The Art Assassin 2

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang, or a portrait of the artist as a young failure…

Archive for July 2009

shay kun, matt jones, and daniel heidkamp outtake

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Written by qi peng

July 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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Photograph of Shay Kun looking upward into a landscape. Courtesy of Shay Kun.
Shay Kun: Drama Twins, 2009, oil and acrylic paint on linen, 60 by 60 inches. Courtesy of Shay Kun.

The return of Mister Shay Kun to the contemporary art scene. His perverted landscapes that are cultural mashups between the industrial detritus of our society and the cliched beauty of our nature fascinate our eyes from the watchtower of the pretense of concern. Kun’s humor shifts the viewers into zones of discomfort, this war zone of our mind state that someday the consequences of our rape of nature will lead towards our eventual demise. Such a profound shame that the artist tries to wake up us from. A stupor which we have to battle this encroachment of the wasteland we have created.

The counterpoint between our desire to achieve technological progress in the military and our restoration of plants and animals is delineated within the idea of battle out in the American West. Considering that I live in Utah where academic landscape painting continues to overtake most of our contemporary art in Salt Lake City, I found Kun’s work to be full of absurd pathos and awesome dark humor that reminds one of the rocket science allusions in Thomas Pynchon‘s novel “Gravity’s Rainbow” crossbred with Phillip Roth‘s plot against America on a bad day. The nonsense of military exercises in deranged formations will be subsumed by the mighty forces of Nature and earthquakes raining down our punitive horrors. Hummers crashing like sharpnel rain into shells and hunks of junk. The wonderful sound of silence when machine guns fall to the ground. Our collective suicide pointing to the new type of humans without this stupid concept of war and its artificial gamemanship like pornographic chess. Kun is the new visual prophet of our uncertain future.

If you have any questions about Kun’s artwork, feel free to contact the artist at

Now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s inside details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: To start off on a lighter note, what are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, movies, and other cultural artifacts (either from your childhood or adulthood) that you wish to share with your fans of your work here? How are these incorporated into the ideas for your work?

Shay Kun:       artists- always loved Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, van Gogh, Edward Munch, James Ensor, William Blake, Otto dix, David hockney, Lucian Freud, Neo Rauch, Daniel Richter, Bernini, Jeff wall, Albert beirstadt, Thomas cole, Constable, Poussin. I read over and over ‘lust for life‘ and ‘letters to Theo‘ and rehashed in my mind the life style I am about to have…. I love chuck Palahniuk stuff and Matthew Collings books a must have to every artists: ‘blimey‘, ‘art crazy nation‘, ‘it hurts‘ also Julian stallabrasshigh art lite‘ and ‘art incorporated‘, also ‘true colors‘ by Anthony Haden-Guest and I was just reading ‘seven days in the art world‘ by Sarah Thornton a good one too. Movies- Barton fink, everything by hal Hartley or where Ed Norton plays in, Stone‘s wall street, the Boiler room, fight club, Silence of the lambs, lots of horror flicks though now married life brought me to comedy dramas and I love it :)!! TV- twin peaks, 24jack Bauer is the bomb, prison break (I always thought if somebody tattooed the hierarchy of the art world all over his body they might have a chance to break in), Survivor, American idol, ‘so you think you can dance‘, the real world, Entourage (my current favorite, my ex roommate used to be involved in the film industry and knew the real Ari gold), Seinfeld, the x-files, I am a TV addict and I love to consume I guess, the info is irrelevant as long as the images are warm and lush. Magazines – frieze, Artforum though mostly for the ads and the ‘ins and outs’, Flash art love the country surveys, Artnews for the prize winners and obituaries. Sports- table tennis (my mom was a champion in 1956 back in Israel), UFC (my next mission is to attend a big night at the Mandalay bay in Vegas baby, I adore the dedication and the mix of techniques and discipline, wrestling WWE mostly for the characters, very comical and up to date.

Incorporated into my work- it just does if you look it’s somehow there 🙂

qi peng: Have you been recently during the past few months to any galleries or exhibitions that you have seen and would to recommend to us? What elements within those shows inspired your artistic eye and tastes?

Shay Kun: To be honest I hardly go to see shows now, my inspirations usually do not come from contemporary art and I do not find it too interesting. I do love art do not get me wrong, perhaps much less at this point as there is too much of the same old regurgitation especially when it comes to abstract mythologies but I just rarely find something appealing that infuses a strong subject matter and penetrating technique, that I think “damn this is it”. I guess the only memorable shows from the past year for me were “who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns?” at shafrazi and David altmejd at Andrea Rosen…come to think of it, they were a year ago exactly yikes!  🙂 o.k o.k so I did like the martin kippenberger show like everyone else he is a kick a…artist, I am less impressed by the attitude and the myth but he had a superman‘s mind. I did like the Bacon show at the Met too, I grew up on Bacon stuff and rehashed in my youth the style of him and Freud in my works, I really like everything that is Brit.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around New York City or Chelsea where your studio is located of or anywhere else that you wish to recommend us? What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Shay Kun: The MOMA bookstore is not a bad place if you ignore the art tourists, I actually found there a collector once… just make sure you are next to Marilyn minter books 🙂 since I hate shopping most of my acquisitions are done online. I do not drink alcohol or smoke so I do not like to hang out much unless it involves a meal then I am game! Restaurants: well there are many around midtown where I live which I like: Rue57, fun to sit at the bar and the Eatery on the corner of 53rd/9 ave, same old stuff but with a twist, there is also Maison a nice French bistro on the corner of 53rd st./7 ave and across from it Lindys cheesecake the best in town, close by, you will also find ‘china grill‘ great food especially in groups as the portions are hard to handle, Ruby foo’s in times square for the pad Thai, Iguana on 55th St./8 ave for Mexican and Thalia on 8th ave/50th St.. By my studio I actually like ‘Canaan‘ on 29th St. close to 6th Ave., for sushi and I often go to ‘whole foods ‘very trivial of me I know but you can’t beat overpriced good quality food.

qi peng: In your assessment, how do you feel that the current economic recession impacted the contemporary art market and way that it functions in the larger national economy? Do you feel that artists will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects than the overly commercial work that was typically geared for the art fairs during the upcoming years? How do you think that galleries and non-profits will be coping with the dramatic shifts within the political and corporate culture, particularly in America?

Shay Kun: I am one of those who do not feel or see liberation by the economic climate and I witness it amongst my gallerists and artists friends, the environment basically shrunk the scene, everyone is looking for the sure bets and the bargains so it’s actually the opposite – less room to experiment and if you managed to brand yourself before the boom ended, then doing the same will actually grant you a means to an end. It’s great to change, shift things around and experiment but I think the saturated market a while back was actually more receptive to that and accommodating than it is now. At the end of the day I do not see a big comeback to the crazy rat race of 2006-07, I do see a flat line for a while that will endure the survival of the fittest unfortunately. I think you will see more gallery closings and same with the non profits, many ideas flying around about joint ventures or regrouping of galleries sharing the basics. In a way it’s a very selfish ego driven profession; at times it’s visual diarrhea and we expect people to smell it and endure the illusion that it’s a sweet perfume. Most do not succeed in doing so and I think over the next season or two you will discover that the play field changed… scope fair will get close to the armory, 24th St. will look like 22nd St. or 26th St. and a first time collector or a big heavy hitter will have the same type of respect.

qi peng: Also, do you have any favorite hobbies which you enjoy in your spare time? How do these activities inform the studio work that you pursue? Based your personal interests, are your mixed media paintings reflective of those hobbies you engage in?

