The Art Assassin 2

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

Archive for August 2009

Frieze Projects 2009/Arte Contempo, Lisbon

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Curators Filipa Oliveira and Miguel Amado will present a group of artists’ commissions that play on the transactional nature of the art fair. From their stand, visitors will be invited to engage in a number of activities that reverse or subvert the usual exchange of money for goods or services.

Written by qi peng

August 28, 2009 at 2:49 am

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Congratulations Re: proposal image for Brina Thurston’s project at Freize Art Fair from qi peng

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After careful consideration, your work has been accepted into the 2009
Open Call for Frieze Projects.

Thank you for your participation.

Frieze Projects

Written by qi peng

August 28, 2009 at 2:47 am

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35×35 Exhibition

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Artists of Utah


Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 8:31 PM
Dear Qi,

While we were impressed with the quality of the artist submissions to the 35×35 exhibition, it is with regret that we have not selected your works for this show.

We hope that will attend the opening reception on Friday, September 14, 6 to 9 pm. We would love to meet you along with the other artists.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please keep us informed about any future exhibitions you participate in and career developments.

Best wishes for your continued success!

Artists of Utah

Written by qi peng

August 20, 2009 at 2:36 am

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ASSASSINATION: Sharon Butler, Artist, Blogger at Two Coats of Paint, and Associate Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University

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Photograph of Sharon Butler. Courtesy of Facebook.
Sharon Butler: Siding 2, 2008, oil on wood, 12 inches by 9.75 inches. Courtesy of Sharon Butler.

For many months, I have been a fanatic reader of a blog called “Two Coats of Paint.” Similar to the down-to-earth writings of Gerhard Richter, Sharon Butler‘s online entries explore both the theory and culture of painting that underlies studio practice. With wide-ranging topics from the spiritual nature of April Gornik‘s radiant paintings to the metaphors between painting and writing, Butler is not afraid to look at commonplace ideas in contemporary art from a fresh angle that is not obvious on first sight.

Also Butler is a very poetic abstract painter whose work focuses on the overall architecture of industrial structures and urban planning as well as collages on paper and a digital project involving the novel Moby Dick. With a palette of sometimes striking and sometimes subtle colors, her artwork becomes infused by a sense of wonder at these strange landscapes of metal and other man-made materials or fake suburbs within mostly triangular forms similar to the work of Dannielle Tegeder. She transmutes what one often takes for granted and redirects this hardworking energy of humanity into tangible compositions that our eyes cannot escape without thoughtfulness. Industry is seen as a celebratory force instead of a plaguing menace.

Finally, she works as an associate professor in the department of Eastern Connecticut State University helping out art students to understand the interdiscliplinary approach which is the skeleton of contemporary art, particularly with new media and video art. This profound conjunction among various subjects that get incorporated into art such as economics or science has increased our visual vocabulary even in the most conservative of media, painting and sculpture. And Butler being both a painter and blogger has this clear desire to show that art and digital technology can go hand in hand very beautifully.

If you have any questions about Butler’s artwork or the classes which she teaches at Eastern Connecticut State University, feel free to contact the artist/professor at or or at (860) 465-4345. If you have any questions regarding the “Two Coast of Paint” blog, please contact Butler at

Finally here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s revealed 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?

Sharon Butler: The most influential book I read as a child was Make Something From Nothing by Frank B. Griffith and Rubye Mae Griffith. The Griffiths, determined never to throw anything away, turned each useless household object into some other (usually hideous) thing. For instance, they would stick a  few cow ribs into modeling clay and turn them into a (very abstract) dinosaur sculpture. Or turn a dog-food box into a lingerie hamper.   Through the Griffiths’ wacky projects, which valued transformation over decorative appeal or craftsmanship, I learned to think creatively.

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? Considering that there are so many shows to look over, how do you decide which ones are worth reviewing and analyzing in your columns for The Brooklyn Rail and/or blog?

Sharon Butler: I usually write about shows that touch on issues I’m currently addressing in my own work. That way, the essays are a little like artist statements or manifestos. I never write about excessively didactic, over-determined projects that discourage viewer interpretation. The most recent big show I’ve seen is the James Ensor show at MoMA, which, despite its rough edges, I’d highly recommend. I first saw Ensor’s  paintings in Brussels two years ago and was delighted when MoMA announced the retrospective.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around New York City or Eastern Connecticut where you teach classes at or anywhere else that you wish to recommend us? What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Sharon Butler: Because I love thought provoking films, I’m a fan of arthouse cinema, like the Landmark Sunshine and the IFC in New York, and the Olde Mistick Village Cinema in Connecticut.

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 and curators will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects and exhibitions 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?

Sharon Butler: I’m glad to see that the government is increasing arts funding—too bad it took such a backbreaking recession for politicians to acknowledge how important the arts and artists are to the social fabric of our communities. In the next few years, plenty of younger artists, depressed by their dire financial circumstances, will undoubtedly head for law school and MBA programs. Those who maintain their commitment to making art will realize that the game has changed. Fewer traditional exhibition opportunities will mean that the smart artists will begin creating their own. Community builders and multitaskers will continue to thrive.

qi peng: Also, do you have any favorite hobbies which you enjoy in your spare time? How do these activities inform your ideas and your writings? Based your personal interests, are your art blogging for Two Coats of Paint, your studio practice, your columns for The Brooklyn Rail, and your teaching at Eastern Connecticut State University reflective of those hobbies you engage in?

Sharon Butler: I don’t have any hobbies unless watching TV is considered a hobby. I love good TV. Currently my favorite shows are 30 Rock (who doesn’t love Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy?), Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. My husband introduced me to the world of slickly-packaged crime drama, including CSI, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (Vincent D’Onofrio), and The Wire. I’m still childishly hoping Lisa Kudrow’s brilliant take on celebrity reality TV, The Comeback, reappears. Don’t tell my daughter, but as a kid I used to do all my homework in front of the TV. Now I work on my sketchbooks with the boob-tube on, so, I guess TV could be construed as part of my art practice rather than a hobby.

I live on the shore, but I’m a workaholic, and not especially keen on boats or beach.  Going out on the water lends a new perspective, though, so every now and then I rent a kayak and take a trip down the river. I also like fiction and independent films (see above). A few fiction writers I would recommend are Amy Bloom, T.C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, Edwidge Danticat, and Ann Patchett.

qi peng: Considering that painting in addition to writing and teaching about art is a rather time-consuming activity, how do you manage to balance a social life with your professional involvement in visual arts? What have been the most exciting moments that you have experience with your paintings, teaching classes, and art criticism?

