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Episode 16
Artist SWOON

  • 2 min read

Episode Description

1:05 - Artist and activist SWOON about her life, her work and her passions. Born Caledonia Curry, the artist has moved from pasting art on the streets of New York to acclaimed gallery and museum shows that feature her large-scale woodblock prints and cut paper collages. She is passionate about social change and has been active in supporting community redevelopment nationwide, as well as in Haiti.

37:20 - The week’s top art headlines.


Speaker1: [00:00:09] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with artist and activist, swoon about her life, her work and her passions. Born Caledonia Curry, the artist has moved from pasting art on the streets of New York to acclaimed gallery and museum show that feature her large scale woodblock prints and cut paper collages. She is passionate about social change and has been active in supporting community redevelopment nationwide, as well as in Haiti at the end of the episode. I'll be taking a look at some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, the healing power of art with SWOON.

Craig: [00:01:05] Caledonia Curry, Callie, A.K.A. Swoon, thank you for joining us today on the Art Sense podcast.

SWOON: [00:01:13] Hello, thanks for having me.

Craig: [00:01:14] Yes. So, you know, a lot of times with artists, what I like to start with is if you're at a brunch and somebody sitting next to you that had never met you before and they asked you, what? What do you do? And you say, you're an artist? How would you explain? How would you describe your work to someone who's never met you before?

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SWOON: [00:01:37] This is a hard one, because sometimes I I had a real wake up call a few years ago when I met somebody, and she says, What do you do? And I was trying to explain it. And she just looked at me with the most compassionate blank stare and said, I don't know. It's like, oh, this is confusing unless I was so used to talking to everybody who was like, Oh, I'm already an artist and I already know what you're talking about. So I have like had to think about, okay, like what about if, if it's just like a person who's like, Yeah, I'm talking to you, but I have zero, like, don't talk to me in that like insider art language. And so in that case, I think the thing that I usually say is that I'm an artist. My work is about people and that I, I make portraits. That's kind of the main thing that I do. But then those portraits kind of grow out into a lot of other projects and then social sort of just describe the projects. I'll be like, you know, I've done community rebuilding with folks. I think a lot about how art can help us repair and heal in times of crisis. And then and then I talk about right now I'm working on things like stop motion animation and trying to learn film and storytelling. And so I basically kind of took that initial seed of like portraiture and looking at people and. Said, like, what are all of the ways that this can that I can kind of like? It's almost like you take a prism and you just turn it over and look at it from all the different angles.

Craig: [00:03:19] Your start was very traditional. I think I remember hearing that you said that you were really attracted to painting. You went to art school. I guess the big turning point for you was when you took your art to the streets. How did you go from the studio to the streets in the first place? Because the your work, the notoriety of your work brought you back into the galleries? Right? So at what point did you say, you know what? This art belongs to the world. It needs to be site specific and it needs to be here.

SWOON: [00:03:53] Well, you know, I I got to New York City and I was like a teenager before the internet. I was like grew up in the world's smallest town, but we certainly didn't have a ton of culture. And and then I got to New York City and I was like, I'm fine. That's OK. I got it, and it just blew my mind. You know, everything about it, the power, the scale, the art that was on the walls, and also kind of the sense that this was the greatest artwork that, like my first impression, was like, Oh my God, all these artists, all these modernists, all these, you know, everyone feeling that everyone was responding to the city and that you could see that visually in their work. And then and then kind of the second impression that I got was like, Oh no, this is the artwork. This is the place. This is the thing. And and I felt like I didn't want to start by kind of visually imitating the city. I was like, Let me just let me just go straight there because again, I was like a teenager when I mean, who knows what he needs to grow up with the internet? It's not like they're necessarily studying like our history, you know, maybe their exposure to art. Who knows? It could be similarly limited because now people, it's like you can really get deep down into a niche and you have all the information. So who knows? But I certainly felt at the time like my whole concept of art is like a painting on a wall. And then I got to New York and just had that totally exploded

Craig: [00:05:21] Whenever someone sees your work. You know, it's I think it's easily identifiable because I mean, there's strong mark making. It looks like a block print of some sort, which you don't normally see wheat pasted on a wall on a street in Manhattan, but it kind of leaps off the walls. But you know, it's also the content beyond how you make your work. It's what your work is. How would you describe some of the main themes that are are threads that are carried through your work?

