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This episode features a special roundtable conversation ahead of Independent 2024, the fair’s 15th anniversary edition. Andrew Russeth, an editor at Artnet News, speaks with Elizabeth Dee, CEO and founder of Independent, and Matthew Higgs, founding curatorial advisor, about the major milestones through the 15-year history of the fair.

Artist Joel Mesler makes a special guest appearance looking back at his live painting sessions for Independent in 2019, when he created portraits of visitors at the fair to benefit White Columns. Mesler returns to Independent this year to restage the memorable presentation in honor of the 15th anniversary.

Later in the episode, Russeth and Dee speak with Forrest Arakawa-Nash, executive director of Contemporary Art Library, and art dealer Jay Gorney about The New York Gallery History Project, a major new digital archiving initiative co-organized by Independent and Contemporary Art Library.



Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Andrew Russeth is an art critic based in New York. Currently the editor of Artnet News Pro, he has been executive editor of ARTnews and an editor at The New York Observer. From late 2020 to early 2024, he was based in Seoul. In 2019, he was awarded the Rabkin Prize for visual arts journalism. His writing has appeared in various newspapers, magazines, and exhibition catalogues.

Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Photography by Sancho Scott.

Elizabeth Dee is Founder and CEO of Independent New York, Independent 20th Century and is a professor at New York University. From 2020-2022, she was the Founding Executive Director of The John Giorno Foundation in New York. After two decades of dedication to gallery practice and collaborating with artists, she regularly lectures on the future of the art market.

Previously, Dee was a gallerist in New York for twenty years, representing a global roster of artists, such as John Giorno, Adrian Piper and Ryan Trecartin among others, and co-produced ten movies with Trecartin. She has organized more than 250 exhibitions with artists, museums and foundations. She also was a curatorial advisor to the Kramlich Collection in San Francisco, the world's largest private collection of video art of the 20th Century. Elizabeth has been profiled in many international publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vogue.

Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Photography by Aubrey Mayer.

Matthew Higgs is the director and chief curator of White Columns, New York's oldest alternative art space. Over the past thirty years Higgs has organized more than 200 exhibitions and his writing has appeared in more than fifty books and publications. He is currently a Contributing Editor at The Paris Review. Since 2010 Higgs has been the curatorial advisor to the Independent art fair and is, with Elizabeth Dee, the cofounder of Independent 20th Century.

Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Photography by Jenny Gorman.

Joel Mesler’s (b. 1974, Los Angeles) paintings shed light on universal themes by filtering them through autobiography, humor, self-deprecation, and surprising compositional juxtapositions. Childhood memories fuel meditations on design and popular iconography, not to mention the liquid, fluid, and mutable nature of the painting process. In recent years, Mesler has explored the power of acceptance, allowing emotions—as well as the cultural forms in which they become constellated—to exist at the center of his project. Mesler has also broadened his visual range, incorporating new motifs in the patterned backgrounds that provide the foundation for each composition and experimenting with increasingly elaborate ways of rendering typography. Their wry surrealism and emphasis on words and phrases place Mesler’s paintings in dialogue with the work of artists like Ed Ruscha and Christopher Wool, who engage with language and the relationship between text and image. But Mesler’s concerns are very much his own, and however lighthearted their surfaces read upon first glance, his paintings pose serious questions: How is a self constituted when it is not consistent from moment to moment? Where does pain end and healing begin?

Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Forrest Arakawa-Nash is the executive director and founder of Contemporary Art Library and Contemporary Art Daily.

Previously Unknown Podcast Episode 5: A History of Independent - Features - Independent Art Fair

Independent art advisor and curator Jay Gorney was born in 1952 in Brooklyn, New York, and studied art history with Ellen Johnson at Oberlin College, where he received his BA in 1973 and and was in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1972.  In 1985 he founded Jay Gorney Modern Art in New York City’s East Village; the gallery later moved to Greene Street in Soho. During its 14-year run, Jay Gorney Modern Art represented Martha Rosler, James Welling, Gillian Wearing, Haim Steinbach, Jessica Stockholder, Catherine Opie, Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Bloom, and Allen Ruppersberg, among others, and mounted major exhibitions of the work of Richard Prince, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Joseph Kosuth.  

As director of Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s contemporary program from 2005–2013, Gorney built a vibrant program centered around mid-career and younger talents, including Virginia Overton, Chris Martin, William Pope.L, Martha Rosler and Chris Johanson.   He mounted a historical exhibition of Jack Goldstein’s painting, films, and records in 2005, a two-person show of paintings by Joe Bradley and Chris Martin in 2010, and an exhibition of works by Virginia Overton, Jacob Kassay, and Robert Morris in 2013. Between 2013 and 2017, Gorney organized exhibitions of the work of Ray Johnson, Mathew Cerletty, Deborah Remington, and Roger Brown.  Between 2017 and 2019, Gorney was a Director at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, where he organized an extensive exhibition of Sarah Charlesworth’s early work and worked closely with several gallery artists and estates, including Paul Pfeiffer, David Novros, and the estate of Douglas Huebler.