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

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

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."

What Curators Really Think: A Cringe Worthy Report

What Curators Really Think: A Cringe Worthy Report

December 29, 2017

On this episode of Explain Me we discuss a disastrous curator conference at SVA titled "Curatorial Activism and the Politics of Shock", the Miami art fairs, and three shows— "Talon Rouge: Six Mexican Artists Revisit José Juan Tablada and His New York Circle" at PROXYCO, "Johnny Abrahams: Threnody" at The Hole and "Molly Zuckerman-Hartung: Learning Artist" and "Maryam Hoseini Of Strangers and Parrots" at Rachel Uffner. 

Gentrification, Income Inequality and Donald Trump Baby Turds

Gentrification, Income Inequality and Donald Trump Baby Turds

November 24, 2017

In this episode of Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson talk about the 450 million dollar Leonardo Da Vinci of disputed authenticity and the Boyle Heights activists who follow artist Laura Owen's from L.A. to New York to protest her non-profit 365 Mission while she visited The Whitney. Activists believe the presence of her gallery will lead to displacement. Additionally, we discuss the following exhibitions: 

Tiger Strikes Asteroid: Didier William, "We Will Win"

The Museum of Human Achievement (in Austin TX)

Five Miles: Nicholas Cueva, "The People Games Play"

Trestle Projects: Tracing Trajectories/Selections from the Hoggard/Wagner Collection 

Microscope Gallery: Anita Thacher, “Anteroom”

Signal Gallery: Rachel Rossin, "Peak Performance"

Present Company: Myeongsoo Kim and Jessie Rose Vala, "Dusk to Dust" 

Denny Gallery: Future Retrieval, Permenant Spectacle

Derek Eller Gallery: Whiting Tennis


An Interview with Kenny Schacter: There’s No Bubble in the Art Market and No Solution for Struggling Artists

An Interview with Kenny Schacter: There’s No Bubble in the Art Market and No Solution for Struggling Artists

November 7, 2017

Hosts Paddy Johnson and William Powhida talk to art advisor Kenny Schacter about the art market at the upper levels and the art market in the middle and emerging tiers. Our central question: How Trumpian is the Art World. We learn about that, plus Schacter's great love for art and dealers. A word of warning though: some of Schacter's conclusions for struggling artists are bleak at best. 

Making Monstrosity Visible in Three Parts: Paglen, Ga, and Fast

Making Monstrosity Visible in Three Parts: Paglen, Ga, and Fast

October 18, 2017

Three shows. Three reviews. The Trevor Paglen exhibition at Metro Pictures is creepy as fuck. We take issue with New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz's review on the subject. Ellie Ga  at Bureau sensitively touches on the horror of the Syrian refugee crisis. Omer Fast at James Cohen produces some powerful videos about the role of the artist in times of crisis, but they are overshadowed by protestors. They believe his decision to transform the front of the gallery into a waiting room in a Chinese bus station amounts to yellowface. Our thoughts on this and just about everything else. 

The Turd of Gentrification Floating in the Pond of Urbanism

The Turd of Gentrification Floating in the Pond of Urbanism

October 16, 2017

This week on Explain Me William Powhida and Paddy Johnson chat with Los Angeles Times staff writer Carolina Miranda about David Geffen's $150 million donation to LACMA and the questions surrounding the gift. Will he bequeath his collection to the museum? Later, we discuss the recent gentrification wars in Boyle Heights, a rather strange description of the non-profit 365 Mission and solicit Miranda's advice on must-see LA shows!

The Broken Toilet

The Broken Toilet

October 2, 2017

The inaugural episode of Explain Me, an art podcast with critic Paddy Johnson and artist William Powhida! A round of woos and hoos please! Explain Me looks at politics, money and the moral of responsibility of artists working in the art world.

In this episode, we discuss Documenta's massive overspending and near bankrupcy, the closure of Bruce High Quality Foundation University, and a new development along the 7 line describing itself as New York's best installation. We also talk about a few shows we've seen recently in Chelsea, Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins, Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper, Tom Friedman at Lurhing Augustine, Franklin Evans at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe,  Maya Lin at Pace, Robert Motherwell at Paul Kasmin, and Celeste Dupuy Spencer at Marlborough Gallery. Expect opinions.