Daniel Rolnik – curator and bon vivant

Dear Daniel,

We’ve messaged back and forth a few times about seeing the show you curated at Curio Studio and Collection in Venice Beach, and I still have not made it. I was in Venice this week, but alas it was Wednesday and the gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 6 PM. It may be that I won’t get to see the show at all, I will regret it but I have limited time. For instance, today I am doing this. lol

I have been mulling over in my head how to approach writing about without seeing your show Interviews.

Two Faces by Joshua Petker
Acrylic & ink on canvas, 12″ x 12″
white frame

On the webpage you set up to feature the work, I see that in addition to the usual images and credits, you offer prices and the ability to make direct web purchases of the art. <ADD TO CART> And indeed, many of the works of art have already sold.

Congratulations to the artists! It must be exciting to sell work. (laughing, so far I’ve only given mine away!) I’m both charmed and taken aback at your forthrightness – the business of art is rarely so transparent, and when openness is offered it is often met with the self-serving suspicion, “If they’re so open about prices then it must not be good art,” or some version of this sentiment. The elitism that is inherent to commercial secrecy entitles those who play the game to feel special for their “inside” knowledge and access, and sometimes people require these indicators of elitist reassurance to augment or replace their own judgment. Of course the matter is more nuanced than that, but then, this is exactly what an elite insider would say, isn’t it? And I am probably an elitist, Daniel, and a bit of a snob, too. Isn’t everyone in the art world? Think of your relatives who don’t get it, and try not to sneer – just a little.

An aside: You friends out there who buy art, do you know that nobody pays retail? Available to any who ask is the famous “gallery discount” of 10%, if you’ve bought in the past from a gallery you may qualify for 20%, and if you are a “name” collector even 35% is not out of the question. (The price should have at least 4 digits before you insist on a discount of any size – dealers work as hard as artists do for the money they get, and everyone works as hard as the collectors.) Please be aware that under all circumstance the artist should get 50% of the listed, retail price. (Remember this, makers – no questions, no negotiations, no fucking way less.)

But I digress.

Challah by Will Deutsch
Acrylic Ink & Watercolor on Rives BFK
9.5” x 11” Framed

Hang Up Your Hang-Up by Jim Mahfood
Mixed Media
15.5” x 18.5” – framed

A funny story: David and I were in Blum and Poe one day a long time ago. Messrs B and P were still in Santa Monica then, and one of them was at the front desk taking calls. (Really.)

Ring, ring. “Hello, gallery.” “mmm mmm mmm.” “Um, we don’t offer a gallery discount.” Click.

David did a double take, and everyone laughed. Triply elite: no prices, no discount, no good-bye. We sold that already.

If this story conveys to you my status as an insider, or even insider-adjacent, then my ploy has worked. (And it was free.)

Peter/Nellie by Rebecca Manson
29 x 15”

Bucket Babe (Pretty Pink) by Josh Atlas
Plastic bucket, fake donuts, googly eyes, royal icing, nonpariels, nitrile glove, and rigid urethane foam
16 7/8 x 11 x 8 3/8”

I think it’s really great that you sent me pictures of your opening at Curio Studio, but I wonder if 200 were too many? Your friends are beautiful Daniel, and they seem to be having a great time. Did you have food? Can galleries still serve alcohol in Venice? That would be a big draw.

By the way, I mistrust the accuracy of your notes to me. Did you do Phonics as a kid? You have clearly misspelled the names of two of your friends and, while you assure me the photos were taken by Anne Faith Nichols’ husband, Jacob Arden McClure (one of the names you misspelled), the Facebook page for the show attributes the photos to Anne, herself. What gives, Daniel?

I’ll upload as many of these cheery pictures as I am able, I may try to identify people making use of Facebook’s clever photo ID thing. Where I fail, I count on you to comment and tell us who all these people are.

Anne Faith Nichols at Curio, Interviews opening reception. Photo credit: Jacob Arden McClure

Anne Faith Nichols again, with unidentified companion, at Interviews opening.
Photo credit: Jacob Arden McClure

Photo credit: Jacob Arden McClure

(Left to right) Orson Oblowitz, Lena Verderano Reynoso (just a shoulder and an arm, maybe?), William Alexander Attaway IV, Malcolm Stuart
Photo credit Jacob Arden McClure

Josh Atlas sculptures, and can that be Matt Leonard?

Mark Hanauer, Gary Baseman, Luis Arevalo, Amy Machado

I keep looking at the photos in the gallery and – again, having not yet seen it – I still don’t know what to say about the show. Documentary photos are a desperately inefficient way to experience art. The pieces in Interviews look great – engaging, wry, there is some great punning going on, some sex, and some love of history. The fact is, any one of them I would date to see if things might work out.

Here’s something that’s fun to do: next time you visit a museum exhibition that promises to be of important emerging artists, check the wall tags and count the museum trustee names among the lenders. Wonder to yourself when said trustees became collectors of said artists’ work. See how many works might be sourced from how few galleries. Then stop and enjoy the art, because experiencing the art is what’s important.

Money – commerce – is the frame, the context and the support for every part of the art world. I like not thinking about money when I’m looking at art, and I think it’s OK that I don’t. I don’t think about cost when I’m visiting a park, or eating dinner, either – unless I’ve bought it.

With that said, any time I look at art, I am inspired to wish I could buy it – everyone loves to take amazing things home! Therefore, I appreciate your open approach, because once in a while it is just possible to squeeze the budget a bit, and knowing the price in advance can help. The art business in general never really joined the 20th century of informed consumerism and perhaps it’s a good time to wonder about this, and to try new ways of doing the business of art.

I’ve had fun spending time with you, Daniel, even if the time spent was with my computer and in my own head. I don’t mind virtual time, really, and maybe this is a part of life today that we can talk about sometime Daniel, OK?

Oh, darn Daniel, I forgot to grab an image of you! Sucks, right?

Untitled by Robert Fontenot
Archival Digital Print
21” x 27.5” – unframed

Joe by Ingrid Allen
Oil on Canvas
12 x 18”

B-Side Bed by Boris Hoppek
Photographic Print (edition of 100)
30 x 40 cm

Gertrude Stein by Lena Verderano Reynoso
Letterpress Print
8.5 x 11”

Random darkness party shot. Somewhere in here are: Fausto Fernandez (behind the drink), Christina Mesiti (bright blue above the drink), Gary Baseman (above Christina), Jason Hill (green shirt with Baseman), Alexander Atkins (looking directly in your eyes at the back)
Photo credit: Jacob Arden McClure OR Anne Faith Nichols

Elizabeth Ann Clark seated, wearing hat. Curio Studio front.

Curio Studio & Collection, 324 Sunset Avenue, Venice, CA  90291, (323) 382-6533



Daniel Rolnik, Justine Parkin, Alex Parkin
(I’m smiling Daniel)

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