Category Archives: shows

Young Curatorial Assistant: Alli Peller

Her name may not appear on the press release, but Allison Peller has been critical to the organization of the New.New York exhibit (curated by Artist / Photographer / Curator / Educator, John Silvis) at the Essel Museum in Vienna. With the exhibit (open NOW, since November 23rd) quickly approaching, I wanted to get a few words from Allison on the experience of assisting with this exhibition, and her path as a worker in the cultural field.


Allison Peller was born in Washington on military base Fort Lewis and has lived in Missouri, and Maryland. Ms. Peller, her siblings, the Dr., and Mrs. Peller eventually returned to Washington State, for a time. The family now resides in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The first time Ms. Peller came to New York was as a 5-year-old child with her family. During this visit they attended an exhibition of Monet’s bridges at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The work left an impression on her young mind, noting, even then, the aesthetic difference that it made, “As Monet started going blind.” They visited the Museum again when she was in Middle school, on another family trip, and she knew then that she truly loved New York, and the art that was accessible there.

A story her father likes to tell, which follows their first trip to New York, is of an incident where he pointed to an art print, proclaiming, “Look! It’s a Monet!” Allison calmly corrected him, “No Dad, that’s not a Monet, it’s a Manet.” This is the moment it became clear to her family that her interest went beyond the children’s books, but stretched into a real curiosity of the field. Her confidence in this direction came later as she matured and explored her options for further study.

She attended Bethel University’s undergraduate program for Art History, and Studio Art in Minnesota. She choose the program specifically for the advantage of spending a semester in New York at their Center for Art and Media Studies (NYCAMS). She thought that the semester would quench her love of the big city, seeing her self as more of a “country mouse,” but instead she fell in deeper love, and returned to New York upon graduation for a post-baccalaureate fellowship for curatorial studies under the mentorship of NYCAMS director, John Silvis.

While still in her undergraduate studies, she was trying to be “practical,” by exploring interior design and other applied versions of her creative bent. But it was futile. When she finally faced that fine art history was indeed her passion, and she should be pursuing curatorial work “for real”  – she obtained an internship under the museum director at her university, and later went on to an internship at the Pace Gallery in New York, where she also was employed until recently when she began working as a freelance curatorial assistant.

Her Post-Baccalaureate fellowship began in the Fall of 2009 under the mentorship of John Silvis. She started as an assistant for the exhibit “Incarnational Aesthetics,” and culminated with her own curatorial project “Regeneration: Root Beer Float Social,” in the Spring of 2010. During this period she became the point-person for events such as a fashion show, curated exhibits, and student shows; also facilitating the transport of work and the website updates for each project. Although she had co-curated an exhibit during her internship with the Bethel University Museum, drawing from their collection, “Regeneration” was the first time she had the freedom to make curatorial decisions on her own, building an exhibit that she could truly take ownership of. In her words, “I felt like it looked really good once it was up. It felt really good.”

In the instance of the current Essel Museum exhibition, New.New York, Ms. Peller again came on board as an assistant to John Silvis, but on a scale that she had not yet worked. There are 19 artists in the exhibition (two of which work together as a collaborative team,) all working in New York, with several installation works being installed on-site, in Vienna, opening this Thanksgiving week. Silvis brought Ms. Peller on-board early-on to aid in preparation such as studio visits, (taking measurements, photo documentation,) managing images and videos for their Tumblr page, and keeping details organized for the shipment of work. Peller also assisted Silvis in the portrait sessions for each artist, which would be included in the catalog for the exhibition.

The Essel Museum is hosting the exhibition as a part of their emerging artist series as an example of the work currently coming out of New York City. What ties this group together is not necessarily their “young” or “emerging” status, rather their aesthetic ties to a New York heritage while contemporarily “re-imagining how they use their medium. For example, the Ladd Brothers use beading, textiles, and ribbon,” which, “came out of a [garment/fashion-related practice,] and used those influences to make these really beautiful stacking sculptures.” Another example she gives is of Robin Kang’s brick installations that are essentially built of photographs of bricks printed on acetate and used to construct new structures. Overall the exhibit focuses on this act of “changing the formal paremeters” or giving a new twist to familiar material; Keeping the definition of the New York art scene open to the entire city, not just one borough, furthermore, not one industrial zone.

Allison Peller had prior experience working with a few of the artists who were on the exhibition roster, and plans to build on those relationships. (This includes Reid Streilow, who was also among the artists in her Regeneration exhibit.) She also hopes to continue to put herself in the way of Silvis, as he has played a critical role as a mentor to Peller. She has only begun investigating graduate programs for Art history, but will continue to be actively involved with emerging artists, making studio visits, and building her own curatorial values and style as she emerges onto the New York art scene herself.

