THE SPACE FOR MID-CAREER ARTISTS: INTERVIEW WITH LEAH OATES, STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS

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Image : Kari Soinio, Still a Hero, 2016 @ Station Independent Projects​

1. What circumstances lead to the founding of Station Independent Projects ?

I've been curating and organizing shows independently for approximately fifteen years with non-profits, museums, galleries and fairs prior to opening Station Independent Projects and had been dreaming of opening my own space for years. When I was finally ready I found a storefront and began the gallery. It's been a thrilling and exciting experience from the beginning up to now and I love it!

Prior to opening the gallery, I had been following a specific group of artists for between five and twenty years and this is how I selected the gallery roster. I was a big fan of each of my artist’s work and I knew they had a good track record as artists. I'd worked with many of my artists previously so I knew in advance they where professional.

My artists are talented and accomplished but many had not had a solo show in NYC which astonished me and I wanted to offer this opportunity to them, fully funded, and with the true support from a gallery. I also wanted to offer the space to independent curators with full support.

 

" I also looked for a pretty equal balance between female and male artists as there is still a “glass ceiling” in many professions and the art world is no different. "

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Image from left to right: Leah Oates,Founder and Gallery Director. Shane Harrington,Assistant Gallery Director. Klay-James Enos, Gallery Assistant

2. How does Station Independent Projects enrich the local New York art scene and community ?

The aim for the gallery in terms of a dialogue within the NYC art scene is to highlight the talent of local mid-career artists, as there is mainly a focus here on younger and famous artists. There are many artists in NYC of all ages making excellent work who do not have gallery representation and one of the aims of the gallery is to work with a group of artists who are between 35 and 80 years of age and produce excellent work.

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Image : WE:AMEricans @ Station Independent Projects, 2016 with work AMEricano ( selfie ) 2013 Rockaways, Queens, NYC  by 
Ruben Natal- San Miguel

" The aim for the gallery in terms of a dialogue within the NYC art scene is to highlight the talent of local mid-career artists, as there is mainly a focus here on younger and famous artists."

 

3. Where and how do you find your artists ?

The artist I work with I found via seeing their work in shows, fairs or online at artists archives like Irving Sandler at Artist Space or on the White Columns artists archive. If I like the work, I’ll set up a meeting at the gallery to see the work in person, talk with the artist about their process and themes and go from there.

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Image : Matthew Oates, Chum, 2015 @ Station Independent Projects

4. What do the artists tend to have in common or how are they connected ? 

My roster of artist is interested in the perception of the body, the landscape and there is often a political and social slant to the work shown at Station Independent Projects.

The work the gallery shows is not merely pretty but has some complexity and themes to contemplate.

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Image : Photo Finish Opening, 2016, Curated by David Gibson with artists Kristin Anderson, Christine Callahan, Bill Durgin, Holly Lynton

5. How would you describe the program of your gallery ?

Station Independent Project is a welcoming place that features shows that range from socially engaged to unusual to materially based.

Station Independent Projects organizes exhibitions and events (poetry, performances, screenings, talks etc.) with a focus on artist promotion.

Station Independent Projects is working with and discovering mid-career artists and is connecting these artists to larger audiences.

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Image : Future Queer Perfect, Curated by Olga Kopenkina and Yevgeniy Fiks, 2015 with artists Cary Cronenwett, Yevgeniy Fiks, School of Theory and Activism, Bishkek (STAB) @ Station Independent Projects

6. Leah, who has influenced you as a gallerist ? 

Many galleries and art spaces here in NYC are an inspiration and I’m a big fan of Pierogi, Momenta, Nurture Art, LMAK Projects, Aperture, Printed Matter, Artists Space, Whitebox, Pen and Brush, White Columns, Susan Eley Fine Art and Asya Geisberg Gallery.

There are so many amazing galleries, curators, collectors, critics and arts administrators in NYC who work industriously to support and promote the work of the artists that they believe in and feel passionate about.

 

" Running a gallery takes dedication, time, revenue, organization and a knack for networking. I have the highest regard for galleries on a whole other level after running my space.  It’s an incredible level of support that galleries offer artists if they do it well."

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Image : An opening night @ Station Independent Projects​

7. How does digitalization affect your work as a gallerists ? 

I sell work from the gallery and from fairs for now and the gallery is a traditional and intimate gallery model.

Online sales are getting better and better so it is a possibility that the gallery will go online at some point to sell work. There are some great sites to do so like 1st Dibs and Artsy.

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Image : Kari Soinio, Still a Hero, 2016 @ Station Independent Projects

8. How is your current WE:AMEricans show going? What was the show about and what was the general reaction from visitors ? 

WE:AMEricans opened last night with one of our biggest turn outs ever despite a heat wave and rain. People loved it and where moved by the work in WE:AMEricans. Sales are happening and there is a bunch of press and listings before it opened so it’s off to a great start. And I’m trilled with the overall theme and quality of the work in this show. Fortunate to work with curator and fellow juror Ruben Natal - San Miguel and with this incredible group of artists.

 

" WE:AMEricans explores who we truly are as Americans and will feature people and places from all walks of life from this great nation currently challenged by a climate of racism, anger, political tensions, the highest income and social inequality, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, police brutality and terrorism. "

 

WE:AMEricans shows how artists are examining and documenting the country and it's people at this time of dramatic transformation and upheaval.

 

STATION INDEPENDENT PROJECTS

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Image : Kenosis in the Supervoid,  Curated by Shane Harrington and Leah Oates, 2016, with Artists Michael Anderson, Brent Birnbaum, George Bolster, Arnaud Brihay, Klay-James Enos, Shane Harrington, Lee Ranaldo and Tim Maxwell.

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