Live From Forward Union: Four Women Who Are Using Art to Change the World

September 29, 2018

It's been a rough news week. Between Thursday's testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Kavanaugh's near appointment to the Supreme Court Friday, many of us are exhausted. We would like a win for women.  

Sometimes the quickest way to achieve that is to do it yourself. As such, this episode of Explain Me celebrates women who have made waves in the world of art and activism, through a series of interviews with four major figures—Mia Pearlman, Jenny Dubnau, Nancy Kleaver, and Mira Schor. 

In the first half of the show, Mia Pearlman and Jenny Dubnau talk about their work pushing for changes at the city and state level and how being an artist makes that job easier. In the second half, Paddy Johnson and Nancy Kleaver talk about their new public art organization, PARADE, and Mira Schor talks about the history of feminism in art from the 1970's through to today, and her contributions. Stream it. Download it. Listen to it. This one's important.  




What it Really Means to be A Mid-Career Artist: A Talk with LoVID’s Tali Hinkis

August 21, 2018

In this episode we talk with LoVID's Tali Hinkis about the challenges of being a mid-career artist outside of New York. We discuss how to engage a general audience to getting grants and networking. A refreshingly frank talk about what mid-career actually looks like for artists and what it takes to even get there. 


Explain Me: The Case for Taxing the Hell Out of Peter Brant

July 16, 2018

In this episode of Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson discuss the horrific business practices of Peter Brant and Interview Magazine, a fundraising campaign at University of North Carolina so misguided that firing is in order, and the latest headscratching Creative Time project. To help us discuss all of this, and how the new tax code will affect artists accountant and painter Hannah Cole joins us.  


Explain Me, Part II: Doug Aitken New Era, Worst Show of 2018

June 7, 2018

In Part II of Explain Me, William Powhida and Paddy Johnson discuss the difference between relational aesthetics and social practice, the whims of the auction market and the perilous affect it can have on artist careers, and Doug Aitken's train wreck of a show at 303 Gallery along with a handful of truly remarkable shows. Those shows listed below.  

Doug Aitken at 303

Painted in Mexico 1700-1790 at The Met

Huma Bhabha at the Met

A Luta Continua The Sylvio Perlstein Collection

Mel Chin at the Queens Museum


Jacolby Satterwhite at Gavin Brown

On Human Limits at Present Company

Ander Mikalson

*Plus we throw Dan Colen under the bus. 


Explain Me: Bags of Cash Help New Galleries

June 6, 2018

In this episode we discuss how the Frieze Art Fair's failing air conditioning units won't help global warming, sales strategies for emerging artists, and galleries that have come and gone. 


Related Utopias: Bitcoin Economies and the Art World

May 1, 2018

This week on Explain Me, William Powhida and Paddy Johnson talk with artist Kevin McCoy about Blockchain, Bitcoin and the Monegraph. This episode is your ultimate bitcoin/blockchain/monegraph explainer. 



Seven on Seven, 2014

Public Key/Private Key

Reading List: 

Hito Steyerl - If you don’t have bread, eat Art!
Does Digital Culture Want to be Free?
How blockchains are transforming the economy of cultural goods
Thanks to Explain Me sponsor, Superfine

Explain Me: The New Museum Triennial—Two Critics Perform Their Own Acts of Sabotage

April 17, 2018

In this episode of Explain Me, Paddy Johnson and William Powhida discuss the New Museum Triennial "Songs for Sabotage". Both Johnson and Powhida agree this show has more of its fair share of bad art but only Powhida sees this as a dealbreaker. Debate ensues. The ad in which Pepsi and model Kendall Jenner create world peace gets a mention. 

All images discussed can be viewed on Art F City.  

Thanks to Explain Me sponsor, Superfine


Spring Break Part Two: The City and the City (Part Two)

March 10, 2018

In part two of Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson discuss at the following exhibitions: 

“Secret Identities” The Amazing Blackman and other comics by Kumasi J Barnett. Curated by Jac Lahav

"Freedom School" by Elektra KB

"A Pressing Conference" by Macon Reed. Curated by Helen Toomer

"Bobby’s World" by Bobby Anspach

"Psychic Pharmacy" by Howard Hurst curated by Helen Toomer

"Hard or Soft Option" by Fall on Your Sword. Curated by Amber Kelly and Andrew Gori

“Ours” co-curated by Dominic Nurre and Lynn Sullivan

"Goodbye Columbus" a group show curated by Isaac Aden and Joseph Ayers 

"The Last Equestrian Portrait" a group show curated by Amanda Nedham and Kyle Hittmeier

Images will appear on Art F City. 