New. New York, Curated by John Silvis

Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria
November 23, 2012 – March 31, 2013
Opening Reception: November 22, 2012 from 6-8pm
Gartenbaukino film screenings November 23, 2012 9pm

[photo courtesy of the Essel Facebook page]

Jude BroughanVince ContarinoBrent Everett DickinsonRob FischerRyan FordEgan FrantzRico GatsonRobin KangSteven and William LaddSarah LeeChristopher McDonaldAnn PibalLisa SigalShelly SilverReid StrelowSiebren VersteegLetha WilsonTamara Zahaykevich.

“New York, often described as the world capital of contemporary art, is the focus of exhibition activity in the Essl Museum this autumn. NEW. NEW YORK offers an insight into the work of 19 young artists from New York. A vibrant young art scene has developed in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in recent years, with numerous ateliers, culture initiatives and alternative art spaces. It is here that the American artist and curator John Silvis made his selection of artists for the coming exhibition in the Essl Museum.

All 19 artists are at different stages of their careers; what they share is that they use familiar materials and media in their work in an often surprising form, and in doing so produce “something new” in order to distinguish themselves from the traditional art canon and to develop their own forms of artistic expression. They all work with familiar media such as painting, photography, sculpture etc., but they change the formal parameters, combining, for example, materials such as concrete and photography in a refreshing way. The fascination with presence and the object seems to be an apt investigation in our media saturated landscape accentuating the absence of the human hand.  The work in New.New York does this by deconstructing existing art genres, slowing down time, re-purposing material and resurrecting old technologies, without attempting to issue its own manifesto, instead the viewer is presented with diverse artistic visions and forges anticipation for the unexpected by infusing art objects with the potential of transformation.”

Related Links:

NY & CHI – Done. Fort Wayne – Here we come!

Thanks Robin for being so awesome and hosting the second installment of EX: Collaborative Creation in your ROCKING Chicago apartment a.k.a. “Carousel Space”.

Robin Kang is an incredible artist who has true dedication and vision. Check out her own artwork here. Weather she is building a brick house (or a digital textile) this girl is mighty-mighty. So, check her out!

Robin recently completed her Masters of Fine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, was a co-fellow of mine in Air Projects‘ pilot in Beijing, and has been running Carousel Space out of her home since January 2011.

EX is now headed to Fort Wayne, IN and will be the virginal exhibition of Wunderkammer Co.‘s new space, to the bliss of founder, Dan Swartz.

When in Beijing: Three Shadows Photo Space…

It is hard to believe it has been almost a year since I was in Beijing! If you happen to find yourself traveling there any time soon, please, do yourself a favor and check out the lovely Three Shadows art space. The building complex was designed by Ai Wei Wei’s architectural design company and is nestled in the Cao Chang Di Artist Village. Focused on Photographic work this was the most scholarly and expansive discipline-specific space I recall from my visit to The 798 district and Cao Chang Di village. It even has it’s own library and gift shop.

Check out their exhibition updates in English here.

EX: On the move…

The exhibit “EX: Collaborative Creation” is headed West, to Chicago. Chi-town Artista, Robin Kang, will host the second life of the installation at her Carousel Project. I, for one, am very excited to see her interpretation along with Dan Swartz, who will also be hosting the third personification of the work  in Indiana later this summer.

For Immediate Release


Dates: March 8 – 30, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday March 8, 6-9p
Curated by: Bonnie K Mancini
Artists Include: Abdi Farah, Ali Aschman, Avneet Pannu, Christina Long, Dan Callis, Dan Morgan, David Carpenter, Emily Weiss, Jake Saunders, Jennifer Mills, Jess Poplawski, John McCormick, John Silvis, Josh Dihle, Joshua Cave, Joyce Lee, Kate Mangold, Kathryn Drury, Kristina Paabus, Lacey Richter, Liza Cucco, Nicholas Steindorf, Reid Strelow, Robin Kang, Sommer Starks, Stephanie Carpenter, and Zach Klein.
Hours: Tues & Wed from 4:30-6, or by Appointment
Location: IAM Gallery 38 W. 39th, 3rd Floor, NYC


EX: Creative Collaboration honors and breaks surrealist conventions, bringing a diverse
collection of artists together, conversing through corpses.


New York, New York, February 1, 2012 — Wunderkammer Company is proud to announce
“EX: Collaborative Creation”, an exhibit curated by Bonnie K Mancini. Ex will open March 8th at International Artist Movement (IAM)’s gallery space, and will continue through March 30, 2012.