Shay Kun: Hobbies mmm..not really I am a pretty lazy dude outside of my practice, I guess TV is a hobby, I like reality shows, entourage, 24 and the UFC, living vicariously through other people’s experiences can be a hobby right ? I guess I hate experiencing things myself 🙂 except maybe stand-up comedy I am a total fan and go often to Caroline’s or Gotham comedy club and also watch many recorded stand-up shows on TV. As for that being incorporated in my art, sure it does but not on a direct level I assume I like to keep it separate it’s my surrogate to boredom.

qi peng: As a graduate of both the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College, what was life in the studio like back then? How does your studio practice differ today from studio time during those years? What were the ideas that you explored during your undergraduate and graduate years as a student? How has your themes and style evolved over the years? How does the Israeli and British contemporary art scene differ from that of New York?

Shay Kun: I think life in the studio was pretty much the same perhaps much less professionally oriented to cater to the outside system, there was no outside in mind, it did not play a roll, it was just about doing your thing as best as you can and not as best as the collector/gallerist thinks you can, as it looks in today’s art schools. I am not too sure I actually miss the whole studio experience that I had during my studies. I do not like to involve myself much in other people’s practices and rather see it while they are absent, my studio before I moved to Chelsea was across from PS1 in LIC, again an artist’s studio building that was literally falling apart by the minute, that was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ as I totally figured I need a studio by myself in a non-artsy environment and if I need to share then with a partner that is not an artist or at least not a painter and for the past year and a half I have been successful in doing so and maintain my sanity :). I learned valuable things back in B.F.A, but I didn’t find a product to apply them to. So I learned a lot about how to look at art, and the questions you should ask yourself when you’re making something, and the questions you should ask other people when you’re looking at something.

It was a fantastic education, but the end products that people were making when I was there didn’t really interest me. There were lots of students who made works about the process of work. The intellectual atmosphere was very theoretical, but in a way that seemed dated to me, because the fact is Israel is in the middle of the Mediterranean without any real context or ability to create a unique voice. The equivalent would be if my parents would start doing Hockney knockoffs because they were told L.A is full of private pools.

Most of the ideas I explored back then came from the interaction between the virtual and the real and the artificial and the natural. It was the late 90’s and everything cyberspace was mysterious and intriguing, I used to deal with death as a virtual experience in mixed media installation and videos, painting that had more graphicy quality to them and held a story like a fischli and weiss sculpture, it did not work that well. I was at Goldsmiths post-‘Freeze‘ where for a long time most art was very hands-off. If you used your hands you were considered stupid. If you faxed something to a factory and had it made – something like the equivalent of three double-glazed windows – that was fine. I didn’t have any connection with that. In the early 90’s I’d been to art schools in London, I started to see the work that was appealing to me and it was exciting to see that stuff: it was so much more interesting to me then Israeli Art.

I think my themes evolved more into the art history arena while still maintaining old influences, my work dealt more with art history than before, a teacher of mine who I think is a great lecturer, told me a couple of things that stayed with me along the way, he said first do not be an art tourist, stick with something you like and try to refine it and research it to death, do not go and do everything because you can – it’s not healthy for a long term career and second, art is like a bottle of wine:  if you pour it to ten even glasses you will never get drunk but if you drink straight from the bottle at once you will…. so treat your practice the same way. I think all the art scenes are basically the same everywhere – you will find all the spectrums and obviously you get to know and familiarize yourself with more of the people you see there due to the size of the scene. One thing I can point out is that they take themselves a bit less seriously in their diva status then Americans do, and acquiring art back in Israel is more of a status value because someone else has it already, whereas educational or research experience can be found more in Europe and the U.S. To be honest Israeli art was very similar to Israeli sports; we always thought we are the center all these years but when confronted with ‘reality check’ we were proven time after time how farfetched it is yet we kept our heads up and I think the whole global PC situation helped in the past few years to make us feel we are more integrated. A collector friend actually talked about it with me lately and asked me how come, since it’s not major news, most of the art collectors and the majority in the entertainment industry are Jewish and many hardcore Zionist, why isn’t there an Israeli Hirst or Tom Cruise, is it because we ourselves are the biggest anti-Semites or we are not good enough or it’s just a bad coincidence, I will let the readers judge 🙂 .

qi peng: Assume that you could create your own personal museum of artwork. Which artists or pieces would you include in the collection and why? What things do you like looking when you are at art museums or galleries anywhere? What types of artwork does your personal tastes gravitate towards?

Shay Kun: My personal taste does gravitate to epic figuration but I like stuff that is pretty trivial: a vase, a hat, a pot somewhere between Morandi to the sci-fi works of Glenn Brown. I like it, I think, also more in terms of the mundane copy then the virtuosity, I hate empty pictures (unless it’s a Rothko) I like them to be full and busy. You either have hands-on or you have hands-off. Once you start to use your hands you get a certain look. It’s like when kids at school had jumpers that were knitted by their moms, rather than coming from the Gap. They looked weird because they were thicker and bubblier. Even if their moms were perfect knitters, it didn’t look machine-made. I think painters today are extremely skilled and extremely knowledgeable and they use their skills in different ways. Painting has always had the ability to be eclectic in its borrowing, now artists just make a unified picture which looks less fragmented.

In a museum or gallery setting I mostly like to look at the other people looking; it gives me more pleasure to think of what they are thinking then the visual ‘treasure’ in front of me. I also kind of like aristocracy art: Velasquez, Goya, rococo etc. I like saturated art something that is over powering and I do not mind overkill either and decadence is a blessing. Definitely Ludwig Meidner self portraits they are haunting, Otto dix, max Beckmann, George grosz and German expressionism obviously it applies as a war reflection of disenchanted humanity. As a second generation of holocaust survivors; the gaze in their pieces, use of colors and movement always forced me to acknowledge how volatile and momentary my existence is.  As corney as it sounds the ability to bring a mid range voice (like the UN if you will) gives me ‘breathing room’ to believe I am still valid in a world in which everything has been overly done with a twist which hopefully makes it desirable again. I like David altmejd, Bernini, Nigel cooke, Dexter dalwood imaginary spaces where a crime has been committed or speculated and most of the Zwirner painters, a close colleague and a strong sculptot, Tiago carneiro da cunha who shows at fortes vilaca in Brazil, he presents to me the paradigm of visual excellence. Jeff wall or actually everything in a neon light box, just love it 🙂 Vik muniz chocolate series, the best one liner in photography and of course peter Davies top one hundred artists paintings of the ‘ins and the outs’, clever…

qi peng: On another light note, do you have any favorite cuisine or dishes that you enjoy? Considering that food is essential for the artistic soul, what things do you enjoy about meals either prepared in a restaurant or home setting?

Shay Kun: Either sushi or steak, I hate vegetables but will ignore it in a good spider roll nothing else compares…I must have one or the other every day…I do not cook or host at home, so fresh direct delivery once a week is a savior. I also of course love Mediterranean food especially hummus, I can eat hummus almost with anything same as Americans eat ketchup with theirs. ‘hummus place‘ is a good place to start, it has several branches across the city and Hungarian food too especially cheese blintzes, my mom is a super cook and donated recipes to many books on the subject so when I travel to Israel she knows what I am expecting:). Last but not least I am putting out the word out there for a cilantro sauce someone should really do it, it can be done like pesto sauce only with cilantro that will be a hit ! 🙂

qi peng: What is the methodology behind your paintings which often use both oil and acrylic from start to finish, from preparatory studies to the completed work? What types of materials and equipment do you use to create your final artwork? How do you determine which materials go into a particular paintings? Also what is an average day like within your studio? Do you use assistants and if so, how are they incorporated into your studio practice? Why do you enjoy using oil and acrylic in the same work rather than sticking to one for a particular work?

