Category Archives: Artist Interview

She’s Got That Joie de Vivre – Ashley Longshore Interview

It’s been a little while since we’ve done an artist interview, and I’m happy to resume posting these with New Orleans-based designer and artist Ashley Longshore’s! Hers is as detailed and full of energy as they come, and when you take a look at her work, it makes perfect and utter sense. Her paintings are highly detailed studies of everything colorful, fun and out-there in life. Her furniture design work, which is what we are lucky enough to have in our New Orleans location, is equally irreverent, with familiar shapes and traditional quality detailing, but in the craziest colors and rendered through the lens of her colorful life. In our parlor room sits her “Time Out” chair, in a sparkling turquoise vinyl with red accents. It demands attention and yet seems to go with just about anything we place or hang next to it without argument. If you’re interested in this piece, simply give us a call or shoot us an email.

Photo by Ann Madden Photography

What’s inspiring your work these days?

I recently spent a month in Maui where I filmed an underwater short film for an event I did at The CAC in New Orleans. I used stills from the film and painted a series of Underwater pieces. I am really inspired by reflections in the water. I cant stop painting this water series! I am posting new images everyday on my website www.ashleylongshore.com. I post videos, paintings, new chair designs every other day. Its my life journal.

I am really in this whole adventure phase in my career. My dream has always been to travel to different places for a month or so at a time and create new collections. My next big adventure will be this September. I am going to be living in Holland for a month and creating a new collection. At the end of the month I am having an opening in the Hague. It’s really a dream! Who knows what will inspire  me there!

Have you seen your work in new contexts, used in ways you hadn’t imagined for it?

I have a pretty out of control imagination. I feel that my paintings, chairs and performance art are very directed in the context that they are presented.  Now, how the viewer absorbs my madness?? God only knows?  The performance art always has interesting twists and turns. Here is a link to one of my videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucREJtY24ZU

Does your material usually come before form or form before material?

I see images in my mind and then create them EXACTLY as I envisioned them.

How about function before form or form before function?

The creative process is much more of a feeling than a process for me. I don’t think of my art in terms of form or function. It is what it is. I have an idea and I go for it.

What is your greatest challenge as a designer?

Honestly the challenges are about keeping myself amused. That always shines through in my work. I really like to create conversation pieces and I only like to paint what really humors me. Like this one below. I call it “Elton Johns Junk Drawer” I was laughing hysterically while I was painting this! Now its in a show in Miami. I cant wait to see who buys it.

If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

Jesus! This is a hard question. I would want to paint with Picasso for the day. Make a movie with Wes Anderson and Design furniture with Andy Warhol. Then I would want to take a nap with Francesco Clemente and have dinner with Alice Neel. Then I would want to go to an after party with Terry Richardson.

What is the quality you are most attracted to in art or design?

I love originality. There is so much repetitive crap out there. It’s amazing when you see something really unique that inspires new thoughts. That is so exciting when it happens! It’s really rare. Fortunately, living in a city like New Orleans I am constantly inspired by music, art, food, creative people. It’s an amazing place to live. As I mentioned I like things that inspire conversation.

What is your most prized possession?

Hmmmmm. I really try not to let “stuff” define me. Its really hard living in America to do that. Now that my career is really taking off, it is VERY clear what is most important. It ain’t cars, jewelry and fancy hotel suites.  The most important thing  that I have is the love of my life, Michael Smith. He makes every day wonderful.

But I also have a massive problem with buying HUGE cocktail rings! I am obsessed with my favorite ring designer PITANGO! He is in Soho. I am weak every time I get around his pieces. I could go broke buying them.

And finally, a picture of where Ashley feels most in her element.

I feel most in my element in my studio painting and meeting clients. This is a picture of me and Blake Lively. She is a big collector of my work. When she was filming in New Orleans she stopped by my studio regularly. She is quite the art collector. I love that I can meet the people that love my work! Clients come in and hang out with me. We have a glass of wine and listen to music while I am at the easel. I have a hard time getting away from that.