Sharon Butler: I don’t have much extra time in any given week, although now that it’s summer and classes are out, I feel less pressure. I used to think I needed to narrow my focus, but I now consider that an old-fashioned imperative that might artificially induce me to give up or overlook rich and valuable material. I admit that when I’m pressed for time, social interaction is the first thing that gets curtailed.

qi peng: How do you think that traditional print art criticism, say Holland Cotter or Roberta Smith for the New York Times, differs from art blogging, such as Art Fag City or your blog? Do you feel like you have the ability to be more forthcoming because of the lack of vested corporate interests and art world politics? Additionally, do you feel that galleries have too much leverage on what art critics can say? Also what do you think is the politics of art criticism?

Sharon Butler: Because we don’t have editors, bloggers occasionally make posts that aren’t especially politic or well-considered in a scholarly sense, but that’s what makes blogs interesting and provocative. With professional critics, unless you’re an insider, it’s hard to discern the politics in play. Regular blog readers, on the other hand, expect a point of view. Most bloggers are communitarians at heart, but we still have feuds and pet peeves (remember the bloggers’ reaction to 303 Gallery’s ban on photography?) that we don’t bother trying to hide.

qi peng: What is the methodology behind your oil paintings and works on paper 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 the overall composition that will go into a particular painting? 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?

Sharon Butler: I develop work in several different media—primarily sketchbooks, writing, digital, painting, and combinations of all four. Deciding what, exactly, to paint is the biggest part of my process, and I’ll spend months intuitively circling around different ideas and imagery before trying to articulate (to myself or others) exactly what I’m doing. My approach is indirect because I’m not sure what’s on my mind until I make something that tells me. That may sound strange from a cognitive perspective, but I’ve read interviews with other artists, Ellsworth Kelly for instance, who work the same way. If I can explain a piece easily, that generally means I’m headed in the wrong direction. I like to let everything float freely for as long as I can, until something emerges that suggests a certain  “it-ness.” At this point, I usually try to write about what I’m doing. If the work doesn’t lend itself to written exploration, I might well drop the idea because it lacks the richness I’m looking for. Once a series is underway conceptually, I take my mind out of the process and become swept up in the aesthetic choices: color, line, shape, and so forth. I know it’s time to start the process again when it becomes too easy, or I’m bored. Although galleries don’t always encourage change, I think it’s important that artists keep moving in new directions rather than lock into a comfortable signature style.

qi peng: How does Twittering differ from blogging? Do you feel that Twitter can allow for pithy, instant thoughts and blogging for more developed essays? How does Twitter and Facebook allow you to communicate with artists, art professionals, and organizations? What direction do you see art and online social networking working hand in hand?

Sharon Butler: Maintaining Two Coats of Paint is like curating an ever-changing exhibition of “the art of my time,” and I consider it an integral part of my art practice. Using Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, are good ways to stay in touch with the community. I’m not the type of Twitterer who posts, say, 140-character haiku, or creates conceptual social networking projects, although I’m interested in artists who do. I prefer to use the social networking sites as personal news feeds that give my favorite exhibitions, galleries, museums, artists, bloggers, and writers well-deserved attention. As a chronicle of this particular woman’s experience of the art world, I suppose my involvement in social networking, like handwritten slave diaries, bank records, and laundry lists from long ago, might be of historical interest for future generations, but I don’t consider my ongoing participation an art project per se.

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?

Sharon Butler: I’m drawn to work that speaks to my own conceptual and aesthetic concerns. Currently, if I’m in a museum, I look for traditional objects like paintings and thoughtful installations rather than disembodied conceptual projects. Of course several years ago when I was working on video and text-animation projects, I was primarily interested in time-based media and conceptual projects. As my own work evolves, the type of work I want to look at changes.

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?

Sharon Butler: Throughout my twenties I thought cooking was beneath me, but when I got married a few years ago to a man who doesn’t cook, I embraced it as though I was undertaking a major art project. I remember thinking, I’m an intelligent woman—how hard can it be to follow a recipe? I got a big Joy of Cooking cookbook and read through it with gusto. Friends sent their favorite recipes. Currently I gravitate toward what I call the “monomeal”—a meal that has all the food groups in one dish, like shepherd’s pie, curry, or stir-fry.

While doing a residency at Pocket Utopia in July, I fell in love with the toasted sesame bagels with cream cheese at the Archive coffee shop in Bushwick. I also love Middle Eastern food, Peter Luger’s porterhouse, Lupa’s pasta, Resto’s beer list, and malted milk balls from Economy Candy on Rivington & Essex.

qi peng: Within your artwork, you are often inspired by daily observation of particular architectural or industrial forms such as observation towers. How do childhood memories, particularly of your father, inspire the concepts behind many of your paintings? Do you feel an affinity for the work of Brice Marden and Tobi Kahn, both of whom are masters of form, shape, and composition in abstractions?

Sharon Butler: While I was growing up, my father was a Sunday painter. He made copies of work by his favorite artists – Klee, Mondrian, and Picasso – and hung them throughout the house. Surrounded and intrigued by his ersatz masterpieces, I adopted abstraction as my primary visual language. The small size, pictorial language, and handmade quality of my work thus derive from abstract easel paintings from the postwar era. The geometrical structures in my paintings combine architectural form with eccentric perspective and irresolute draftsmanship. Perhaps because I intuitively appreciated abstract painting before I could grasp its intellectual significance, I don’t proceed with any grand aesthetic theory in mind. As I suggested earlier, I simply work until color, shape, and line combine to tell a story that I find satisfying.

The fact is, painting is hard, and artists who wrestle with it deserve admiration. I’m impatient with artists who use painting as a conceptual trope (Karen Kilimnik, Josh Smith, Joe Bradley), and I appreciate artists who sincerely investigate the materiality of paint (Angela Dufresne, Amy Sillman, Thomas Nozkowski, Wendy White, Cordy Ryman, EJ Hauser, Carrie Moyer, etc.) Artists from the older generation, like Brice Marden, Robert Ryman, Susan Rothenberg, have drilled down and developed a narrowly defined signature style, but I’m drawn to artists who embrace their aesthetic wanderlust.

qi peng: As an associate professor in the department of Eastern Connecticut State University, what is a typical day at the college like for you? What is a typical day for you while you are teaching classes there? Which classes have you taught and what values and themes have you imparted to your students during these years? What is the thrust of each classes’ syllabus that you design? In what way is teaching a work of art in itself?

