Platypus in a Party Hat, the new online gallery started by former Con Artist Collective manger Brandon Wisecarver, held it's launch exhibition last Wednesday at LES's 198 Allen Street featuring his initial roster of artists. We spoke with Brandon about what visitors to the show can expect during it's run this week till the closing this Sunday night from 6-8pm.
Nick McManus: Congrats on your opening! Was it more of a launch party for PIAPH or did it feel like a traditional opening?
Brian Wisecarver: Thank you so much! It was heartening to see such a big turnout. The whole Lower East Side pop-up is more of a launch party for Platypus in a Party Hat. Although, I very much consider PIAPH itself to be a traditional gallery, just online or in a VR space. Seeing smaller galleries struggle to monetize their physical space, the rise of online art dealing, and the huge year virtual reality had in 2019, the pieces just sort of clicked. I’m not breaking ground here, but the online gallery concept is still finding it’s legs. Working with Jump Into The Light on Orchard street gives me some incredible resources to find a niche within it. That said, there’s nothing like seeing a work in person so I want to combine the online approach with physical pop-ups. I know so many amazing artists based in NYC who don’t get the play they should and I love advocating for my friends.
NM: Where did the name Platypus in a Party Hat come from?
BW: It, like myself, is a child of the internet. It actually comes from a 12-player public game of “Drawception” from 2012 which is like a visual version of “telephone”.
I don’t remember if I stumbled upon the page, or typed “Platypus in a Party Hat” into google on a whim but it just sort of stuck with me. I created a now-defunct Tumblr in 2015 by the same name. I used it to highlight my favorite artists form Con Artist Collective when I was managing it. At the time it proved to be a conflict of interest as I didn’t want to exclude any dues-paying members. PIAPH doesn’t collect dues or fees from artists. We don’t make any money unless they do. So I can be stubborn and call it something ridiculous.
I like it because it has a sense of humor which is something I really love to see in art even though I show some very serious work. The platypus is the odd-ball of the animal kingdom, an egg-laying semi-aquatic mammal! It’s the sole representative of it’s whole family/genus on earth. You’ll only find related species in the fossil record. Artists are similarity unique. The artists I show are extremely diverse.
NM: How many artists on your artist on your roster? What lesser known ones are you excited to bring exposure to?
BW: Currently I’m working with 33 artists. ABSOLUTELY ALL OF THEM! I’ve known Charlie Cunningham, Dean Millien, and Cody Oyama the longest.
NM: Any tips for folks who want to use the digital gallery you've created? Are there prints available in additional to the original pieces?
BW: Follow us on Instagram @platypusinapartyhat to be kept in the loop for the website drop on March 7th. Some artists may not want to allow me to reproduce their work, which is fine. However, I strongly encourage it because I believe art should be accessible to everyone.
NM: Describe your curatorial experience and how do you want to transfer those skills into running your own gallery?
BW: I like to learn by doing and running Con Artist Collective for five years was a truly invaluable learning experience. During my time there I must’ve put on 500 exhibitions! The structure of the collective was not as traditional as PIAPH but those management skills definitely transfer and the connections I made are carrying over into this project.
NM: Any more events or shows for PIAPH already lined up?
BW: BW: The closing party will and print sale on Sunday, March 7th, 6-8pm and Polaroid artist Nick McManus will be hosting a talk about his work that afternoon from 4-6pm.
I’m also lining up something exciting involving the Jump Into The Light crew and MOR, who has a couple pieces in this first debut show. She’s explored light/shadow a lot more recently in her stencil cut out pieces and we’re looking to incorporate digital projection mapping into her work. Please follow us @platypusinapartyhat on Instagram and stay tuned!