PaperCity Magazine

April 2015 - Houston

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In this PaperCity exclusive, Marilyn Minter chats en studio with one of the prognosticators who launched her career: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston director Bill Arning, co-architect of the provocative artist's traveling retrospective that begins its four-stop, two-year national tour Friday, April 17, in Houston. FLASHBACK TO THE 1980S Bill Arning: Okay, Marilyn, I've been an early studio visitor for hundreds of artists over the years, and then I've given artists shows in different parts of my life, and there's always that fantasy of "One day I'll be curating your retrospective." So far, this is the first time it's actually happened. When we did that first show together at White Columns [in 1989], was there any sense that this was the start of a sort of multi-decade dance? Marilyn Minter: I remember after you left, I thought, 'Well, that was a real bust.' I can usually tell if there's some enthusiasm. And it was this huge disappointment because you were the notorious spotter of fresh talent. And then a week later you called me up and asked if I wanted to have a one- person show at White Columns, and you wanted to buy some work. I almost fell over. And then you told me … that you have to have a poker face, because artists get too invested in every single word you say. Bill: You were one of my educators, in terms of the actual politics of being a woman artist in that period. I had assumed, because my generation of art folks and museum folks coming up were so open to being centered around women, gay people and people of color, that this was what the art world was. And, I was coming out of the alternative space scene, where that was our focus. You were like, "Oh no, honey, when you walk into the Odeon as a woman artist …" MM: I think back in the '80s, the collectors were all men … They weren't used to feminism. They were mostly older gentlemen, and they all had mothers that didn't work. So the only painter that they knew that was female was probably Susan Rothenberg. And there were so many terrific artists. Joan Mitchell was just genius but was considered second-rate back in the '80s. It was our lot in life, and my theory then was just "I'm not going to go away. You're going to have to pay attention to me sooner or later." But you were in the alternative world, and White Columns was in an alternative world, and that's why I liked it. Bill: But people blame my years at White Columns for the turning of the emerging into this hot PHOTOGRAPHY BENJAMIN FREDRICKSON. EDITED BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON. COURTESY THE ARTIST, SALON 94, NYC AND REGEN PROJECTS, L.A. Marilyn Minter's Wangechi Gold 4, 2009 Marilyn Minter and Bill Arning at the artist's NYC studio, December 2014

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