Sharon Butler: Although trained as a painter, I teach in the Digital Art & Design program at Eastern. When I started teaching in the mid-nineties, art departments were much less keen on embracing cross-disciplinary practice—either you were an art historian, a painter, or a digital artist. Now the boundaries are much blurrier, which gives me the freedom to paint, write, and pursue digital projects more freely. In all the courses I teach, which have ranged from digital skills, to print design, to video and text animation, to exhibition practice and publicity, I try to teach students that the best art has multiple levels of meaning, or as Roberta Smith has called it, a density of expression. All visual elements convey meaning, and so regardless of the students’ chosen medium, great attention must be paid to each detail.

qi peng: What is your opinion of the art world press? Do you read periodicals such as ArtForum or ARTnews to get an up to date understanding of what goes on within the art world? Do you have any other favorite artistic blogs or websites that you enjoy looking at on a regular basis? Do you feel that places like Salt Lake City or Dallas will have a chance to expand their horizons into becoming extremely vibrant art hot spots just like Los Angeles or New York City?

Sharon Butler: Because Two Coats of Paint is a digest of art reviews and commentary published elsewhere, I read quite a bit. In art criticism, the less art jargon the better. I’m not interested in criticism that creates new language to describe the same old art-making practices. When critics are over-reliant on customized language and vocabulary, however clever and innovative it may be, I wonder if future generations will have any idea what they were trying to say.

I subscribe to the usual art magazines, but I also read The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Cabinet, and other general-interest publications. Three times a week I can be found at the gym, pounding on the elliptical machine, usually reading one of those but – I confess – occasionally catching up on the trashy celebrity magazines. As far as blogs go, check out the link list at Two Coats of Paint. Any comprehensive list of the blogs I read daily would cumbersomely long, but I always check in at Anaba, Art Fag City, C-Monster, Hrag Vartanian, Matthew Langley, Heart As Arena, The Old Gold, AT World, Newsgrist, Olympia’s Musing, Timothy Buckwalter, Visual Discrepancies, Up Down Across, Regina Hackett, Sixteen Miles of String, and Joanne Mattera when new posts are up. Most art news is broken on the blogs, so monthly magazines often seem outdated.

My favorite columns are “The Top Ten” in Art Forum, “Public Eye” in Time Out New York, Dave Hickey’s column in Art in America, and “Art in Review” in the Friday New York Times.

[Note: Butler also reads “all the blogs on the Culture Pundits Network.”]

qi peng: What is the story behind the name of “Two Coats of Paint?” How has your experience in blogging helped you to work at The Brooklyn Rail during 2007? Is there a difference in audience and intent between both types of media? Recently you were involved in exhibition entitled “BlogPix” that was organized and curated by Olympia Lambert, Roberta Fallon & Libby Rosof, Joanne Mattera and Hrag Vartanian for Denise Bibro Fine Art/Platform. What was it like having art bloggers doing the curating rather than gallerists or museum curators? How do you think that blogging intersects with today’s artistic creation?

Sharon Butler: “Two coats of paint” is an idiom that means “close.” As in “They were such good friends, they were like two coats of paint.” I apprehend the world through words as well as images, so for me words and art making go hand in hand. At first, Two Coats was exclusively text. I didn’t start using pictures until quite recently. I started writing articles to attract attention to the blog, and eventually Tom Micchelli, my editor at The Brooklyn Rail, asked me to be a regular contributor. I like the Rail because it’s primarily written and read by artists, and the entire content is posted online.  The generosity of the blogging community is remarkable, and I was honored that Joanne Mattera included my work in the BlogPix show.

qi peng: What are your future projects that you plan to embark on soon? Finally, do you have anything else which you would like to share with your readers and fans of your paintings, art classes, the Two Coats of Paint blog, The Brooklyn Rail writings, and art criticism here?

Sharon Butler: Future projects include a curating stint at Eyebeam’s Add-Art project, participating in Ethan Ham’s “Telephone Game” project, and developing the next Two Coats of Paint ink-on-paper publishing project. At Pocket Utopia this summer, I’ve been working on a new series of sketchbook pages that will be published by 246 Editions next year. As for my painting, I’m developing a new series that integrates human transaction, text, and geometric form.

To all readers out there, I guess I would just encourage everyone to get involved, be generous, and help make the art world a better place.

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

Written by qi peng

August 17, 2009 at 12:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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Photograph of Katy Alonza Hamer. Courtesy of Facebook.
Katy Alonza Hamer: Drawing #6 (portrait of a woman), 2008, watercolor, colored pencil and graphite on paper, 22 inches by 30 inches. Courtesy of Katy Alonza Hamer.

After conducting Vincent Como‘s interview portrait, I found out that one of my friend’s favorite movies was Synecdoche, New York directed by Charlie Kaufman. Therefore, it was only natural to execute an interview portrait of the artist whose work was featured within the movie to increase the interconnnections among everyone. The poetry of  Katy Alonza Hamer‘s work which combines postmodern fantasy with questions about the viewer’s perception of life, whether it be realistic or conceptual.

I had a chance to catch up with Hamer after her trip to Ghana and it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to talk with her about her latest projects. Her psychological studies remain rather poignant and reflect on that emotional connection amongst humans through the power of collective memories for a whole society. The neo-expressionist figuration within her paintings and works on paper remain a strong statement about the typology of characters from an everyday life in the city.

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

And now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s revealed details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: You had some of your wonderful paintings featured within an independent movie called Synecdoche, New York directed by the famed Charlie Kaufman. How did you get in touch with the movie director and get your work featured on set? How does it differ from being exhibited within a physical gallery? Has the film commission been more helpful for your art career?

Katy Alonza Hamer: Firstly, I’d like to say thank you qi for your interest in my work and for offering such  insightful questions. Having a few of my paintings in Synecdoche, New York was a great experience. A friend of mine, who was then Associate Director at the Dumbo Arts Center in Brooklyn, was approached by a set director looking for artwork to include within the schema of Synecdoche, New York. He graciously provided several artist names and website addresses for Charlie Kaufman to review and mine was amongst the list. I was told that Charlie picked the paintings he felt would best suit the heavy subject matter of the film, and after contract signing, etc. my work was featured in the movie! I have to admit one of the best feelings was seeing my name in the end credits amongst others that I admire (such as Philip Seymour Hoffman).

As for the idea of “gallery” I would say that having my paintings in a movie was quite different from the walls of an actual space. The cinema offered by Hollywood provides a virtual interstice and has a timeless quality. I know that my art will exist there for as long as the film is reproduced or shown.

qi peng: What was your experience at the art school at the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York University like? Do you have any memorable teachers or artists that had a strong impact on your painting or studio practice? What is your opinion about open studio visits and critique sessions for young artists? How do you think that art education can improve to help out artists who are choosing to make painting or other types of artwork for a full-time career?