Shay Kun: My process of working is usually one of elimination; I have quite a low attention span and high curiosity rate, hence I have to be overwhelmed by a piercing image visually first in order to explore/dissect it further. That is why I am mostly interested in the mechanism of perception then the actual subtext. No assistants used only my computer, projector for outlines and one pair of hands to execute. I am one of those hardcore believers that practice makes perfect…most of the works start now with some acrylic background but soon after I go over it with oil I rarely leave a few small details as is, eventually I love acrylic as it dries fast and gives it at times the more graphicy element but for the backgrounds and the sceneries oil is the best answer, I love to play with highs and lows in terms of the art materials and in some works I also use sandstone paint which is used for pottery and leisure time activities as well as airbrush paint that possesses fluorescent qualities.. The day usually starts at 7am I am more of a morning person than a night one, calls/emails etc. I do work also from home at times I do not want to limit myself to the studio and lucky enough they are 30 blocks apart…so sometimes I stay home later than expected. Noon is for sure studio time until about 6-7pm then I marinate, clean and think about the day.

qi peng: With your Jewish heritage, do your explore any themes which are related to your personal heritage, particularly the fact that your parents are both Holocaust survivors? Why are you drawn to the works of the Hudson River School, particularly Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt? How did you get interested in becoming an absurd landscape painter? What elements draw your eye and imagination into use of imagery from the American West mashed up with ecological damage such as junk cars, human interlopers, and military personnel? What things are you hoping to poke fun at?

Shay Kun: My works are very much inherited and routed in two separate lines: my fascination with soldiers/ army life through my own experiences in Israel, serving in the army and the perception and alternations of that in computer games, simulation and other ‘disaster’ spectacles. I try to infuse my serene scenarios which combine many times a hybrid of american-israeli landscape of the midlands with the simulated touch of synthetic feel when art is transformed through technological means and being repainted, into that I try to inject my personal stories and visions.

The suburban really interests me. And the domestic – lots of European artwork is domestic, you can’t get away from it. It’s a complete continent fascination. For example if it’s made by a British artist or the artist lives in Britain, they’re going to do works around the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, getting up, having dinner…. If you look through the whole of British art, it is always about that. Making Conceptualism and Minimalism domestic was the late 80’s. You can’t fight the domestic in western culture, its part and parcel of one’s national cliché.

I like suburban trash, I like suburban culture. I like the idea of not making a connection with the coolness of the center. There’s something kind of low-grade about suburban values, and there’s something about getting it right and getting it wrong at the same time. Suburban culture bastardized the mainstream, but not necessarily in an aggressive, punky way.

On the other hand as a first generation holocaust survivor; a son of two second world war immigrant artists, in many ways my practice is a reaction or negation to what was the conventional Israeli tradition of nature painting, where my parents too found themselves excluded as they were brought up by east European values and my work infuses both their styles while taking it to unmapped territories. The transformation I have in the works is almost like an ‘Israeli gypsy‘ that has all the positive signs of missing his mother land. 🙂

I remember myself in my childhood sitting down in my moms’ studio — a commercial landscape artist, asking myself if these welcoming ‘greeting card‘ paintings are in my genes…at that time I could only produce a pastiche of Freudian Van Gogh type of work and this affliction of sublime testimony seemed too simple and sincere to justify. In retrospect I know today that both of my parents’ work shaped my style, those untouchable materials in my youth and through my education became the only motives that put a choke hold on me and did not let go. My exploration is not a tongue in cheek, a one liner of an Israeli artist flipping the European/ American sublime, but an emotional exploration of the point of departure between my mom’s celebratory landscape and my Dad’s decaying and deteriorating ones and how I can add to that my own small voice liquefying this ‘unfinished symphony‘.

There’s incredible creative energy in looking at what you were given as you grew up, and then making a version of it later on. You make it with much more knowledge and intelligence. Its like, ‘You’ve given me this, so I’m giving you that.’ Of course it depends on what point you want to make, art can seem angry or you can take the anger and change it and make art that doesn’t seem so angry. Anger’s been done to death recently. ‘How do you take that spirit but not copy its product? Or can you apply that spirit to where it is least expected?’

I think my work does not look sophisticated in the way that the previous generation’s did, because the previous generation in Israel borrowed a very high-art, international look: they borrowed Conceptualism and Minimalism, and added their own pop, cultural content to it. Choosing Minimalism and Conceptualism guaranteed international credibility. I did not feel the need to do that. I was lucky enough to attract an international art audience that is relaxed enough to know that you can make very sophisticated products from odds and ends.

…and not make it seem regional. It’s very international but it doesn’t need to prove it. The previous generation had a much more difficult task because they seemed to come from nowhere and they had to prove their internationalism.

In the Wall Street-corporate-80s-advertising-money world, Minimalism and Conceptualism made sense. In the sitcom-goofy world of now, people can do small, low-key things or have weird ways of working and fitting in. Artists didn’t make this change; the culture does. When art responds to culture, people get it. And when it doesn’t, then there’s confusion and anxiety because people don t get it. They don’t get what the art is trying to say.

qi peng: What is your opinion about tourists and adventures seekers, particularly those people who are part of reality television such as the show “Survivor?” Why does public thrive on thrills and fame-seeking without meaningful lives? How do you delve beyond the superficialities of life?

Shay Kun: I think the people who are adventure seekers or a part of reality TV do not necessarily supply thrills to those who have superficial lives, it’s a form of entertainment that tests physical and social skills, I actually told my wife once that perhaps if Survivor was two weeks for 5 million dollars and not 39 days for a million I would consider. 🙂  most people think that the neighbor’s grass is always greener; this mentality is the reason of the reality inflation. I actually think it’s more of a voyeuristic habit. People can find a meaningful purpose in eating burgers every day, I say kudos.

qi peng: What has your experience been like working in the gallery system, particularly Davis Castillo Gallery, BUIA Gallery (now defunct), and art fairs such as Artforum Berlin? What are some of your future projects or exhibitions that you will be pursuing soon? Will these new artworks be an extension of the themes and ideas that you are examining now or perhaps a different direction instead?

Shay Kun: I think an artist eventually needs galleries to expose his work to audiences he will not be able to reach by himself, especially when it comes to art fairs. However my experience with most galleries is that they really mean well and at the end their success is yours but in daily life I think an artist really needs to rely on his own skills to promote himself and make the best work he can. A gallery is a team and artists have too much ego to be team players, so it’s a give and take situation; hopefully it’s a delicate balancing act. I am working on a show in Boston at Lamontagne gallery in Jan 2010 and at the same time on a project with Loushy art and projects in Tel Aviv, followed by hopefully a show at Linda Warren gallery sometime in late 2010 or early 2011, it will surely be an extension of the same themes but stay tuned for surprises:).

qi peng: Do you have anything else which you would like to share with your readers and fans of your kick ass paintings and upcoming exhibitions or projects here?

Shay Kun: Live and let live. There’s no point making a copy of the same old thing. To make art, you take something and do something new with it.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

July 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

william powhida’s review version 5

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William Powhida- Qi Peng, Art Assassin @ Envoy Gallery_1248857319239

Written by qi peng

July 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

william powhida’s review version 4

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William Powhida- Qi Peng, Art Assassin @ Envoy Gallery_1248753527673

Written by qi peng

July 28, 2009 at 4:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

qi peng in jerry blackman’s solo show at dam, stuhltrager gallery

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Written by qi peng

July 28, 2009 at 12:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

ASSASSINATION: Paige Wery, Publisher and Advertising Director at Artillery Magazine and Artist

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Photograph of Paige Wery. Courtesy of Facebook.
Cover of Volume 2, Issue 4 of Artillery Magazine in 2008. Courtesy of Artillery Magazine and MySpace.

Artillery Magazine, a raw art magazine based out of Los Angeles, is nearing its fourth anniversary and I had a chance to pop out in the sunny city to chat up a storm with Paige Wery, who is the magazine’s publisher and advertising director. Last year, I had found this free magazine lying around various galleries in Brooklyn like Parker’s Box and not in Chelsea where those spaces tended to erase any art brochures in their windows. The delicious magazine was full of various perspectives lacking a ton of censorship while being full of intellectual bantering as well as glamorous shots of the social life of the art world, which is a segment that I had wanted to capture in my interview portraits.

