Art Insider May 26: Artists band together to fight anti-Asian discrimination

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Stop DiscriminAsian logo by Common Space Studio, New York.

Art workers are speaking out about anti-Asian racism and urging others to become allies. Some galleries are installing new exhibitions and taking visitors by appointment. A new report suggests that the art world could lose billions of dollars.

Artists fight anti-Asian discrimination

Art workers launched a new group called Stop DiscriminAsian (SDA)  to speak out about racism, xenophobia, and violence against the Asian diasporic community, which have been heightened during this pandemic. 

You can add your name to a list of allies on their website. Prominent members of the art world have joined, such as Anne Ellegood, director at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA); Christine Y. Kim, curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and Jeff Poe and Tim Blum of Blum & Poe Gallery.

The website also tracks racist incidents via an open-source spreadsheet started by artist Kenneth Tam called “WE ARE NOT COVID.” 

Tam began the spreadsheet on March 23, and the shocking accounts reported within the document spurred SDA to mobilize and unite with the nonprofit GYOPO, a group that was founded in 2017 by Los Angeles-based Korean-Americans in the arts.

Scrolling through the list, personal stories feel both shocking and unsurprising, given the anti-Asian rhetoric that the president espouses. There are endless accounts of people being refused rides by Uber drivers, being gawked at in grocery stores, and incurring verbal harassment. Tam wrote that he “was asked to stop touching broccoli while grocery shopping by a nervous hypochondriac white lady.” 

The group worked with LACMA to host a panel on Zoom about anti-Asian racism (which included SNL’s Bowen Yang), and the group has more plans to mobilize the community. SDA told ArtNews, “As art workers, we realized that we could best impact our own professional community, and decided to dedicate our efforts towards that end.”

Galleries install new exhibits as LA slowly reopens


Jingze Du.
In Between. Installation view, Steve Turner, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner. 

Although many brick-and-mortar businesses have not received a clear go-ahead to reopen in Los Angeles, some galleries are opting to get back to business. They’ve installed new exhibitions and are allowing the public to view by appointment only. There will be no opening public receptions. 

Today, David Kordansky is opening a solo exhibition by the well-known sculptor Simone Leigh.

Lowell Ryan in West Adams recently opened a new exhibition by Tulsa-based artist Rachel Hayes. The exhibition consists of hanging quilted textiles. The gallery is run by a husband and wife team and has no additional staff, which helped with a safe reopening.  

Co-owner Virginia Martinsen explained to me over email, “Ultimately the architecture of our space, how we function as a small business, and the nature of Rachel Hayes’ work (that did not require a team of art handlers to install) has allowed us to move forward in this new direction, adapting to the present circumstances and continuing to support our artists during these difficult times.” 

Steve Turner in Hollywood opened three new solo shows last week, alongside an online group exhibition. Turner told me in an email that attendance (and sales) have been slowly trickling in, “We have welcomed mask-wearing visitors who made advance appointments. On the 16th, we welcomed three visitors: two artists and one collector. The collector bought a work and the artists expressed gratitude at being able to see works in person.”

Simone Leigh at David Kordansky is on view May 26 – July 11
Rachel Hayes at Lowell Ryan is on view May 16 – June 27
Jingze Du, Kiyoshi Kaneshiro, and Siro Cugusi at Steve Turner are on view May 16 – June 13

New report predicts the art world could lose billions of dollars during pandemic


Khvay Samnang, LIVE performing at Frieze London 2019.
Frieze Art Fair 2019, London, UK. Photo by Linda Nylind.

A new report titledIn It for the Long Haulestimates that art organizations will lose $6.8 billion due to the pandemic. This figure is based on 35,000 arts organizations in the United States with an operating budget of at least $50,000. 

This estimate covers March 2020 to February 2021. The report predicts arts organizations reopening in October 2020. 

The report was put out by Southern Methodist University (SMU) DataArts, and co-authored by Zannie Girard Voss (SMU DataArts director) and Jill Robinson (CEO of The Results Group for the Arts [TRG Arts]). 

Girard Voss and Robison told ArtNews, “We wanted to do two things with this report: Use data to create a clear-eyed view of potential financial outcomes, while also outline steps that could inspire positive action for recovery and inspire thinking about transformation.” 

The report urges organizations to “be clear about the service they provide to communities and ensure that their posture, via messaging and action, reinforces their service.” It also discourages organizations from asking for financial support from their community, and instead consider adapting to the community’s needs. 

Easy at-home craft: Draw on hot rocks with crayons


Create a masterpiece with rocks and crayons. Photo: Lindsay Preston Zappas.

This week’s craft involves minimal supplies for a really fun result. Drawing with crayons on hot rocks allows the wax to melt over the rock’s surface and blend with other colors in unexpected ways. Let your rock fully cool to see the final effect of the waxy painting you’ve created. 

Supplies: 

  • Crayons
  • Smooth, clean rocks of any size
  • Cardboard 
  • Oven mitts

Instructions:

  • Heat your oven to 200 degrees, and heat rocks for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know the rocks are hot enough when the crayon wax melts on contact, and the colors bleed into each other.
  • Wearing oven mitts, remove the rock and set on cardboard or heat-proof surface.
  • Draw on the hot rocks with crayons. Be careful not to touch the hot rocks. Mix different colors as they ooze into each other. Tip: White is a great color to mix with any color to create swirling patterns.
  • Use your rock as a paperweight, a good luck charm, or a decorative sculpture.