Explain Me
Defining Contemporary Kitsch: Part 2 of The New York Art Fairs

Defining Contemporary Kitsch: Part 2 of The New York Art Fairs

June 21, 2022

What does contemporary kitsch look like? In this episode, Paddy and William use a discussion of the art fairs and New York gallery scene to lead a defining of the term. From its generic definition of objects described to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, to the current nostalgia driving a tasted for recycled art movements, all kitsch lacks in originality. 

Listen in for the whole conversation. 



Kenny Schachter at Allouche Benias Gallery 

Renate Druks at The Ranch,

Olivia Reavey at Helena Anrather



Sanaa Gateja at 50 Golborne

WonderBuhle at BKhz Gallery



Michael Foley



Judith Linhares at PPOW 

JTT Gallery Anna-Sophie Berger and Sam McKinniss

Sky Hopinka at Broadway Gallery 

Paul Mpagi Sepuya at Bortalami 

Nora Turato at 52 Walker Gallery



The Downward Spiral: 59th Venice Biennial by Dean Kissick 

What The New York Art Fairs Tell Us About Art

What The New York Art Fairs Tell Us About Art

June 14, 2022

Art media does a great job at looking forward to art events, yet rarely looks back to reflect on what these happenings say about the cultural moment. In this episode of Explain Me, co-hosts Paddy Johnson and William Powhida do a deep dive into the fairs to discuss the deeply conservative sales landscape we've been sinking into over the past ten years.  


Carlos Jacanamijoy’s 2020 ab ex painting “Carminos de Luz” at Harper’s

Laurie Reid’s “Ballast” at Et Al. Gallery

The Baboon Chair by  Margaux Valengin at Pact

Paul Gabrelli’s “Everyday Objects” at New Discretions

Elliot Reed at Anonymous Gallery

Dan Colen at Gagosian

Al Freeman at 56 Henry

Tessa Lynch’s text-based compositions at Patricia Fleming Gallery

Scott Lyal at Migeul Abbreu Gallery

Aaron Garber-Maikovska

Casja von Zeipel’s Celesbian Terrain  

Kevin McCoy’s corporate-sponsored display of Quantum and some generative artworks by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. 

Pedro Reyes, Alex da Corte, Nayland Blake, Alex Katz, Matthew Wong, 

Whitney Biennial Report: Care and Caution

Whitney Biennial Report: Care and Caution

May 3, 2022

We're baaaaack! After a four month break William and Paddy return with some big news about the podcast and an in depth conversation on The Whitney Biennial. We do the full dive here: What are the themes? How is it organized? Is it worth seeing? Is it too cautious? Who are the notable omissions? Why do these omissions matter?  


Artist discussed:

Cy Gavin

Rebecca Belmore

Guadalupe Rosales

Lucy Raven

Kandis Williams

Raven Chacon

Na Mira

Alex Da Corte

Trinh T. Minh-ha

Coco Fusco

Dave McKenzie

Jacky Connolly

Alfredo Jaar


Daniel Joseph Martinez

Jason Rhoades

Rick Lowe

Pao Houa Her

Nayland Blake

Awilda Sterling-Duprey

Matt Connors

Leidy Churchman

Monica Arreola

James Little

Ralph Lemon

Jane Dickson

Flux Factory Buys Building, Retains Soul

Flux Factory Buys Building, Retains Soul

November 22, 2021

How many times have we seen artist-centered communities lose their grass roots identity when they buy property? High profile organizations that have shed their founders vision as they gained visibility such as the New Museum and Meow Wolf serve as cautionary tales. The quality of the work they produce suffers and their poor treatment of employees makes headlines. That's to say nothing of personality-less art complexes like The Shed, which cement the wealth of their funders while meagerly contributing to the city's cultural life.

But these types of cultural outcomes are a choice and not an inevitable destiny, a reality made clear in this episode's interview with Flux Factory's Nat Roe. In his role as residency Executive Director, Roe recently secured $5 million from the city to purchase the building the organization has been working out of since 2009. Additionally, the organization will now operate a new satellite location, Flux IV, a the 3000 square foot ground floor gallery space on the ground floor of Gotham Point’s South Tower building. At no point in our discussion did we talk about significant changes that needed to be made to Flux's DNA to make this acquisition happen. Rather we talked about the importance of sound proofing their building so they don't disturb the neighbors.