Thank you Ashley for a great interview!

Until next time,

Aurora

Posing “The Questions” to Timothy Cavnar

We have just been installing a new exhibition of paintings in the New Orleans space that we are so very excited about. They are by Timothy Cavnar, a new to New Orleans artist. Anthony and I went for a studio visit a few months ago and were instantly blown away by the beauty of these works. Mostly they are large canvases, beautiful florals cascading across them in large sweeping swaths, yet somehow the hand is so delicate they nearly straddle the line between fine art and poetry. It is not only the floral color palette that makes them so appealing, but the incredible use of the white space of the canvas, the sense of gravity (or sometimes the staunch rejection of gravity) in each piece, and moreover, the gravity of the subject matter. With the cycle of life an inevitability, each piece seems a tribute to a winged or hoofed life gone, a portrait of a being going into a new state, and an acknowledgement that time goes on, all in one. Suffice to say I would love to have either one of Tim’s smaller watercolors or large canvases in my own home (perhaps one day!), but until then, I’m going to count myself lucky to work among them while they’re hanging in our space.

Of course, being such a fan, I’d ask Tim the series of questions we’ve been featuring. A chance to get a look at the thought and process behind much-loved work is always a treat:

What’s inspiring your work these days?

Right now I’m about to start a new series of work which is inspired by the city of New Orleans. I’ve lived in a lot of cities, but find this one visually and conceptually exciting in a way I haven’t experienced before. There are so many strange landscapes here, from overgrown lots next to candy colored houses to highway overpasses twisting through the city and skimming over swamps. An epic battle against nature is on display everywhere, and in many places here nature is clearly winning. It’s those forgotten scenes we see everyday that I’m interested in exploring.

Have you seen your work in new contexts, used or seen in ways you hadn’t imagined for it?

Since this work is so simple and straight forward, taking it out of context is difficult. In retrospect though, I should have anticipated all the Bambi jokes. I had never even considered that issue when I started painting dead deer.



Does your material usually come before form or form before material? How about function before form or form before function?

Form is certainly the biggest concern in these pieces. They are all attempts at creating a singular image that can be viewed independent of its process. While materials and function all relate to creating a piece, its final appearance is always my foremost concern.

What is your greatest challenge as an artist? Most joyful challenge?

Though making work is stressful, it’s by far the most enjoyable part of being an artist. For me the greatest challenge is all the things an artist has to do outside of creating art. Galleries, buyers, marketing, grants and applications, the actual work of having a career, those are the things that keep me up at night.

If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

Marina Abramovic

What is the quality you are most attracted to in art or design?

I’m a sucker for beauty in art. It’s not necessarily always my favorite quality, but it’s certainly one I consistently find appealing.

What is your most prized possession?

Tough question. I’ve moved around a lot, so at some point almost every object that had any value (sentimental or financial) was either put on the curb or stored in someone’s basement and forgotten. The one item I value most is probably my computer, not so much the physical machine, but the data that’s stored on it. The record of everything I’ve done is probably more important that anything I own.

To wrap this up, want to wax poetic for a bit about whatever strikes you? I know you’re working on a pretty cool project right now…

Yes, the most exciting thing that’s happening right now is creating my studio space. I was lucky enough to fall in with two other guys who are building out a large warehouse in New Orleans. When we first took over the space it was completely bare, but things are slowly starting to take shape. I’m certainly not in charge of the operation, but in the end we’ll have a multi-purpose shop offering everything from custom furniture to design services to band recording. My studio is already housed inside the shop.

The whole plan is the kind of large scale project that everyone I’ve known has always wanted to be involved in, but never had the time or money. New Orleans really makes it possible by being far more affordable than larger cities like New York or San Francisco. The hustle just to afford the cost of living isn’t as much of a concern here, allowing resources to be allocated in far better ways. Though the scene is certainly smaller here, it’s also more accessible and fun than anywhere else.