SWOON: [00:05:53] There's kind of like a lot of different ways that I'm thinking about art making.

Craig: [00:05:56] Mm hmm.

SWOON: [00:05:58] And within each of them, I think that there are some kind of common kind of themes or practices of of looking deeply into ourselves, which sounds kind of obvious, I think, in a way. But I think once you start to to really do it, to really kind of try to think about what, what, why is it that we need to avoid suffering so much? And what are all these things that we need to do to avoid suffering? And how does that show up in our lives? Like once you really get down deep into it, you realize that like looking deeply into yourself is kind of no small challenge. So I think that like trying to have a certain kind of willingness to peer into human nature is is definitely, I think, one of the main themes in my work. And then I think also the sort of the feeling that you show up in a world and everybody hands you the rules and tells you that this is how this is how it is and that it's kind of upon us to reinvent that. And so I think that that's also kind of a theme in my work of like everything from going out into the street and being like, OK, I'm going to kind of shift how I understand their work needs to be seen to people. Being like artists can't be part of the rebuilding after an earthquake because that's too dangerous and you don't have the skill set or any of the things that. I've worked on over the years where I feel like I kind of looked at or looking at my sort of family taboos. The generations of intergenerational trauma of saying You can't heal that you got it any time you take a look at something that you were handed and be like, No, let's reinvent this for us. I think that that energy is also one of the energies that I feel is most alive within my work.

Craig: [00:07:56] Tell me about the power of art to heal. Because when I look at your work, I feel like there's some, some certain parts of your work where you are working through emotion, your own personal traumas. And then, you know, you mentioned Haiti. I would love to have you describe the work you've done down there, which is amazing. You know, can you speak to art, to power, to heal? How is that?

SWOON: [00:08:21] I know, right? It's like a little mysterious and you're like, Well, where does it live? Does the power to heal live in the meditative time that we take while we're making it? Does it live in the feeling that we're expressing something and our need to be understood? Or does it live in the kind of magic of taking something that didn't used to be and creating something from that? And the feeling you're like, if you if you get a cut and the cut heals, there's the sense that something miraculous has happened. There's something that was destroyed or hurt or harmed or torn apart is now starting to mend itself. And you're like, Whoa, everybody can do that. How can you do that? And I think when we participate in that kind of activity, you know, like in Haiti, after the earthquake, we did some work with a small village called Canvia, and we all got together and built a community center, and we then went on to build two homes. And it's been a very long term process. But the the initial building project, I remember one of our dearest friends there, we made four more things all those years, he said. One of the most important things about the building of the community center was the feeling that while everything was kind of coming apart and people were still out of work and the supply chains were disrupted and everyone was really feeling depressed and feeling deeply disempowered that we were now suddenly. Every person in the village was involved in this thing.

SWOON: [00:09:58] We were all working together and there was money was flowing in because we decided that it was important that people get paid for their work because the economic disruption was part of the disaster. And so there was there was money, there was energy. But most importantly, there was everyone getting their hands on something and being like, We're together, we're here and and we're and we're going to make it better. And and I think art is the thing that I think can sometimes catalyze that because we're like, OK, well, what should we do? What should we do? And there's something about having this activity of art, which can almost sometimes be like the Trojan horse like mural. Art is one of my favorite organizations. They'll have groups of people who who are at odds with each other, paint murals together because they found that if you're just like doing something with your hands and you're focused on this third thing. You can have these kind of conversations that you wouldn't necessarily be able to have if you were just staring at each other across the table. And so I feel like the sort of healing power of art is kind of a ghost in the machine in the sense that a rehearsal where does it live? Is it in the meditative? Is it in the conversations that it starts? Is it isn't the feeling of togetherness or is it in the alone time that you get? It lives in all of these different places, but somehow it is there.

Craig: [00:11:22] You've done work knowing in Haiti, but different communities, and, you know, it's a collaborative experience where you make the community part of the process. It reminds me of work that some other street artists have done, like Haas & Hahn and J.R. And I've heard both of them talk about how important it is to go back to these communities to maintain relationships. Can can you kind of talk about your experience there?

