Tag Archives: New York

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.”

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Young Admin Profiles: Meaghan Ritchey

Meaghan at her home in the Bronx, NY

This spotlight begins with a little back story.

Last year I spent some time studying the programming of an organization called the Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) through a Development course at NYU. We used their work as a case study for capital improvement, grant-writing, and integrated educational programming within the arts. Along the way I also became familiar with a bit of New York that is often overlooked.

Some may associate the Bronx with tales of gang violence, or recall news reports of arson, but these days it seems a bit more low-key, a bit slower. It has taken on a personality that is more demure, possibly suspicious of too much change too fast, and with good reason! Though the damage done by Robert Moses to this outer borough is irrevocable*, a story full of displacement and disenfranchisement, out of this a slow and steady development toward reframing their community has emerged. The Bronx’s current story is being painstakingly re-written, not by development moguls, but by environmental renewal and the reclaiming of space.

Ms. Meaghan Richey, originally from El Paso, Texas, attended a small Christian College and went on to study Political Philosophy at Kings College in New York. She quietly and thoughtfully experiences the city while keenly observing her surroundings. She is currently employed as the Program Coordinator of the International Arts Movement (IAM) and is also the Managing Editor of their online magazine, The Curator. Their headquarters are in Midtown Manhattan, which strings her daily life between the most extremely contrasting spaces that the city has to offer.

Ms. Ritchey is now living in Mott Haven, a historical district of the Bronx, near the 87 Expressway and 3rd Avenue bridge. She has directly observed the backlash I had only read about.  She walked with me around the block, past the Projects, and scoped out the two restaurants that would be open on a Saturday afternoon. Both spaces functioned as multi-use, with local artist’s work on the walls and evidence of hosting other community events. She acknowledged challenges that the area still faces, such as abandoned buildings falling victim to the aforementioned arson and the failure rate of small business. By and large it seemed a slow and quiet locale, not daring to exert itself beyond what it might sustain.


With her background in ideas rather than images, Meaghan entered into her role with IAM, a visual art organization, by attending lectures, and was drawn in by the thoughtfulness of a few interactions with artists as they discussed their practice. Her taste has its root in classical literature (Tolstoy,) classical music (Bach,) and the Abstract Expressionists. With her background in philosophy and economics she is still searching for the permission to enter into visual art practice, but rather – she is more comfortable with seeing, knowing, hearing, reading and digging into the ideas of the work, which gives her more insight than she may accept credit for.

Her role at IAM has not been one of a curator, so she has not been in the position to choose work that resonates with her the most. It has been more singularly about serving the community to meet their mission as a greater organization, with her role being more akin to a gate-keeper of their space. Her work focuses on personal relationships and propelling forward the ideas presented to her. That being said, more than with any previous project, she is very excited to present the current exhibition of work by Lindsay Kolk. Ms. Kolk’s work is up now in their Midtown gallery space, and embodies both the ideas and an aesthetic that excites Meaghan.

When I asked her if there was some wisdom she could share with the readers of this blog, she stated that she observed “no lack of opportunity or resources for artists, (although the trickle-down is messed up). There is, however, a shortage of good, consistent work.” She encourages the mind-set of making an art practice into a life’s work with a long-term view, ongoing and dedicated. “Foster good habits, structures and discipline,” she urges. “Allow space in your life for the work to flourish. Keep carving out the space to make good work consistently.”

Along these lines Ritchey compares the discipline of a pious individual’s faith and encourages that kind of devotion to meld with one’s creativity, citing an article by Carey Wallace. As an example of a prolific life’s work by a creative person, she mentioned Joan Didion. Didion penned memoir, essay, and simply wrote a lot. This is the kind of work Meaghan thinks will last.

While Ms Ritchey gave me a tour around the neighborhood of Mott Haven she assured me that change to this area was slow, but, that there was more than meets the eye. This was reinforced by a chance run-in with her neighbor who quickly invited us up to his home for a look around his study – a modestly restored walk-up where, we were told, Theodore Roosevelt once came to dinner on a campaign for re-election.

I am not on board for naming the South Bronx (SoBro) the New SoHo. But I do think the long-term investment toward restoration of space and renewal of any natural beauty will reinvigorate this borough. Similar to what Meaghan suggests for the individual artist, here also, the long-term pay-off is sure to come to those with commitment to their work.


*Though Robert Moses battered and rammed right through the heart of the Bronx, displacing thousands for his expressway, he is also responsible for a great many beautiful things in New York – revamping Central Park, re-imagining the west side highway, and conjuring the Worlds Fair site in Queens out of a former ashen dump site. A true visionary – he spun out of control and simply went too far with unchecked power – beyond that of any other New Yorker (or of any New York entity for that matter) with the strength of the great “Authority”backing him.

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Meaghan’s own words on the Bronx

Cunningham Legacy

In his career as a dancer and choreographer, Merce Cunningham formed how modern dance was defined. Passionately, he continued to dance, teach, and collaborate for many many years in his studio in New York, until his death in 2009. Since then his studio remained open for a period of time and his company toured his last pieces.

I had the rare privilege of taking a private class with two of his company members last week, and learn a bit more about what it was like to dance for this visionary man. He truly wanted to push forward, perfect, and change the dances each time to create something special and new.

