Interview for the 22 Magazine
This past Sunday, I took a moment to swing by Fowler Arts Collective in Greenpoint. I had the opportunity to speak with founder Cecelia (aka Lia) Post and Scott Chasse, one of the curators of the upcoming Paint It Now show which will be part of this year’s Northside Open Studios. Paint It Now opens Friday, May 27 from 7 to 10pm with an additional reception forNOS is June. We appreciate them taking the time to chat with us! Read or listen below!
The 22 Magazine: First off, I just wanted to talk to you about how Fowler started. What year did you start?
Lia Post (Founder): It’s only been about a year. I came in July of 2010. So, last Summer. This July will be our official anniversary, but our first show was just in October, so its been about eight months now.
The 22: What show was that [the first show]?
LP: It was called ENTER, it was a big group show with some of my studio artists and some friends from the neighborhood. It coincided with the first Greenpoint Open Studios-oh actually it was the second! …of the Open Studios in Greenpoint and it coincided with a big light festival called [Bright to Light]. It was a good way to start off the space.
Bright to Light: Nuit Blanche in Greenpoint, part of the opening of Fowler Art Collective
The 22: And you came from Philadelphia?
LP: Yes. Originally I’m from South Carolina, and I’ve kind of lived all over the place, but my most recent was Philadelphia. I went to an MFA program at The University of Pennsylvania and moved to New York after that. So I’ve been in New York for about two years now.
The 22: On the blog it said you got laid off and decided to open to a collective. Exactly how did you do that?
LP: Well the first year in New York was really hard. It was in the midst of no one having any jobs, so I was trying to do a lot of freelance work and that’s sort of hard. Finally I was able to get a waitress job and I had that for a few months, got laid off, and I was just like “Oh my God I can’t even keep a regular restaurant job.” So it was kind of out of a sense of the bottom, and having to figure out something to do, and I was really missing the artists community I had in Philly before I came here and knew there was a good artists community in the neighborhood. [So it was] wanting to kind of find a way to connect with that community, [and then] I sort of impulsively [decided] to make this whole thing and got a few friends to help me. It kind of evolved from wanting to have a live/work space with friends and I found all these really interesting huge commercial spaces in Greenpoint, which is really exciting because I live in Greenpoint. So that evolved, and I did the budget and realized I could have a gallery along with studio spaces, if I rented out the studio spaces. I got some friends to help me build the walls and it was good to go. It filled up pretty fast. Scott was actually one of the first artists that came when none of the walls were built and was like, “yeah, I’ll do it, I’ll take a studio. “
The 22: So, are you funded by anyone?
LP: It’s pretty self-sufficient. I put a large investment [in] myself. I got a small business loan and [had some] small savings. Mostly I just had to fund the start-up costs, like the walls. Almost right away it was running itself with the studio spaces. So that’s really good, it worked out well. I’m starting to look into getting funding with indiegogo and I just got fiscally sponsored with Fractured Atlas so that will sort of start helping us in getting some grants and things.
The 22: Great, so this show is Scott and one other curator? [To Scott] So do you want to tell me a little about what this show?
Scott Chasse: Sure, it’s a show that we actually did, Thomas Buildmore and I, two times now in Boston-in 2008 and 2010. [Basically] we’re taking a handful of painters that we either know personally or respect and have been able to connect with, and we’re putting them all in the same room. We’re providing the paint itself, we’re providing the material and we mix it down to a certain viscosity, we try to control that and that’s about it. We just set them loose, they’re able to paint on the walls, react to the space, react to each others work and at the end our goal is to have this giant cohesive painting installation that just takes over the space but is unified by the control of the materials. We explain to the artists up front that we want to see this opaque black directly on the white, the harsh contrast, as opposed to them being able to water it down to gray or mix it with white, or mid-tones, we don’t want any of that we just want harsh black on white.
The 22: So the viscosity, was that for any reason?