The magazine which is rather slim and to the point, has a variety of articles ranging from accounts of studio visits with artists to humorous advertisements for a naked slave conceptual artist to some rather punchy reviews of great shows on both the West and East Coasts with a few places in between. The eye-catching design masks its rather profound and alternative view of the art world that isn’t caught up in academic language or terribly bad articles that focus on the artist’s selling points. Instead, the reader is treated to a sharp and thoughtful look at the action-filled craziness that comprise the contemporary art world with its drunken parties and sexy parades. Scenes from a Dreiser novel crossbred with Andy Warhol that you wouldn’t get too much from reading the formalist Art in America or even Juxtapoz Magazine. Artillery Magazine doesn’t mind the scandal and controversy that graces each tastefully sinful issue to welcoming eyes. As they say, bring it on!

Wery also is quite a fascinating painter who executes paintings and installations created from her paintings about subjects like coloring books and diamond-laced limbs in the style of outsider art on speed mixed with a dose of neo-expressionism. Great stuff, I must admit and well worth a strong look.

If you have any questions about Artillery Magazine, feel free to contact the editorial or advertising offices at (213) 250-7081 for the editor or (323) 243-0658 for the advertising director who is Paige Wery or at If you happen to be excited about Wery’s artwork, you can contact her at

Okay, so now to the show and here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s latest details of this fanciful “assassination”:

qi peng: How are you doing over there at Artillery Magazine? As the publisher and advertising director for one of the leading independent art magazines in Los Angeles, what are your primary responsibilities for the magazine and its distribution into the various art markets such as New York and Los Angeles? What is the story of the founding and growth of Artillery Magazine into a major venue for the contemporary art world? Also how was the name of “Artillery” created?

Paige Wery: Thanks for asking.  Artillery is doing well, all things considering.  Since you brought it up, let’s get the obvious over with; we are living in a world recession.  For those who don’t know Artillery magazine, we cover the contemporary art world with a home base in LA, distribution throughout CA & NY, with writers across the globe.  As the publisher, I focus on the business side of things.  Artillery survives on ad sales, which has been cut back drastically but at the same time we are growing in popularity.  We’re distributed for free through galleries, museums, art fairs, schools and (when we can get in) VIP parties.  Our popularity mixed with less money is a conundrum that we will ride out and I’m confident come out a stronger voice on the other side.  I am responsible for bringing in the bulk of ad sales, getting us in art fairs, organizing events, some of, half of LA distribution, accounting and oh so so so much more.  Tulsa Kinney is the founder and editor of Artillery.  I love the story of when Tulsa and I first talked about me signing on, Tulsa’s husband (the publisher before me) said “It’s a part time job…about three days a week. Tops.”  ha HA!  But truly, with all the work and not much pay, I love my job.  Don’t get me wrong; healthcare, salary and days off is a personal goal but for some crazy reason, I really believe Artillery will provide (my optimism is probably a combination of thinking Artillery is my little bitch and “Yes We Can!“).

Anyway, one day I’m dressed up having lunch with a museum director trying to sell an ad and the next I’m in shorts, sweaty and slugging magazines around town.

Tulsa started the magazine in response to Artforum’s dry editorial content.  As a graduate student from USC fine arts program, she doesn’t think the premier art magazines are doing a good job reflecting the current art world.  We think art can be discussed intelligently through an accessible language (especially since more people make art, buy art and visit gallery openings than ever before) and why can’t we have serious reviews mixed in with the gossip?

Artillery is a great title but the story behind it isn’t that unusual.  Tulsa was brainstorming with a friend on the phone and the word, Artery came up, which led to Artillery.  Ta Da!

And I love our sub text “killer text on art”.  I think that explains us pretty well.

qi peng: The magazine is described on the website as a “fresh, smart magazine that captures the verve and vitality of the contemporary art world.” How does your approach differ from the mainstream publications such as Art in America, Artforum, or ARTnews? What subjects and themes allow your writers and features to remain provocative? Have there been any incidents where controversy brewed from the magazine?

Paige Wery: We differ from the mainstream art magazines with our honesty, sense of humor and touch of gossip.  Artillery reflects the art world genuinely with no fear of sex, drugs and bad reviews.  We have a society page, poetry, comics and a new column called WTF.  All that said, we get exclusive interviews with great artists, print serious reviews and our guest lecture section has had such big names as Mike Kelley, Louise Bourgeois, Frank Stella, Barbara Kruger, Raymond Pettibon and Ed Ruscha .  (We ask the guest lecture to curate the centerfold.)

Controversy?  Well we’ve printed some really nasty letters and gotten way too drunk and stoned at parties.  Maybe this will satisfy:  Our gossip columnist “outed” several artist that belong to The Church of Scientology….I was scared for my life….but really just a couple of gallery owners got pissed:  The controversy that barely happened.

qi peng: What are ways that you, as the publisher, are able to ensure that the magazine is “fun to read?” In what ways do you and your writers try to inject humor and levity into the articles themselves?

Paige Wery: This seems like a question for Tulsa, the editor who is responsible for what we cover and how. I don’t tell my clients “make your advertisement funny or I won’t run it”. But seriously folks, humor is attractive, important and a part of the art world.  Tulsa invites our writers to go there.  Also, “fun to read” means not a struggle and snore for the reader, like a lot of other art magazines, who will remain nameless.

qi peng: With the recent downturn in the American economy, have you seen any changes in how the galleries, particularly in the Los Angeles scene, been able to interact with their audience? Can galleries afford to take a risk in curating riskier exhibitions during this period? Are you seeing collectors’ habits change within the physical art market as the national banking and other financial sectors are suffering from various problems such as foreclosures?

Paige Wery: Yes, of course the economy is taking its toll on the art market just like any global business today.  Each venue is trying to figure out how best to survive with less money.  The newspapers report about the job cuts in the museums but this is happening in creative venues across the board. Swarm Gallery in Oakland, CA told me they’re encouraging their artist to go wild because nothing is selling anyway.  That to me is an ideal attitude but Swarm is a non-profit and doesn’t rely on gallery sales to pay the rent.

I’ve noticed some galleries showing more conservative work than usual and also noticed that doesn’t mean more red dots.

People can’t buy as much art right now but I don’t see that as an excuse to show nice photos of mountain tops when 3 months ago you had an amazing art install that blew me away.

qi peng: How do your contributors in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Berlin help to cover the contemporary art scene over there and manifest the international networking that holds together the community? With the recession in effect, do you feel that the smaller art markets are able to show their strength through an experimental slant during this period?

Paige Wery: Artist, galleries, museums and collectors can’t expect to be fully informed when ALL they know is what happens in their neighborhood.  Art is made, viewed and sold across the globe and Artillery considers itself a humble part of that education.  We actually got a nasty response from an LA gallery director about our Berlin issue.  He said, “you’re based in LA.  What are you doing covering Berlin?”  In my opinion that is ridiculous and naive.  On the other hand, Wayne Blank, owner of Bergamot Station, the home of 50 galleries in Santa Monica, CA., told me there is no way to run a gallery without reaching NY and beyond.

I want to know what’s happening on the international scene and I think it’s a safe assumption that most art enthusiast do as well.

As far as small art markets and experimental slants…unless they go gorilla, it’s really tough.  I read about more experiments happening at places like Deitch Projects:  they have the money and they get the press.  It’s true, there experimental art shows, follow a Keith Haring retrospect but someone has to pay.

qi peng: Do you have any advice for up and coming BFA and MFA graduates who are graduating from art school and are starting to hunt for galleries to show their artwork? Do you think that there are too many talented artists within the system than what the top galleries especially in Los Angeles can handle? With the recent closures of so many galleries within the New York art world such as Rivington Arms and Roebling Hall and the Anna Helwing Gallery in Los Angeles, what trends are you seeing within the galleries and how they are presenting their work to the public? Do you see any trends within the established museums, especially in Los Angeles, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in how they are dealing with the recession?

