To celebrate our 25th year properly here at the Weekly Alibi, we're conducting a series of interviews with local businesses and institutions that we've grown with and that have contributed to the growth of our wonderful city.
For our first interview, Calendars Editor Megan Reneau met up with Richard Levy and Vivette Hunt of the renowned contemporary Richard Levy Gallery located at 514 Central SWto ask them a few questions about their 25 years Downtown, the community, art and how it all intersects.
Alibi: What brought you to Albuquerque?
Richard: I went to school in San Francisco for a couple years and then transferred to UNM. I took a couple years worth of English and then decided to switch to art because I grew up in a house with parents who are collectors, so it was a natural transition for me.
That led to becoming a photographer. And I hook rugs â€¦ it's a very Northeastern, little old lady sport. It takes me about a year to make a rug. After UNM I opened an antique store â€¦ by the Guild. I was attracted to the ideaâ€”to graphics of different kindsâ€”so I sold antique photographs, I used to buy old Vogue magazines from the '20s when they were silk screened and made in Paris. By the end of that store, I was selling silk screens and sort of limited edition posters by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, you know, all the classics ...
Vivette: Richard's good at finding things.
Richard: Anything. I can find a source for anything. So in the antique business and in this business, it's a good skill to have.
Alibi: How has Downtown changed in the last 25 years?
Richard Levy: I was going to buy the building and not remodel it but someone else was bidding on the building, as wellâ€”my home contractor. He just happened to be working on our house at the same time as all this was going on. I called him and told him I was buying this building and there was silence at the other end. His wife suggested that we buy it together and add a second story.
Alibi: So it's changed a lot.
Richard: Yeah. At the time [JC] Penny's was Downtown but they were leaving.
This was an architecture firm [in the building RLG occupies] and they were just leaving, as well, I meanâ€”mostly people were leaving Downtown thenâ€”so I saw that as an opportunity to buy a building at the right moment. I intended to start as a print gallery by appointment only.
Vivette: And that came out of Richard being a publisher.
Richard: I was familiar with what Tamarind was publishing. I knew some other publishers in San Franciscoâ€”I knew I could buy their prints and resell them. There was huge demand in those days. People would publish print editions and they would be sold out in a minute. So I started that way, just buying prints and reselling them in very short order.
Alibi: What's your process for collecting the art that will be featured?
Vivette: We're constantly feeling for visual information. If we like something or if we see how it would maybe fit into a projectâ€”for example, our next exhibition is snow flakes, it's going to be called â€śLet it Snow.â€ť We'll fill the gallery with snowflake imagery, so knowing that that's happening, we start scanning. And, you know, Richard's been doing his internet sleuthing [laughs], so it happens in different ways. We have projects in mind, sort of peripherally on our radar, maybe a year or two out once we encounter different types of art. This exhibition is not a great example because this is a celebration of 25 years and celebrating 25 years, you bring a lot of information together.
Richard: Yeah, this exhibition isnâ€™t an example because this is all over the place. What we do is very curated.
Alibi: How does the theme of this relate to the charity We Are This City that you guys are working with?
Vivette: We really wanted to make this exhibition feel more like a community celebration because itâ€™s about the gallery being Downtown for 25 years, so it was important for us to include the artists that we represent today. Our program is a mix of things that Richard finds that we resale blended with artists that we actually work with and consign our art from, so we are career building but we are also making secondary sales.
This show does also reflect that balance in our program. When we go to an art fair, generally a booth presentation will include secondary market and artists that weâ€™re directly working with so we bring them together. We wanted that balance to be reflected in the exhibition well. And Richard is a collector, so we sort of wanted to put a little bit of that aspect of his personality inâ€”the baseballs, thatâ€™s a collection of his, so itâ€™s sort of bringing different components that all sort of fit with it being a community celebration.
Weâ€™d been looking for the right partnerâ€”Richard and I have been talking about this for a whileâ€”we finalized that partnership in May or June. We Are This City was interesting to us because of their arts and cultural overlap, but itâ€™s very different: It's very millennial-based. It seemed like a good fit for us, bringing our two networks together.
Alibi: Has changing media impacted your business?
Richard: Oh totally. When I first startedâ€”I mean, there were computersâ€”but everything was very old fashioned. To get things printed, you had to go to the print shop and they would have to have things photographedâ€”you didnâ€™t bring them files. Nobody did anything over the internet because most people barely had AOL.
