Samantha Brown is a native New Yorker who writes about art for a living. She has reviews in artpractical.com, Artefuse and Artsucks, and is joining both SquatDesignNYC and Moshik Nadav Typography as a freelance marketing copywriter and social media editor. I ask the art critic about her dabbles, some of her favorite places in the city, and what moves her.
LUCIE BEATRIX: Where are you from?
Samantha Brown: A born and bred Manhattanite lol. We’re an interesting breed
What was your relationship with art as a child?
I have to give 100% credit to my mother for exposing me to every artistic medium. We went to the Met, the Natural History Museum, the Guggenheim — all the time. Shakespeare, underground theater, book readings, concerts, painting workshops at the Art Students league. I told her when I was 3, after seeing West Side Story 1000 times, I wanted to be a Musical star (haha) and despite working full-time and being a single parent, she took me to 10 different vocal/acting/dance classes a week. She was always a constant champion of any art form I wanted to try.
Is there a painting that best depicts your life?
That is a fantastic albeit formidable question. I guess the most consistent I connect towards is “Christina’s World,” by Andrew Wyeth, 1948 (which is at the MoMA!!!) A girl, physically handicapped, crawls towards home through a seemingly endless wheat field. The tempera Wyeth used creates this magical poeticism where you can see every fold of her dress, the gold flecks on the strands of wheat, the dilapidated isolated farmhouse. It has this dichotomy between genuine limitations yet a refusal to surrender. I don’t remember NOT feeling that. Did you know Wyeth used two different women for Christina’s physical depiction? Ok… I’m shutting up now. Yikes!
Is there a piece that makes you cry?
Another awesome question. Man, you are GOOD! Margaret M. de Lange’s “Daughters” Series. Like.a.baby
You basically go to art galleries for a living. How long have you been writing about and critiquing art?
How lucky am I! It started in college, which I won’t say how long ago that was because I feel very old… lol. I had incredibly intuitive and insightful professors who challenged the ways I saw and read a work of art in general. My first gallery job, my boss was a wonderful and brilliant man — I credit him with teaching me how to formulate critical theory into a piece of art criticism that was universally accessible.
Besides being right next door to all of all the galleries, what is your favorite thing about living in Chelsea?
Billy’s Bakery, hands down. And the dog parks cuz my girl has to play with every dog she sees on the street.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about what you do?
Sometimes I will go to an opening, and think “Yeesh, really?” And that’s the greatest part, to find out what is the turn-off, that immediate visceral reaction, and expanding the limits of knowledge or experience.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In my wildest dreams, curating the Pompidieu in Paris. The people I have the most respect for aren’t the ones with glamorous careers or a ton of money, but those who are genuinely content with themselves and handle life with grace. So hopefully somewhere in between those.
You’ve also worked in fashion as head of social media for one of the largest modeling agencies in the world. What role does fashion play in your life?
That was such an incredible experience! I learned more in a month there than I had in years at other jobs. I’ve always loved fashion, it can absolutely be seen as high art. Sadly my bank account doesn’t match my fashion taste, but the Met always has wonderful costume exhibits and I can live vicariously through the pages of ID Magazine and Vogue.
Which 20th Century painter would you take to lunch and more important, where would you go?
Egon Schiele, and I bet he’s never been to Wo Hop
Do you make your own art in any way?
I wish. ;( I’m limited in most fine arts skills and have no musical talent, I literally can’t even air guitar properly. But I do love to write, and miss the days of the darkroom.
Are there any artists most people haven’t heard of but should?
Haha, Can I be Switzerland with this one? I would say to anyone that they should challenge the convention of their daily routine. Go to a concert of someone you’ve never heard of, a museum, a reading series. You may hate some things, or find an artist or art form that inspires you to move in a creative direction.
Is there a quote you could say is your life mantra?
“Humanity I love you because when you’re hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink…” –E.E. Cummings
It’s my reminder to look at others with compassion first, rather than in judgment. We are all flawed and fight our own battles, and we don’t really know what goes on inside someone else’s world.