As part of their mission to revitalize communities through contemporary art, Wunderkammer Company is interested in the innovation inherent to the collaborative process. To facilitate this, EX takes the Surrealist tradition of the Exquisite Corpse and creates an indirect collaboration between artist, curator, and administrator. Inspired by The Exquisite Corpse parlor game, which was originally intended to provoke further creativity by removing sole authorship and pre-conceptions of form, EX will produce a vivid experience for its viewers, and facilitate new connections between the artists in disparate communities.

For the duration of its stay at IAM there will be several corresponding events in celebration of Surrealist ideas and collaborative processes: A lecture by Daniel Swartz of Wunderkammer Company, a viewing of Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, and a colloquium with Lucy Collins and Tove Hermanson on the influence of Surrealism on Fashion. “EX: Creative Collaboration” will also travel to Chicago, IL, and Fort Wayne, IN throughout 2012.

Bonnie K Mancini would like to offer a special thanks to IAM for the use of their space, and specifically to Meaghan Ritchey for her overwhelming support.


Contact: Daniel Swartz, cell: 260-417-8846,
or  Bonnie K Mancini,

Young Artist Profiles: Sarah Gregory

Last weekend I sat down with the singer/songwriter (and all-around breath-taking personality) Sarah Gregory! You may know her from her collaborative works with the Gregory Brothers, or perhaps you are privileged to have seen her LIVE with her “Stanleys“. Part internet-sensation, part soul-diva – I was interested in bringing more of her story to you!


*Rather than give you the strait interview text I will be retelling her story here. Scroll down to the bottom to find details of performances to attend THIS WEEK!

Sarah grew up in Texas, and stayed in-state to study performing arts in college. Passionate about the theatre arts, Sarah was given the chance to study abroad. She jumped at the opportunity to go to London and see more diverse performance styles and venues. This would be her first experience traveling outside the United States and made a huge impression on her.

Just a month after graduation she moved herself from Texas to New York City (this was in 2004). She did this realizing that New York would be the most international city in the US. After working with various performers in NY she honed her interest onto singing and writing music rather than the more theatrical work that first attracted her. This shift in passion has stuck ever since.

I asked her if there was an early memory of experiencing performance or visual art that ignited her passion for creative work. Sarah recalled that her parents had made a point to give her many diverse experiences – be it sports, arts, or other activities. Without her parents pushing her in any one direction, the creative experiences always stuck with her most. On one occasion a theatrical group performed at her childhood school. The main performer was a woman who was missing an arm. Sarah remembered this fact about the woman but recalled that the her performance was of such a quality that the physical difference that was a new sight for Sarah was completely forgotten as the woman carried-on with her roll. The character’s identity was not tied to the presence or absence of a limb and it was not distracting or even noticeable during the performance. This power of the performer to enchant was what stuck with Sarah.

I first got to know Sarah because of our shared faith through a church that we both attend in Brooklyn. I asked her if/how her spirituality had any influence on her creative practice. Sarah stated that part of what was interesting to her about the Bible is the way it tells stories about the world creatively through a whole spectrum of emotion and literary device. She eloquently went on to relay a resonance between the range of human experience possible, the hues, range of emotion, and expression with those stories found on the pages of scripture. She doesn’t make a habit of using the mic to preach at her attentive crowd, but would make no mystery of her involvement with projects such as the Welcome Wagon or Bifrost Arts.

I consider Sarah to be successful among the performers with whom I am acquainted, so I asked Sarah to define for me what she considered to be the mark of success. “Being able to pay your bills” she said, and continued on to explain that being an artist and being able to make ends meet (particularly in an urban setting filled with creative professionals and hopefuls) is a huge accomplishment. She attributed this particular success in her life to having the fortune to perform with great people who ended up continuing to work with her or recommend her in an ongoing relationship. Beyond Sarah’s vocal talent she also is likable, and knows how to keep friends. Although the resources are not always there for some people, this relational correlation rang true for me as well.

So, what is next for Sarah? …Right now she is in a unique moment – She has just shot a pilot with the Gregory Brothers, and finished a recording in Charlottesville. It’s a moment of anticipation to see what may come of that creative work. In the meantime she continues to perform regularly at local venues. I hope you have the chance to see her soon – maybe even this week…?


Sarah can be found:


*Many thanks to Sarah for your grace and for sharing your lovely voice so freely.

Miami – Art Basel (for those who can’t travel)

This video provides you with a tour through the fair on the opening day. When you stroll through the exhibition hall you see latest works by artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Nick Cave, Anish Kapoor, Olaf Nicolai, KRIWET, Kris Martin, Takashi Murakami, Haroon Mirza, Rob Pruitt, and Paul McCarthy. But there are also expensive high heels, fancy dresses, posh handbags, and amazing hats – and the related celebrities.” — Huffington Post

No women artists? Just gallerinas in heels/dresses?

Thanks Huff – you’re a pal.