99 episodes

A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

The Conversation Art Podcast Michael Shaw

    • Arts
    • 4.5 • 247 Ratings

A podcast featuring both one-on-one and three-way roundtable conversations with contemporary artists, dealers, curators, and collectors--based in Los Angeles, but reaching nationally and internationally.

    Adam Henry on what makes a successful show, and navigating the fluctuations of the art market

    Adam Henry on what makes a successful show, and navigating the fluctuations of the art market

    To listen to the complete episode with Adam Henry as well as all past Bonus episodes, please become a Patreon supporter of the podcast here: https://www.patreon.com/theconversationpod
    New York-based artist Adam Henry talks about:
    His recently ended show at Candice Madey gallery, and how he defines a ‘successful show’ (a mix of sales, critical dialogue generated, and future opportunities); the advantages of having a fellow artist as a partner, but how it’s also necessary to get alone time when you need it, including time for processing after you’ve had a show, which has included the fact that this is the first time he’s shown work whose meaning he doesn’t fully understand, and the first time he’s comfortable saying that; how one of the most powerful experiences you can have with art, is to have your mind changed; how important the process of perception is to him and his work, and how his journey through perception started with color theory and Josef Albers and wound up with Wittgenstein, and eventually he wound up in psychedelics; how his making abstract work during the rise of process-based abstraction (aka zombie formalism) was challenging in that he had far fewer opportunities because of the market shift; how important it is to put the emphasis on the intention of the artwork when viewing work, as opposed to the person who made it or the value; how his partner, who is also a painter – a figurative painter, in fact – has at times been the breadwinner of the two, and vice versa, which has served them both well; the great exchanges he and his wife have about the exhibitions they view together.

    • 47 min
    How to Navigate Downward Mobility as an Art Worker- Valerie Werder, Part 2

    How to Navigate Downward Mobility as an Art Worker- Valerie Werder, Part 2

    In the 2nd conversation with author, recovering art worker and academic Valerie Werder, she talks about: the travails of clothes shopping for her job in the blue-chip gallery, not only how fraught it was but how much it brought up class issues as she moved through the sartorial gauntlet, where her appearance as a frosty, inaccessible object was part of her role; the complicated variations of class when it comes to precarity and poverty, including a culture where those who are cultivating an aesthetic of bohemianism or even poverty are existing alongside those who are actually financially poor, the latter of whom sometimes don’t even have culture on their radar; her fictional and, perhaps, real relationship with the enigmatic character ‘Ted’ from her book Thieves, which is complex in its values, dependency, and deceptions, and which coincided with her own attraction to anarchism and anti-capitalism, and how ‘Ted’ in some ways embodied these tendencies; the complex social roles and hierarchies that Valerie is living within, and the experience of downward mobility while simultaneously being connected with an upper echelon of culture; how transitioning to the hierarchies and bureaucracies of Harvard was fairly smooth and easy after being in the blue-chip NY gallery world; and how while she still sporadically writes about art, she’s for all intents and purposes stepped out of the art world proper. NOTE: in the Bonus episode w/Valerie, she talks all about the very real shoplifting she participated in and is a main feature in Thieves.

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Journalist Bianca Bosker: a ‘normie Philistine’ dives into the art world working for artists, dealers and as a museum security guard in attempt to unravel its mysteries

    Journalist Bianca Bosker: a ‘normie Philistine’ dives into the art world working for artists, dealers and as a museum security guard in attempt to unravel its mysteries