Today at 6pm and next M-F at 11am and 6pm are the LAST classes to be offered at the Merce Cunningham studio, for drop-in only. Then it will shift into a different kind of legacy. If you are movement-inclined, or open to risk embarrassment for the sake of a historic experience, I highly recommend jumping at this final chance

*Image, and many thanks credited to Carli Beseau.

*An interesting note: the dancers did not learn these pieces to music, infact sometimes heard the music for the first time when performing – The expectation was that the dancers counted every beat and would stick to that plan, no matter what the other dancers or music was doing.

20 studios, light refreshments and DJs. After-party TBD.

NYU MFA Open Studio
Saturday, November 19th, 6-10pm
AND Sunday, November 20th, 6-9pm.NYU
NYU Steinhardt, Barney Building
34 Stuyvesant Street
New York, New York

first-year students

Sarah Feehily
David Flaugher
David Hawkins
Michelle Young Lee
Sam McKinniss
Davida Newman
Lee Perillo
Lily Stockman
James Woodward

sorbonne exchange students

sponsored by the Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation
Antoine Lefebvre
Aurelle Arque
Elodie Lombarde
Etienne Laurent
Lucie Rocher

second-year students

Katherine Bauer
Joseph Imhauser
Agnes Lux
Taro Masushio
Chason Matthams
Brad Troemel
Alice Wang
G. William Webb
Elliott Wright
Leafe Zales

third-year students

Jessica Gispert
Shadi Harouni
David J. Merritt
Carlos Reyes
Ben Schumacher
Andy Slemenda
Jo-ey Tang
Kevin Yang


Young Art Administrator Profiles: Min Hee Lee

Bonniekate: What city do your currently live in?
Min Hee Lee: I am staying in Manhattan near the Times Square!

BK: What city are you from?
MHL: I am from Seoul, Korea.

BK: You are at Steinhardt – what is the focus of your study?
MHL: I am studying Visual Arts Administration now. I am interested in the current of an international art market and the works of contemporary artists.

BK: What interests you about the art world, and how do you want to interact with art as the focus of your profession?
MHL: As I studied graphic design at the design school(SVA) in New York, I had a lot of chance to meet young artists who are currently working in NY, and I helped making posters or brochures for them. From now on, I want to study more about managing or promoting their exhibitions, so I am trying to understand the flow of contemporary art in America by reading various materials in class and seeing exhibitions.

BK: What city interests you for your future career/home?
MHL: New York City is a very attractive city as a center of art field. I would make a career in this city for my future.

MK: What is the worst piece of artwork that you have ever seen?
MHL: I don’t want to judge the art pieces either the worst or the best since every art piece is valuable based on artists’ thoughts. However, Paul McCarthy’s Basement Bunker made me feel depressed and stressful after seeing the art pieces.

BK: Who is your favorite living artist?
MHL: Yoshimoto Nara is one of my favorite artists. He is a Japanese artist who currently working in Tokyo.

BK: If you were going to have a career outside of the art world, what do you think you would like to do?
MHL: Maybe I would like to do writing or editing scripts for the film or broadcasting.

A real New York treasure.

There are a few key spaces about this town that are just a little more magical than even the fanciest penthouses. Here are a few of my favesies…

190 Bowery

Owned by photographer Jay Maisel who lives there with his wife and daughter. That’s right – 3 people.

Then there is the Dumbo Clock tower penthouse:

Sometimes the Mystique of a location has to do with it’s past. Here is a fun site that illustrates just that: Click!


bas bleu -or- what does feminism look like now?

Hey Yall – I would like you to join me on a new endeavor to discover what Feminism does/can/should look like today. First Stop – Bluestockings book store and activist center, New York.

When I was in college there was a small group on campus led by a girl named Kate. The group was called “Bas Bleu”. The title derives not from the kind of brutal feminism of the 1960s/1970s (the women-removing-scrolls-that-had-been-stuffed-in-their-vaginas-in-front-of-crowds) kind of feminism, but rather goes further back in time providing a casual forum for women, and men (if they choose to join) to discuss ideas.

This Bas Bleu model reminds me of a story that my friend Sarah recently told me about being in an acting class. She explained a subtle roll reversal exercise that they did where the women were told privately to not accommodate for the men physically or in conversation – to simply enjoy the freedom of being the dominating presence. The reaction of the men unawares was noticeable in their posture, and cadence. Crossing their legs, using more modifiers, etc. This story opened my eyes to think about stereotypes in a new way.

Now, in this exploration it is not my goal to diminish men. My interest has very little to do with men at all, actually. Rather – I am interested in how women find their own strength, identity, and expression. Then I just want to make sure there is a place for them to do just that.

One such place I found online is this bluestockings place. Casual blue stockings were the identifier of the previously mentioned group of female (and occasionally male) intellectuals. Hence the name Bas Bleu. I plan to head downtown to check out bluestockings this week and maybe grab some 3rd wave literature to hear what women are saying and thinking. Feel free to comment here anytime about the intelectual topics that interest you – open invite! This goes for Women and men. 😉

Here is some fodder for you: Beyonce, a feminist? Discuss!

Coming up on the last week in Beijing

The end of this journey is sneaking up fast, and I will have lots of follow up research to post after my return to New York. Pieces of information we learned in the first few days are fitting together with things we are experiencing up-to-the-moment. And this sponge is ready to be squeezed!

But for now, here are a few mundane shots I wanted to share, in order to give a glimpse into the more normalizing factors of my day-to-day over the last several weeks…