Thanks to Tim for this peek at his creative process. His studio space really is the stuff that people dream of – so much space and potential for new things to develop.

Please join us for Timothy’s opening reception of his solo show “Permanence” on Friday from 7-10. If you can’t make it, visit any time during our open hours, or come to one of our other events.

Until next time,

Aurora

Alexandra Grecco, and The Questions

I was talking about inspiration last week when I said adieu for the weekend. A simple little gathering of images, filled with colors you love or a slew of textures that gets your mind racing with ideas is all well and good. But to really take inspiration from images-on-which-to-riff, to the sort of thing that inspires action, that requires action… for me it takes the example of a person and their story.

Todays story comes to you from Alexandra Grecco, the eponymous founder and designer behind her clothing line. We’ve just started carrying her beautiful assortment in our New Orleans location, and it is just what I want to be wearing right now. Romantic, luxurious stuff, with a definite point of view but not over wrought with frivolous details, so you can make it your own through styling.

I first fell in love with Alexandra’s work after seeing her website, with photography that is just to die for. What a mood it captures! Talk about styling – it’s spot on here. Behold, some images of her upcoming Spring ’11 collection, which we don’t yet have in stock, but which have me pining for warmer days.

 

Alexandra Grecco Spring 11 1

 

 

 

 

 

She is actually based in New York, and I have my fingers crossed that we can do something with her in our New York location as well. If you’re interested in seeing what we’re carrying specifically or making a purchase, shoot us an email at thegoat [at] fairfolksandagoat [dot] com. Everything that we carry currently is from her Fall/Winter collection which can be seen on this completely adorable film short that you reallllllly should watch, even if just to perk up your day and not drool over the clothing. (Why can’t I embed it here, Vimeo? Why?)

 

Alexandra was kind enough to share some words with us, in the form of our much loved questions:

 

1. What’s inspiring your work these days?

I went to Mexico a few months ago and visited Frida Kahlo’s house, also known as La Casa Azul, and I was so inspired by her personal collection of photographs on display there and some of the rich colors of the flowers she wore in her hair. That visit really helped shape my upcoming Fall2011 collection!

2. Have you seen your work in new contexts, used in ways you hadn’t imagined for it?

Nothing out of the ordinary (that I know of!), but I’ve been doing some custom wedding gowns which I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to get involved with so soon, so it’s been exciting to meet with brides and get a sense of who they are and then see the gown I designed for them in such a festive and personal setting.

3. Does your material usually come before form or form before material? How about function before form or form before function?

It’s a little of both!  I usually find some great fabrics but then design a dress that I think will work better in another fabric so then I have to hunt for that said fabric.  It can get a little complicated.  And usually form before function and then I find a way to make that form functional!

4. What is your greatest challenge as a designer?

I would have to say being a good business woman has been the biggest challenge thus far; I know it’s going to be an endless learning experience! The most fun challenge, however, would be coming up with a color pallet for a collection.

5. If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

The sisters of Rodarte? I’m sure everyone says that! I feel like they must dance around in a forest and braid together fabrics all day while sprinkling their gowns with fairy dust. I’d like to partake in a little of that.

6. What is your most prized possession?

Oh my, this is a tough one, maybe my Polaroids and some old photo albums that I no longer have negatives of. I also have a really amazing beaded flapper dress in my closet that I’m afraid to remove from it’s box in fear that it’s weight might tear it in half! It’s really amazing. My grandmother bought it for me.And to cap it off, a photo:


“This photo is from a beach in Oaxaca. I wish I could set up a small studio there because it’s certainly one of the most inspiring places I’ve been. I daydream about it a lot.”

 

Thank you to Alexandra for sharing! I love that she added her most fun challenge in there, in addition to the biggest challenge. Right on, with the positive thinking. I may add that to our roster of questions permanently. If you all think of things you want to hear from some of the creative minds we work with, please let us know here! The Questions are never set in stone.