Paige Wery: My advice to art students is GET A JOB.  We are living in a sh-t storm economy and the idea that you will graduate from art school and make a living from only selling your art is mostly a fantasy.  (Of course the private art schools don’t want to say that because then the kids won’t pay for a school that doesn’t prepare them for the realities of a fine art career).  There are creative jobs that can help an artist keep moving forward.  Teaching jobs are ideal because of the benefits and who you meet BUT those jobs have been hard to find for a while.  I worked in a high-end frame store chopping, sanding, staining and in the mean time met lots of artist, collectors and gallery directors.  Before  that, while waiting tables and going to art school in SF I curated shows in local coffee shops, rented spaces and held art shows in my living room.

Do I think there are too many talented artists for the system?  NO WAY!  I think there is too much crap being shown on the walls of galleries.  There is always room for new good art but the new and good isn’t easy to find.  My biggest peeve is to walk into a contemporary gallery and see work that looks like what a famous artist did 10, 30, 100 years ago.  This is what separates the galleries.  It’s up to the curators to be savvy and show things that break the past mold.  I realize this is easier said than done when you are a gallery trying to keep your doors open but you signed up for this job. Do it well.

I just read an article in the NY Times about museums having yoga classes and bike rides and MOCA just had a team of artist build a one night mini golf course through the museum.  I think it’s great to see the museums reaching beyond the walls to bring out the community.  This is a great way to fight the recession.  Now’s the worst time to be exclusive and the perfect time to stretch your arms, think new and reach out to your community and beyond.

qi peng: What is your opinion about online curated galleries such as Collegeartonline (CAO) or Ugallery? In what ways is their exhibition style different than that of a gallery like Claire Oliver? Any opinion on online artists registries such as White Columns or the Drawing Center? Any opinion on juried competitions such as New American Paintings? Which method is most important for a starting artist to get validation for the work that they execute?

Paige Wery: The comparison you gave me seems odd (am I missing something?).  The quality and originality of work is far outstanding at Claire Oliver compared to CAO and Ugallery.  That said, I don’t have any problem with the online art galleries or competitions but I don’t think they typically showcase groundbreaking work.  Posting online won’t hurt your career (chances are you don’t have one) and you never know who’s looking.  A more gratifying start is looking for local open call group shows (in LA: Cannibal Flower, Create Fixate and others).  These look better on a resume, you meet other artist, get emails of people that like your work and in general, gain experience you probably won’t get online.  For each artist, it’s different and it takes a lot of trial and error to see what works best for you.  My friend Christopher Russell, (who just had a solo show at the Hammer Museum) started out, after getting his MFA, by dropping off a handmade box filled with his photo based work and writings.  Most galleries would have kicked him out but his work was good, caught their eye and he gained representation at an established LA gallery.

I’m sure this has been said before but if you’re an artist, it helps your career to be creative outside of your studio as well as inside.

qi peng: On a lighter note, do you have any favorite restaurants, hangouts, or cool places around Los Angeles that you would like to recommend to fans of Artillery Magazine? What do you like best about the places that you have chosen?

Paige Wery: I’m obsessed right now with a food spot in Los Angeles on Beverly near Fairfax called Terroni’s.  Its Italian food at it’s best.  Minimal ingredients, super fresh and very tasty.  Entrees cost around $10-20 and they don’t take reservations, which provides a good excuse to start with a martini at the bar.  I spend most of my “out of the house” time at art openings.  In Los Angeles, I find the best and most diverse museum program to be at the Hammer.  They seem more willing to show a fabulous young artist as well as historically proven artist and their lecture series is top notch.  I also have a soft spot for MOCA and their programming.  I volunteer on one of their fundraising boards called MOCA Contemporaries.

qi peng: How do you think that the new media, ranging from video art to Internet-based projects, will impact people’s appreciation of painting and photography and sculpture, more traditional and established media, which are interacting with each other in terms of visual motifs and archetypes? Do you feel that as people interact with new media, they will be able to critique the cliches of mainstream media and have a profound understanding of what it means to be human?

Paige Wery: I’m guessing, everyone reading this knows what it’s like to be human.  But does anyone know what my cat is thinking?

New media only adds to the art world and I enjoy seeing things pushed out of comfortable boundaries.  Just like any other art form, new media gets me excited, when it’s good.  In no way does it take away from good painting or sculpture.  The more traditional art forms are not dead and they will be around as long as humans (and cats).

qi peng: For example, within a recent article entitled “feature: NY Studio Visit Katherine Bernhardt” written by Carole Nicksin, the feature includes vibrant details about the working processes behind this brilliant neo-expressionist artist represented by CANADA. The article details Bernhardt’s work in her studio in Flatbush as she works on her stylized paintings of celebrities such as Kate Moss. What is the process behind the research of the subject into the final article appearing within the publication? How does the writer choose to edit their notes to create a cohesive piece of text?

Paige Wery: In this case the writer pitched the idea to the editor. It ran in our regularly featured column, LA and/or NY Studio. The writer interviewed the artist at her studio, wrote the piece, Tulsa makes final edit, we print it, and writer gets paid.

Artillery works in two ways:  Tulsa assigns articles to particular writers and she also takes pitches.  Not all pitches are approved.

qi peng: What is your opinion on art fairs and its seemingly more commercial and less conceptual presentation of artwork as compared to that of more traditional exhibitions? Is it possible to present artwork in a challenging way within the Miami and Los Angeles warehouse spaces? What elements of playfulness can enter into the Miami or Los Angeles art fairs? Do you think that dynamics of art fairs will change as the recession is underway?

Paige Wery: I enjoy the art fairs for the opportunity to see so much art and so many galleries in one area.  Yes, several types of conservatism may or may not be in play due to making back your booth cost and the space restrictions but I really enjoy the atmosphere.  If you get sick of the convention sites, take the time to visit some of the satellite spaces.  For example, Pierogi at the 2009 Miami fairs was awesome.  Each year they rent a building in the Wynwood district, near some big fairs and they curate an amazing show without the obvious fair restrictions.  But I also like seeing the big fairs.  At Scope Miami ’09 they included an arts collective, Friends With You, that created a Fun Room in the lounge that included a bounce house, balloons, structures to crawl through. I appreciated the child-like atmosphere in the middle of a huge art fair that can sometimes numb even the biggest art appreciator.  A large part of the fairs are the parties and I love talking about art and drinking.  It’s not a bad combo.  Right now there are too many fairs for the market to maintain.  Red Dot NY ’09 got canceled even after the ads were run and paid for.  LA in NY was a great fair for the past 2 years and that got canceled.   If the commercialism of the fairs grosses you out and you want to see a bunch of great international art in three days, head to the biennials.  In some ways, I think of the biennials as a rare chance to see the best artwork and the fairs as a chance for galleries to make sales and meet new collectors.  I’m all for both.

qi peng: What are some of your future articles and upcoming features that Artillery Magazine will be publishing? What are some potential challenges or past hardships that your magazine have overcome since its inception and that you are proud of?

Paige Wery: I’m proud this Sept. Issue will launch Artillery’s 4th year.  Topics include:  Fallen Fruit, Biennale coverage, new season previews, contemporary Indian art, David Lynch photos and Susan Anderson’s: The Surreal Nature of Child Beauty Pageants.

I struggle most with our competition and bringing in enough income for the magazine. Since we have a strict policy of not “selling” our editorial (in exchange for an ad), sometimes it’s an uphill battle. Sometimes our content can be controversial, which limits a lot of potential advertisers. But we’re determined to stay true to our mission, and print what’s important.  When I brought up the topic of publications selling editorial at a recent Los Angeles art writer’s panel, it was blown off by the shear fact that it’s been happening for so long.  At that point I realized my naiveté and somewhere in my brain screamed “you guys are lame!” And then I went back to work.

qi peng: As the advertising director, what do you feel is the purpose of gallery or exhibition advertisements? How do you maintain a consistent tenor among the articles and the advertisements? Is it possible to keep an underground vibe even with the commercial aspects of the magazine? How do you keep Artillery Magazine fresh for the reader without being bogged down with weighty advertisements like in Artforum?

