Interview with Catharine Ahearn

July 22nd 2010

Interview with Catharine Ahearn

I was put in touch with Catharine Ahearn, by one of the artists I had interviewed who had been in a show at  ’The Charlie Horse Gallery’ and thought it might be a good space to exhibit the Art/Value/Currency collection.  Unfortunately the timing was off and ‘The Charlie Horse Gallery’ was already coming to the end of its run of exhibitions.

However we decided to meet up anyway…..

We sat in the grass covered gallery (remnants of a previous performance), looked through the Art/Value/Currency collection and talked about the joys and the perils of running a space, the treasures that get left behind after shows and how on earth you find time to make your own work around all of this.

IS: Can you tell me how ‘Charlie Horse Gallery’ came about? What did you set out to achieve with it?

CA: It was kind-of an accident. Originally the space was intended to be studios. Before I divided it up into separate spaces a friend suggested we put on a big summer show. So we threw together a drawing show with 70 artists and 130 works. The parameters were “light hearted or comical works on paper” which translated to huge range of submissions, from insanely funny David Shrigley inspired drawings to brightly colored Mike Kelly look-alikes.  The opening night of “A Dry Run” a ton of people showed up, artists and gallorists from all stages of their careers met and rubbed their dirty little elbows together. It seemed like something productive was happening, so I decided if it could pay for itself for the duration of a year I’d keep it open. And I did.

IS: Did your experience running the gallery live up to your expectations?

CA: Luckily I didn’t have many expectations. The more shows we had the better they got, that was all I could ask for.

IS: You mentioned your decision to close the gallery was partly due to logistics and partly to give yourself more time to concentrate on your own work.  Now that curating has become a large part of what you do, do you think it will be difficult to turn away from that and shift the focus back onto your practice?

CA: Yes, but whenever I take a break from studio life to reenter the world and in this case the art world, the work ultimately improves and gains perspective. Honestly though, it sucks. One part of my brain is able to curate shows and find challenging combinations of works, and the other is able to make stuff. The two parts, they don’t play well together. But I’m working on it.

IS: Your work uses a lot of collected images, have you ever consciously linked this to your eye as a curator coming through in your own work?

CA: My taste has really broadened from working at the gallery. At the beginning I curated with a heavy hand, falling back on my personal taste. Collecting images was good practice for curation, but putting on two shows a month forced me to move outside of my normal instincts and try something new/strange/not boring. And now as Keith Mayerson would say I can fit more in my “Art Box.” Wow that sounds kinda gross.

IS: Your work includes a lot of humor.  I always think it is important for artists to be serious about what they do but not take themselves to seriously.  Would you agree with this?

CA: For sure. I try to make it funny. Sometimes other people think its funny too.

IS: Now that you will have more time to focus on your work, do you have any specific plans with it? What will you be working on next?

CA: In August I’m leaving for a residency in Johannesburg. I’m going to shoot some video with a friend while I’m there. That’s the plan.

IS: Which artists and spaces in New York would you recommend checking out?

CA: That’s a hard one… I’m gonna say stay home or go to the met.