Katy Alonza Hamer: I believe learning is partial to accessibility and self drive. The Fashion Institute of Technology provided me with a strong background in the human figure, painting and drawing. I chose to study Illustration versus Fine Art as an Undergraduate because I wanted to focus on my draftsmanship. Drawing was and is extremely important to me. I struggled with the disorganization of the school, but in the end I made it work in my favor. By disorganization, I mean that nothing was really given to us as students beyond the structure of the classroom. If you wanted something (scholarship, grants, etc.) you had to seek it out. I was an A student and often searched for more within the academic system, seeking intellectual challenges and opportunities. Thanks to my inquires and academic standing, I was awarded the Liberace Scholarship and had the chance to study abroad in Florence, Italy. I also worked in the Walt Disney World College Program and soon after graduating had the opportunity to work in London, England. Regarding studio practice, while at F.I.T. I moved from drawing, to painting with oil and then settling on acrylics. I enjoy the quick drying time of acrylics and pride myself on color mixing. By my junior year I knew that Illustration no longer interested me, but painting did. Working with the Herb Tauss, who has since passed away, I was encouraged to paint on larger-scale canvases paying attention to what I see, while others focused on shape, the subconscious and communication.

Now working on my M.A. thesis at New York University in Studio Art, I know my practice has evolved both stylistically and in a level of proficiency that goes beyond technique. For that I have to mention both Lyle Ashton Harris and Gerry Pryor, both who have played an extremely important role in my current artistic development.  I started my Masters program in Venice, Italy and most recently was the first Studio Art Grad student to study abroad in Accra, Ghana. Studying at NYU has allowed me to delve deeper into artistic theory,  focus on the idea of intention and purpose, and also forged a deeper relationship of trust between myself, the work, and the viewer.

Studio visits are an extremely valuable resource for all artists. When given the chance to have an artistic dialogue with someone who is also a practicing artist (no matter what his/her choice of media) a path is laid out and in having dialogue, not only can theoretical issues be brought up but technical issues can be reworked and discussed at will. I value all the feedback that I’ve gotten and continue to receive on my artwork.  As with any constructive criticism, the artist can choose to follow or rather store away the shared information for use at a future time/place.

qi peng: What is a typical day in the Katy Alonza Hamer studio like? What habits or methods would you consider to be your standard studio practice? Does your work get any ideas from your being located in the urban beauty of New York? What was your solo exhibition at The Rosenberg Gallery like and how did you prepare for it?

Katy Alonza Hamer: While I have consistent habits that emerge and painting methods that stay the same (listening to music while I paint, having a multitude of brushes, backing away from the painting with the tip of a paintbrush in my mouth to observe the work in progress), my art making process is heavily reliable on subject matter, place, and a mixture of current events both global and personal. Before making a painting I tend to do a lot of research. It has been intermixed within my life and sometimes I don’t even realize when I’m conducting research until it happens! This entails, travel to foreign lands, reading (both fiction, non-fiction, some theory), analyzing those around me, and constantly thinking of “what next”. Being a figurative painter (for lack of a better term), for me, means that a person or an element of humanity will always make its way into my art. Humanity can appear in the form of object, portrait or even mathematical formula.

Since mentioning foreign travel, I have to say that I’ve always felt the inspiration for my art has come more from my travels abroad (most recently Accra, Ghana) more so than the urban landscape of New York City. But I also realize that I am a New Yorker placed into those foreign lands and that I carry my experience with me.  I was raised on Long Island, and travel more in Europe, the U.K. and now Africa compared to the travels I have made within the United States.

For my first solo exhibition at New York University’s Rosenberg Gallery,  I focused loosely on the year 1983.  I used the platform of the gallery to put together an exhibit that not only incorporated painting and drawing but also photographs from my youth (from 1983-1989) which I drew on. Putting together the exhibition peaked my interest in curating and editing, and also helped me realize the potential of white walls and personal vision. I credit Hiroshi Sunairi for helping me hang the work and encouraging me to allow breathing space within the surface of the wall. The show was a critical step for me in my art-making process and has revitalized the way that I look at art and the spaces that contain it.

qi peng: Would you like to share your favorite music, movie, objects, artists, recent exhibitions, galleries, televisions shows, sports, or other cultural artifacts with fans of your work? What things do you enjoy about the things that you have chosen as your favorites? Are there any restaurants or hangouts around New York City that you wish to recommend us?

Katy Alonza Hamer: Being in New York, we are spoiled by the amount of art, both contemporary and classic that is at our fingertips. I tend to frequent both galleries and museums, most recently becoming a member at the New Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. I have to say that as an institution, and since its inception in the Lower East Side, I have been both intrigued and inspired by the exhibitions at the New Museum. I love how they are able to curate and consistently transform the gallery space with artwork by artists such as Elizabeth Peyton and Paul Chan. As you may know, I am an active blogger ( and use the blog platform not only to share my own art, but also create the opportunity to write about the art of others. This year I visited and wrote about several exhibitions at the New Museum, most recently, The Generational: Younger than Jesus. ( The museum space merges the gallery worlds of both Chelsea and the burgeoning Lower East Side, into a neatly stacked container accessible to both New Yorkers and tourists alike. Contemporary artists I tend to follow are (to name a few): Kara Walker, Lisa Yuskavage, John Currin, Jessica Stockholder, Bill Viola, Yinka Shonibare, Wangechi Mutu, Michael Borremons, Dana Schutz, Marina Abramovic, Mika Rottenberg and Marlene Dumas. I also am excited about the upcoming exhibition at the CRG Gallery (Feb. 2010) for Lyle Ashton Harris, who I am currently working with.

In regards to music, everyone who knows me is aware of the amount of concerts I’ve attended featuring the Counting Crows. The Crows are a band that I’ve followed since their first album August and Everything After, and the lyrics have grown and changed as I have throughout the years. In a way of taking a lead from bands like the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, the Crows tend to lyrically paint a landscape that feels like home no matter where you may be in life, both literally and metaphorically.  As for movies and t.v. I can’t say that I have any particular favorites, although I’ve been “bitten” by the resurgence of vampires in the media and have taken note of both True Blood and Twilight.

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?

Katy Alonza Hamer: I am health conscious and while not necessarily a “foodie”, try to not eat food with lots of artificial preservatives or sugars.  I was a strict vegetarian for seven years and now eat and enjoy fish, but choose vegetarian dishes more frequently. I fill my diet with fresh salads, sandwiches,  occasional pasta dishes, rice and lots of veggies. I try not to load up on heavy carbs or sweets and find that when I take vitamins and eat healthily my energy level goes up as well as my ability to concentrate. I love going out for weekend brunch in the Lower East Side/East Village, and one of my favorite restaurants is Supper on 2nd Street, between Avenue A & B.