SWOON: [00:11:52] Yeah. First of all, shout out to those guys. I'm a huge fan of Hass & Hahn and J.R., and I think the thing for me that I discovered and somebody really articulated it, one of my my collaborators really articulated it early on when I was questioning, Well, what did we really what did we really achieve in Haiti? You know, there's there was so much devastation and we were able to do this little piece and he was like, Yeah, but ultimately, what you have to recognize is that the the work is, is, is not just it's not just about one building or this one thing. You built this relationship. And now the relationship is what? You know, part of what is being cared for, and so that's why the the work in Haiti has gone on for over a decade. Even the midst people saying like, Oh, you're being a white savior, you're being all these things, because I think that sometimes people confuse work like the work I'm doing with somebody kind of taking a school trip and being like, Oh, these people don't know how to deal with their lives, so I'm going to help them. And in fact, that's not at all what was going on. What happened is that there was a major earth shaking catastrophe, and then me and my community became involved with this other community. And then once, once that involvement started, it really very much felt like the right thing to do was to let the relationship the relationship.

SWOON: [00:13:18] So let it live out as long as as long as we felt like we were connected to keep working together. And as long as people kept presenting ideas of like, Hey, let's do this and let's do that. And you know, we we started an after school program that's run by some local folks there, and one of the people that we worked with as a teenager has really stepped into this role. And now he's becoming like a very good teacher, and he's he's making different proposals to us and really help me do this and help me do that. And we're like, Oh my God, this is so cool. Like just to be in a position of helping this person develop their own initiative and be in their own place. And we can just kind of be like his sort of cheerleaders and his assistants and the people who, you know, like when you think about the people in our lives, for example, the teachers that I had or the people who stood up for me or made sure that I had opportunities. You know, it just feels very similar. It's like over time. The relationship continues, and it kind of becomes things like that, you're like, Oh, right, like I'm involved in in someone's life and I'm involved in someone's life very much in the ways that people were involved in my life when I was young and I was growing.

Craig: [00:14:31] Just talking to you, I'm just taken aback by your emotional maturity. I just seems like it's at the core of who you are. It's like the art is just second to your worldview of healing and that the art just kind of manifests itself from that. Let me ask you this. Your work started as something very ephemeral, right? Something that would wasn't intended to be permanent. It couldn't hold up. But now, you know, in the conventional art world as to to be in gallery your ass to be collected. Do you ever feel conflicted about the ephemeral versus the permanent?

SWOON: [00:15:10] Not really, actually. You know, I think that the I love the ephemeral, but I also feel like. Um. You know, I think like the things I think that I always had, like even when I was putting these pieces out on the street, the piece itself was ephemeral. But the record of the piece was permanent. I always had, you know, a print of it back home, you know? And so people would say, Oh, this is very pure gesture you're making. And I was like, not really like, I have a copy back home. And you know, the other thing that I've learned over the years is like, I've become connected with this artist, Judy Chicago, who's like a, you know, incredible mentor for a lot of women. And she talks about this concept, which is very important, I think, to understand, called female erasure, which is that over the generations, there's it's not that women were never, never allowed to be artists. Certainly, there was very little encouragement, very little support like the structures. The opportunities weren't as much there. But but kind of maybe even more importantly, even when they were there, the sort of people like, OK, great, you did it by and those things would just tend to look over and over again, kind of fall through the cracks or just become kind of fodder for the inspiration of someone else's project, but not ever really kind of remain.

SWOON: [00:16:33] And so she has taught me that like that, like the thing that I'm doing as a woman artist in this moment is not really something that we've seen in, like how many generations of of of the Western art world. And so it kind of matters for me to say like this, there should be a permanence to this. People should know that that women can have a fully realized creative life and can be totally outside the box and inventive and creating at scale and doing all of these things in our generation is really showing that there's tons of women really showing up in that way. But to Judy's point, she's like, Don't feel safe. Don't just assume that just because you're you're OK and you're having success now, don't just assume that your culture won't have a conservative spasm and closing around you in a race that you did. So and so do take that time to archive and to make sure that your contribution is there for future generations.