SC: It’s A) the look, and B) it’s such a pleasure to work with at this viscosity. We get that feedback from the artists all the time. It’s just so enjoyable to use the paint and it’s actually a specific brand. I’m happy to say Lascaux sponsored this show very generously. They handed us some product and we have always cut it down the same way, since day one. We were actually just buying it for the very first show, out-of-pocket, and we are continuing to develop our relationship [with Lascaux]. It was really nice of them to give us a bunch of paint for this one, and everybody is really enjoying it again.
The 22: I was reading the statement and it seemed part of what you guys were trying to do was make commentary on the state and style of art, as opposed to personal interpretations and a lot of it looks really pop and street art. Does that just come from your [personal] backgrounds [or connections]?
SC: There is definitely that influence. I don’t think we’re trying to make this at all a reflection of street art, but just painting in general. Street art is just a part of painting these days. We want the show to be taken as a painting exhibit. These are painters, regardless of what their backgrounds are, and there are definitely painters in this show that are very far away from anything having to do with street art but when they are painting on the wall next to someone you might recognize from the street, it’s easy to blur those lines between which is which, and that is definitely a goal of the exhibit. To see how people are reacting to each other in the space as well as how their varied backgrounds just coexist. The 22: So more about collaboration than anything? SC:Yep, exactly. The 22:So the exhibit is only the painting on the wall?
(LEFT: Morgan Anderson from Philadelphia works on the Paint It Now installation.)
SC: It will be eighty percent painting on the wall and we’re going to hang some of the 2D and 3D work from the artists. Probably eight to ten pieces. We’ve actually saved one wall in the space [for that].
The 22: What are the dates of the show?
SC: It opens on May 27th. The opening reception is 7-10 and it runs through July 6th. And we’re going to have a 2nd party during Northside Open Studios. That is June 17th from 8-10. It will be another artist reception and that’s the Friday night of Open Studios weekend here, so it should be really fun.
The 22: I know most [of your artists] are from Brooklyn, but some of them are from Philly and Boston? Who’s coming from Philly and Boston?
SC: I think we’re at about twenty artists now, there are great people from all towns, I could go through the whole roster but I’d probably space on somebody. [laughs]
The 22: [laughs] Oh that’s fine, I totally understand!
SC: Tom Buildmore is actually based in Philly right now, but I met him in Boston, so that’s probably the connection right there. That’s why we are still dipping into the Boston pool and we’re actively participating in the Philly pool. Tom’s down there right now, he has a great space down there called Stupid Easy. It’s almost like this, just a smaller version. It doesn’t have a whole bunch of studios, it’s just a room they use for a production studio and they use it as a gallery as well. So he’s really connected with the scene in Philly.
The 22: And where did you guys meet?
SC: Boston, MA. At this building, The Distillery, in South Boston where we both had studio space. And that building [in the main lobby] is where we did the first two Paint It Now shows.
The 22: Are you both painters?
SC: Yes we are.
The 22: So is there anything interesting on the horizon for the space?
Lia Post: Well this show I’ve been really excited about. Scott and Thomas have been planning it for a really long time so its nice it’s finally coming together. So this will be up for most of our summer. Right now I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do for the next show, but it’s probably going to allow the show to evolve. So I’ll probably sand out some of the pieces and then have a show of studio artists. More of a process based show, so they kind of collaborate in the gallery together, or have a long-term process going on. I think there will be another one of the light shows that we had last October so that will be our anniversary, and I [want] to have a studio [show along with that]. After that I have some friends coming from Philly that were part of my MFA program that are going to come and do a show. Photo based and paper based, I think. It should be really interesting. Then, two Australian artists are going to come and do a really short kind of performance based piece in the fall.
The 22: How many studios do you have now?
LP: There are eighteen built studios. All kind of varying sizes. A lot of people share the larger spaces. I think there are about twenty-five artists working in here now. The spaces range from a hundred square feet to over two hundred square feet.
The 22: And you do photography as well?
LP: Yep, we built this photo wall, so that’s been fun. It’s been kind of slow. I’m a photographer and I don’t even know how I’m going to use it yet but it’s been a nice resource to have.