In Conversation: @picklebeholding

Pickle viewing the exhibition Repetition and Difference, the Jewish Museum. Images courtesy of Katie Howard and Nat Ward

The Jewish Museum recently welcomed Miss Pickle, the French bulldog who has become a New York art world and Instagram sensation. An art advisor and avid contemporary art follower, Katie Howard has been documenting her dog’s visits to leading galleries and art fairs across Manhattan by way of the Instagram account @picklebeholding. We sat down with Katie and her fiancée, the artist Nat Ward, to discuss their respective relationships with the Museum, Pickle’s experiences exploring the New York art scene, and their reactions to the Jewish Museum’s current exhibitions.

The Jewish Museum: What inspired you to create an Instagram account devoted both to your four-year-old bulldog and fine art?

Katie Howard: The idea and inspiration for the account came about really organically. Before any of it started, Pickle always came to openings and art events with Nat and me when it was appropriate. Then, a few years ago, Korakrit Arunanondchai made a runway for his show at Suzanne Geiss. There was a baby already on the runway, so we put Pickle on it too, and everyone was taking so many pictures. That was the first little flicker of the idea.

JM: Artsy included Pickle on its list of “Instagram influencers,” and The Daily Beast dubbed Pickle the “Art World’s Favorite Canine Blogger.” What do you make of Pickle’s popularity?

KH: I think the funniest title was that of a recent article with Art:I:Curate, calling her “The Art World’s Most Powerful Dog.” I continue to be amazed at the positive reactions people have to our project. The Instagram appeals to so many kinds of people, and I love that she can introduce our insulated art world to people who don’t know much about it.  Although I will say, it is strange to walk around the galleries without her now. With her, we get so much love from everyone — sometimes the entire staff at a gallery will come out and greet her.

JM: The Jewish Museum is honored to be the first museum to host Miss Pickle. Katie, how have you experienced the Museum in the past, and can you share any memories of your visits here?

Pickle viewing the exhibition Repetition and Difference, the Jewish Museum. Images courtesy of Katie Howard and Nat Ward

KH: We are so excited for the Jewish Museum to host Pickle, it really is the perfect “first” museum for us. Having grown up only a few blocks away from here, the Jewish Museum has always been a staple. For me, the most memorable exhibition in recent history, other than the shows up now, was Masters of American Comics (2006). As someone who grew up not knowing much about comics, I just loved learning about the influential role of comics as a form of entertainment and propaganda.

JM: Nat, you are also connected to the Museum, as you recently participated in our May 10 program In Response: Repetition and Difference, which invited Columbia University Visual Arts MFA candidates and alumni to mount time-based projects in response to our exhibition Repetition and Difference. Like Pickle, you took over the institution for a day and shared your video piece on the Museum’s wayfinding screens. How is your work Autoequivalent 1 & 2 (excerpt) in dialogue with the exhibition, and what was it like to present your piece at an institution like this?

Nat Ward: I decided to respond to both the process and meditative intent of N. Dash’s Commuter series as well as to the ritual objects from the Museum’s collection that add meaning and spiritual depth to repetitive iterations of daily movement. I mapped my own daily movement for two days with a video camera recording the sky as I drove from my home to the location of my current project in south Florida. You can view an excerpt of the video piece here: https://vimeo.com/130468100. The Museum has such a rich history of curatorial innovation and scholarship. I’m excited to have participated in the further development of that programming. It’s amazing to have an opportunity like that as a young artist.

JM: @picklebeholding has become a one-stop shop for hearing about what’s on at major galleries and, of course, for indulging in adorable puppy pictures. How do you select which exhibitions to visit? Do you ask galleries and fairs for permission to bring Pickle along, and do they ever seek you out? We, for one, couldn’t resist reaching out to Pickle.

KH: Pickle and I spend two to four days a month trying to hit as many galleries in Chelsea and the Lower East Side as possible. We typically stick to ground floor galleries because Pickle is really afraid of stairs. I don’t ask galleries for permission, but I now know which don’t allow dogs. I do ask permission at fairs and museums because their policies are different, and I wouldn’t want to upset anyone with what we are doing. A few institutions have reached out to me — The Armory Show and the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) have both been so welcoming, even issuing Pickle her own press pass.

