Tim Maul’s Text
In the late 70’s a door opened for those like myself trying to get a foot in the percolating local art world. Graduating SVA in ’73 I had spent the previous decade living in a lower Manhattan now mythified with no end in sight. I had totally bought into the idea that painting, while not exactly dead, was irrelevant and I obsessed on hardcore conceptual and narrative art, performance, and the publication as a viable art context. I had not heeded the advice of my instructor, curator Kynaston McShine (who I also ran errands for) that “by the time you see a bandwagon its usually too late to jump on”. Observing that art critics were treated nicely by gallery staff I began to publish clumsy reviews in Flash Art after meeting Giancarlo Politi in Milan where I was trying to hustle my art. Flash Art really mattered then as did other magazines and remained ahead of the curve into the 80’s. Open any issue of FA from that time for a crash course, via advertising, in the international gallery’s that flourished or failed and lists of names that stood in for reviews during the feverish East Village moment that transformed ‘downtown’ overnight. The door that opened was into galleries filled with paintings. Art openings looked like nightclubs and nightclubs operated like galleries. I had to reset.
I expect the thrillingly titled ‘MAYBE THE PEOPLE WOULD BE THE TIMES’ (Thank you Lucy Sante) to be the opposite of the first group show I participated in where you couldn’t tell where the art was and nothing was for sale. Well considered group shows like ‘MTPWBTT’ allows one to rub shoulders with their peers at the opening and on the walls. Inaugural group exhibitions are particularly critical in that they establish the gallery’s sensibility going forward, it is historically instructive to research original programs by Leo Castelli (Renaissance bronzes, second generation ab-ex) and Paula Cooper (Park Place artists) among others. I write this weeks before ‘MTPWBTT” opens so I scroll down on an intriguing frieze of unfamiliar artworks all (except mine!) handmade, if not labor intensive, with each projecting a singular identity beyond the merely art-fair photogenic. I look at a lot of art and even on a screen I detect a spark of synergy jumping from image to image. I also know a few people, James, Jason (another ex- student) Gretta and through her writing, which I greatly value, Lucy Sante. I also reflect that these are ‘studio’ artists when back in the day I imagined the ‘artist of the future’s’ work space to resemble an ad agency with areas for visual production, administration and an in-house philosopher offering advice on his/her’s next move.
Please take note that Rebekah Kim previously operated PICTURE THEORY out of her Greenpoint apartment; precedents include Warhol associate Paige Powell who in the 80’s risked showing Graffiti artists in her building and Marian Goodman, who sold posters and editions out of her UES home in the 70’s. I’ll conclude with three words; REBEKAH IS BRAVE.
Tim Maul 10/23