Paige Wery: Advertising can have many purposes; bring attention to a particular opening or artist, get your name seen by the arts community, support of a publication or all of the above.  I don’t consider Artillery to be underground since we are distributed for free in the most popular of art venues:  galleries and museums.  We do have some great artist advertising through us like Science Holiday for the Museum of Fun (which I’m still not sure what’s going on there) and Johnny Naked, who is selling himself as a naked art slave for almost 2 million dollars.  I love those ads and they do keep us in touch with what some might call the underground.  I wish Artillery had the “weighty” ads of Adforum….I mean Artforum.  Ultimately, Artillery would love to have that many ads and keep our editorial as accessible and edgy as it is today.  For the Artillery in-house ad campaigns, we compare ourselves to Artforum:  “80% cheaper and 100% cooler” but we also say, “your ad will stand out” because we don’t have near the ads they have.  I don’t want that last point to be on my ad campaign forever.

qi peng: I noted that you also work as an artist. Your artwork comprise mixed media paintings that feature zany-looking, semi-abstract figures that contain a heavy dose of pinks, oranges, and other vibrant colors. What is the ultimate meaning or anti-meaning of your artwork? What are some of your future artistic projects that you will be pursuing soon? Will these new pieces be an extension of the themes and ideas that you are examining now or a different direction instead?

Paige Wery: Zany you should ask, I just found out I have an upcoming solo show (Fall 2010) at a gallery called HAUS in Pasadena, CA.  I haven’t been spending as much time making art since becoming a publisher but I still work in my studio almost every day.  It feels great to have a deadline for something other than Artillery.

qi peng: Are there any plans for Artillery Magazine to expand into news stands such as Barnes and Noble or Borders so that there is increased access to the information that the publication contains? Also is there anything else that you wish to share with the readers here or your fans of your artwork or Artillery Magazine?

Paige Wery: Personally, I’m torn between the accessibility of a free magazine and the stature of being on sale in bookstores.  (Artillery actually reaches more people in Los Angeles than Artforum because we’re free.)  Right now, Barnes and Noble is out of the question because we don’t have the budget for what that entails but it’s a possibility for the future.  Today, I’m focused on thinking of creative ways to keep Artillery growing within the budget we have right now.

Something to share with the readers and fans of Artillery, “THANKS for reading! And check us out at

xo Paige

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

July 27, 2009 at 4:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

maria schon outtakes

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Written by qi peng

July 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

EXCLUSIVE ASSASSINATION: Maria Schon, Artist Represented by Solar Gallery and Spanierman Gallery at East Hampton

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Photograph of Maria Schon in her studio. Courtesy of Maria Schon.
Maria Schon: Naiguata, 2006, oil on canvas, 44 by 44 inches. Courtesy of Solar Gallery.

Maria Schon, a fellow artist whom I had met at my solo show at envoy enterprises in June, creates some of the most dazzling and mesmerizing landscapes that are imbued with quiet confidence and shimmering sensuality. With curves and lines which emulates the shapes of bodies, the flavorful dance of shapes which are tinged with overtones of Latin America is filled with rhythms of passionate lovemaking between the viewer’s eyes and the hypnotic landscapes on canvas. Life!

Schon’s paintings are full of life, celebrating humanity and nature in harmonious conjunction. With that rare quality in today’s sociopolitical artwork, her work focuses on optimism and sexuality without seeming superficial or unpoised. In her profound examination of landscapes full of trees and hills with thick curves, we begin to realize how much our dehumanized lifestyles have missed the primeval touch that keeps us spontaneous. This is the emotional context that Schon conveys with her strong testimony of our need for a return back to our natural roots in life.

If you have any questions about Schon’s artwork, feel free to contact her gallery Solar Gallery at (631) 907-8422 or at Another gallery which represents her work is Spanierman Gallery LLC at East Hampton at (631) 329-9530 or at

Then on to the show and here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s latest details of this “assassination”:

qi peng:  To start off on a lighter note, what are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, movies, and other cultural artifacts that you wish to share with fans of your work here?

Maria Schön:  There are many artists whose works I admire. My preferences are diverse, but among contemporary artists I would include Bill Viola, Richard Serra, Anish Kapoor, and April Gornik.  I also like the fun and playful works of Tony Oursler, Su-en Wong, Nestor [Ernesto?] Neto and some of Jeff Koons.

Artists whose works have most definitely influenced the direction in my work are Hopper, Diebenkorn, Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Botero, Marisol and Cuban-American painter Julio Larraz.

I enjoy reading all kinds of books, but my tendencies usually are books about art, art theory and psychology. Most recently I’ve read Cynthia Freeland’s  “But is it Art?”  and Sarah Thornton’s “Seven Days in the Art World.” This past winter I enjoyed the high energy spanglish prose of Junot Diaz’s “Drown” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

Two films that have made an impression on me are “The Return” by Russian Film director Andrey Zvyagintsev, and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Both films are beautifully directed and emotionally gripping. Equally powerful is Polish director Krysztof Kieslowski’s “The Decalogue” series. I also love the art direction in films by Wong Kar-Wai, and Sofia Coppola.

qi peng:  Do you have any recent galleries or exhibitions that you have seen and would  recommend to us?  What things in those shows inspired your artistic eye and tastes?

Maria Schön:  “Picasso: Mosqueteros,” late paintings and prints exhibit at Gagosian Gallery in New York City was a real treat! One would expect to see the late phase works of an artist’s career to be a more gentle and introspective expression of life, but this body of work could not be a more explosive and energetic thrashing against death.

Recently I also saw “The Luminous Landscapes of April Gornik” at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington Long Island. I love the way light emanates from within her imagery and how the large shapes in her foregrounds are rendered with abstracted pattern contradicting the realistic treatment of her backgrounds. I think that this reversal of what one would normally expect with the treatment of foreground and background in perspective contributes a great deal to the surreal quality of her work. This beautiful show is on view until July 5th.

qi peng:  What is your opinion of art world journalism?

Maria Schön:  I feel that reviewers are generally reluctant to state an opinion and prefer instead to indulge in nuanced description.

qi peng:  Do you read periodicals such as ArtForum or ARTnews to get an up to date understanding of what goes on within the art world?

Maria Schön:  Once in a while I pick up  ArtForum to skim through the articles and check out what Tim Griffin and his ArtForum contributers currently validate as worthy artistic inquiry. But I generally prefer reading ARTNEXUS and Modern Painters.

qi peng:  Do you have any favorite artistic blogs or websites that you enjoy looking at on a regular basis?

Maria Schön:  Besides the, I have begun to follow Camilla Fallon’s reviews on I also enjoy reading Kathryn Markel’s “Markel Fine Arts Newsletter,” and  The New York Times blog “ArtsBeat

qi peng:  Do you feel that smaller, regional art markets like Santa Fe or Denver will have a chance to expand their horizons into becoming essential and vibrant art hot spots just like Los Angeles or New York City?

Maria Schön:  I am not familiar with the art markets in Santa Fe or Denver, so I am reluctant to speculate on what may happen there, but I have paid some attention to the art markets in Chicago and Miami and it is my impression that they take more risks and offer more opportunities for artists of all levels and directions to exhibit their work. For me this makes their art markets vibrant and exciting hot spots on their own. But New York City and Los Angeles I believe will always dominate the stage for the consecration of artists and art trends in this country.

qi peng:  What do you think is the current state of contemporary art within the Sagaponack, New York area where you are located?