In the midst of LIC, a homogenized tech-enclave for Manhattan commuters, this grass roots artist organization and residency program will now serve as a permanent beacon of creative energy for the community.

Can the DCLA support other smaller arts organizations in New York by helping them purchase real estate? Nat Roe gives us the skinny, going full wonk on city policy, while offering a history of Flux Factory and its place in the New York City arts landscape.

The Western Queens Community Land Trust—artist Jenny Dubnau is a co-chair of the board. 
How many times have we seen artist-centered arts organizations lose their NYC Club Scene debt? New York Times
What Does a Return to the Art World Mean?

What Does a Return to the Art World Mean?

September 21, 2021

In this episode artist Chloe Bass’s tweet pointing to the hypocrisy of the art world leads to a discussion of labor, the New York art fairs, and unions. 

We discuss:

Max Lankin’s observations for ArtForum on the Armory Fair about how the new digs at the Javits Center improve upon the Piers, which were literally falling into the water.  Funny how easy it is to forget that the Javits Center, just two months ago, served as a mass vaccination center, and the year prior a makeshift hospital for COVID victims. Mostly people were just happy to see each other again. 

Dana Kopel’s piece in the Baffler Magazine, Against Artsploitation, which chronicles the unionization efforts at the New Museum, and the museum executive’s endless gaslighting of employees. 

The New York Art Fairs. We talk about the art at The Armory Show, The Independent, and Spring Break. The work discussed below: 



Jeffrey Gibson at Tandem Press
Wendy Redstar at Sargent’s Daughters
Tau Lewis at Night Gallery
Tony Matelli - Maruani Mercier
Theresa Chromati at The Kravets Wehby Gallery
Jennifer Bartlett at Locks Gallery
Kamrooz Aram at Green . Art . Gallery
Jose Davilas at Sean Kelly
Sara Greenberger Rafferty at Rachel Uffner
Susumu Kamijo at Jack Hanley
Hayley Barker at Shrine
Dontae Hayes at Mindy Solomon Gallery
Michael Rakowitz at Jane Lombard


Julian Schnabel at Vito Schnabel
Sedrick Chisom at New American Painting
Jo Nigoghossian at Broadway Gallery
Erik Parker at Ross+Kramer
Amy Feldman at Galerie Eva Presenhuber
The Ranch


Guy Richards Smit 

Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw - curated by Magda Sawon

Chapel - curated by M. Charlene Stevens with work by Sophie Kahn and Colette Robbins

Outliars, curated by Elisabeth Smolarz, work by Angie Waller

Gather Rusted Satellites curated by Amanda Nedham Tristam Lasndwone, Kyle Hittmeirer
Nicholas Cueva 

Loren Erdrich

Willa Wasserman

James Razko

Tammie Rubin

Steve Locke

Explain Me with Laura Raicovich: Art and Museums in An Age of Protest

Explain Me with Laura Raicovich: Art and Museums in An Age of Protest

July 15, 2021

This week hosts William Powhida and Paddy Johnson sit down with curator, writer, and former museum director Laura Raicovich to discuss her new book Culture Strike: Art and Museums in An Age of Protest. We do a deep dive with her not just on the subjects in the book, but her latest project, The Art and Society Census. Relevant links below. 

  • Culture Strike: Art and Museums in An Age of Protest, VERSO
  • Deinstutitional Research Team. (A project William Powhida worked on mentioned in the book.) LINK
  • StrikeMoMA LINK
  • The Whitney Staff letter central to the Kanders' protests. HYPERALLERGIC
  • A good policy-based companion for Laura Raicovich's project. THE PEOPLE'S CULTURAL PLAN
  • A non-profit with a board structure worth promoting as a positive example. RECESS
  • Back story on Laura Raicovich's resignation from the Queens Museum of Art- ARTNET NEWS
The NFT Explain Me with Marina Galperina and Amy Whitaker

The NFT Explain Me with Marina Galperina and Amy Whitaker

March 9, 2021
On this episode of Explain Me we do a deep dive on Non-Fungible Tokens, NFTs, pronounced Nifty, by also N-F-T. Joined by guests Marina Galperina, features editor of Gizmodo, and former curator and writer on digital art, and Amy Whitaker, author and assistant professor of visual arts administration, hosts William Powhida and Paddy Johnson navigate the headlines generating news around this new digital currency, the basic definitions, and the potential and dangers it poses to artists. 
Timestamped resources
7' NFT definitions and the blockchain 
13 Do artists need to care? 
21' The Guardian features Marina Galperina's Vine Show. 