 

Until next time,
Aurora

Digital Park Benches from Which to Watch the World

Just a quickie, because I think it’s worth watching. This video has seen some action lately, and for good reason: it’s The Sartorialist, and it’s Intel. Whether you’ve seen it already or not, I love seeing Scott look for that perfect shot as he makes his way around New York. It’s always interesting to get a glimpse of someone’s process, as evidenced by our artist and designer interview series. Not only that, but it’s interesting to hear him speak about the internet and more particularly blogs and the snapshot of life they provide, the documentation, the people watching. A few minutes on the web could take you around the world in a click-click-click. That’s pretty basic stuff, but it’s laid out here quite nicely. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Aurora

Artist Interview: Michael Robinson Cohen

Michael Cohen lives in the Bywater about a ten or fifteen minute walk from Fair Folks New Orleans.  He- a recent not so long ago, not so far away resident of Brooklyn- is part of a growing class of young people descending upon New Orleans hungry to work, to create and to do good. He received a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts to pursue community development and design activism projects in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans. The current project he is working on is called the Greenline and you can read more about it here.

He also happens to be a very very talented sculptor and carpenter, and was selected as a featured artist in the upcoming architecture and design event here put on by the AIA New Orleans called DesCours– where exciting and intriguing installations take place in settings around town more often abandoned or under-appreciated. The event kick off is this weekend,  and Michael will be presenting his work on the 12th in the Iberville Storefronts, at 1031 Iberville.

Here are two pieces he recently built for the Art is Life Foundation, one on their farm in Sonoma, California.

Ex Deo Libertas

Looks pretty heavenly, huh? And here is another he built for the Eiffel Society on St. Charles here in New Orleans.

Eiffel Society

Michael was kind enough to answer some of our questions for all of our readers to read.

1. What is inspiring your work these days?

Recently, I have been experimenting with new types of material production techniques. I am fascinated by the way in which the building process can dictate an objects formal and material quality.

2.  Does your material usually come before form or form before material?

Lately materiality has been the primary entity driving my work. I’m interested in the way that natural patterns can be manipulated through the act of joining. When two pieces of wood are connected there exists a tension between the original grain and the compound pattern created by the jointed formal relationship. In several recent works I strive to use a singular joining typology to achieve a dynamic form and patterning.

b. How about function before form or form before function?

The Miesian mantra of “form follows function” is often fetishized as ethically superior approach to design. The notion that an individual, whether an architect or designer, is capable of having the foresight to prescribe a function for a space or object is implausible and authoritarian. Rather than establishing a rigid form or function on an object, I aim to achieve a high degree of flexibility and adjustability in my work. Design mutability enables the end user to apply their own use and composition.

3. What is your greatest challenge as a designer?

As a designer I believe that every formal move hast to have a rational justification. I constantly struggle with my desire to achieve rational purity.

4. If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

It would be a dream to collaborate with the late Gordon Matta-Clark. I’m compelled by his ability to employ one simple formal move to completely recreate the meaning of a landscape, building or object. I also can’t even begin to fathom what he would create with the city of New Orleans as his canvass.

5. What is the quality you are most attracted to in art or design?

I like the challenge of establishing a set of design constraints and rigorously committing to them during the production process.

6. What is your most prized possession?

I recently visited my Grandfathers furniture factory in Highpoint North Carolina and I found several hand drawings he did of desks and cabinets.

When asked to provide a picture “in his element” Michael sent this. It is pretty self explanatory.

A big thank you to Michael, and again, make sure to check out the DesCours events around town- along with his “Microbial Palette 1” there are a number of compelling spaces and installations to see if you are so lucky to be in New Orleans this time of year. Read more about them here.

See you there,

Anthony

 



Nora Rabins; I’m Feeling Sentimental

I’ve been wanting to share another peek into the mind of an artist, the driving force, and I have one today that is especially exciting for me. Nora Rabins brought her furniture to our New York space back in February, and it has all received such great reactions ever since.

