When did your love for the arts begin?
I was exposed to art and music by my parents from the beginning. As my interest for art grew my parents kept me equipped with basic tools and paper to create my own work, as well as a library card. I would always be taking out art books and reading a lot, always trying to re-create what I would see or imagine in the books.
How long have you've been a curator?
I have been curating exhibition spaces since 2000, 2001 when I was in college. As a young child my father gave me an entire wall in his house to change me and my brother's art work around on. I would change the wall every 2 weeks.
Curating the Paterson Art Walk, what were some of your responsibilities?
For this particular exhibition as the curator, I had to contact the gallery (Index Art Center) and explain my concept for Dichotomy. Once the gallery agreed to work with me, I contacted the director at the Paterson Art Walk in the Art Factory and toured the location to scout out a space for the show. Once I picked the space, I reached out to the five artists that I wanted to include in the exhibition and visited all of their studios to discuss and select works for the show. Many of which were creating new works for this show, so I was able to view the work in progress. I wrote the press release, rented a truck, picked up the works, installed them on location, built a secondary room to house the smaller works, promoted the event, hosted the event to discuss the works with visitors, photographed the exhibition, de-installed the exhibition, rented another truck, and returned the unsold work to the artists.
How do you determine which artist is selected for viewing?
Generally I have a specific, or a few specific artists in mind when I am working on a concept for an exhibition. I always meet new artists to work with as the concept fleshes out.
How do you select pieces for a show?
After creating a concept for an exhibition, I discuss my concept with artists whose work I feel would fit the concept. I generally will visit an artist's studio and talk about their work and take a look at what they are doing. I try to leave lots of room for artists to create new works for the concept if they are interested in exploring it in a new way.
How do you go about filling a space for a gallery or exhibit?
I always consider the space while working on a concept for an exhibition. Once the works are selected and in the space they will be shown in, I just lay them all out in front of me, and spend a lot of time just looking at them, individually as well as together. I let the work speak for itself. I listen to the works speaking to each other and that is how I hang and/or position them.
How long does it take to prepare for a show?
Months, years, lifetimes. Everything is built upon what came before.
How many exhibitions do you put on yearly and what was your favorite one?
I curate roughly 1-2 exhibitions per year. The Dichotomy exhibition has been my favorite because I had complete control in deciding on the artists, and how the show would be hung.
What is your most memorable piece?
Well, I would like to take this opportunity to mention some amazing works at the 70 Spruce St building that were not in the Dichotomy exhibition: Dominique Duroseau's installation and video, Matthew Gosser's installation, Willie Cole's installation, and Oculus Art Collaborative's installation.
Do you have a personal knack for creativity?
Yes, I am a photographer and collage artist.
What is your favorite time period and how does it compare to the art in the present day?
If I had to choose a favorite time period, I would have to say the dawn of Art - the Aurignacian Period, roughly 40,000 years ago. This was the first time humans transcended their literal selves through Art and created abstractions of their existence. I feel that Art in the present day is still creating an opportunity for artists to acknowledge their existence in time and space, and connect to it through abstraction.
How would you define art?
I would define visual art as an internal consciousness and universal connectedness that is subconsciously translated to a visual realm.
Is there such a thing as good art and bad art?
Yes, I think so. I think that "bad art" has a complete disregard for the 40,000 year long conversation that started in the Aurignacean Period and is a lackadaisical attempt only to copy others all the while ignoring composition.
Any advice for people who don’t appreciate art?
Try to find an art form which is of some interest to you, and just spend time alone with it.
Index Art Center presents Dichotomy at the Paterson Art Walk June 13-15, 2014. Dichotomy is a group exhibition exploring the transformation of environment and space by incorporating both large and small scale works by Jonathan Beer, Jose Camacho, Heather Garland, Joseph O’Neal, and Joe Strasser. The show will provide an opportunity to experience the sea change of each painter from a large public viewing space to an intimate enclosure; all under the curation of Colleen Gutwein.
Reprinted with permission from Colleen Gutwein