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

Katy Alonza Hamer: Thank you for following my work, and if you are just learning about me and my paintings I appreciate the interest that brought you to question six! The life and pursuits of an artist are never easy but almost always genuine in their unique conquest and attempt at understanding and/or dissecting the world in which we live.  The process of making art is evolutionary being both a challenge and a pleasure.  As I continue in my career as an artist, I will continue to evoke both  questions and various level’s of understanding for the viewer whether in painting, drawing or installation.

My thesis exhibition will be on view at NYU’s 80 Washington Square gallery, opening July 28th   and I will be presenting my first public installation  using both painting, drawing, and found objects. My current artwork utilizes the representation of violence, sexuality and the idea of belonging to engage the viewer in both a personal and impersonal way.

Stay tuned for future exhibitions and please check out both my blog and website for more information!

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

Written by qi peng

August 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

ASSASSINATION: Ann Berchtold, Executive Director of Beyond the Border Art Fair, Gallery Director of Beyond the Border Gallery and L Street Fine Art, and Curator of

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Photograph of Ann Berchtold. Courtesy of Facebook.
Official logo for the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair at San Diego, California. Courtesy of Beyond the Border Art, INC.

Ann Berchtold is a woman of many hats in the contemporary art world, particularly focused on San Diego as a new art venue complementing Miami. Currently her most ambitious project is presenting the inaugural Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair as its executive director. This newly minted art fair will occur during the first week of September in the San Diego and will present both emerging and established artists to a West Coast audience. The most exciting aspect is that Berchtold has presented a new venue for galleries and artists to enter a new collector’s market even during a period when the recession has cut down on spending for visual art.

Berchtold has been the director of Beyond the Border Gallery which was featured in Booth #12 at Aqua Wynwood during December 3 to 7, 2008 and introduced Miami to the wonderful world of six major contemporary Tijuana artists. Also she has been the gallery director at L Street Fine Art located across the Omni San Diego Hotel in downtown San Diego. The San Diego Art Prize, which provides recognition to the best established and emerging visual artists from the San Diego area, has enhanced the city’s reputation as a burgeoning cradle of contemporary art which has become integral to the cultural programming. Berchtold’s experience in the catering industry has helped her maintain a strong vision for boosting San Diego as the next big venue for contemporary art that defines the trends for a generation. Working around the clock, the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair looks to be one of the finest art fairs which presents artwork that stimulates the imagination and goes beyond the norms of commercial art to celebrate the personal meaning of art within our lives. Example galleries such as Julie Nester Gallery; La Refaccionaria, Galeria; Zen Gallery; and Charlie James Gallery have come from all over the world to share a collective vision for all types of contemporary art within this new setting.

If you have any questions about the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, feel free to contact Ann Berchtold at or If you have any questions about the artwork featured at the Beyond the Border Gallery, please contact Berchtold at or at (858) 254-3031. If you have any questions about the artwork featured at L Street Fine Art, please contact the director at or at (619) 645-6593.

And now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s unveiled 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 that you wish to share with your fans of your galleries, L Street Gallery and Beyond the Border Gallery here? Do you have any other recent galleries or exhibitions apart from yours that you have seen and would to recommend to us?

Ann Berchtold: Favorite Artists – too many to nail down / Books: Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged/Anna Karenina / ArthurAnais Nin / D.H. Lawrence.  TV Shows: MAD MEN / In Treatment. Sports: Beach Volleyball / Cycling / Running. Art Magazines:  Art LTD / Art in America / ArtNexus / The Art Newspaper.  Movies: Sliding Doors / Swingers / Taxi Driver / Fargo .  ART Exhibitions – I like interactive shows – with an experiential twist.  That is why I am drawn to Art Fairs – anything goes.

qi peng: What is the story for the origins and exhibition history for the two spaces you worked with, L Street Gallery and Beyond the Border Gallery? What was the experience having the L Street Gallery at The Omni Hotel? Also what was it like featuring Tijuana artists who were established such as Raul Guerrero in both San Diego and the Aqua Wynwood section of the 2008 Aqua Art Miami art fair? What is the art scene in San Diego like and how does it compare to that of Los Angeles and San Francisco?

Ann Berchtold: These Initiatives started with launching a website called : — which promoted the work of local emerging artists. Launching the San Diego Art Prize – which provided nominated emerging and establishing artists a cash grant and exhibition opportunity. Acting as Gallery Director for two galleries and representing several artists from San Diego and Tijuana. In addition, I was deeply interested in creating more “Art” opportunities in elementary schools so I founded a program called “Inspire” which brought local artists into the classrooms to discuss with students what Inspired them to become and artist and what Master Artist did they most identify with.

I love working in San Diego because it still has a small pond feeling – but is on the cusp of becoming a big pond.  As a destination to stage a major West Coast fair—it has a lot of similar characteristics to Miami Beach: coastal/growing and a close proximity to Latin America.  I call it the mid-point of the Pacific Rim art explosion.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around San Diego, where you work at now or anywhere else like New York or Los Angeles that you wish to recommend us? What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: 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, typically geared for the art fairs, during the upcoming years?

Ann Berchtold: I could use myself as an example to answer this question – I had some liquid funds that I did not want to put into the stock market – so I bought a fantastic (and at a great price) piece of artwork by Tania Candiani that I absolutely love.  Each day I look at it and it brings me great joy.  Much more so than if I had dumped that money into a stock certificate.

Art will always be a great investment if purchased with joy and passion.

qi peng: As the current director of the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, why do you think that this is a viable time to open up a new market of San Diego to collectors who are headed typically to Miami in December and have a new art fair on the West Coast designed for emerging artists? How will this art fair compare to the other art fairs on the West Coast such as ART LA and photo la which focus more on blue-chip works?

Ann Berchtold: My interest in launching the first Contemporary Art Fair in San Diego came from attending an Art Fair in Miami Beach – Art Basel. What is now the largest art fair in the US and brings in over 500 million dollars over 6 days to the community of South Miami Beach. I was struck with how similar Miami (five years back) and San Diego (today) were – coastal young cities that had not found a strong cultural identity.

I  wanted to bring this to San Diego and test this event out on the West Coast.  I believe we are the best destination on the West Coast to stage this.  I would love to partner with other fairs eventually so that we continue to make this a strong collaboration.

We look at this first year as somewhat of a pilot program to set the stage for future growth.  Even in this economy we have found opportunity.  It is hard to predict how art sales will be – however we have made it extremely affordable for our galleries to participate this year and have given them a lot of support.