Maria Schön:  The Hamptons is close enough to New York City for a day trip to visit galleries and museums and quaint enough to offer the space and solitude to develop work. This community is home to many artists including many of today’s art stars recognized and respected by the New York and international art world. We are fortunate to have two art museums – Southampton’s Parrish Art Museum and East Hampton’s Guild Hall. These institutions make an effort to showcase the works of not only well known established artists but the works of regional artists as well. Our local galleries mostly focus on works by regional artists, many of whom draw inspiration for their works from the unique light and atmosphere of eastern Long Island.

qi peng:  Is it difficult to sell conceptual art and large-scale installation pieces to the public, particularly during this slow economy?

Maria Schön:  With our economy in shambles and so many social needs at the top of the list, I think that funding for the arts in the next couple of years unfortunately may take a back step to all other matters and make it an even greater challenge not just for conceptual artist but all artists to obtain the resources and support needed to develop and exhibit their works.

qi peng:  How do you feel that the current economic recession has impacted the contemporary art market and the way that it functions in the larger national economy?

Maria Schön:  We are seeing the repercussions of this recession in the contemporary art market as galleries fold and artists loose their funding and studio space. I believe that established artists will continue to remain commodities to wealthy collectors and institutions even during times of recession. But those in the art world who will likely suffer the brunt of this economic downturn will probably be emerging artists as they struggle to maintain their studio practice.

qi peng:  Do you feel that artists will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects than the overly commercial work, typically geared for the art fairs, during the upcoming years?

Maria Schön:  In my view, art fairs have become predictable and formulaic, showcasing the same art and artists over and over again. Each year I come away from these art extravaganza events with the hollow feeling of having been subjected to a super hyped up bazaar. Artists attend these events in the frenetic pursuit of “hot trends.” But art fairs – at least the ones I experience in New York – have become more a place for commerce than predictors of innovative trends. It would be interesting to see artists take a “time-out” from the art fair scene and see what they can come up with using the limited resources of the times and their own introspection.

qi peng:  How do you think that galleries and non-profits will be coping with the dramatic shifts within the political and corporate culture, particularly in America?

Maria Schön:  There is no doubt that the way the art market functions will have to change to adapt to lean times. But I hope that this does not result in a stagnant atmosphere where artists, galleries and museums become adverse to risk, innovation and inclusiveness. It would be a calamity to contemporary art culture and a loss to all.

qi peng:  Do you have any thoughts about the current state of the stock market and its concomitant corruption?

Maria Schön:  I am disgusted with the greed, arrogance and irresponsibility of our banking, investment and regulatory systems. I could go on and on …

qi peng:  Any thoughts on the Obama administration in relation to your viewpoint on history, social identity, and the arts scene?

Maria Schön:  We are lucky at this critical time in our history to have elected a president who has the intellectual ability to understand the issues on an objective level. I respect the enormous efforts that Obama and his administration will have to make in order to implement the many necessary changes to rebuild our economy and infrastructure.. It was clear to me the night of the elections – when Obama addressed the nation with his acceptance speech in Chicago – that we had suddenly entered a new era of dramatic and sobering change.

qi peng:  Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around Sagaponack or New York area or anywhere else that you wish to recommend us?

Maria Schön:  A place in the Hampton’s that is beautiful and a lot of fun is Sunset Beach hotel and restaurant overlooking Shelter Island Bay on Crescent Beach. It has an easy laid back feel to it but it is also very cool, trendy and chic. Shelter Island is just a five minute ferry ride from Sag Harbor. There is a popular French beachside restaurant at Sunset Beach, and on a hot summer day it is always fun to go there to watch the sunset while enjoying a refreshing cocktail and dinner.

qi peng:  What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Maria Schön:  I love to be close to the ocean and bay and to enjoy the nature and beauty of this place. But winter months can be a little too quiet and isolating.

qi peng:  As a past student at The Maryland Institute College of Art and then New York University, what were those school years like? How was life in the studio back then?

Maria Schön:  The seventies was a quiet and cynical time. Other than the recession and the oil embargo, it felt like not much was happening. Baltimore was seedy and depressed. For entertainment there was the Pink Hippo disco downtown, Fells Point in the Inner Harbor for Maryland seafood and Mount Royal Tavern. Many Institute students hung around John Waters and his crowd.

As young artists, we were looking for inspiration and the next big art trend beyond Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism. Painting was still alive at the Institute and conceptual art was starting to catch on. Fellow classmates Jeff Koons and Donald Baechler were then future art stars in the making.

Studio life was heavy with the scent of turpentine! There was an “anything goes attitude” to the work. Next to my space a fellow classmate splattered paint violently everywhere as he painted his neo-expressionistic “Wife Beater” series. On the other side of me another classmate spent a lot of time contemplating his minimal conceptual series of large scale white paintings with nothing more than a tiny line of color running horizontally across the middle of his canvases. My work in the studio was about finding my own personal voice within the color bands of large minimalist landscapes.

After graduation I moved to New York City. The eighties was a time of transition. The economy was on the up-swing and the art world was suddenly coming back to life. Warhol and his friends Basquiat and Haring were now huge art stars. The Mary Boone Gallery was new and hot. So were Schnabel, Fischl, Salle, and Clemente. There was Studio 54, Area night club and Madonna. It was a time of growth and new possibilities.

During that time I read Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Massage,” and thought that I might explore video and multi media art. I signed up for an NYU summer intensive in video and television production, but unfortunately the course was dropped for lack of enrollment, so I switched to the NYU film production summer intensive after which I somehow ended up at the Grad Film School. Three years of production back to back. I had the good fortune to work on student films by fellow classmates Spike Lee and Ang Lee. NYU Film School was an intense and rewarding education. While I did not go on to explore video and multi media as initially intended, I would say that my film studies came to influence the way that I conceptualize the sequential considerations in my works.

qi peng:  Did you have any influential professors or students during that time and what was their impact on you and your work?

Maria Schön:  I took a lot of drawing at the Institute with Albert Sangiamo.  His classes taught me the basics of composition and the importance of giving equal consideration to negative and positive space. I learned to be an expressive painter with Raoul Middleman. And Sharon YatesPlain Air painting class taught me how to see and make decisions about color and to emphasize light and shadows for spacial dimension.  The Institute taught me well about the craft and formal considerations in painting.

During my junior year I went to Cooper Union for a semester as an exchange student. While there I took Hans Haacke’s Advanced Studio Seminar. The approach to the critiquing of work was very different than what I had previously experienced at the Institute. Haacke and his students were deep into conceptual art, analyzing work strictly from the perspective of content and theory.

qi peng:  How did you develop your painterly style of biomorphic landscapes that reflect your Venezuelan heritage? How do you infuse the sensual and sexual within those pieces using the power of memory and consciousness?

Maria Schön:  When I was a kid in Venezuela, my family would take us to spend summers in Chichiriviche, a picturesque ocean side fishing village about seven hours drive from Caracas. The trip to this place was a long and hot odyssey. Lots of time for us kids to fantasize and daydream while gazing out the back seat window of the car, visually absorbing the endless unfolding landscape of mountains, valleys and seascapes. Along the way we would pass a pair of large rounded mountains called “Las Tetas de Hilaria.” Translation: “ Hilaria’s Breasts.” The explanation for this erotic and sensual interpretation and naming of this voluptuous pair of land masses was that Indians who had lived in the area long ago believed that mountains were the protruding body parts of sleeping giants. Based on this surreal and fantastical way of interpreting and relating to nature, the round voluptuous shapes in my landscapes became symbolic representations for female and male forms.

The erotic and sensual suggestions infused within my imagery aim to correlate our visual and emotional response to the shapes that we see in landscapes with subconscious primal memories of a time when our sense of place was within the gentle curves of nature.

qi peng:  Do you have any favorite hobbies which you enjoy in your spare time?