Correction: In this episode we incorrectly identified a series of protest signs titled "You'll Never Know We Were Here" 

as the work of Sarah Walko. The piece was done by Fernando Orellana. 



The Spring Break Art Show: A Good Time Show Disrupted by the Specter of Trump (Part One)

March 9, 2018

In this episode of Spring Break we discuss the fairs in general and where Spring Break fits in, themes, trends, the over all quality of the art, and a few pieces that stuck out for their overall failure. We also asked four participants to give us their elevator pitches for the show. Those guests included: Lynn Sullivan and Dominic Nurre's exhibition "Ours", (artists anonymous), Kyle Hittmeier and Amanda Nedham curated "The Last Equestrian Portrait" (a group show), Kumasi J Barnett "Stop it Whiteman: You're Wrecking the World"  curated by Jac Lahav, and Mark Joshua Epstein and Will Hutnick present "The Songs Make a Space" by the late composer Michael Friedman. 

All images and credits will appear on Art F City.  


Correction: In this episode we incorrectly identified a series of protest signs titled "You'll Never Know We Were Here" 

as the work of Sarah Walko. The piece was done by Fernando Orellana. 


The Stink of Met Admission Hikes Endures

February 21, 2018

Back in January, William Powhida and I recorded an episode of Explain Me on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new admission policy. Earlier that month, the museum known for housing some of the world's greatest treasures announced its admission price would no longer remain "pay-as-you-wish". As of March 1st, their suggested admission, $25 will become mandatory for anyone living outside of New York State. Children under 12 get in for free.

Given that there's less than two weeks until this policy change goes into affect, we thought it might be a good time to release our discussion and revisit the debate. Because what came out of the debate, was not a picture of an institution starving for more funds, but wealthy museum with a board and President ideologically opposed to the free admission policy. Learning this changed my position, which was one initially in support of a change the museum described as an absolute necessity, to boycotting the museum for the month of March. While the admission increase doesn't affect my cost of admission, it affects that of my family and friends from out of town. It is also entirely out of step with generosity of creative spirit that brought me to this city in the first place.

Over the course of the podcast, William and I discuss a large number of articles and the conclusions drawn by the authors. We go through the points rather quickly, so for those who want them at your finger tips, I've included them below.

Data People

These are thoughts by people we describe as "data driven".

Grey Matter's Tim Schneider. Cites studies that claim cost is a secondary factor to why people visit museums. People cite lack of time and lack of transportation as major factors. Adds the caveat that structural discrimination may account for some of these factors.

Colleen Dilen Schneider. The original blogger who sourced studies that claim cost is a secondary factor to why people visit museums. Expect a treasure trove of studies, over use of bolding and zero caveating. Read at your own risk.


Hrag Vartanian interviews Met president Daniel Weiss for Hyperallergic. There's a lot in here, but we discuss the following points:

  • Vartanian notes the museum's well-known $40 million deficit in the intro.
  • Weiss says asking David Koch to pay for the Met's admissions would be inappropriate morally because the wealthy already support 75% of their budget and their current admissions is "failing".
  • Claims a dramatic increase in visitors.
  • Says there has been 71 percent decline in what visitors pay.
  • Says the museum has close to a billion in endowments reserved for operations.

Felix Salmon at Cause and Effect. Looks at the Met's annual reports and finds that Weiss overstates the Met's visitor numbers (which increased by 11.5 % thanks to the Met Breuer opening), and misleads the public about admissions revenue, which has actually increased by 13 %. Concludes that admissions isn't the reason the museum has the deficit. Also, notes that the Met's endowment has risen $170 million a year through investments, of which, over $100 million a year can be used for anything they want. Concludes that the Met won't suffer by making $10 million a year less because they are maintaining their "pay-as-you-wish" policy.


The Met Should Remain Free For All. 

Main Stream Media

Jillian Steinhauer for CNN The Met Needs to Live Up To Its History and Its Public

Robin Pogrebin for The New York Times reports that Weiss cites the city's plans to reduce the Met's funding as one rationale for the change.

Holland Cotter at New York Times. New York residents would have to prove their residency by "carding" procedures, which he doesn't like because "it potentially discriminates against  a population of residents who either don’t have legal identification or are reluctant to show the identification they have."

Roberta Smith at The New York Times. Rebukes the position that because other museums charge they should too, saying  "Actually it should be just the opposite. Pay as you wish is a principle that should be upheld and defended, a point of great pride. The city should be equally proud of it. No one else has this, although they should. It indicates a kind of attitude, like having the Statue of Liberty in our harbor. It is, symbolically speaking, a beacon."