Craig: [00:17:36] You know, in your work, I see you making there are some pieces that wind up, you know, because of the nature of the block. Print your ability to make, make a component of a work that winds up being reused, that it's like they're individual pieces that you're able to come back and reassemble and reinterpret

SWOON: [00:18:03] Many times in many ways,

Craig: [00:18:04] Right? And so it's like, you know, these pieces are reincarnated and reinterpreted, you know, can you kind of talk about when did you first start figuring that out and and kind of what that process means to you?

SWOON: [00:18:16] Well, when I first started it, I became really obsessed with rock printing because I was really I was really kind of obsessed with language. Also, I think I was at the point where I think I always knew that I would become an artist, but there was like maybe I was writing, like, maybe writing was like kind of really competing for my attention or my love or whatever. And so I was, of course, thinking about words and thinking about language and. And when I first discovered block printing and I was making these little little pieces and I was like, Oh my God, this is this is feels like spoken language that you have in in any given sentence. You have a sound and that sound gets repeated and it gets combined and recombine in these various ways. And then through the combination of these very simple and a series of sounds and series of symbols, we can do this intense communication and it and it felt to me like I just wanted to play at what that felt like. And I was like, Oh, if I make all these different blocks and then I combine them this way and I combine them that way and I layer them this way in that way.

SWOON: [00:19:22] I was like, Whew, I feel like what it feels like at the level of creating language. And it also felt like I was like, Oh, is this how I try to find my own language? Because every artist ultimately finds their own language to speak and find the language that feels like it's theirs. And so for me, it kind of just felt like that process of being like, How do we learn to? How do we create our own language through repetition through kind of. The re-use of these of these variables and these elements, and in a thousand different ways, and I love I love that part. And it also kind of gives me a chance like I don't have to have done it right the first time I can be like, What about this in blue? What about this in blue with orange? What about this in blue ripped in half? What about this blue and orange ripped in half? You know, I can just keep asking that question that sort of relentlessness of the mind to want to know how many different ways this thing can happen. You can answer that in printmaking.

SWOON: [00:20:23] Now, whenever I hear you talk, it always sounds like you have like a half dozen projects going on. Yeah. And so in my mind, you are kind of a field general leading like a whole platoon of assistants, right? And so how how many people do you are you currently collaborating with? I mean, you have a studio practice, but you also have your hands in community projects. Tell me about collaboration. Like, have you always felt like a leader?

SWOON: [00:20:57] No, I you know, this is interesting because I do feel like a leader recently. I really do, and I'm really stepping into that. But I was a shy child like cripple, cripplingly shy when I was really small. And so the idea that I would ever like step into a leadership role. I mean, I think you couldn't have convinced me of that. But now I really feel it and I'm really like, Oh, this, there are ways in which not only in which in which this is the thing that's called for that. Like, I need to step up and I need to step into this. And so and so I certainly always haven't. But it's certainly something that's sort of happening kind of more and more. I think in the last few years, although I found very early on, is that my leadership consisted of having an idea and just really wanting everyone else to know about it and be into it and be like, Let's do this. That was kind of before my leadership took was sort of more like a very unbridled enthusiasm. It was very like, Come on, guys, like, you know, like, I was like, that moment at the party. We were like, Everybody, let's jump in the pool or whatever like that was kind of the beginning. I think for me was that tendency. And then, you know, and then slowly, I found all the different ways that collaboration can take place. So, you know, I think one question that people have for me a lot is about, like, what are the different ways that people are involved in your projects? So for example, I just got off the phone yesterday with some folks that I collaborate with in a way that I'm just like a small, creative piece.

SWOON: [00:22:34] They're running this whole project and they just kind of ask me for some thoughts and ideas. And I I participate in my tiny little way and they they they kind of like, keep it, keep the whole thing going in their creative directed. And but somehow we have this really great collaboration that's less many years. And then I'll go to my studio where I have people who are hired as assistants and they're there. They'll do very specific things in very specific ways. And so that's like kind of making, you know, making a technical piece happen. And then there is my nonprofit, the Heliotrope Foundation, where. You know, I'm collaborating in in this kind of other sense where the project that I'm working on right at the moment is I'm trying to see I've been helping this. There's a woman there who I think is incredible and she does like the real deal community based work, and I'm trying to figure out how I can help her move into some larger properties and kind of take her project to the scale that I think it can be at. And so in that way, it's like I'm both in leadership and in service. And so and then other times you'll have a project where you'll sit down with with friends and be like, What should we do when you come up with the idea together and there's tons of back and forth? And then there's other roles where it's like, clearly you're the boss and you're asking people for this and that. So there's like so many different ways that working with others happens.