Maria Schön:  I have always drawn inspiration from landscapes and nature so naturally I like to garden. It is like landscape painting on a larger scale.

qi peng:  How do these activities inform the studio work?

Maria Schön:  I started gardening when my daughter was an infant. During that time my circumstances had me without money for supplies and studio space. So I turned to gardening while my daughter napped as a way to remain creative. It was an incredible meditation that helped me remain grounded and focused. A few years later I began to paint very ornate and elaborate floral paintings. My daughter was no longer an infant but circumstances had continued to make life challenging for me. So I guess this imagery evolved out of a subconscious need to create beauty and order out of chaos.

qi peng:  What is the family experience like over where you are at?

Maria Schön: The Hamptons  is a great place to raise children. It is also a great place to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and ocean permeated air.

qi peng:  In your statement, you allude to “voluptuous mountains, fertile valleys and warm turquoise waters” as the basis for creating the concept of your imaginary landscapes. Which artists influenced your fascinating and delicious shapes that resemble something like a hybrid between Botero and April Gornik?

Maria Schön:  For me there is nothing more formally appealing than the voluptuous shapes in Botero’s sculptures and paintings. I am also inspired by the luminous and mystic qualities emanating out of April Gornik’s landscapes. But sometime in the late 90‘s my work took on a clear visual and emotional direction after I discovered the work of Miami based Cuban artists Julio Larraz. His atmospheric paintings of empty rooms with large open windows overlooking the immense turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea, is a recurring motif that reflects a sense of displacement and longing that resonates visually and emotionally with me.

qi peng:  How do you use the properties of light to delineate the structures of the foliage and stony hills?

Maria Schön:  Decisions about the direction and quality of light in my imagery work to articulate the highlighted and shadowed areas in my compositions. This in turn creates the perception of three dimensional forms and plains.

qi peng:  Your landscapes seem to have the influence of hard-edge painting, particularly Ellsworth Kelly in terms of the use of sharply defined curves and abstracted division of the plane of the canvas. Are there overtones of minimalism in addition to expressionism with how you deal with simplifying the complex photographic details of your landscapes?

Maria Schön:   Like hard-edge painters, I like to play with the sharpness and color transitions along the edges of my forms. I also draw a reductive menu from minimalism, stripping down my forms to their most essential features and rendering them with as minimal detail as possible to the point where they can still evoke a sense of realism.

qi peng:  How do you develop a landscape from start to finish?

Maria Schön:  My conceptual approach to the work is influenced by my experience with film. It begins with imagery designed to visually sequence the imagery within previous and subsequent paintings in the collection – like a scenic storyboard that unfolds as a continuous visual narrative.

Technical execution follows with line drawings on paper transfered to my painting surface. Then I begin to fill in areas with layers of acrylic paint – usually a complimentary color to the oil color that I ultimately intend to assign to that area. I proceed to build my paintings through multiple layers of oil paint until the colors and textures within this image has reached a level of luminous complexity that communicates my vision.

qi peng:  How do you title your paintings and works on paper?

Maria Schön:  My tendency with these collections are to assign Venezuelan Indian names for the paintings and numbers for the works on paper.

qi peng:  I feel that they are rather evocative in its sense of exotic travel with nomenclature such as “Sanare” or “Matakuni.” Do you consider these one or two word descriptions to be a form of haiku that tries to capture the essence of what you want the viewer to see within a particular scene?

Maria Schön:  I don’t know the actual meaning of these words or names. They originate from ancient Caribe tribes that lived along the coast of Venezuela. My intention is for the exotic and melodic sounds of these names, along with the evocative imagery within the work, to inspire viewers to seek their own subconscious familiarity with the physical and emotional space being portrayed.

qi peng:  Also do you have any poets or writers that you are inspired by?

Maria Schön:  I enjoy Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ability to capture mood and portray melancholy through his unique cinematic style of magic realism .

qi peng:  Like the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, do you use the names of places to reflect a historical and cultural connection?

Maria Schön:  I suppose I do. The Indian names that I assign to my works are the actual names of towns, villages and rivers in Venezuela. Also, many residential buildings in Caracas are given these indian names.  I feel an emotional connection, attachment and familiarity with the exotic melodic sound of these names. In some way they represent for me a kind of primal language – sounds from my early childhood. They remind me of the physical and emotional space that I – in some way, shape or form – have originated from.

qi peng:  Are there any places which you would like to travel someday to?

Maria Schön:  South East Asia! Primarily China and Vietnam. I would love to see Anji – the largest bamboo forest in China and Halong Bay in Vietnam.

qi peng:  Which places would you find inspiring to see?

Maria Schön:  I  am drawn to places where nature has not been touched by the expression of human culture. To name just a few… places like Angel Falls and Canaima National Park in Venezuela, the Grand Canyon, the Red Wood Forest and Mount Everest in the Himalaya mountains.

But I would also find it awe inspiring to see places where man has in some way communed with nature such as Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field, James Turrell’s Roden Crater Project, and Machu Picchu in Peru.

It would be amazing to see Earth from the perspective of the Moon!

qi peng:  Do you incorporate the idea of travel within any of your pieces?

Maria Schön:  Yes. Travel back in time and also travel forward in time.

qi peng:  In what ways does the concept of travel relate to the institution of travel agencies and the lack of a polar focus within today’s shifting world views?

Maria Schön: I haven’t really thought about that.

qi peng:   You have exhibited in quite a few galleries throughout your career ranging from Solar Gallery and Spanierman Gallery, which represent your work, to Arlene Bujese Gallery. What has the experience been like to show throughout the Hamptons?

Maria Schön:  I have been very fortunate to enjoy this kind of gallery representation because my work is quite different than work that is typically shown and collected in this area.

qi peng:  How does the art scene differ from that of the New York City gallery scene?

Maria Schön:  The art scene in New York City is by contrast much more vigorous and intense than the art scene in the Hamptons.

qi peng:  How do you consider yourself to be a colorist?

Maria Schön:  Color is an essential component in my work. It is used to communicate light, mood, atmosphere, and to emphasize form within dimensional space.

qi peng:  Do you plan the color palette before you embark on a certain piece?

Maria Schön:  I do at first. But then there is a moment in the development of a painting where I have to let go and allow instinct to drive the direction of the work. For me this is when a painting starts to breathe and come to life.

qi peng:  In what way do you attempt to correlate the exact tone of a certain part of the landscape to the manner a viewer would perceive the locale of a particular time and historical context.

Maria Schön:  I try to portray a physical and emotional space that reaches viewers at a level of deep – you might say cellular – memory, as though tapping into memories of primordial experience.

qi peng:  In what way does your use of colorful tones reflect an ongoing interest in your own heritage?

Maria Schön: The shapes, colors and textures in my imagery help me meld the perception between past and present, between here and there, and to bridge the gap between the two worlds.

qi peng:  Do you have anything else which you would like to share with readers and fans of your landscape artwork and your exhibitions here?

Maria Schön: To think about my work as I respond to your questions has been fun and educational. Thank you Qi.

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at

Written by qi peng

July 25, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

william powhida’s review version 3

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William Powhida- Qi Peng, Art Assassin @ Envoy Gallery_1248500234804

Written by qi peng

July 25, 2009 at 5:39 am

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introduction by suzanne fredericq

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nemastoma said…
A young child feels empowered and bold when wearing a spiffy batman outfit or a big red cape but may feel shy and reserved as soon as the cape comes off. Perhaps qi peng is that young actor who wears the cape when being around art and thinking about art, while his alter ego is a shy, more reserved person away from the art.

And right now, the outgoing and reserved sides of qi’s personality may run parallel – they are not yet fully intertwined. But everything points to it’s only a question of time before both sides will converge and fully interlock. And then, the red cape will never come off. And then qi’s art will fully become alive and qi’s life will fully become art.

July 24, 2009 10:16 PM

Written by qi peng

July 25, 2009 at 5:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized