Heather Bhandari & Courtney Colman
former mixed greens colleagues, co-founders of
The Remix, and hostesses of art ladies' drinks*
CC: Hi there Heather! So my first question to you is why did you want to start The Remix? It’s not like you don’t have enough on your plate already between your Art/Work book, your Brown class, your consulting gigs and your kids....
HB: Courtney - you bring up a very good point. What am I thinking?!?
I missed you guys! More specifically, I missed working with such an efficient and hilarious team (I am always laughing!) to address the needs of artists and get their work out to a wider audience.
The Remix has built-in flexibility that I've never had when working for a brick-and-mortar space. We can curate exhibitions, conduct interviews, record a podcast, organize get-togethers, and not have to worry about a pre-determined schedule or expectation. I am curious how that will develop and if we'll become more rigid over time, but right now I am just excited by the possibilities and working fluidly together to figure out exactly what the future holds for the promotion and exhibition of art. How are artists and arts workers going to be working together in five or ten or twenty-five years?
How about you, Courtney? Why The Remix? You also have an art consulting business and a tiny tot!
CC: Ha, yes! I know. Looks like I, too, have lost my mind. I really missed working with you all, and frankly was looking for any reason to have weekly lunches with you. And this is a lot cheaper than opening a gallery. I was going to ask you how life has changed for you post Mixed Greens, but I think that's sort of been covered. So how about this:
Who do you credit with giving you your "start" in the art world?
HB: I love this question! There are so many people who helped me so much.
My grandfather, Thomas, was a commercial sign painter and made some of the most beautiful neon signs. In his free time, he painted portraits and landscapes. I grew up watching Bob Ross with him and hearing stories about how he snuck into RISD classes as a young man. His basement smelled like oil paint and I LOVED it. I credit him with my love of visual art.
Then there are all the teachers and professors who encouraged me from my high school art teacher, Mrs. Allard, to Wendy Edwards at Brown University, to Micaela Amateau Amato at Penn State. Then Robert Yarber suggested I apply for an internship at Sonnabend when I moved to NYC. The rest is history.
I want to ask you the same question, but that might be lame. So a variation... You studied art history at Wellesley. When did you know you wanted to get messy and work with artists?
CC: Ahhh, yes, getting messy. Well, the strange truth is that I actually started out as a studio art major. I painted my whole life and went to college assuming I'd become an artist. And all it took was one semester of critiques for me to bow out. I could not handle feeling judged in that way. Also, I wasn't very good. At the same time, however, I was taking Intro to Art History with Prof. Miranda Marvin, and her energy had me hooked. I remember her saying "Egypt, the gift of the Nile", and the next thing you know I'm majoring in Art History with a concentration in Ancient & Classical Civilizations. It's still bizarre to me that I ended up in Contemporary Art because I graduated college thinking I'd become a museum curator in the Ancient or Near Eastern Art departments. Then I got the internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and I was truly introduced to Modern Art. The internship included priceless behind-the-scenes stories of Peggy's friendships and relationships with the various artists she supported. It was inspiring to say the least. Suddenly I found myself yearning to work with artists. That's when I landed in New York for graduate school and the rest is history.
All of this nostalgic college talk brings me to my next question: what was your favorite class you took in college?
HB: I've been thinking about this for two days. While I loved all my art and art history classes and majored in Visual Art, the class that stands out most to me is a class I took first semester, freshman year: Intro to African-American Studies with Michael Eric Dyson. It was early in the morning and I am NOT a morning person. I went to every class. Professor Dyson was the most charismatic, interesting individual I had ever heard. For the first time, I saw someone link academics and history to pop culture and art. He could talk about W.E.B. Du Bois and Tupac in the same breath, making deep connections that changed the way I thought about everything. He elevated pop culture—and contemporary art, for that matter—to something meaningful and very powerful. None of it was simply about distraction or beauty for me anymore.
That makes me think about one of the things I like most about being a curator—learning about a new subject with every show. Is there something you learned from an artist that's stuck with you over the years? Or a passion for something that's rubbed off on you?