We are also creating an event where hopefully everyone feels like a VIP throughout the entire 2.5 days.  Many events you have to be an insider to get many of the perks – I wanted all who are attending to get all the same perks.  It does limit the capacity a bit – but I think the experience will be better.

qi peng: What is the story of how the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair developed into this exciting adventures for galleries, such as Charlie James Gallery, who are new to the scene of art fairs? Originally this art fair was to occur at the downtown Omni Hotel and Exhibition Center in the fall of 2008 before the switch in venue to the resort hotel, The Grand Del Mar, in the fall of 2009. What accounted for waiting for the fair to start in 2009 and the change in venue? Does the resort setting parallel any of the venues out there in Miami? Also what was it like to collaborate with Julie Schraeger who is the director of development and Joshua Weinberg, who also works for the Aqua Art Miami team?

Ann Berchtold: We had originally scheduled the BTB ICAF fair to be staged at the Omni San Diego Hotel in 08 / where the gallery I direct, L Street Fine Art is housed.  However we pulled back at that time for several reasons: the economy was just starting to tank, the space was a little too small, we needed more planning time and we were unsure whether or not we could get North County Coastal folks to travel downtown for a first time event.

We did not stop the planning process, however.  We initiated an extensive market survey study to over 5000 international galleries to determine what they would like to see done differently in a new fair / did they think San Diego would work / would they come ??  We got some very good feedback and it helped us shape what the fair is today.

In addition we restructured our funding approach and relied more on investors and less on corporate sponsors.  We were given a wonderful sponsorship opportunity from the Grand Del Mar, and everything began to fall into place.

The Grand Del Mar is an unprecedented location to stage a fair of this kind. Typically fairs are down in Barker Hangers or sleeping rooms or Convention Centers.  We will be staging this show in the expansive and luxurious master ballroom. It is quite spectacular.

Julie Schraeger, is one of my best friends and one of the savviest women I know.  I asked her in the beginning to come on board as my Director of Development (two years ago) and she has been with me 110% through thick and thin.  We have had to overcome some major hurdles in pulling this event off and without her support and contribution I don’t know that we would be where we are today.

I was fortunate enough to work with Joshua Weinberg when I was an exhibitor at Aqua Art Miami 08.  I was very impressed with his demeanor, attention to detail and quick responsiveness.  I was also impressed that he really got my vision and felt that I did that San Diego was ripe for a major art fair.

In addition we have assembled an extraordinary team who are all dedicated to the success of this event.  Maureen Gibbons our partner and the Curatorial Director of the fair, has worked hard in reaching out to galleries in Mexico and abroad.  Jacqueline Silverman came on as our Community Outreach Director and has rallied the local collector/artistic community to support this event.  Brenda Regier, International Artist, has worked about 100  hours a week since she joined our team to develop the Re Envisioning A World Beyond Borders project in collaboration with QualcommMarie Vickers Horne, is our Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator, and she has assembled the most dedicated team of internsJenn Von Borba Von Stauffenberg, from PR Olive Solutions has led our PR Team.  Other partners include Wendy Segal and Ian Mausner.

qi peng: Do you have any favorite hobbies which you enjoy in your spare time? How do these activities complement your work as a gallery owner, curator, and art fair director? How do you manage to balance your free time with your professional workload? 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?

Ann Berchtold: I love to work and thrive on the relationships that come with it.  I also love to exercise – it keeps me physically and mental together to attack all of the daily hurdles that come with all the roles I play.  I am an avid beach volleyball player and also have recently gotten addicted to Cycling.

qi peng: What is your favorite online resources, blog, and art magazines or journals for checking out the latest art news scoop and inside information? Do you have any favorite or humorous stories from your art world experiences you wish to share with your fans and column readers here? Do you feel that selling artwork will be more aligned with Internet-based sales and/or the white-box gallery physical building during the future?

Ann Berchtold: I love the email blasts from ArtNexus / The Art Newspaper / Artnet and VAS.  I do the quick scan in the morning to stay up-to-date.  I have always read the Wall Street Journal and think they have done a good job of promoting art/auctions/fairs.

I am skeptical about selling art on the Internet – unless it is a blue-chip piece that is widely known.  To me personally – I want to be in front of the piece and moved in someway to purchase.  That is why I believe that ART FAIRS are fantastic in this day and age.  They provide a one-stop shop to see an extensive array of works in an environment that is unpretentious.

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 humanity is and will become?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: As curator of, what do you think are the dominant issues and subjects within contemporary art at the moment? How do these subjects and themes differ from the focus of artists ten years ago? Do you envision any new subjects that may appear within the next ten years? If so, what would those be? Are there any specific themes that contemporary San Diego artists focus on?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: What makes San Diego a unique venue for art collectors relative to that of other major contemporary centers such as Los Angeles or New York City? Your work has been interested in bridging the axes between Latin American/Mexican art with that of its American and Canadian counterparts. What got you interested in this political and artistic issue?

Ann Berchtold: San Diego with its close proximity to Mexico is a natural arena to stage the first bi-national art fair on the West Coast, and the best city to present an objective representation of the overlapping art activity that is taking place along the Pacific Rim.

One of the goals of the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair is to provide a forum to showcase the collective artistic talent from this region along side the talent of international artists. As well as, foster in a pro-active fashion, the importance of international art and cultural leadership and intercultural dialogue.

I have many friends who are artists who live on both sides of the border.  I am intrigued with how this environment has shaped the work of many of the artists.  However, defining the contemporary artists’ identity solely based on cultural or geographical boundaries can be limiting to the artists.  The fair name “Beyond the Border” originated from this idea that we should consider the artists and their respective works independently instead of clumping them together under titles such as “Chicano Artists” or other similar classifications.

qi peng: What is the SD (San Diego) Art Prize? As the project director for this prestigious award, what is its goal and connection with the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair? How does this competition help to boost visibility for San Diego artists who are interested in exploring new media?

Ann Berchtold: The San Diego Art Prize was conceived to promote and encourage dialogue, appreciation and interaction with some of San Diego’s leading established and emerging artists.  It is a cash prize with exhibition opportunities.  Each Season spotlights several established and emerging artists whose outstanding achievements in the field of Visual Arts merit recognition. It is an opportunity for the established artist to provide mentorship and guidance to the emerging artist.

At the fair we have a spotlight exhibition featuring two of this year’s winners: Kim MacConnel and Brian Dick – who were featured in April 09 in a joint exhibition at L Street Fine Art called Discombobulated.

qi peng: For the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, you were to procure the famous art critic and professor Dave Hickey to deliver the upcoming symposium art talk and attend a special luncheon with guests. What accounts for this brilliant choice and how was the process for being able to have a prominent member of the art community at this burgeoning art fair in its first year? What things do you think that Hickey will bring to the table in San Diego?