    Bianca Bosker, journalist and author of Get the Picture, talks about:
    The genesis of her deep dive into the art world - working with gallerists and artists, doing art fairs and galleries with collectors, and doing a stint as a security guard at the Guggenheim Museum – which largely came out of her need to learn whether she could learn to ‘see’ like an artist, as opposed to a ‘normie Philistine,’ as she was called by many (she was also, as a journalist, called “the enemy”); the elitism, opacity and various exclusionary art world rules she discovered from dealers and artists she encountered through her immersion process, and how “dishearteningly little” artists themselves often knew about how the art world works; how parts of the art world use secrecy as part of their survival, to build mystique, among other reasons; how she worked for five different artists in the course of researching the book, but ultimately only wrote explicitly about two – Julie Curtiss and Amana Alfieri – in the book; how Context – everything about the artist (social cache, etc.) EXCEPT the art itself is often overly valued, and something she pushed back against; how she was drawn to working with emerging artists, and wound up working with the painter Julie Curtiss at a turning point moment in her career, in which she was both starting to make a living from her work but also getting bullied on social media for her work’s huge price escalation on the secondary market; how brave it was for Julie to let Bianca so thoroughly into her studio and make herself so vulnerable; and why she got so pumped after making sales while on the floor of the Untitled Art Fair with Denny Dimin gallery, without actually getting any payment for those sales (due to journalistic integrity).

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Valerie Werder turns her intense years working for a blue-chip gallery into an inspired novel, Thieves

    Valerie Werder turns her intense years working for a blue-chip gallery into an inspired novel, Thieves

    This episode features the 1st half of the full episode. To get the full version, please visit: Patreon.com/theconversationpod    The Conversation Art Podcast | creating a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the art worlds | Patreon

    Recovering art worker and author of the novel Thieves, Valerie Werder talks about:

    Her entrance into the art world via her demanding position at a fancy gallery in her attempt, as a newbie, to get access and proximity to the art world;  her ability to conform and comply under pressure (in the gallery environment), and the what the flip side of that looks like; what the coercion, that came thru various forms of care and the engendering of a ‘family’ dynamic at the gallery, looked like and how it played out, including through fancy paid meals and credit for fancy clothes so she could look and act the part; how working at a gallery gave her a completely different relationship to language, including the quick turnaround she had to produce, becoming a ‘language producing machine’ in the process; the craft of writing a gallery press release, and how she ultimately became, upon writing her novel, the ‘commodity’ herself that she in turn needed to sell.
    In the 2nd half of the episode, Valerie talks about: her creative workarounds to promote her book, including using two very different kinds of publicists, and how throughout her professional career she’s been aware of and pushed against the given economic constraints, and how she believes it’s important to be explicit and unashamed about everything from her day jobs to the creation of her (writing) brand; the difference between the mythologizing/branding of artists back in the days of a much smaller (yet cut-throat) New York art world (of Donald Judd, Robert Smithson and Walter De Maria et al.) and the more diffuse, digital world of today, and how in her book she wanted to explore the legacy and imprint of the peripheral art world figure ‘Valerie’ the character who herself was invisible but whose writing, through catalogues and press releases, was/is all over the art world, and in the process the real Valerie the writer becomes a visible figure, a brand herself; the strange relationship she had with her former gallerist boss, whom she became the voice for in press releases and personal emails and even interviews, and how she studied her and had the writings of her voice vetted by the gallerist herself, for which she was valued highly for absolutely being ‘her voice;’ how she wrote her book on an ‘unpaid sabbatical’ from her job at the gallery, in a friend’s cabin in Tennessee, and the complicated circumstances in which she quick her job upon returning from that ‘sabbatical,’ which she told the gallery was an artist residency; her doubts about whether her gallerist employer read her book (Thieves); the actual front desk worker (aka gallerina) protocol employed at the gallery where she worked, as far as how to treat different people who came into the gallery, whether they were VIPs who should be greeted by name (through the gallerina memorizing the faces of those collectors) or lowly artists/nobodies who could be ignored; her experience getting a once-over from a wealthy collector at the gallery, and giving that once-over right back to him; Frank Stella and his provocative artwork titling, and how it somehow wasn’t Valerie’s job to really do research about his work, despite the gallery selling it.

