Artist Steve DiBenedetto Keeps it Old School at Bill Powers’ Half Gallery

The feeling you get while walking up the steps of Bill Powers’ Half Gallery is reminiscent of walking into a classic Upper East side townhouse with great bones. Perched above his wife Cynthia Rowley’s flagship digs, artist Steve DiBenedetto was present for his over the top multi-channel collage opening.

Coining the term “konstructshuns,” the multi-media work is both very intense and diverse — not only material, but subject matter alike — merging the line between playful and dark, with biomorphic shapes and cosmic symbolism. I was lucky enough to catch DiBenedetto mid-drink for a couple quick questions. The show runs January 23rd thru February 25th. Steve’s paintings are also held permanently at The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Denver Art Museum.

You have a word for your art, “konstructshuns.” Where does that come from?
It just spontaneously, come to think of it, the idea that it sounded a little cartoonish. Like a sort of wacky, Konstruct-shuns.

Would you say your work is tastefully wacky?
Yeah, but in a dark way.

As a series, do you see this as being complete?
No no, there will be more explorations. Yeah, there are a lot of different perimeters for sure.

We’re in a gallery space right now, but where do you see the future of art when it comes to business? With websites auctioning off fine art.
Galleries, and museums.

Going to keep it old school?
Exactly (laughs). No, but I seriously believe that you should confront things — you need to make pilgrimages. I believe in that format: where you show up, you confront the work, that’s a very good point. I don’t personally subscribe to this (digital) idea.

In this digital age that we live in, it’s difficult for some to interact with people hands on, in person.
Well, there’s a velocity, there’s a way that information is accelerated through technology that’s interesting. I like the way it distorts experience, the idea that is confused with convenience. I don’t like making things easier.

Second VortexAdvance? Cephlagraph

Art Basel Miami: Powering through NADA with Bravo’s Bill Powers

You may know him as the smile-cracking judge on Bravo’s Work of Art, but Bill Powers doesn’t merely do the show for shits and gigs. “My mission has always been to bring more people into the art world. I want to make everyone an elitist,” he explained, while touring the NADA show, one of Art Basel’s satellite fairs. Powers has set up shop at this visual carnival, which boasts an alternative assembly of galleries dealing with emerging contemporary art to showcase Exhibition A, his members-only website that sells exclusive editions of artwork by top contemporary artists.

“Though we did a pop-up shop with Colette this fall, Exhibition A has an online presence, so it is nice to let people see the prints in person,” Powers explained as he shook hands with just about everyone, while spreading the word he already sold out of Nate Lowman’s print. It’s no surprise that Powers seems like the most popular kid on campus. The former BlackBook editor morphed into an artsy tour de force of sorts, thanks largely to his Half Gallery, whose artist roster includes Leo Fitzpatrick, Duncan Hannah, and most recently, Terry Richardson.

Powers’ often snarky yet on-point judging style in Work of Art only adds to his appeal, but don’t be fooled: Even though he runs in the ‘holier then thou’ circles (Powers was one of few invited to Lowman’s installation at Alex Rodriguez’s McMansion last night), the gallerist still manages to project that populist, anti-establishment vibe he claims attracted him to NADA in the first place.

“People see some kind of an artificial barrier in the art world. But look at me. I have no formal training in the contemporary art world. I just became interested, I started going to galleries, and I started reading up on art. Anyone can do that.”