Ann Berchtold: A year or so ago I  came across this quote by Dave Hickey in an interview with ARTINFO / Published March 21, 2008, when asked if he liked art fairs:

“I love art fairs. I see art. I talk to people who like art. One thing I did notice in Miami last year is that the big galleries’ selections of younger artists tended to be pretty lame—crocheted pink octopi, fake mahogany appliqué on sea-turtle shells, things like that. We’ve gone through 40 years of art becoming more vulgar. Personally, I think we are back, in a stylistic sense, to where we were after Pollock and de Kooning, on the verge of a period devoted to gradual refinement. You’ve got to recognize the end of things when they end”

It resonated with me and I started to delve into more writings by Mr. Hickey.  He very eloquently and engagingly is able to articulate what many feel but are afraid to say out loud.  He breaks down the pretentious attitude that many approach art with and exposes it.

Julie tracked down his email and sent him a note and asked him if he would give a talk at our fair – thinking there was no way in hell! Lo and behold about an hour later we got an email back from him with the Reply: Sure!

There is a huge demographic of high-net-worth individuals who live in San Diego/La Jolla /Rancho Santa Fe.  Many of whom have not been galvanized by the institutional approach to collecting/appreciating art.  It is my hope that Mr. Hickey shows “another way of seeing” and that the art fair shows “another way of experiencing” art in an unpretentious and fun environment.

qi peng: Before we embark on the last question, thanks very much for your time. Is there anything else that you wish to share with readers, fans, and patrons of Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, your gallery spaces, Tijuana artists, art fairs, and your curated projects?

Ann Berchtold: Hope to see you at the FAIR!

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

Written by qi peng

August 6, 2009 at 4:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

postscript to william powhida’s review

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William Powhida- Commenting FYI_1249434632916

Written by qi peng

August 5, 2009 at 1:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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Photograph of Amy Lincoln. Courtesy of Amy Lincoln.
Amy Lincoln: Painter, 2009, acrylic on board, 12 by 9 inches. Courtesy of Amy Lincoln.

I had the chance to see Amy Lincoln‘s thoughtful piece “Untitled” last spring on her Fine Art Adoption Network (FAAN) website and had wanted to adopt it for my home. I was drawn into her emotional palette in bluish hues that drenched the model, presumably herself, who is sitting in a very red chair. I was attracted to it because it was a different mood than the infamous Francis Bacon‘s rendition of the screaming Pope in burning light. There was a serenity in that piece. Even though I wasn’t able to adopt it, I felt like that I wanted to get a chance to know the artist Amy Lincoln better.

Recently I got a chance to chat with her again to do this conceptual portrait sitting/exercise with her. Her postmodern settings are rooted firmly in the tradition of self-examination and colorful folk art where emotional perspective trumps physical perspective. The illusion of such calmness belies the tension within the subject and viewer; a stronger look is needed often to delve into Lincoln’s profound rendition of the interior or landscape or portrait as a form of private epiphany. The understated tones of the narrative counters against the sharp brightness of the hues of the work. These Kodachrome moments remain preserved underneath the artist’s microscope drawn towards these divulged feelings which glow through the portals of that unspoken connection between subject/artist and viewer. We become a voyeur of emotions into her world and are transported magically into this universe where Lincoln’s daily routines become primal rituals of psychological lucidity. Her collages reminding me of the work of Red Grooms. All of this so poignant.

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

So here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s revealed 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?

Amy Lincoln: Artists: Sarah McEneaney, David Hockney, Cindy Sherman, John Currin, Lisa Yuskavage, Rousseau, Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard, Nan Goldin, Joan Brown

Books:  currently reading: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, and The End of Overeating, by David Kessler

Favorite Magazines and online sources: Modern Painters, mostly for Matthew Collings‘ column, The New Yorker, Ed Winkleman’s blog, NY Times,‘s “Since You Asked” column by Cary Tennis, WNYC (NPR)

Television: All via Netflix: The Wire, Dexter, True Blood, Friday Night Lights, Big Love

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?

Amy Lincoln: Saw Michael Velliquette show “Abundant Creatures” at DCKT contemporary on the LES that I completely loved.  Paper collaged monsters in many colors.  Also liked the John Currin drawing show recently at Marian Goodman.  Have been checking out Sue Scott gallery lately on Rivington; have seen a couple excellent group shows there.  Also saw a great show called “Time Bandits II” that was in a studio in the building above English Kills gallery in Bushwick.  The artists converted their live/work space to a show of really interesting sculpture and painting during the Bushwick Open Studios in June.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around New York City or Brooklyn or Bushwick 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?

Amy Lincoln: The tortilla factory on Starr st between Wyckoff Av and St. Nicholas.  They serve great soft tacos for $2 each.  Their English is not so good, so you have to write down your order for them, and when the food’s ready it’s hard to tell whose is what so sometimes you end up eating another customer’s food.  I also enjoy Roberta’s, a pizza place that opened last year near the Morgan Stop.  The Wreck Room is a nearby bar we go to pretty often, especially after shows at the Laundromat, a gallery my boyfriend started out of his studio.

I also frequent openings and salons at Pocket Utopia, a gallery and social space run by artist Austin Thomas in Bushwick.  I really enjoyed an artist residency I did there last fall.  Unfortunately they just finished their last show.  They’ve had a great two years of programming and will be greatly missed in the neighborhood.

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?

Amy Lincoln: I don’t know of too many artists who got into it for the money, but if there were some, maybe they’ve given up by now.  I’ve heard it said that galleries in New York are putting on better shows in the last few months to entice the few people who still have money to spend on art.  It does seem to me that there’s slightly better work being shown these days.  I think that even during the boom years there were plenty of people making heartfelt, high quality work.  Of course there was a lot of crap too.  Maybe the proportion of good stuff to crap will improve slightly, one can hope….   It’s hard to know what will happen.  In the meantime I’m keeping my day jobs.

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?

Amy Lincoln: I moved into and built out a live/work space last year, and that has forced me to learn some more carpentry skills and start thinking three dimensionally.  I think that influenced my work a bit in the last year in the form of collages with three-dimensional parts.  Also I have access to a woodshop now, so I’m experimenting with shaped panels that I make with a jigsaw.

I’ve also started writing short stories in the last year, and these have filtered into the content of the paintings I make.  Instead of creating a painting from something or someone I can see, I’m basing the painting on a memory or relationship that has emotional significance, so instead of representing people from life, in real places, I am painting them from memory in a kind of timeless non-space.

qi peng: As a graduate of both the University of California, Davis program and the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, 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?

