Artist, curator, founder and marvelous moderator of Bushwick Art Crit Group—as well as all-around enthusiastic, gregariously supportive presence in the Bushwick art scene—Christopher Stout has been updating his biographical profiles and business cards to include references to his most recent creative and professional pursuit: that of gallerist, as he is now running his very own art space, Christopher Stout Gallery, a.k.a. CSG/NY.
Per his operative norm, Mr. Stout launched this newest project with sincere excitement rather than fluff or fanfare, and with a great deal of organizational savvy and carefulness of concept. That is, not only did he already have a particular angle and aesthetic focus for his exhibition program—and a schedule already booked through the next year— but he also had a full stable of artists, a consistent plan for his project room, and a YouTube channel for the gallery even before the doors first opened to the public a couple weeks ago, all of which seemed to suggest that this was an idea he’d been incubating for quite a while. We took a bit of time out of his now-even-busier-than-usual schedule to ask him a few questions about his various projects and pursuits, and of course about this newest one in particular.
You announced the launch of CSG/NY and opened the space in the turn of a month or so. How long has this idea been simmering? What compelled you to go for it?
Actually, I briefly posted about it last spring on Bushwick Art Crit Group’s Facebook page, and it still amazes me how many real estate agents saw that single post and offered to broker space for us! It’s a simple fact that the real estate industry carefully watches everything that we do in the art world.
I commenced the ideation and diligence process on the gallery last December when we got back home from BACG’s Miami fair presentation during Basel week. Our tightly curated exhibition was “The Subversives, the Post-Feminists and the Category Expanders.” During that curatorial process, Kelsey Shwetz and I codified all the artist lectures we had heard during BACG under that specific lens, and it was that focus that has evolved into the DNA of CSG/NY’s gallery focus.
You’ve been running BACG for years now and given dozens of artists an excellent, organized platform through which to expand their audiences. What kinds of lessons and approaches are you carrying over from that somewhat administrative role to this more proper curatorial post at CSG/NY?
I still always blush a little when people say complimentary things about BACG, because I continuously receive so much revelatory joy from every community event we produce. I’m generally most comfortable in cerebral situations, and BACG has enabled me to find my tribe. I wouldn’t say that “what I’m doing” is informed by BACG as much as “whom I’m doing it with.” The artists at CSG/NY are people I’ve worked with continuously over the last several years, and that especially includes BACG.
Some galleries say they show work by emerging artists. Some say mid-career artists. Some describe their roster with specifics about mediums or formal concerns. Many just don’t even bother. But you’ve described the focus of CSG/NY to be on artists whose work is definitively ‘challenging.’ Elaborate, and tell us how you went about forming your group.
Our gallery’s visual focus is on work by NYC artists that is subversive or difficult—art that challenges authority paradigms, or that is feminist, queer, anti-establishment, hyper-aggressive, mystic and/or joyously sexual. As far as my preoccupation with subversive and difficult work, BOTH of these types are the exact genres that helped form both New York and our country as a center of global art culture. In recent years and especially with the widespread gentrification of our city, there has been paranoia that these kinds of art aren’t as readily possible or available now. This gallery seeks to help correct that gross and appalling myth. Curatorially, I respond most to art that has the ability to co-express different ideas that don’t easily correspond with each other, and yet finds a way to integrate them.
Tell our readers a thing or two about your current shows in the main space and in the project room, and give them the lowdown on how the project room will function at CSG/NY.
In the main gallery, our debut solo exhibition is “Shepard,” by Phoenix Lindsey-Hall. Phoenix Lindsey-Hall is a lesbian sculptor who makes porcelain replicas of the weapons utilized in hate crimes against gay and lesbians. “Shepard” is a large-scale porcelain sculpture modeled after the wooden fence where Matthew Shepard was beaten, tortured, and left to die on the evening of October 6, 1998. There are two separate, important interviews with Phoenix about this work on CSG/NY’s YouTube channel.
Our gallery is comprised of a larger ‘solo room gallery’ and a smaller ‘project room’ gallery. Each month one of our artists will present a solo body of work in the main room. A couple of months before the solo launches, the rest of our artists are invited to preview the work, and we then work together to curate a show in the project space that complements the main show. Our inaugural solo show is about death, and as such our project room is appropriately somber. Fair warning, our November solo by Linda Griggs, “The First Time is Not Like Porn,” will be an odd comedy about sex, and our project room will be literally the bacchanal of a visual orgy.
Let’s wrap up with some notes about your other pursuits. What’s next on the agenda for BACG? And no less importantly, what’s on the horizon for you and your artwork?
Our next artist lecture night at BACG (Year 3, Fall Session TWO) is Wednesday, October 21st, from 7:00-8:30pm. BACG been graciously hosted for 3 years by our friends at Brooklyn FireProof and meets in the Temporary Storage Art Gallery. October’s session is co-curated with Bushwick Collage Collective Co. founder Morgan Jesse Lappin. Per custom, each artist will have 9 minutes on the clock to share up to 10 projected images of their work, sharing their art and answering audience questions. Our October artists are Daniel Greer, Delilah Jones, Morgan Jesse Lappin, Vicki Khuzami, Amy Miller, Hunter Reynolds and Jeffrey Wallace. In correlation with October’s lecture night we’ll run BACG Artist Book Fair. We’ll set up a table in the back for anyone to show books, zines, and prints to sell/barter/trade with our audience. Meryl Meisler will be there with her two books along with many of her artist peers. BACG doesn’t charge any money for BACG Artist Book Fair; it’s designed as a convenient way for artists to share their printed work and make sales.
As for my work, because and in spite of my concentrations with BACG and CSG/NY, I maintain a dynamic studio practice. In April of this year I presented a solo body of work, “A.O.,” at ArtHelix Gallery, and since then I’ve started a journey on a new body of work titled “Portal To An Ontological Trance,” that is precisely a continuation of the things I discovered in “A.O.” My artist studio has been on the second floor at FireProof for 5 years, and I always relish studio visits! I would also like to discover the gallerist who nurtures and champions my work in the same manner that I’m striving to accomplish with my own gallery artists.
* Useful links: the website for CSG/NY, also on Instagram as @c.stout.gallery.ny; the website for BACG, also on Instagram as @bushwickartcrit; and of course, the website for Christopher Stout, the artist, who is also on Instagram as @christopherstoutartist.