Her School Desk Chairs turn the traditional learning environment, where students line up in rows, each unto their own, on its head. Now, it’s a piece in which to have a deep conversation, in which to interact.

Rabins’ Wing Chair is certainly a show stopper, calling out for a loft or a ballroom much like ours to be its forever home. With wings she made by hand, and attached to a found theater chair, it invites pretty much everyone who sees it to take a seat. The wings can fold up around you, cocooning the seated. It’s the kind of piece that makes a photo-op.

I’ve always loved the way Nora’s work is interactive. It really goes beyond being interactive – it begs people to play, to talk about it together, to talk while using it, together. That sense of togetherness is something I see in her current work, the work we carry, and, too, the work she used to make in college.

Because, beyond being an artist whose designs we’re proud to carry, Nora is a dear old friend of mine. We went to college together, at Smith College, an upstanding all women’s institution. We were both art majors, and tiptoed around each other through our first years thinking the other was too cool for us. When we realized that we’re both equally nerdy, silly, warm (and indecisive!) while on an internship in Washington, DC, we became fast friends and bonded over home-made nachos and Strangers With Candy episodes. Nora does a formidable impression of Gerri Blank.

I can’t say enough good things about Nora as a person, so I will stop trying.  And leave you all with a few words of her own.

Q: What’s inspiring your work these days?

A: These days I am looking forward to creating a new body of work inspired by isomporphic patterns; expressions of the same information encoded into different formats.  There is an underlying logic to the physical world whose beauty can approach expression of something less tangible.

Q: What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

A: My greatest challenge is that of not listening to my own negative evaluation.  The fear of failure can really put a damper on motivation…but if I can be my own worst enemy, maybe I can be my own hero, too.

Q: If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

A: If I could collaborate with any artist, it would be my grandfather, whom I never met.  His name was Dick Briefer, and along with brilliantly creating the Frankenstein comic books, he was a painter and graphic artist.  In my mind, he represents the autonomous producers of the material culture with which we identify.

Q: What is the quality you are most attracted to in art?

A: I am most attracted to those qualities in art that I am in life, so I would have to say that the quality of art in which I am most interested is that of capturing life.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

A: My most prized possession:  My baby blanket.

And the place where Nora feels most in her element:

Until next time!

Aurora

Six Questions for Crystal

We’ve made a habit of asking some of our artists and designers to answer a set of questions for us. I’m always excited to get the answers in my inbox to share, because it provides this awesome little peak into the mind of someone creative and inspiring. It’s also a reminder that all of this beautiful work, that can sometimes seem just out of reach, is made by a human with references and obsessions that might not be too different from your own. This may look more like a five question survey than six, but we here at Fair Folks like to consider the request for a photo, a sixth question.

You heard a bit about Crystal Gregory when Amy wrote about her after she did the first in our series of artist talks last month. Crystal’s work continues to hang on the walls of Fair Folks New York. Make an appointment to come check it out if you are so inclined. I’m head over heels for her drywall panels, which start at $200.

I’m loving how involved in the material she chooses for each project she is. Makes the tactile nature of her work that much more apparent.

Behold.

1. What’s inspiring your work these days?

My inspiration right now is growing from the ideas of home, pattern, and building materials

2. What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

There are so many challenges, but my greatest struggles right now happen almost every project, when the piece grows and develops into something I didn’t expect. I am learning to not be scared of that growth because it is important but to let it be a natural development.

3. If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?

I love the work of Swoon and Kiki Smith, but I think Gordon Matta-Clark would make a great collaboration with the work I am making right now.

4. What is the quality you are most attracted to in art?
The making process, I love being in the motion of creator, I physically and literally get to make my dreams reality.
5. What is your most prized possession?
I have a small but precious collection of old lace that I love.
Creating For Jane in Vermont feb 2010
Creating For Jane in Vermont –  Feb 2010
~Aurora