    • 56 min
    Seattle artist Debra Broz on her studio routines, love of work as well as successfully navigating "the feel bad machine" that is Instagram

    Seattle artist Debra Broz on her studio routines, love of work as well as successfully navigating "the feel bad machine" that is Instagram

     Seattle-based artist and restorer Debra Broz talks about:
    Living in Seattle, where she moved to from Los Angeles a year and a half prior to our call; how Seattle is full of rule-followers who are also anarchists/anti-capitalists; how she found her Seattle studio, where it was important to have decent heat, especially for her sculptures; her reasons for leaving L.A. for Seattle, and some of the lifestyle differences between the two cities, and how welcoming Seattle has been to her as a new artist; how various sites, specifically Colossal and the Jealous Curator, have been huge in growing her art & design-focused Instagram followers; her pacing and general approach towards her IG feed, where she’s made peace with the fact that she can only go as fast as she can go, nor does she want to try and gamify the system, and how, ultimately, IG is a “feel bad machine;” how Instagram has been punishing people who use it to have sales; the “enshitification” of apps (including IG and Tik Tok) and how it’s made our experiences on them so much worse; her sculptures, made from ceramic figurines, which were originally made for American middle-class homes; how the best places to find her sculptural elements are “out in the wild,” i.e. thrift stores, as well as friends giving her objects, which is her favorite way to acquire her materials; the “if we look for what we need, we’ll find it” serendipity that’s a driving force in Debra’s making process; and how the meme, “I didn’t realize being an artist was making the same thing 1000 times until you die,” is a sentiment very familiar to most artists.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Zombie Formalism, Debt aesthetics, and AI & Art: New Yorker writer/critic Chris Wiley

    Zombie Formalism, Debt aesthetics, and AI & Art: New Yorker writer/critic Chris Wiley

    Chris Wiley- Artist, New Yorker photography critic, and contributing editor at Frieze - talks about:
    His fleeing upstate to the Catskills during the pandemic, and what his relative disconnect from the art world and the city has been like since the move (though he still keeps a small apt. in the city); the differences between English and American artists in terms of academia vs. the market; his epic two-part articles on Zombie Formalism, which covered not just the movement as a market phenomenon but also what it’s led to, including economic precarity and eventually what Wiley has dubbed ‘debt aesthetics;’ the term from the Crypto phenomenon that Wiley applies to many artists of Zombie Formalism, ‘Walk Away Like a Boss,’ to describe those who were able to earn a very solid chunk of money over their brief careers, often parking it in real estate for long-term security; how Zombie Formalist paintings were, as he put it, “’fast, fungible and friendly,’ just like what currency is;” artists who have the ‘it’ factor, an authenticity demonstrating they would be making their art no matter what; the great promise of a Universal Basic Income for artists, particularly in the context of a debt aesthetics that virtually forces artists to compromise their visions instead of getting to be weirdos; his current thoughts on the implications of AI, which he’s been interested in for a long time, having a father who was interested in computers and science fiction when he was growing up; how and whether artists will be safe in terms of jobs and sustainability in an A.I.-dominant landscape, and how the art world isn’t ready for the kind of speed with which A.I. advances will affect art; the AI-generated photography of Charlie Engman, who has been making a bizarre and prolific body of work using the platform Midjourney, despite being a ‘technophobe,’ in his own words; the challenged viability of a career as an editorial photographer with the rise of A.I.; and how his article on A.I. and Charlie’s work, in The New Yorker, pissed a LOT of people off, and why.

    • 1 hr 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
247 Ratings

247 Ratings

mobylino ,

Another great conversation

A wonderful conversation with author of the book “ The Death of the Artist”; I only wish it had been longer! So much food for thought. Michael hits on many topics that are important to artists trying to navigate the ever-changing art world. I will definitely read this book.

Deexz ,

Beware of “Practice” Bleeps

The censoring of the word “practice” is done so loudly that I literally almost lost control of my car when changing lanes one time. I have stopped listening to the podcast because it became unsafe while driving. The guests are great, but seriously, this is about art, you don’t need to censor a word you don’t like. Let people express themselves and use the words they want and let us be the judge as to whether it was “academic” or not. So dumb.

Jibbliediggs ,

Great art podcast

I am not an artist, I just enjoy art. Michael brings on a variety of thoughtful guests who have some fascinating insights into the art world. I look forward to hearing more! For those starting out, the Hannah Wohl episodes are incredible!

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