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Interview With The Hole's Kathy Grayson

August 3, 2010. An interview with The Hole's Kathy Grayson, conducted by your friend and mine Yasha Wallin, just appeared in Hint Magazine. Not Quite Open for Business, the inaugural exhibition at The Hole, at 104 Greene Street in the heart of the SoHo tenderloin, is up through August 21.

Here are interview excerpts and photos.

When Jeffrey Deitch announced in January that he was closing his legendary Deitch Projects to head up L.A.'s MOCA, a collective shudder rippled through downtown New York. But his staff members were too busy planning their next move to mourn the departure of their overachieving mentor for long. Just one month after the final New York show, Deitch's former directors Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman have emerged with their own gallery, The Hole.

Nestled next to luxury giant Louis Vuitton in the heart of Soho, The Hole—whose name pays homage to the defunct East Village nightclub—is a sprawling work-in-progress. Final touches still being made to the space serve as inspiration for the first exhibit, Not Quite Open for Business, featuring unfinished work by over 20 artists arranged around an installation by Taylor McKimens.

Was opening a space always something you knew you would do after Deitch?
Nope, I never thought about doing it. I never quite pictured post-Deitch because it was so fun and so great and things were growing and perpetually interesting, so why leave?

Why Soho?
Anywhere downtown would have been great. [I had] no interest in homogenizing, unpleasant Chelsea. Soho is a beautiful part of town—active, interesting. So is the Lower East Side and Chinatown. I live on Avenue C and 2nd Street so anywhere I could walk would have been okay.

What are you most proud of from your time at Deitch?
The community of artists that I built here with Jeffrey’s support. The most valuable asset I have is my team.

Most gallery directors have a shorter life span than you did at Deitch. What kept you there so long?
It was like working at a well-funded Kunsthalle. Any show idea I cooked up, we did. Any project I pitched, we did. Any book I wanted to do, essay I wanted to write, event I wanted to throw! It wasn’t always easy but Jeffrey always supported my ideas and the door was open to make my ideas reality.

Are you looking to bring artists you haven't worked with before to The Hole?
Our next two shows: Cody Critcheloe [of the band SSION] and Mat Brinkman. Neither one has done a show at Deitch. Both are huge talents. With Mat I have been trying to get him to do a show for like six years. This is the culmination of years of patience and relationship-building. It's a huge triumph and going to be fantastic!

You're an artist yourself. Do you find it hard to balance creating art and running a gallery?
Since the gallery opened I have made one 3x4-foot painting. I made it staying up all night one night. Other than that, I have no spare time for anything and can't seem to sit down in my studio for more than 30 seconds at a time. It sucks!

Would you ever have a show of your own work at the gallery?
Oh, no way. I don’t want to pee where I eat, or whatever that expression is.

What do you think the biggest challenges will be for you in your first year?
Selling art, as simple as that!

Has the downtown art scene changed since you began working at Deitch?
The community has adjusted, morphed and evolved constantly since 2002 when I moved here—in a million nuanced ways. But the core ideals and energy are still there and I feel them deeply and it provides guidance for programming and exhibitions. We will definitely continue on this course at The Hole and definitely be keeping it weird.

Did any of the artists you asked to be in this show feel uncomfortable about showing unfinished work? Like going outside without makeup?
Everyone we invited was down. Maybe two people were too busy to do the show and 25 were psyched. All the artists had a positive experience, and many were excited by the encouragement they received for their unfinished works. At least one painter decided she would try to make her future paintings less finished because she agreed with many commenters that her work looked even better a little rough and a little less closed down.

You started a blog for the gallery, A paparazzi friend once told me he could recognize celebrities from behind by their asses. Have you developed this special talent with artists?
That’s really funny. I don’t know how much I stare at people's butts—a fair amount, I suppose. Mostly I just wanted to have a blog that went behind the scenes of the art world, but have it be more playful and strange and irreverent. So my ex-boyfriend Patrick suggested the name "art from behind" and it stuck. I didn’t realize how many photos of butts I had in my archive and it turned out to be a perfect fit.