One highlight of my studies last year at UMass (Northeast USA) was the New York Professional Outreach Program (NYPOP). This program is designed to introduce UMass Fine Arts students to the art scene in faraway New York City. Yes, I know the UMass campus is only three hours away from NYC by van, but it might as well be three weeks away by quarter-horse (or slightly less on a red elk – see previous post). Anywhere that’s not actually in NYC is , by definition, in the art-world boondocks.
Each second Friday, NYPOPpers clamber into a hired van (driven by one of their fellow students) and motor down to the NYPOP studio, bang in the heart of NYC’s major gallery district, Chelsea. The program is directed by Jerry Kearns and Amanda Tiller, both practising artists. Jerry and Amanda organise for art-world luminaries to talk to the group about their experiences – how to get a start in NYC, how to approach galleries, what it means to be a professional artist.
I was lucky enough to hear former painter, now arts writer Anne Doran (ArtForum, Art in America, Time Out New York regular) talk about the challenges of writing about art – how to balance useful criticism and encouragement. Anne guided us around two important shows: Haim Steinbach’s ‘Creature’ at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, and ‘La Carte d’Apres Nature’ curated by artist Thomas Demand at Matthew Marks Gallery.
The other outings were equally valuable – Heather Darcy Bhandari, curator and artist advisor at Mixed Greens Gallery; David Humphreys, painter; and Kate Teale, painter and occasional gallery director. Through them all came the message: ‘Turn up in the studio for yourself, and make the work that you do best. And keep doing it.’.
A side benefit of NYPOP was the opportunity to visit many of the other galleries in Chelsea (there are literally hundreds) as well as the big public galleries like MOMA and The Met. It’s these opportunities to see both the best in the art-world canon in the public museums and the pick of the contemporary crop in the commercial galleries that I miss back here in Oz-land. All strength to programs like NYPOP, and its dedicated organisers!
(And no, I haven’t been paid to boost this. But if you find this post, Jerry, I’ll tell you my bank account details…)