Craig: [00:24:08] I think I heard you say earlier that you were working with some stop motion. Do I remember seeing in an ad a couple of years, like four or five years back with like an Alicia Keyes song for that one stop motion, right?

SWOON: [00:24:23] That actually, I didn't do that animation I was. Alicia just asked me to be part of that campaign for her album, which I was really excited about because I really love her. And I, you know, she's a she's a collector and she's, you know, just she's just the real deal. And in a lot, a lot of ways, a really, truly creative human. And so she asked me to be a part of it. And so I worked with this kind of larger team. But but then I also have my I have my own film work, which is me kind of hand building. Uh, you know, these like kind of narratives or at the moment, I'm I'm actually working out how to work, how to work in written narrative. You know, actually building a story and kind of working in more of a traditional film way. So that's like a whole other. I'm really. It's so funny. I often feel like my kind of creative muse is like this little imp that I I don't know if it's the right word because it's like a strike. Like, what's that word? A little very straight, right? That's like, you know, you're going to give it a follow me now, and I'm like, Where are we going?

Craig: [00:25:31] Right

SWOON: [00:25:33] And so right now, the little sprite is like running along after me, learning how to work with actors and be learning how to work with narrative story and me figuring out just kind of that whole world of how storytelling unfolds, both visually but also. You know, in the emotional world of the sort of actors and performance and all

Craig: [00:25:58] Will this manifest itself as like a short art piece or are you thinking something that would have broader appeal?

SWOON: [00:26:08] I you know what I mean? Ok. To be seen? Well, we don't really know yet, but this is the first time in my life where I kind of feel like I want to. I want to be out in the world with this. Like, if there's a way for me to have the broadest appeal possible with this project that I'm forming, which is, you know, I'm still hesitant to even really say what it is. But I but I would. It's like, I feel I suddenly feel like I think I grew up in the arts and I was, you know, living on like rafts on rivers and being very off grid for like many, many years. And then I was also it was about connecting with people in this other way, you know, it was always about connecting with people, even when it was kind of off grid and really wild and seemed and seems very odd to a lot of people. But I think right now, because I've done all this work, like I was saying around like intergenerational trauma and kind of healing in my family, what I really discovered in that process is that. Is that? I I wished that I had known when I was a child the things that I want to communicate now. And it just makes me want to to really and truly reach. My young self and to be like, if that could happen in a movie theater in the Midwest, then I would love that. I don't know if I'm ever going to really speak that language, but I just certainly feel that I'm not averse to it at this point.

Craig: [00:27:39] So so I have to ask then what would you have said to six year old Callie?

SWOON: [00:27:45] I would have said. Your mom is is really, really ill, and there are some reasons, and I'm really I would have talked to her, I would have been like, Hey, this is what's happening and you can feel like this isn't. I would have said to six year old Callie, You're not. This isn't like this doesn't mean that this is who you're going to be. You're not your family, not coerced. This isn't like a foregone conclusion that everyone's going to end up screaming with psychosis in the street. This is some people who are deeply suffering and and if you guys could find a way to talk about it and reach out for help, it would be possible. It's not. It's not like a permanent thing. It's not. It's not a message about who you are. It's it's a situation. And it's for whatever reason, families hold silence. And so for whatever reason, it's like sometimes you hear those messages and you're like, Well, they're out there. And it's like, I don't know, somehow, somehow I didn't get it. Somehow, it never came to me. And so I think asking, what are all the different ways that we can bring that message over and over again?

Craig: [00:28:52] I mean, I just find your story really courageous, because six year old Callie didn't hear that, but somewhere along the way, somebody reassured you that it was going to be OK and that you could make make the world and your life. You can make it what you want to make it, right?

SWOON: [00:29:10] Yeah. At some point, I went from feeling totally helpless and disempowered to feeling so empowered that I could build all the things that I'm working on, and that's a huge transition.

Craig: [00:29:24] So, you know, your artwork is I think there's definitely people would definitely think of your artwork as being feminine, but do you feel like your artwork is feminist? I mean, I hear us talking about, you know, empowerment, but what do you think, would you?

