Hanging in Kathy Grayson’s East Village apartment is a selection of art that amounts, she says, to ‘a little story of all the people I have worked with over the years’. A former director of Deitch Projects, Grayson now runs The Hole, which she launched in 2010. Dartmouth-educated, she has been ‘discovering and developing talent’ for 13 years, and reckons that 99 per cent of the art she owns was given to her as a gift.
The one-bedroom apartment, shared with her boyfriend and a Pomeranian called Bert, is not ‘architecturally significant’, she admits; but it is in an old building with ‘these cute details, and the wood flooring is really fancy and decorative’. As well as her ‘super-colourful’ art collection, Grayson has more than 10,000 art books, zines and catalogues, though the furniture is simple white or black: she’s ‘too much of a crazy mess’ to own any exceptional pieces.
The apartment is only a walk from her gallery, which is in the Bowery, a neighbourhood she loves for its history and energy. ‘Granted, it’s become a design and art district thanks to the New Museum,’ she says. But though the museum opened in 2007, the old contrasts still exist: ‘You literally get a line of people waiting for free food from the Bowery Mission that intersects with the line of people waiting to preview the Urs Fischer show.’
Artists really hang together in New York, and that community philosophy informs my curating
Grayson named her gallery The Hole after the now defunct club of the same name, ‘where all the subcultures of New York used to hang together: the graffiti guys, the gay-club kids, the arty weirdos and the bikers from Bushwick’, and where she met the artists who became her friends. Even if she is no longer the ‘wild curator person’ she was at Deitch, she says that the same ‘spirit of freedom and rebellion still informs what we do here, and I think people feel it. Artists really hang together in New York, and that community philosophy informs my curating. The shows are about artists who relate to each other, have collaborated with each other or share philosophies.’
Some of the gallery’s exhibitions and artists make money, among them Holton Rower and Matthew Stone; others do not. ‘But that’s fine,’ says Grayson. Her latest discovery, featured in the group show Not a Photo, is Australian artist Ry David Bradley, who is interested in the impact of digital media on painting.
The gallery used to be renowned for the big opening parties it held, but Grayson, now 35, has put them on hold for the moment: ‘You can’t be up at 5am, dancing in your underpants, and run a business,’ she says. ‘And I want people to think critically about the art and take the gallery seriously.’
01 & 02
‘This is a drawing by Matt Leines and a painting by Keegan McHargue, who were in the first show I curated after I graduated. I found them a gallery in Williamsburg, the show was reviewed in the New York Times, and I sold all the works. So they gave me a present to say thank you.’
‘The Dan Colen gum painting is probably the most valuable thing I own. In 2006, I went to his studio in Tribeca to interview him for a magazine. He was just starting to make gum paintings and he gave me that; it was like a little test one.’
‘A Polaroid enlargement by my late friend Dash Snow, who died of a drug overdose in 2009. He heavily influenced my perspective on art and just living in the world. He took about 80,000 Polaroids and I have 15 or 20. He’s just had a giant show at the Brant Foundation in Connecticut.’
‘The drawing with the rolled-up dollar bills for nostrils is by the Canadian artist Aurel Schmidt, who is someone I discovered. We did a show at Deitch, and she’s now a famous artist. She gave me this one; we were doing tons of coke at the time.’
‘This is by Ben Jones, a creative genius who is now a head of animation at Fox, so he’s one that I lost! He did a show at Deitch called Super Mario Movie that was the best piece of new media ever.’
‘A present from Holton Rower. We launched his career at The Hole and his works now sell for $50,000. He’s Alexander Calder’s grandson and known for his gigantic pour paintings.’
‘This one is by Michael Dotson. I’m good at telling early on who’s going to be great. Occasionally I’ll buy a piece for $1,000 because I love it and know it’s going to skyrocket in value.’
‘This is by Matthew Stone, the first person I called saying, “I’m opening a gallery and we’d like to show you.” He started an art collective in a south London squat and is now a manifesto-writing artist-intellectual, but his insight comes from lived experience. That’s the type of work we want, not art that’s only about art and the art world.’
Not a Photo runs until 17 January
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