Amy Lincoln: When I learned to paint at UC Davis, I was really focused on technical skill, and on learning to draw and paint the figure accurately.  I made lots of self-portraits because I was always available to myself, and becuase I was always trying to figure out what I really looked like.  At that time I learned that to work in series was very productive.  I made a series of portraits from photographs, which was a great way to just work on painting, because I didn’t have to stop and ask myself what the subject matter should be every time.  I still find it helpful to work this way, to hone in on a kind of piece I want to make, and to keep making it over again with variations.

As a grad student I still worked a lot with portraiture and self-portraiture, though I stopped using the photograph, and focused a lot on color.  In grad school I started working with water based media such as ink and gouache.  I developed a looser way of making images that I still return to often.

My work really changed after I got out of grad school.  It was important for me to depart from the pictoral idea I had been working with in portraiture: a central image with little background.  I started to really want to see a relationship between different elements in the composition.  I made a lot of paintings of rooms and objects, and outdoor scenes.  Over time the spaces got more and more detailed and complex, and eventually I started to populate these spaces with people.  Since then I sometimes return to portraits, but now they are more about a sentimentalized idea I have of an individual, as opposed to an accurate representation of their features.  I also still return to self-portraiture sometimes, and am always interested to find the variety of characters that come out when I draw myself.

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?

Amy Lincoln: I’m interested in folk art, or “outsider art” or representational images from other cultures such as Japan or Mexico.  I like the way people figure out how to represent their world, the things that are important to them, and the spaces they occupy, when they don’t have formal art training, or at least, don’t subscribe to ideas of linear perspective.  I also really like looking at Dutch and German painters from the early renaissance, such as Petrus Christus or Memling.

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?

Amy Lincoln: I don’t like to spend too much time preparing food.  I eat a lot of leftovers from my catering jobs, and a lot of peanut butter and jelly on bread, fruit, vegetables, yogurt whatever’s easy to prepare and relatively healthy.  I like eating out sometimes, but most of the time I prefer to be home.

qi peng: What is the methodology behind your acrylic paintings 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 subjects such as portraits or interiors go into a particular painting? 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? Finally, what is a modeling session like within your studio?

Amy Lincoln: I don’t think to myself, “hm, what shall I paint today?”  Rather, I am struck by a strong intuitive sense of what to paint.  Generally the subject is a person or place within my daily experience.  Not all of these ideas work out, but they pretty much have to come to me in this intuitive way.  I often make a drawing or two in pen on paper, and then try to figure out what size the painting needs to be.  Then I build or purchase and then gesso the panel or board.  Then I make a drawing on the surface, and start blocking in larger areas of color.  The painting doesn’t really start happening for me until I work on detail, so I try to start doing that right away, even if it means having to scrap hours of work and repaint an object again in a slightly different place.  I use Golden Fluid acrylics, a paper palette, a jar of water, and about 5 or 6 brushes ranging from small to really small.  I stick to about 8 or 10 pigments, and mix all the colors I need from those.   Towards the end of the painting sometimes I’m sick of it so I work on something else for a while, then go back and finish it later.

I don’t have any assistants.  In the last few years I don’t really have people sit for me, except recently as part of a benefit at Michael Steinberg gallery. I did a big series of 1 hour portraits when I was in grad school, which was an interesting way of spending time with a lot of different people.   I found it very intersting how people responded in different ways to the sitting.  Some were very uncomfortable looking me in the eye, others gave themselves over to the process and seemed happy to have an excuse to do nothing for a while.  I had to have a kind of vulnerability in the situation in that I allowed people to watch me painting.  It was sometimes difficult not to be self-conscious.  I really enjoyed analyzing the sitters, and the wordless relationship we had over the course of making the portrait.

qi peng: Your rather colorful work has parallels to that of David Hockney and Sarah McEneaney in terms of its carefully studied intimacy between the viewer and subject. Your varied subject matter include everything from self-portraits to gardens to even a boutique of flowers in a vase. What draws you towards these rather complex and allegorical subjects? What hidden stories are you hoping to reveal to the viewer through your compositions?

Amy Lincoln: The images are not allegorical for me, though sometimes they are idealized or iconic versions of people or places with which I am familiar.  Others may read hidden stories into the paintings, but there are none intended.  I think it’s important for the images to be open to different interpretations.  There is background information, such as the garden was an idealized version of a park where I often walked in Tokyo.  But that information is not necessary or important.  If there are stories, they are pictoral ones about spaces the eye can travel within.

qi peng: Occasionally your work incorporates elements of collage. With your interest in the hidden emotional tension within your subject such as a kettle, which seems to be a rather straightforward object, what psychological elements do you delve into that would fascinate the viewer? How would you place your artwork in the context of art history and movements such as fauvism or cubism? Do you use photographic techniques within your paintings and if so, how are those used?

Amy Lincoln: The collage of the kettle was not made with any psychological intent.  Although the viewer is welcome to interpret them however they want, generally, images I make of inanimate objects are not intended to have psychological tension.  I am more just interested in them as familiar objects that I interact with daily.

I don’t think a lot about fauvism per se, cubism does get in there a bit I suppose…  I am interested in the 3-dimensional collages as both small models of actual objects, people and places, as well as representations that are meant to be seen from a particular angle.  I like that the images sometimes show impossible or “wrong” perspective, and possibly give the feeling of moving around the space, as opposed to viewing it from one position.

I don’t use photography most of the time, but for some objects, such as the plants in “The Garden” I used photographs quite a lot to remind myself of the structure of different plants.  I also sometimes use pictures of friends on Facebook in a series of portraits from memory that I am working on.  Mostly the images come from my memory of the person, but if I can’t remember what their nose is shaped like, or the exact color of their hair, I will look at photos of them on facebook.  But the images are never taken directly from photos.

qi peng: What has your experience been like working in the gallery system and doing commissioned work such as the Smack Mellon benefit this year at Michael Steinberg Fine Art? 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?

Amy Lincoln: The portrait event at Steinberg was a fun experience, and a nice way to earn a little money.  Other shows I have done have mostly been at non-profit or artist-run spaces, with a few shows here and there at commercial spaces.  I’ve got a few things in the works for the fall, but nothing is set in stone yet so I’ll hold off on mentioning them.  I don’t really ever work with a particular show in mind.  Even if I know I have a show coming up, I don’t think about that so much in the studio.  I just make my work, and always try to follow my gut sense of what needs to be made next.  When I’m choosing work for the show, I will analyze and group the work retroactively, but I find the creative impulse is not something I should impose expectations on.

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

Amy Lincoln: Check my website for regular updates: new work, upcoming shows, etc.

Also, the Laundromat, the artist-run space I help organize, has an exciting lineup of fall shows starting with The Burger Group Show on August 8th. for more information

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

Written by qi peng

August 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized