LES mainstays Con Artist Collective celebrated the independence from their old space on Ludlow last month with a huge show at their spacious new digs at 329 Broome Street. The exhibition featured over 250 of their past and present members including illustrator Ian Bertram, whose work in the new comic Little Bird has been "flying" off the shelves, and downtown street artists Sara Erenthal, Wizard Skull and The Super Sucklord.
Past and present members of Con Artist Collective during the Grand Re-Opening at 329 Broome St, 7/4/19
The Collective, which provides work space for it's members in addition to a gallery that showcases their work, was launched in 2010 and has recently come under leadership of new owner Bradley Chetcuti who is an artist himself. Sold Magazine recently sat down with his studio manager Brandon Wisecarver and talked about the recent changes and about their next show 'Where We're From', which opens this Thursday, August 8th.
Nick McManus: How was the opening party on July 4th? Was it a genuine reunion of your past and present artists?
Brandon Wisecarver: It was amazing! We packed the house with roughly 500 people in attendance on the Fourth of July. I definitely felt it was a great representation of past and present artists with over 250 artists showing. I saw so many old friends and new friends that it really did feel like a homecoming.
Con Artist Collective's owner Brad Chetcuti with his GM Brandon Wisecarver (2nd and 1st right) alongside their artists
NM: Any highlights or special art that was in the exhibition?
BW: Of course the incredible oil paintings of Doc Hammer from the solo show "The Black Ones" we hosted last year, but it really is the diversity and range of work that stands out at all of our gallery showings.
NM: What's new about the space on 329 Broome? Will it offer more resources to the artist that work there?
BW: It's like night and day. I just put the finishing touches on a 16 foot long, 6 foot wide communal table in the studio and the gallery is probably 6 times the size giving us the opportunity to go bigger as well as include more members in every future show.
Con Artist members (from left) Irv Ortega, Brandon Wisecarver, and Sharon Volpe with their works
NM: Can you describe the new leadership of Con Artist? Any new owners or partners with a vision for the collective?
BW: The new CEO/Owner Bradley Chetcuti is doing an incredible job of raising Con Artist Collective up. His vision is laser-focused on helping artists in their professional development and making the membership at Con Artist a must for every artist who wants to take on the Big Apple.
NM: We heard rumors of a coffee shop opening in the front of your space, is this true?
BW: Let's just say it's...percolating.
Con Artist members (from left) Jenae Schwartz, SUCKLORD and Amanda 'Miishab' Hurn with their works
NM: Where is Con Artist's place in the NYC art world today and where it be the future?
BW: I'm very hopeful for the future of Con Artist in our new space. We will be celebrating a decade of open doors and challenging norms in April of 2020. I think we'll see our artist-run model continue to grow in relevance as the traditional art world continues to morph in response to technology essentially making our worlds smaller and more interconnected than ever.
NM: Can you describe Con Artist's relationship with the downtown scene? Any relationships with street/graffiti artists?
BW: In many ways, the graffiti/street artists are the downtown scene. We're here; not in Chelsea or The Hamptons for a reason. I wouldn’t want to accidentally leave anyone out so I won’t attempt the massive list here, but we see how hard they work across the board and have so much love and respect for those who are getting the work out.
Con Artist members with their works
NM: What shows do you have coming up this year?
BW: August 9th - 22nd we'll be putting on an exhibition called "Where We're From". It's about the incredible diversity NYC brings as a hub and beacon for artists. It will also definitely include our native's celebration of their city as well. Our gallery hours are 11am-7pm daily.
NM: What do you commonly tell folks that are thinking of joining Con Artist? Any perks of membership that you can describe here?
BW: Con Artist is more than a gallery, a studio, or a learning community. It's about making connections that will serve you 5, 10, or 20 years down the line. It's about giving artists a safe space to experiment, fail, succeed and grow in their practice. The opportunity to get your work up in a huge beautiful downtown gallery brings in a lot of new members but it's the energy of other artists and the friendships forged here that keeps them around. Sign up at www.conartistcollective.com
Con Artist members with their works
Con Artist Collective's next show "Where We're From" opens this Thursday, Aug 8th at 329 Broome St. from 7-11p, details can be found here.