JM: Pickle has been pictured sitting on sculptures at the Armory Show, and she is always off the leash around apparently fragile, and often valuable, works of art. Have you experienced any backlash in response to posing a dog near (or on) such works? We imagine that not all artists and gallerists would be pleased.

KH: Pickle and I are always extremely cautious around art and sculptures. She is off leash when we take the pictures, but she is on leash at all other times — and once the photo is snapped, the leash goes right back on. And, to clear the record, whenever she is sitting on art directly, I always ask permission from the gallery as well as often from the artist. There was very little backlash from the start, and practically none now that she is more well known. But, if I ever sense there might be an issue, I ask permission, and do my best to do so within guidelines that make the artist and gallerist happy.

JM: Pickle has explored the temporary exhibitions Revolution of the Eye, Laurie Simmons: How We See, and Repetition and Difference. Any sense of her reaction to the moving images, contemporary and modern paintings, photographic portraits, and historic objects and Judaica on view? Crossing our fingers that our exhibitions are up to sniff.

KH: I really loved all of the exhibitions! Especially Repetition and Difference, which is a wonderful show that brings cultural and historical references to contemporary art, and vice versa. Pickle is a dog, so she mostly loves the attention and meeting new people when we go to galleries and museums. And she absolutely loved her Kosher dog bone toy — a perfect gift from the Jewish Museum Shop! She has been showing it to everyone.

Pickle wearing a Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Chantal Joffe exhibition scarf, the Jewish Museum Shop. Images courtesy of Katie Howard and Nat Ward

JM: Finally, what can we expect for Pickle’s future art adventures? We hope to see her back at the Jewish Museum in the fall; she may like the status quo-breaking contemporary art featured in the upcoming group show Unorthodox

KH: We would love to come back to the Museum in the fall! Right now we have expanded from just the Instagram to also a website, artblogdogblog.com. It features more images from each exhibition than we show on Instagram. We are working on scheduling more studio visits and interviews with artists. We are also looking into collaborating with artists to create doggy art apparel!

Check out our Instagram and Facebook for more photos of Pickle @TheJewishMuseum!

— Julie Reiter, Marketing Associate, the Jewish Museum, with thanks to Samantha Sharon, Marketing Specialist

Please note that while the Museum is service dog friendly, pets are not generally allowed.

Introducing the Young Patron Program

(Top left) 2015 Purim Ball attendees Will Palley, Hillary Reinsberg, Melanie Baevsky, Audrey Gelman, Stephanie Roach, and Jared Effron, photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com. | (Top right) Attendees of the March 9 opening of Repetition and Difference in front of an installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas, photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com | (Bottom right) Cheim & Read presents Chantal Joffe: Night Self-Portraits to the Jewish Museum Young Patron Program on May 21. | (Bottom middle) 2015 Purim Ball After Party attendees, photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com. | (Bottom right) Craig Rosenberg and Ruthie Nachmany, Cheim & Read presents Chantal Joffe: Night Self-Portraits to the Jewish Museum Young Patron Program on May 21.

 

The Young Patron Program offers one of the newest avenues for engaging with the Jewish Museum’s rich history of art and Jewish culture. It comprises a dynamic group of young professionals and art supporters, ages 21 – 40, who recognize the importance of the institution and its mission.

Young Patrons benefit from a host of unique and exclusive experiences. Geared toward deeper engagement with the Museum as a cultural touchstone and social hub, participants enjoy a curated calendar of 10 to 12 exciting events per year including Shabbat dinners, art gallery tours, networking receptions, curator-led programs, and other social gatherings.

The Chelsea gallery Cheim & Read kindly hosted the Jewish Museum’s Young Patron Program for a launch event on Thursday, May 21. Young Patrons celebrated the astounding work of Chantal Joffe with an evening of conversation, champagne, and hors d’oeuvres. Many young professionals joined Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, and Joffe for an in-depth discussion about the artist’s work, which is currently on view at the Jewish Museum and at Cheim & Read.

