THE REMIX

5 Questions - Heather and Courtney

 
 
 
 

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?

 

CC:   Ooooh, good question! If I had longer to think about this one, I'm sure I'd have a total epiphany and be able to name an exhibition or artwork that was a major learning moment for me.  But what keeps coming to mind are artists and artworks that really changed my thinking about what art can be.  Again, I arrived in the art world with a background in ancient art, so my understanding of art's definition was, um, conservative.  And the little registrar deep in my soul likes neatly divided categories:  painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, etc.  So to experience Mike Nelson's British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was transformative.  And Janet Cardiff's Forty Part Motet.  And Julianne Swartz's soundscapes.  And Francis Aly's "Fabiola" exhibition.  I'd say I'm now mostly drawn to tiny movements, ephemeral gestures, entropy, and definitions of space.  Art can be a labyrinth, a soundscape, a collection.  Art can be mice emerging from a cake (looking at you, Dana Sherwood!)  When I think of the artists whose passions have rubbed off on me, I'd say that list would include those artists who use obsessive cataloging, collecting, reproducing and record-keeping for their work.  Joan Linder's Love Canal series comes to mind, as does Byron Kim's Sunday Paintings, and most definitely the New Museum's entire exhibition "The Keepers".  

Getting back to what you do....what's your favorite piece of advice to give to aspiring artists?
 

HB:   This one is easy! Recognize, nurture, and appreciate your community. Every opportunity comes through someone you respect, who respects you. Go to the events and openings of the artists you love. Invite people into your studio and recommend friends for shows and opportunities that fit their work. I’m not Oprah (if only!) but I do believe the energy you put out is the energy you get back. Karma. Generosity and kindness are not to be underestimated.

Oh... and no professional practice advice will help unless you are working hard in the studio. No one can help you if the work isn’t there and you don’t know what you want.

Speaking of community... you grew up in LA, lived in NYC for a decade, moved to San Francisco for a few years and then moved back to NYC. Which coast wins the eternal east coast / west coast battle?

 

CC:   That's a tricky question to answer because for me California wins as a coast, but New York wins as a city.  So to answer your question, West Coast = Best Coast.  

Ok, last question:  Do you remember how we met? 

 

HB:   Ha! I can barely remember what I did yesterday. Sleep deprivation has the better of me!! But... if I dig back into the recesses of my mind, you were an intern at Mixed Greens. It's so bizarre to think about that now! You were awesome, so when Erin Sircy went to NYU (love you, Erin), I begged for you to work with me. I don’t remember the first time we met, but I know I thought you were amazing from day one. Little did I know you’d introduce me to canned pink champagne and teach me everything I know about sharks.

I can’t believe this is my final question! Where would you go (think whole world) to see art if money were no object. Would you bring me? (Two questions!)

 

CC:   Hahaha, yes it all started with an internship.  But I'll remind you how it really all began: Julie Saul taught my graduate school gallery admin class, and she brought us into Mixed Greens to hear about new models in the art world.  You spoke to us, and it was riveting.  Afterward I approached you and asked if you offered internships...and here we are 13 years (!) later with The Remix talking about new models in the art world.

To answer your final question, hmmm....I think I'd REALLY love to get back to my ancient art loving roots and go to Egypt.  That's a major item on my bucket list.  And yes you'd better come with me! I'm too intimidated to go alone.

You can read our bios here.
*If you're a lady, you're in art, and you want to drink with us, let us know