26' Beeple Mania and aesthetics discussion - Liberal Jon McNaughton or early digital art maximalism in the style of Cliff Evans and Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung

40' NFT platforms and markets. Massimo Franceschet and Sparrow Read's The Inconvenient Truth About Secondary Markets, Part II 

43' Legacy Russell tweets about the toxic white male culture dominating NFT conversation. Follows up with a shout out to QTPOCIA+ and female-identified people engaging NFTs.

44' Who is the face of NFTs? Kenny Schachter. His NFT article on Artnet. 
47' Kenny Schachter's "Scam Likely" on Nifty Gateway.

51' Alternatives - Casey Reese's Artist-to-artist exchange with Bitmark.com, Feral File. Goes live March 19.

Also relevant: Reese's Medium article, Collecting Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction 
57' - NFT and blockchain carbon footprint

1 hour 10' Reasons for optimism

1 hour 16' Art pricing and Greg Allen's Facsimile Objects
1 hour 22' Amy Whitaker discusses valuation and commensuration sociological studies
Read and Watch
Amy Whitaker, A New Way To Pay Artists, TEDXfoggybottom
Amy Whitaker and Roman Kraussl, Fractional Equity, Blockchain, and the Future of Creative Work, Management Science, July 2020
Amy Whitaker, Art and Blockchain: A Primer, History, and Taxonomy of Blockchain Use Cases in the Arts, Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts. Summer 2019

Amy Whitaker, Hannah Grannemann, Artists’ Royalties and Performers’ Equity: A Ground-Up Approach to Social Impact Investment in Creative Fields, CMSE Vol 3, no 2, pg 33-51.
Memo Atkin, The Unreasonable Ecological Cost of #Cryptoart, Dec 14 2020
Rea McNamara, How Crypto Art Might Offer Artists Increased Autonomy, March 2, 2021

Explain Me With Art Critic Ben Davis: The Year That Wasn’t, Part Two

Explain Me With Art Critic Ben Davis: The Year That Wasn’t, Part Two

December 14, 2020


Immersive Van Gogh

In this episode of Explain Me, we continue our conversation with Artnet's National Critic Ben Davis as we take stock of 2020. 

In this episode: 

Explain Me with Art Critic Ben Davis: The Year That Wasn’t, Part One

Explain Me with Art Critic Ben Davis: The Year That Wasn’t, Part One

December 14, 2020
"Immersive Van Gogh"

In this episode of Explain Me, we take stock of the year in art with Artnet's National Critic Ben Davis.

What happened in the art world in 2020?  We ask this knowing that we obviously have not seen a lot of art or attended anything remotely like a normal opening. But, a lot happened this year, even if we experienced it all at a distance.

We know that, with the vaccine slowly rolling out now, the art world will return, but what are the implications of the pandemic for the art world this coming fall and beyond?

In part one of this episode we discuss: 

The few upsides of the pandemic.

Ben Davis on Phillip Guston Show Postponement

Baltimore Museum Deaccessioning, two opposing views.

Three Tech Companies Locked in a Battle to Capture Your Attention With the World’s Best Immersive Van Gogh Experience. Brian Boucher, Artnet

The Boundless Optimism of BTS, Esquire

Explain Me with Andy Adams of FlakPhoto: From Idyllic Photos to The Surveillance State

Explain Me with Andy Adams of FlakPhoto: From Idyllic Photos to The Surveillance State

November 2, 2020

Image via: Andy Adams instagram

In this episode of Explain Me we talk to Andy Adams (FlakPhoto on instagram), a culture producer and long time digital director. Andy is the founder of FlakPhoto Projects, an international community of photographers that operates in a parallel path to the one Powhida and Johnson come from—the New York based studio and museum world. Andy, William, and Paddy began working online around the same time—2003-2005, so we start our conversation there. We track through the exuberance and possibility we saw online in the early aughts, the economic collapse of the late aughts, and fraught political environment we’re now navigating. Subjects include: The signature Flak Photo style, the ethics of documentary photography, and the the postponed Guston show at the Tate.


References and reading:

Instagram: @photographersvote #photographersvote

Two Museums Tried to Sell Art. Only One Caught Grief About it. New York Times

Guston Can Wait. Nikki Columbus, N+1

Contra-Internet, Zach Blas, e-flux Journal


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