boards, fences and walls and a garage converted into a small gallery space, a most perfect setting for the organic narrative and somewhat oustsideresque paintings and drawings on a variety of media, by the three NY area artists.
Making the trip from the East Coast in a van filled with works of all sizes, artists Scott Michael Ackerman and RADICAL! were joined by gallerist Samson Contompasis (representing Patrick Porter) for The Exchange Project, one of many stops on their cross country “art tour”. We sent some interview questions to the trio which the trio answered immediately while on the road.
CARTWHEEL: The works of all three artists complement each-other in a group setting. How did the three artists come together? Does everyone show together, socialize and collab in NY?
Scott (with assistance of RADICAL!): I met Eric (RADICAL!) through Samson at the Marketplace Gallery. I was the featured artist at one of his shows. I kept hearing about him and we became buddies, since then we’ve been in quite a few group shows together in Albany and NYC and my little gallery/studio in Rosendale NY. Patrick was this mystery man, people kept saying our art is similar and we had to meet. It was getting to the point, where I was like, who the fuck is this Patrick guy? So I got his number and just called him, and we talked for about 45 min., with his raspy twang voice and interesting way of putting words together. We started to do shows and get together whenever we could.
CW: You must be collecting a backlog of inspirations on this trip. Are you creating art while on the road? Are you documenting ideas for pieces that you will create when you get back home? Are you finding objects and other mediums to use in your art?
S: The whole trip has been a huge inspiration. I made a new piece at Jessica’s house the day before the show, a frame actually for a canvas painting I had brought. I walked from the hotel to the Navarro residence searching garbage piles for wood scraps. And finally, a block away from her house, I found an old dresser which I kicked apart, cut up, and screwed together. I was psyched how it came out.. and it sold, which made it even better. Otherwise, I just keep a sketchbook; I write at night, in the van and scribble little poems and words from the trip
CW: What’s your best tour story so far?
S: Drinking a six-pack of tall beers, and a bottle of red wine while driving through the Mojave desert in 115 degree weather was not one of my best ideas on the trip, but it was a fucking blast, and well worth my heat headache.. haha! There was so much, the never ending search for Eric and Sam to eat cheeseburgers, the dick rock in the Mohab desert in Utah, lots of fun!
CW: How did you hook up with Cindy / CARTWHEEL / The Navarro Residence?
S: I met Cindy, in the Armory Building at the Fountain Art Fair in NYC this year. Eric, Patrick, and I were all showing in the Marketplace Gallery booth with Samson. I think it was the first night of the show and I saw some beautiful ladies looking at a glass door I had done, so I walked over, met Cindy and her friends, chatted a bit, and within a few minutes, she told her friends, they could not buy it, because she was taking it home[LJ1]…and she was serious! Kind of jokingly, we talked about how to get it to LA and the idea of driving it came up, and that sparked all kinds of ideas that made this trip happen, and here we are! We hung the door in Cindy’s house the other day, and for me that was one of the biggest parts of this whole wild trip, to get the door here safe, and to get to know Cindy and Jessica. They are both absolutely amazing
CW: It looks like you all had a great time at the Exchange Project show and it looks like you’ve earned some new fans. Any notable differences between the collectors you met here and collectors back home?
S: I feel like we definitely earned some new fans, but they are lot alike, as far as NY and LA, everyone is crazy in some way or another, not in a bad way, I just like meeting new people who are into what I do.
CW: You had a chance to check out some of what is happening here in Los Angeles. What did you think? How did you personally relate to what you did and saw out here? Give us a quick side-by-side of what you observed in Los Angeles, in relation your art universe(s) on the East Coast.
The Downtown (Los Angeles) Art Walk was incredible, just the amount of people walking the streets to see art blew me away. We have little art walks, but Woodstock obviously is nowhere close to the size of Los Angeles. It is a lot different though, even in the city; very laid back and so fun. NYC can get a little stuffy sometimes, ane the fact that Cindy and Jessica were really pushing for us as artists to meet the collectors was really great and new for me
CW: Samson, tell us a little bit about The Marketplace Gallery, your artist roster, upcoming shows. Have you met any artists on this trip who you would like to or will show at your gallery?
Samson Contompasis: The Marketplace Gallery has an artistic mission with a social goal; bringing art to the people. To break down the walls of your standard gallery by showing internationally established to new and emerging artists and letting them expand fully on their own creative prowess.
The artists that I have worked with over the years are specialized only in the fact that the intrinsic value of their work is heavy. I have always felt that art is more of a feeling than anything physical such as a painting or a sculpture…. it is the feeling of pleasure. That tingle in the back of your neck, the breath you can’t seem to keep, that choke you have to keep from crying. We display everything from master oil painters to grimy street art and each artist is worth their weight in emotional content
This round we were so focused on the exchange project show we really didn’t have a chance to branch out much from the event itself, but LA has truckloads of talent I will certainly be delving into in the near future.
CW: There was an expression floating around Southern California a few years back: “Art is the new Punk Rock” – in a way you’ve brought this full circle by getting in the van and touring the country.
As far as art being “the new punk rock”, i believe it is so much more. Having many years of experience playing in bands in punk rock and hardcore music I embraced Art as my future because of the effect it can have on the world rather than in a single social group. The ideas that people are exploring artistically are changing faster than we can keep up with. With new technologies, mediums, and formats of what people consider art it is broadening the field and making it easier for anyone to be able to identify with this new wave of talent the art world has to offer.