by Noah Becker, Introduction by Jill Conner
Grey Area is a new website that sells affordable art objects made by well-established and emerging artists, featuring fashionable wear such as Cynthia Rowley's Gagosian Collection or E.V. Day's Mummified Barbies. Last year Nic Rad issued a collection of Hope soaps made to calm anxiety in anticipation of the upcoming Presidential election year. Grey Area's current exhibition Americana moves one step further and captures several contemporary visions that piece together a larger view of the United States. Founded two years ago by Kyle DeWoody and Manish Vora, this online destination presents art as fashion, art as design and art as food - all made for sale to the wannabe art world connoisseur. So the next time you walk past someone on the street wearing a fake rolex or flashing a black Amex, it could be Shelter Serra's work, with a showing time of - only when worn.
Becker: What is your current exhibition about?
DeWoody: Well, right now we have a show up called Americana, which is a kind of focus on the visual identity of our country as seen through the eyes of contemporary artists.
Becker: Let's go into detail about the specific pieces that surround us.
DeWoody: So, specifically behind us on the far right is a series of facial hair drawings by John Gauld. He was originally working on a series of presidential beards and moustaches, but unfortunately his studio got terribly flooded by Hurricane Sandy. On the ground is a bronze hay bale by Jude Tallichet. To the left of the beards is a cabinet piece with a U.S. Map by John Salvest and to the left of that is two drawings. Those are actually our oldest pieces, they're from the sixties, by Jorge Fick. To the left of that is a piece by Julia Chiang that says Never Enough which is pretty much how America feels. It's relevant to the show because nothing is ever enough to us Americans, we always want more, more money more things, more war... Above that is a stitched firework by Elyssa Goldstone, and to the left of Julia Chiang's is a board game painting by Tim Liddy. It's actually painted on metal and he replicates old board games that he finds and replicates everything that's on it - The stains, the rips, the tape. This game is called Who Can Beat Nixon? which is pretty amazing.
Becker: How did you get the idea to start this kind of project and how do you see it in the bigger picture?
DeWoody: Generally, it's art objects. We do these shows that get more into the area of art and wall pieces, but often they're object-oriented. The board game is originally an object, so it's art, but it's object-turned-into-art. So we started our project as an online art object shop, but it kind of just evolved. We did a pop-up shop, our first pop-up shop, in the Hamptons. I didn't want to have it just be functional art objects. I wanted it to be exploration into the gray area between art and design.
Becker: So that's kind of where the name "Grey Area" came from?
DeWoody: Yeah, and having that name has been amazing because we can really push it in other directions. art and fashion, art and food, art and music.
Becker: Is that a mandate that you and Manish Vora came up with when you met, or do you have different ideas about it?
Manish Vora: I think it was kind of a fluid process. We're now 18 months old and the idea's evolving. But I think we both have a willingness to sort of explore different areas and I think that's why Grey Area really worked for us, is that it really allows for us to experiment and work on different ideas.
Kyle: And our artists to experiment as well.
Becker: Where did you meet and start this art based partnership?
DeWoody: We met at the Watermill Benefit two years ago. I wrote a few things for Artlog, Manish's art content site and I was working on some projects that involved artists and objects. Then he approached me with the idea of an online art objects shop and we turned it into this. So yes, and the beauty of it is we can work with different artists. Artists have ideas and they'll approach us to produce something. We're now starting to work with different brands and companies who want to do something with art, Something different and interesting. And it's great because we get to bring art in front of different audiences and also make it accessible so it can be oftentimes more consumable because of the price point and different venues.
Becker: It's interesting that you're doing original works and editions. There were a few companies that were doing editions only. I notice you're doing things that are both sort of multiples and unique objects.
DeWoody: We didn't want to be confined to editions. We didn't want to be confined to certain mediums or price points. We kind of just go with what works on each project and what appeals to us and what appeals to others.
Noah Becker shows his paintings internationally. A visual artist, saxophonist and the publisher and founding editor of Whitehot Magazine, Becker has also written freelance articles for many other major magazines. Becker's writing has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Garage, Art in America, Interview Magazine, Canadian Art and the Huffington Post. He has also written texts for major artist monographs published by Rizzoli and Hatje Cantz. Becker directed the New York art documentary New York is Now (2010) viewable on Youtube.
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