Vivette: When I got here in 2000â€”even at that timeâ€”we'd get a piece of art in, weâ€™d have to load it up in the truck and take it to the photographer and the photographer would photograph it, we would get slides then get the slides digitized... But even at that time, a very small percentage of our collectors were actually looking at art online even though that was for putting it on the website. We werenâ€™t really sending a lot of images. Now most of our sales are online.
Richard: That didnâ€™t happen till a couple years ago.
Vivette: Yeah, thatâ€™s a trend thatâ€™s really solidified in the last five years.
Richard: But we still go to a lot of fairs. We show up with a bunch of crates and we fill a 20x24-foot space in New York or wherever, Dallas, Seattle or Miamiâ€”theyâ€™re all destination cities at the right time of year. And we see 10,000, 15-, 20-, 25,000 people at those.
Alibi: Thatâ€™s a lot.
Richard: Those are people who are committed to art in some way. People still need people to look at the artwork and see what the paintingâ€™s like. You canâ€™t really understand paintings online, the brush strokes, you know it's...
Alibi: Yeah, itâ€™s a completely different thing seeing it in person. But it sounds like changing media has impacted your business a lot, has that change affected the art that you've received or that youâ€™re interested in?
Richard: Itâ€™s certainly changed photography. Itâ€™s much easier to print out photographs and everything photography became digital, but as far as painting and prints, prints have changed too because itâ€™sâ€”
Vivette: Open to the digital world. Some painters that use technology to expand their toolset, like Beau Carey is a very traditional painter but, that being said, when I see this landscape painting here on the wall (Mt. Analogue, 2016), I canâ€™t help but think itâ€™s somehow influenced by looking at digital information.
Richard: But thatâ€™s just the collective unconscious. That's everybody being online and looking at stuff. But when it comes down to painting, you still have to paint.
Vivette: Yeah, you still have to pick up the brush. It's just the way you're conceptually connecting the dots. On the other side, we have a painter that we represent that has modified a CNC router which is driven by software. They generally cut special shapes but he modified it and put a robotic arm so it does an individual paint drop application and he writes the software to tell it what to do. So I mean, he's painting but he's not picking up a brush ... it's definitely a creative process.
Alibi: Why is the art scene so different from Santa Fe?
Vivette: Albuquerque is a much more affordable place to live and allows a creative community of many, many different income brackets to be established here. Santa Fe is a little priced out and not accessible to such a diverse group of people.
Richard: The Santa Fe market really started with the more traditional New Mexican, classic kind of images that were more expensive and a little more traditionalâ€”
Vivette: And a little more conservative. Thereâ€™s more room for experimentation here with the universities pushing intellectual, conceptual andâ€”againâ€”economic boundaries. If you're not under the gun to pay huge overhead on your studio space, you can afford to take a few more risks. It allows room to be more experimental.
Alibi: Has the Alibi influenced the art scene in Albuquerque?
Vivette: Yeah, itâ€™s helped get people to events.
Richard: Yeah, and when they started and when we started, we used to do art walks. The city arts organization did that. The city was divided into three or four sectors so the Northeast Heights had one and Downtown and the University area together had one and the Valley had one. I think that was it. And we used to do them regularly. Everybody in the area would be open on a certain day, and we would take out ads together and that was in the calendar section and thatâ€™s how people knew about that stuff.
So you've probably heard of this crazy thing called early voting... ever tried it? I have. It's totally the best. You get hit with a rush of patriotic power, like, as soon as you walk in because you get to vote almost as soon as you walk in.
Seriously, though, I highly recommend it. The longest I've ever had to wait for early voting was maybe three minutes. Compared to what I saw for the primary election earlier this yearâ€”crazy long lines and wait timesâ€”and, personally, I expect there will more people this time around.
Early voting is easy. You can literally google, â€śearly voting near meâ€ť and polling stations near you will come up on your screen. Go here and they'll even tell you what the wait time currently is! If you're concerned about time, your employer legally has to give you time off to vote.
Voting is important, particularly this election cycle. Please vote. And the sooner, the better. Good luck fam. Early voting ends Nov. 5.
Throughout your evening at the Fetish Formal, you will have a variety of amusements offered to you: in the Dungeon of Visual Delights, demonstrations of some delicious play; in the air, dancers on trapeze, silk and lyra; from the stage, singers and burlesque dancers; working their way through the crowd with treats from our caterer, our cast of brilliant beauties. The people we've affectionately dubbed the "Cabaret Cast" are our multitalented performers who are singing, dancing and exercising their exhibitionism for your pleasure.