SWOON: [00:29:43] Yeah. Well, you know, I think I I think I went I was on kind of a trajectory that I see sometimes around me where when I was young, I I didn't want to even be thought of as feminist. I think because I understood that that would sort of. So that was a little bit vulnerable, that people were going to think like, Oh, you know, she hates us or whatever, whatever. You know, I grew up around Fox News, and even though I didn't believe in it, it's still quite subconsciously scarring, actually. And so and so. You know, I think that. What is feminist to me today? So again, I was a reference to Chicago, I just saw her speak the other day, and she said that she said when I was a young woman in the sixties in California, there were no women, almost no women who were respected in the mainstream art world, except me. And she said, and how I got that respect was by being in drag, by hiding who I was and by showing up in this incredibly masculine way. And I totally identified with that. You know, when I when I renamed myself and was out out on the street making kind of, you know, I think what was pretty masculine work, I think, you know, when people didn't know that I was a woman and I didn't tell them, you know, some of it was just kind of funny and fun.

SWOON: [00:31:04] And I thought, Well, that's not the point. It doesn't matter. But I think in another way, I implicitly knew that like there was a way in which, like there was, there was a way in which that could could be safer. On the other hand, once people did find out I was a woman, they were really they were really excited. I got an incredible amount of support for that. And people often say, Was it difficult? And I often I say people were actually incredibly supportive of me being a female street artist when there were so few. So I didn't feel that. I didn't feel that level of kind of glass ceiling until actually until later until I got more of the glass ceiling. That's a little higher until I got into a place where I was like, Oh, right, like if I think in certain instances, if I was a male, I would be being treated differently, respected differently, paid differently, all these things. But so I think for me, what feminism means is like, I made a piece a few years ago called the media, and it's a giant pink house and it's splitting open, and it's showing this kind of spider creature that looks like very much like a vulva. It's like quite terrifying. And then and then when you pick up the telephones and these other domestic objects, there's this, you know, we're talking about stories about domestic violence and sexual abuse and mental illness and addiction and all this kind of deeply intimate stuff that I think in previous generations was considered like things of the private world or the domestic sphere and kind of not serious and not to be respected in a kind of a Richard Serra monumental sculpture kind of world.

SWOON: [00:32:42] And I love Richard Serra. That's not to denigrate him at all, but just to say that that is not the only form of expression. And so for me to stand up and be like, Yeah, this vulnerable, terrifying domestic looking, emotional painting dollhouse at giant scale is a monumental and important work of art. Snow still feels vulnerable. It still feels like, oh, nobody's going to take me seriously because it's not the giant thing, it's not the big, invulnerable political statement. If this kind of sociopolitical, kind of deeply intimate statement and that and the feeling that that will be in implicitly and instinctively dismissed, it kind of feels like we're working at the level of like people's implicit bias, like nobody wakes up in the morning and it's like, I'm not going to respect women artists. And yet somehow we see through sociological studies that it still happens. And so for me, being feminist is really just saying, I'm going to respect my instincts and I'm going to show up as who I am and ask that that be respected.

Craig: [00:33:49] One last question for you, if you looked at NFTs, have you thought about releasing anything digitally?

SWOON: [00:33:55] Yeah. So I have an I I have some of my very old friends from college or have started a gallery called Super Chief, and they have actually helped me navigate the NFT world and a bunch of ways, including because one of the main concerns is that is the environmental impact of NFTs. And so they are they kind of started off doing carbon offsets. I think that they're still working on how can we move into different platforms that are that are less environmentally demanding. And so they while doing that, they helped me to figure out how the animations that I made could become digital pieces because I just made them. I never win. When I first made them, we even had decided to not even try to sell them at all because I wanted them to be out in the world, I wanted them to be on YouTube. You know, I just I wanted I'm very I want people to see things. I want things to be accessible. And so the first time we showed them at Deitch Projects, we didn't even try to sell them because we didn't want to limit them in that way. But then when when the NFT market started, it was like, Well, actually, you can have it out in the world. It's just this one object is minted as the original or the edition, but it's totally fine for this thing to be to be shared and to be in the world. And so that really appealed to me. And it became kind of amazing that I was actually able to support making more animations because I thought that it was just this weird niche like thing I was doing that I was never going to be able to kind of make that money back and support making another one. I was like, Oh, I'm I'm just going to have to let this go or figure out how to support it in some other way. And the fact that it's actually supporting itself is really wonderful.