Join as a Young Patron ($180+) today to receive exclusive invitations to our upcoming events:

  • July 12: Lunch at a private art collector’s home in the Hamptons followed by a guided tour of Art Southampton, the premier contemporary and modern art fair in the Hamptons

Young Patrons carry on a tradition of giving and involvement that for more than 110 years has allowed the Museum to build its renowned collection. Consider joining the Young Patron Program or gifting a Young Patron membership, and take part in this vibrant community of young New Yorkers.

— Jacqueline Spar, Development Associate, Young Patrons, the Jewish Museum

Another Strong Year for
In Response: A Partnership
with Columbia University

Yujin Lee and Nicole Maloof: The Story (2015)

 

On Sunday, May 10,the first three floors of the Jewish Museum were taken over by contemporary artists affiliated with Columbia University’s School of the Arts. The basement, halls, and auditorium — and even the lobby’s wayfinding screens and security check point — were temporarily occupied by mixed media installations, video art, performances, and… a boy band?

For a second consecutive year, the Jewish Museum has collaborated with Columbia University to form a unique partnership program entitled “In Response.” Current students and alumni of the University’s Visual Arts MFA program are invited each year to propose, workshop, and mount individual time-based projects in response to a current exhibition. To help facilitate their creative process, the participants are given access to exhibition materials and invited to the Museum for an in-depth walkthrough and discussion with the show’s curators. As a grand finale, areas throughout the Museum are handed over to the participants as venues to present their work. The main goal of the workshop is to provide emerging artists with an opportunity to produce and exhibit work in a museum setting. Reciprocally, this program also provides a visual discourse between contemporary art practices and the Museum’s curatorial concepts.

Tracy Molis: A Numbers Station for Radical Shapes (2014)

“In Response” was conceived as part of a greater initiative to expand the Museum’s partnerships with neighboring universities. To develop a general structure for the workshop, the Jewish Museum’s Chris Gartrell, Coordinator of Adult Programs, and Jenna Weiss, Manager of Public Programs, worked closely with Columbia University’s Shelly Silver, Chair of the Visual Arts MFA Program, and Daisy Nam, Associate Director of Public Programs for the School of the Arts. Last year’s program, in response to the exhibition Other Primary Structures, featured an impressive array of installation and performance-based ephemeral works that touched on such diverse reference points as globalization in the art world, punk critiques of the Establishment, and the psychedelic color experiments of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.

META META META, LLC: Fertility Statuettes (2015)

This year’s program responded to the exhibition Repetition and Difference, the premise of which is based on the writings of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. All the participants boldly took on the theoretical concepts outlined in the curatorial statement and translated these ideas into nuanced explorations of “repetition” and “difference” in contemporary society. As one of three works, the collaborative team META META META, LLC (Leah Wolff and Guy Ben-Ari) manufactured and sold dozens of “fertility statuettes” modeled after the Judaica figurines included in the exhibition. Part performance and part conceptual art, the piece draws parallels between the fetishism of cultural objects and kitschy, mass-produced consumer goods.

In a powerful piece entitled The Story, Yujin Lee and Nicole Maloof explored the impact of history and popular culture on perceptions of race in America, through a combination of video and live performance.

Perhaps the greatest spectacle of the evening was Bora Kim’s project: I’m Making a Boy Band (IMMABB). Just as the title indicates, Kim built a K-Pop style boy band from scratch and produced their first single, which debuted as a live performance inside Scheuer Auditorium.

In the last two years alone, the program has become an anticipated event for both the Museum and Columbia crowds. After another successful year, the organizers hope that the workshop will continue annually as a newly embraced tradition for both Columbia University and the Jewish Museum.

 

Bora Kim: I’m Making a Boy Band (2015)

 

For more images and coverage of the event, check out our Facebook album!

— Theresa Hioki, Public Programs Intern, the Jewish Museum