Lawrimore Project Q&A's

Interviews with Scott Lawrimore and his former boss, gallery owner Greg Kucera.

Scott Lawrimore Seattle Weekly:I know you worked at Greg Kucera Gallery and Davidson Gallery, and Foster/White as well. How long did you stay at each one? Scott Lawrimore: Kucera, precisely five years (as promised to Greg). Davidson, three years. Foster/White, one and a half years.  That seems like a lot of moving around in 10 years. Were you intentionally trying to get a taste of different art-business models for your own research? I wasn't necessarily looking at it that way until I was at Davidson and had the opportunity to move to Greg's. To his credit and my good fortune, Don Foster was the first to hire me (he liked my handshake and vintage Bulova watch), after I had been rejected by [gallery owners] Linda Cannon and Bryan Ohno. I couldn't have asked for a better indoctrination to the Seattle arts scene, the glass movement, and above all, how a dealer conducts himself with the utmost class and élan. But I was just a "schlepper" at F/W. I hung shows, swept floors, transported art, packed Chihulys, etc. I had very little to do with sales, programming, and the like—essentially negating all of my art historical background.  When the opportunity to be the director of the painting and sculpture department at Davidson Galleries arose, I jumped at the chance, thinking I could steer the ship there a little more. You might want to ask Sam [Davidson] how he thinks I did with that when I was there, but I felt like for every forward stride I made with new artists and programming, I was constantly working against a 25-year history and it was tough to get clients/critics/curators to recognize the shift that I was trying to initiate. It was a terribly hard decision to leave there because of my admiration and respect for Sam and the freedom he allowed me, but ever since moving to Seattle, I recognized that Greg was the best "fit" in town for my training, interests, and aspirations, and I was not proven wrong.  So it is a combination of those three classy, trustworthy, smart influences that makes me what I am today. Without that combination, I would have never been able to conceive and execute the Project the way I have. Why have you chosen the term "project" for your space, instead of, say, "gallery" or "art box"? (OK, I'm just kidding about the last one.) This was a grand debate that all of us [the art trio SuttonBeresCuller, whose work inaugurates the gallery, and architects Lead Pencil Studio] had. I felt like it was important to have my name attached to the space, so it wouldn't be construed as an "alternative" space or cooperative or a nonprofit. We went through all the typical possibilities with my name (Space, Exhibitions, Contemporary, Presents—but never Gallery) to some not-so-typical (Airport, Site, Ark, Faction, Camp, International), but we all just kept returning to the open-ended possibilities of the term "project."  There were precedents: Regen Projects, The Project (now Projectile), Western Projects, Deitch Projects, etc., and they were all programs that I admired and saw as analogues to what I was trying to achieve in Seattle. The same way that I think of the word "art" as being more of a verb than a noun, "project" has the same duality—it's an ever-evolving, though focused, avenue of inquiry; it is its own discourse, but I hope that has the potential for "projecting" itself into the larger realm of contemporary art discourse. "Project" also has its Indo-European roots in "ye"—"to throw," a nice corollary to my guiding poem on taking chances, Mallarmé's "A Throw of the Dice." How much has it cost you so far to create and open the space? I have been asked this by others, and I feel it does not serve the project, the space as an object of architectural scrutiny, my designers, my contractors, nor myself to answer it directly. Suffice to say, it came in on budget (if not on time), and the "sweat equity" put into the project by Lead Pencil, SuttonBeresCuller, and others cannot be reduced to a number. One also has to take into consideration Lead Pencil's preternatural ability to bring elegance and "expensiveness" out in the simplest and most economical of materials—the Project is, after all, nothing more than cement board, steel, plywood, and paint. . . .  Greg Kucera Seattle Weekly: Did you go to Scott's grand opening last Thursday night? Greg Kucera: Yes, of course we went to it. Wild horses couldn't have kept me away! What do you think of his space and his approach, both to presenting art and to the business of dealing in it? I think the space is wildly good: Smart, witty, clever, multifaceted, ambitious, cheeky, intelligent, inventive, humorous, and classy—a perfect summation of Scott's personality and tastes. Lead Pencil continues to amaze me with their ingenuity. What do you think Scott's space and stable of artists will add to the city? The approach and the stable remain to be fleshed out, but this opening is a good indication and a bright prediction of what's to come. I have kidded Scott in asking whether his business is at the intersection of Commercialism and Idealism or whether those are parallel streets that don't cross. In fact, I think Scott will navigate them well. He's better prepared upon the opening of his business than I ever was. If there's a drawback, it's in starting out at the top of the game, but I don't fear for Scott. He is very bright. When I started, I had nowhere to go but up. Scott starts out with a wonderful, quality space and an intriguing group of artists. That's a serious leg up but a greater risk as well. I love the artists he has started with. Is this a welcome addition to the local contemporary art scene—or a vanity project? Yes, it's a great addition to the scene. No, it's not a vanity project. He told me before I even hired him that this was his end goal. He made it happen earlier than I would have liked, but he's done it brilliantly. I miss his collaboration in my own business. Would you agree that his space helps shift the focus of the city's more vibrant and edgy art scene even more decisively toward the Tashiro-Kaplan corridor/southeast? Won't you guys be able to soon secede from Pioneer Square entirely?! He is certainly appropriate to the idea of [establishing an] "East Edge" [art scene], but whether it moves south any further or decisively is anyone's guess. Whether Seattle can come out in full force to support a gallery so devoted to video, film, installation, and concept is [also] unknown, but Scott surely realizes that his market is elsewhere regardless. I don't mean to sound like a cheerleader for Scott, but I am an unreserved fan. speters@seattleweekly.com

 
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