Craig: [00:35:40] Well, Callie, I think I've taken up more than the amount of time I'd ask for, and so I appreciate

SWOON: [00:35:46] Because I'm so chatty.

Craig: [00:35:47] No

SWOON: [00:35:47] Once I get started (laughter)

Speaker2: [00:35:49] No, it's fine, you know? Maybe, you know, maybe I can have you back on and chat some more. I feel like I could just, you know, I think people, I think people find you inspiring. 

SWOON: [00:35:58] Well thank you

Craig: [00:35:58] And in, you know, maybe maybe six year old Callie would have never have anticipated that. But I think it's true and I think you're 

SWOON: [00:36:07] Awww, that makes me want to cry.

Craig: [00:36:07] Yeah, and so I mean, I feel like you've really grown into a leader. It's really amazing to think, what's next?

SWOON: [00:36:14] And you know what? I also want to just appreciate you that question that you asked about about feminism and the different questions that you're asking. I think one thing that's really that's really great about this moment is to feel supported in having those conversations with folks like you who are I think that in previous generations, a lot of folks who who maybe I'm just assuming your gender but who maybe identify as Millwood would not feel as supportive of those conversations. And so I just want to say thanks for asking that question for being supportive of the answer, because that's that's just like one of the ways in which we're building kind of a better community of artists.

Craig: [00:36:55] Absolutely. And you know, it's my pleasure. I really appreciate your time today and thank you for joining me.

Craig: [00:37:14] And now the news.

SWOON: [00:37:19] Josh Baer is an art adviser and former gallery owner who seems to know everyone in the art world and has thus carved a niche for himself in the mid nineties, Bear started paying closer attention to exactly how art auctions were shaking out. Baer started keeping track of not only who placed the winning bids at auction, but who got outbid as an art insider. It didn't take him long to realize the value of the information and started publishing a newsletter of his findings by a fax called The Baer Faxt. Well, fast forward nearly 20 years, and the Baer Faxt is now an email, not a fax number has announced that he will be releasing a way to access the decades of sales data via a new database. Well, there are a number of art databases out there, most notably art net, but just about all of them fall short in identifying who the players in the auction are. This is actually very valuable information that can help an art dealer know who to target if a particular piece comes up for sale. Who wanted this piece or one like it, but lost out? Well, there's your target. However, it's interesting that on blockchain, bidding for artwork provides the same information through a more timely and accurate means.

Craig: [00:38:38] Google is putting its technology might to good use by helping recreate images of paintings that haven't been seen in almost a century. The particular success stories highlighted in the art newspaper come from black and white photos of Gustav Klimt paintings thought to have been lost forever. The artificial intelligence has been trained by Google to understand Glympse use of color and uses that intelligence to augment the vintage photos. The training involved asked the AI to look at more than one million photos of flesh, plus another ninety two thousand photos of paintings where an artist has painted skin. And lastly, eighty one paintings by Klimt himself meant to help the algorithm understand Klimt style. The resulting images provide us our best guess as to how the lost Klimt images might have looked. David Hockney calls the stir this week when he penned an op ed piece for the art newspaper that proclaimed the demise of abstract art. Much of the article covers ground that the eighty five year old painter is laid out before in books like Secret Knowledge. But in the closing paragraphs, he states that abstraction, I think, is over. It's run its course, taking away the shadows from European art. Figuration has rebounded in recent years, and there is a pervasive theme of narrative and identity reflected in contemporary work.

Craig: [00:40:08] But it's too soon to write abstractions obituary in the book Reductionism and Art and Brain Science by Nobel winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. Data has laid out that shows how our brains are stimulated by the search for meaning and abstract artwork. The less recognizable the forms, the more our brain gets excited. Things in the art world, as in fashion, are often forecast to be done with forever only for time to tell a different story. I'm sure that abstraction, figuration, photography, digital art, sculpture, well, they'll all have seats to the table for decades to come. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art and click on the Podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Craig at Canvia. Art, thanks for listening.

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