Bronwyn Keenan has been in involved in the arts for over 15 years. She currently works at a New York City museum where she oversees special events. She also runs a popular art blog, Blue Moon Brooklyn. Prior to joining the museum, Bronwyn was the owner of a contemporary art gallery in Soho from 1994 to 2004.
After collecting art on Etsy for over a year, she has curated a show to present her pieces to the public. Located at 189 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY, the opening reception is on Thursday, August 12, from 7-9 p.m., and the exhibit will run through September 12, 2010.
What’s the reasoning behind “My Etsy Art Collection”?
I started buying art and following a number of artists and their Etsy shops in December 2007. The site has exploded since that time — the sheer volume of artwork and shops is staggering. I have spent countless hours combing through Etsy. The process has become something of a feat of endurance, but it nicely suits my obsessive tendencies. “My Etsy Art Collection” is ultimately a group exhibition that happens to be my art collection. I also thought it would be a fun experiment for me and the participating artists.
What should the public look for at the event?
Hopefully the show will be a focused, diverse and compelling reflection of the Etsy community. I’m extracting art from the virtual world and giving it space in the real one. Visitors should also check out the exhibition binder that will include information on each of the artists, which will be onsite at 189 Schermerhorn. I’m also posting interviews with a number of the artists on my blog, Blue Moon Brooklyn, for those who would like to learn a little more about each of them.
Who is your favorite artist from the show? Why is that?
My favorite artist is Denny Pinkham, as his work represents my first art purchase on Etsy and we’ve established a long distance friendship. Denny seems to personify an ideal approach to life — bars, beaches, boating and art-making. I guess I’m aiming for a variation on that theme myself!
Why is it important to support artwork in this manner?
Etsy interests me as a populist forum for artists. It also provides a key platform to experiment — not only with making art, but also with the business of art.
How many works will be present? Are they all owned by you?
There will be about 30 artworks on view. All are owned by me, but I’m considering including an artist couple based in Salt Lake City (Debbie and Mike Schramer of Sunflowerhouse and MycyclesArt) whose work is not currently in my collection. The works should be seen together, and it would be too expensive for me to buy the bulk of them, so I’d like to help get their work shown in New York. Of course, there are plenty of works available by each of the exhibition’s participating artists in their Etsy shops — visitors should purchase directly from the artists.
What is your familiarity with folk art?
My eponymous gallery (1994-2004) was known for an approach that bordered on an outsider sensibility. For example, one of my all-time favorite Bronwyn Keenan Gallery exhibitions, Landscape U.S.A., featured the work of the great Forrest Bess alongside contemporary artists such as Karen Kilimnik and Verne Dawson. The show had an eccentric quality, which is always the happiest outcome for my exhibits. The art I collect does seem to support the idea of the outsider, whether it’s an artist based in New York who operates outside the traditional gallery system, random thrift store paintings, or someone with a shop on Etsy.
One of the more affecting shows for me was Jim Shaw’s legendary Thrift Store Paintings at Metro Pictures in 1991. It really blew my mind — at the time the art world was in an acute malaise and then along came Jim Shaw’s crazy show and I thought, “Wow, what is this?” At the time I was working at a very boring gallery in Soho, one that exhibited lots of paintings and objects encased in encaustic. Jim threw a beautiful curveball with the thrift store paintings show and injected new life into the art world.
What’s your favorite genre of artwork?
I don’t necessarily have a preferred genre — just favorite artists. If anyone checked out my favorite Etsy shops they’d see they run the gamut from magical terrariums and beautifully curated salvaged goods to pretty basket weavings and funky metal and ironwork.
Hope to see you at the show! Do you know of an Etsy painter you’d like to share?
Tell us in the comments below.