River Delacour has been heating up stages in Albuquerque and beyond and is one of the founding members of Arthaus Burlesque. This vixen brings not only beauty and brains, but also some of the most fabulous fetishistic skillsâ€”it is our pleasure to bring this talent to our stage and the Dungeon of Visual Delights. If you enjoy heels, you'll not want to miss what River does to our MC, or what a pair of scissors and the best of intentions will do to Rozalyn Black's formalwear.
Rozalyn Black will be gracing us on the main stage with an offering of burlesque. Rozie was a fan favorite at Alibi on Tap, and we're delighted to have her join us for the Formal. Ms. Black is a succubus who feeds off her audience, and we tempted her to the Formal by bragging about how fantastic you'll all look. Find her on stage, in the Dungeon of Visual Delights and turning heads as she moves through the crowd.
Eddi Fication just made his premier debut at Arthaus Burlesque Presents: Virgins & Veterans at the Keshet Dance Company stage. Eddi is a high-flying boylesque bombshell, and we'll be taking to the dance floor as he sings for us at the Formal. He'll also be serving as our lead waitstaff, as he has a certain way of being exactly where he's needed at just the right time.
Dancer, martial artist and nationally known burlesque performer Kit Kombat will be on hand to wow and serve the guests of the formal. This founding member of Arthaus Burlesque will be leading the way on the dance floor and offering themself as tribute to our own Curio Lecter, Bloody Maven of Burlesque and one of our hosts for the evening.
These four, plus Curio and Julian (Addams-Wolf) makeup the members of Arthaus Burlesque, and the troupe that plays together, stays together. Arthaus believes in art for art's sake, and we love the art of stripping and turning our fetishistic delights into exhibitionist expressions for your satisfaction.
And that's not all. One of the veterans from Virgins & Veterans and core members of Cabaret Audacity is going to be performing on piano, in the Dungeon of Visual Delights, and is our featured boylesque performer. Known as the Arcane Master to many, and Satyricon to fans of burlesque, this "professional hot mess" is bringing his bestâ€”and that means music, toybag and talented handsâ€”to our party.
DJ, musician and artist Kate SC will be spinning originals, handling the music for our featured performers and giving you a reason to ask that person who caught your eye to dance. A favorite at Alchemy, and able to adapt to our unique surroundings, we can't wait to see what the brain behind Crystal Stasis is going to bring us.
We also have friends and playmates from around the kink community coming to play with us in the Dungeon of Visual Delights. You'll know them along with our staff above by their custom January Shop necklaces with "a" charms and their white fishnets.
Since you didn't watch the VP debate last night here's the rundown, you gad damn millennial.
Just in case you're being monitored, encrypt your messages on Facebook just in case.
Are there limits to aging?
If you need to calm down for a minute, I highly recommend checking out these works of art.
What the fuck is a Marionberry and why are Oregonians obsessed with it?
Evacuations are beginning as Hurricane Matthew hits the US.
Jessica Kelley has a long history of assaulting people before she allegedly tortured and murdered 10-year-old Victoria Martens.
This artist has been known for documenting her interactions with strangers since the late '90s. Presently, she continues to meet people and photograph them in a way that's intimate, bold and strange.
The trial for the â€śOregon Occupiersâ€ť officially begins today.
How could Apple possibly inconvenience people more than when they changed their charger?
Google is making it a priority to stop people from joining ISIS on their watch.
Mexico's finance minister has resigned for literally no reason.
Artist Alina Kunitsyna expresses her fascination with peoples' interpersonal lives in a very unique way.
Let's all take a moment of silence and watch Young Frankenstein followed by Willy Wonka and maybe Blazing Saddles after that if there's time. RIP, Gene Wilder. You left behind quite a legacy.
Half a million dollars worth of cows was stolen from a farm in New Zealand sometime between the beginning of July and now. Poirot, we need you on the case.
Well, we did it. Humans have officially created a new epoch, distinguished by the horrifying extent that we've managed to alter the natural world with our plastic-y presence and nuclear bombs. Welcome to the Anthropocene.
Remember Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford University? His six-month jail sentence was cut down to three on grounds of â€śgood behaviorâ€ť and an unhappy public is already planning protests for his release.
The ocean is a better artist than I am.
Scientists have come up with a new theory about our Australopithecus ancestor, Lucy, claiming that she fell from a tree. Some scientists reject the theory, calling the paper â€śclick baitâ€ť for media coverage. Regardless of who's right, it's an interesting read.