whitehot | May 2007, WM issue #3: Heaps talks with David Kesting of Capla Kesting Fine Art
Steve Ellis, Danger: Terrorist Weapon, Oil and acrylic on Canvas, 11" x 8" image courtesy Capla Kesting Fine Art
JHN: I am here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the epicenter of the new art
world, with David Kesting, the man behind CKFA. Dave, tell us about
yourself and your gallery.
DK: It's good to see you man, it's been a little while. Things are
going well. We are riding pretty high. We just had the thing in
Chicago that was really good and a thing in Miami that was really
good... Things are really sharp right now.
JHN: Tell me a little bit about the history of your gallery. When did
it open up?
DK: October 2003. It started when Lincoln Capla found the spot, and he
convinced me to come out and open up a space. We called it
Capla-Kesting Fine Art, CKFA. Ever since then it's done pretty well.
We also pioneered the Fountain Art Fair, and we have been helping a
lot of people out. So, Lincoln found the spot in October. We had been
checking a lot of places out, to find a venue to do these exhibitions.
We had done a couple of them. We were hanging out with Zito, did a
thing at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Society, and the Outlaw Art
Museum. We were spending so much time looking for venues that we were
losing all of our time in the studio. So we decided to open up our own
spot, and he showed up one day with a little garage in Williamsburg,
(at North 5th and Roebling) right around the corner from
McCaig-Welles, Front Room, Jack the Pelican, Jessica Murray Projects.
It was in the heart of everything! We lasted like that for a couple of
years, and did a handful of shows, one really good one, with Lesly
it did so well, it made crazy money, and all of a sudden Lincoln and I
were looking at each other, like, we can do this! We can support all
the artists that we want. We can pull in enough cash to keep this
place functioning, and going well, and have an advertising budget, and
be able to do whatever we want with it.
JHN: Tell me about Lincoln, and then tell me about some of the artists
you are showing that you are excited about.
DK: Lincoln was a cool guy. He passed away a little over a year ago,
from cancer. And... it's... you know. He made some nice artwork. We
just did a show for him recently, and it got a really good review in
the Brooklyn Rail, a writer named Ben LaRocca. I was really happy
about it. I thought it went really well.
JHN: I thought it was a great show, and well curated as well. Tell me
about the artists you show.
DK: We are working with Travis Lindquist, Daniel Edwards, Brian Leo,
Steve Ellis, Johnny Fenix, Martina Kubinyi, Jason Douglas Griffin...
JHN: So you have a big show coming up with Steve Ellis and Johnny
Fenix. What is that going to be like?
DK: It's going to kick ass, man. We just finished the 24 page, full
color catalog, with a forward by Emily Gallagher, from the Tate
Modern's annex here in New York. I'm amazed we convinced her to do the
forward. Thank you very much, Emily! Johnny Fenix and Steve Ellis, I
love those kids, they're on top. Super graphic, intensely detailed,
very iconic. Love 'em, love 'em.
JHN: Describe Steve Ellis, and what's so great about him?
DK: He works on the Lower East Side... he's an East Village painter.
He's a professor over at the School of Visual Arts. Very graphic
style. He has a photorealist approach, but not overdone, it's not
blown out .
JHN: I remember Steve's work first came to my attention, he was
working on a series of cigarette lighters.
DK: Yeah, he's still doing those. We got a really cool one for the
show coming up June 1st. It's called Danger this is a Terrorist
Weapon. It's absolutely gorgeous. There's a warning sticker on the
side of the lighter, that normally you would tear off, this text runs:
Danger, terrorist weapon, be very afraid, the end is near, run for
your lives, head for the hills, save yourself before it's too late....
the lighter is a translucent orange and the warning label has been
partially peeled off, so you can't quite read all of it. You want to
touch it, but even more, when you see it you think about all the times
you've gone through the airport, or dealt with all the bullshit that's
JHN: All the lighters you had to give up!
DK: Yeah! Just the random shit you have to put up with.
JHN: You know the guys who work at the airport are selling those lighters.
DK: Yeah, probably, man.
JHN: What about Johnny Fenix?
DK: Johnny complements Steve Ellis in a lot of ways. Fenix is based
out of LA, whereas Ellis is based in New York, and even though they
haven't really spent a whole lot of time with each other before this,
we got them talking with each other when we planned this show a year
ago, and they have had a dialogue regarding this work for the whole 12
months. It's amazing because Fenix's style is not a realist approach,
it's much more expressive and charismatic than a photograph ever could
be, or a hyperreal painting ever could be. Not that Steve's are like
that! But he has the same polish that Ellis does, in the sense that
it's not overdone or blown out, but it is something you can really
relate to when you see it. I think it's really cool.
Capla Kesting Fine Art is pleased to present:
Steve Ellis & Jonny Fenix: Blue sky (if you close your eye)
June 1 - 18, 2007
Reception for the artists: Friday, June 1, 7:00- 10:00 pm
Capla Kesting Fine Art
121 Roebling St, 7-8 - Brooklyn, NY 11211
Bedford Ave L Train at the corner of North 5th and Roebling.