This Saturday will find me at the Nightlife: The Art Exhibition opening at The Keeley Gallery, on Bowery. As in all things worth doing in nightlife, it starts at the reasonable hour of 10pm and goes until 2am, early enough to allow the denizens of the deep to scurry off to the action elsewhere. The exhibit is presented by Flavorpill and Roxy Cottontail, curated by Derrick B. Harden and Laura O’Reilly. Artists include Ryan Keeley, Kaitlyn Stubbs and one of my favorite peeps Stephanie Podasca. The press release describes the showing as follows
The art exhibition installation takes you on a night out in the city visually, with each piece representing a point in time between 10pm and 7am through the art work of Ryan Keeley, Stephanie Podasca and Kaitlyn Stubbs. Presented by Flavorpill and the “Queen of Clubs” Roxy Cottontail, who shares her art of mixing with a soundtrack to the visual show, gearing up to her nightlife art piece lifestyle enhancement video Hey Girl Hey directed by Kareem Black, screening at the Red Bull Space September 9th. The Keeley Gallery, an alternative pop up art gallery on the Bowery, notorious for its late night hours sets the perfect stage for the art exhibition Night Life. The opening night will feature Stephanie Podasca filling in her talk bubble silhouette pieces live, grabbing snippets of text from ease dropping on the crowd throughout the course of the opening night. This interactive body of work represents the 10pm-2am banter that usually takes place during the first couple of drinks consumed in a night. Ryan Keeley’s mixed media paintings represent the allure of the after party taking us into the 2-4am realm of night life where tops come off and divas dance for the camera. Kaitlyn Stubbs’ figurative, photo realistic oil paintings portray the 4-7am disoriented hook ups, black-outs and blurred vision, with double exposure inspired paintings. Topped off with an exclusive gallery mix by Roxy Cottontail, hosted by the shows curators Dear Derrick & Laura O’Reilly.
I couldn’t have said it better, so I chose not to. Stephanie is one of those pleasant faces that you see at clubs, bars, lounges and events doing something to make a buck while she hones her craft. One of the most important contributions of vibrant nightlife is its ability to feed the artist, the actor, the writer, the dancer as they pursue their career in the arts. Without the work many of these future stars couldn’t survive in this tough town. I caught up with a nervous and excited Stephanie Podasca as she readied for her first show.
Like many artists, you found income working at night as you explored your calling. Where have you worked and what other jobs have you taken to pay your rent as you developed? Working nights in the club scene comes with the territory of living in Manhattan at such a young age. I moved here when I was 17 and at 21, I started working as a host at nightclubs to make some extra cash. I worked as a nightlife host aka promoter at Avenue, the upstairs Thursday night parties with Paul Sevigny, Todd Smolar, and Kieren Taylor, hosting a table to bring in the cute crowd from downtown. I also worked at Collective Hardware. Besides my role in the night scene, I’ve held countless retail and restaurant jobs, I’ve even walked a dog or ten.
What did you take away from your experience at Collective Hardware? Collective is all around the craziest memory of my young NY life. It was a rollercoaster and it was crazy, intense, destructive, dark, and fucking beautiful if you were on the inside and saw everything through and through. My favorite experience was my first encounter with artist Ronnie Cutrone. I was just 19 and was at a standstill the second we shook hands, letting him spill out life experiences and virtues beyond anything I’ve ever heard. He has left me with the most amazing advice about life, art, and self conquest that I truly hold close and I probably will never forget.
Do you go to art openings parties and why? What is that scene about these days? I love going to openings and parties. There’s always something exciting about the first wave of viewers at any exhibition opening whether it’s uptown or downtown. The overall curiosity and excitement can at times make the art more appealing and accessible to those surrounding it. Art openings can be one thing here that can make you feel connected to the city all over again, given a crowd that truly appreciates the art. For the most part, they’re great, but you can always pick out the posers or the youngsters there to jump on the free Charles Shaw.
Besides the club, what are your influences? This is the end all question for any artist, Steve! Nightlife has had a time and place in my life since moving here. It’s certainly had its influence in my art from the get go, because painting is all I would do when I wasn’t going out drinking and dancing, so whatever the reverb was in my brain, has come out through my art. I think I liked being out in the crowd so much because it was a constant and chaotic emotional landscape not only to observer from the outside, but also to be pulled in and out of. My interest expanded greatly in that because people always fascinate me, whether it’s a feeling of disdain or love. Most other influences come from my studies of art history and the chaotic lives of great artists. Part of being an artist, is finding the beauty in subtle details that may seem mundane to everyone else, and often go unnoticed.
How does the music you listen to come into play with your work? And who do you listen to? Music has always had a huge place in my life. I listen to everything and depending on what I’m painting or what I’m going through, I have the tendency to attach great meaning and emotion to certain artists and songs. For this show, I’ve been on a nonstop Roxy Music, Depeche Mode, Gang of Four, Lords of the New Church, Echo and the Bunnymen, Julee Cruise, John Maus kick. On the subway, at home, and anyone’s house I go to that’s what’s playing. Those artists have been my life’s soundtrack the past 3 weeks preparing for this opening. What are we going to see Saturday and is there anything that can be said that will help viewers understand your art? Saturday will be amazing because the exhibit will showcase a collaboration of three very different artists and their individual perspectives on what nightlife is and what their place in it is. The industry means something different to every person living here, so to bring three very different ideas into one show and have it all make sense is a feat in of itself. My paintings represent the mere questioning of social interaction, Ryan Keeley’s showcase the provocative and sexy allure, and Kaitlyn Stubb’s photo-real paintings depict the soft and dizzy sensual experiences late in the hours. The three of us capture the essence of nightlife from so many different angles, it’ll be interesting to see how others react and take in the work as a whole. Why are you nervous? It’s one thing to be in a room in a crowd of people and know you’re kind of a mystery. It’s another thing to be in a room in a crowd of people, and to know you’re completely visible. Usually the art I do is commissioned for an individual. This is my first show and I’m stoked, so that’s where the nerves lie.