AucArt’s guest curator of the month, Ty Bishop talks to us about the inspiration behind Friend of the Artist, the best and worst advice he's been given and his plans for the future.
Tell us about where you’re from. How has this impacted your life and artwork?
I’m from a small town in the panhandle of Texas. It’s the last place you’d think that would be imporant for art. Since I moved away, I’ve learned that I grew up right where Georgia O’Keefe taught, three of Ed Rucha’s gasonline stations, and where Robert Smithson completed his last work, Amarillo Ramp. He tragically died in a plane crash while making it.
When I visited the work a few years ago, I found out that he was friends with John Camberlin, and Camberlin actually made a sculpture onsite using old truck parts…the work is literally chained to the ground!
To grow up around all of this without knowing it is amazing to me. It has to be poetic or something.
How were you introduced to art?
Art has always been an interest of mine, but I didn’t go to a major art museum until after moving to Dallas for art school. Isn’t that funny? One of the first museum exhibitions I went to was a William Kentridge exhibition at the Fort Worth Contemporary. The work was gripping and made me realize that art is important to make today, not just admire from the past.
What inspired FOA?
A year after I graduated with my BFA, I heard a former museum director say, “outside of an academic context, there are no opportunities for artists” and I knew this to be true. Graduating art school is equivalent to jumping off a ship in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket.
What makes an artist stand out? and what artists are on your radar right now?
It’s the same reason why people turn their heads to see a second glimpse of a sports car. There’s some special quality that exisits in the work. It’s what I think Ronald Barthes describes as “punctum”, that special quality that connects the person to a photograph that I think can be applied to art in general.
With the pandemic, I’ve taken a step back to view the works of the past. When museums opened back up in the US, I went to the 18th century wing of a museum and spent some time in front of A Mountain Landscape with Approach Storm by Claude-Joseph Vernet. Though it was painted in 1775, the work is relevant for the time by picturing travelers heading into a storm.
As far as contemporary artists are concerned, I’ve spent the most time with the artists in Volume 12. It’s a project I’ve been working on during most of the pandemic.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight for me isn’t one moment or event, but a collection. I started FOA to help elevate emerging artists work, and it’s amazing to see the growth that artists have had whether it’s gallery representation, helping connect them to a curator, or simply giving them a boast of confidence to keep making work. I’ve received multiple emails from artists saying that FOA was the reason they chose to keep making work, and there careers have blossomed. That’s really special to me.
Who inspires you the most?
The poet John O’Donahue wrote, “May you have the courage to live a life that you would love”, and it really resonates with me. It’s from his collection of poems, To Bless the Space Between Us.
Tell us something few people know about you?
I dropped out of art school after my first semester, and studied music and theology at a bible college in Kansas City for two years. Even though I can’t play guitar like I used to, those years were really important for me. Three months before I left to return to art school, I met my wife and we’ve now been married for seven years.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m the kind of person who reads several books at a time. I’m currently listening to Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim-Kim Pang during long walks, and alternate between The Wealth Elite by Rainer Zitelmann and Thoughts on Art and Life by Da Vinci before bed. The Wealth Elite puts me to sleep faster.
I also started on a two volume biography on Picasso over the summer. It’s interesting, because I learned that Picasso was actually involved in a Spanish art publication called Arte Joven.
Favourite piece of artwork you’ve purchased?
Cradles by Taylor O. Thomas. Of course I purchased it on AucArt!
An artwork you’d love to have painted?
Oath of Horatii by Jacques-Louis David.
One item you can’t live without?
Does pen and paper count as one? If not, espresso.
Strangest source of inspiration?
People aruging about nothing.
Best and worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve been given was “make time for your art everyday”. The worst advice? It would have to be “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. It’s not true.
Something you rely on to pull an all nighter?
What are your future plans?
At the end of the day, I want to live up to the name of Friend of the Artist, which is harder to do as it grows. Last year, we decided to focus more time on the artists rather than volumes hitting shelves more frequently. Overall, I think this has been successful, and I see FOA continuing down this path and focusing with partnerships and platforms.
What do you find most exciting about the art world at the moment?
Seeing a new emerging artist platform randomly pop-up on my instagram feed. It’s clear that there’s a need for these platforms by artists, and I hope that they can serve to fill in that gap between the academy and art world.