The New Deal: Just What the Art Market Needed

Lucien Marc Smith, “Secretly part of me has always wanted to try cocaine, but I just couldn’t imagine sniffing anything up my nose. It seems like that would hurt.”–Halle Berry, 2009; Hackworth Ashley, Untitled, 2009


In group shows of young unproven artists, curators can become overzealous. They tend toward the more-is-more school of thought: more artists means more pieces means a greater chance of stumbling upon a brilliant undiscovered talent–and, inevitably, means less breathing room for everyone. It’s a bit of a crapshoot.
New Deal, a group show opening tomorrow at the Art Production Fund space on West Houston, is more considered. Its curators, Matt Moravec and Kyle Thurman, have been bringing along their precocious talents for over a year, culminating in tomorrow night’s opening. They’re precocious themselves—Thurman is about to graduate from Columbia, and Moravec just graduated from Eugene Lang College at the New School—but they’re seasoned downtown art scene campaigners. They searched high and low–mostly high (Moravec is 6’6″; Thurman also stands at well over six feet)—to unearth artists underexposed and outside the tightening gyre that is the New York art world.
Of course, it’s hard to get anything done without a little insider backing in this company town. It was the Downtown Don himself, Aaron Bondaroff, who suggested they knock on the door at APF. And it helped that A-Ron put his name on the invite; his creative catchall, O.H.W.O.W., also published the catalogue for New Deal, which will be handed out at the show. But maybe he could’ve also helped Moravec and Thurman come up with a better name for the show …

FAN ZHONG: So how did you guys settle on the name New Deal? Is that a FDR reference? Obama’s bringing it back into play, too.
KYLE THURMAN: Well, it’s funny. We told Mathew Cerletty about our show, and he said, ‘Do you have a name for it yet’? We said, ‘Yeah, we’re calling it New Deal.’
MATT MORAVEC: And he kind of looked at us and said, ‘Well, I guess it worked before …’ [LAUGHS]
FZ: And how did the idea germinate for this show?
KT: One night we were just walking around to different openings, and we got to talking about a project.

MM: We were looking for a way to expose a group of young artists.
KT: We began doing our first studio visits over a year a go. Once we had our core group of artists, we began shopping the idea around. We talked to Aaron Bondaroff about it and he put us in touch with Art Production Fund.
MM: It came together after one meeting there, in early January. Everything moved so quickly.
FZ: Which artists did you start with?
MM: We started with our friends: Aaron Bobrow, who’s showing sculptures that ride the line between painting and sculpture, and Lucien Marc Smith.
KT: Lucien’s an oil painter but he’s been recently experimenting with sculpture. He’s very eager and he’s 19; he’s teaching himself new things every day.
FZ: Have you noticed him maturing over the course of this project?
KT: He calls us every day to say, ‘I have a new idea I don’t know if it’s going to work for this show but in the future we’re going to make it happen.’ That’s the benefit of working with the artists before we found a space–we developed such a strong dialogue with them. You get to know people quickly.
FZ: Does anyone have a crazy studio-slash-living situation?
MM: Hackworth Ashley has an amazing apartment.
FZ: The one who painted Mary-Kate Olsen with a penis and lasers coming out of it?
KT: [LAUGHS] But that’s his older work! We’re not showing those. He’s doing sculpture now. He has a super raw basement space in Williamsburg with a studio and bedroom set up. It’s essentially a boiler room. The second time we went there he was like, ‘My landlord’s being weird. He said building inspectors are coming over and everyone has to make their places look uninhabited.’
MM: He had to move all his art out. And they had to flip their beds over and pile things on top. [LAUGHS] They were throwing garbage on top of his bed.
KT: They unscrewed all the light bulbs in the apartments so when the inspectors came they had to use flashlights.
FZ: How did you find Hackworth?
MM: We did a lot of asking around, trying to see if anyone knew of an interesting new artist we should check out.
KT: We needed to find a fresh group. It’s a New York art world thing for people to keep their name close to what is popular or cool. It creates this cycle that goes on and on and gets a little strung out. It’s also really hard to break into the circle.
MM: Two days after the opening we’re going to have a dinner to bring all of the artists together. It’s important for them to meet and create a dialogue amongst themselves.
KT: It is important, because the show is only up for two-and-a-half weeks. We don’t want to just send people on their way.
FZ: Are you going to have postpartum depression? You’ve been carrying this baby around for a year, and now it’ll be gone in two-and-a-half weeks.
MM: I hope not. I think our time in the space is going to be a lot of figuring out what’s next. We just got of school. We’re young. We’re all in the same situation: finished school, finishing school. Trying to figure it all out.

New Deal will run from March 12–March 29, featuring Hackworth Ashley, Aaron Bobrow, Julia Burlingham, Devin Kyle Cuthbertson, Ryan Foerster, Oto Gillen, Becky James, Devin Kenny, Liz Magic Laser & Felicia Garcia-Rivera, Brendan Lynch, Moravec-Thurman, and Lucien Marc Smith. Art Production Fund is located at 299 W. Houston St, New York.