Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shana Nys Dambrot, Art Critic, Writer, Editor,Essayist, An Interview with Cathy Breslaw

Shana Nys Dambrot has been writing all her life. Self described as ‘creative writing’ early on, Nys
Dambrot developed an interest in expository writing and explained that she wants her essays and other writing to be “as engaging as fiction”. When we met at Figaro, a downtown LA eatery and café, Nys Dambrot handed me a catalog that included her recent essay where, in describing Fatemah Burnes’ photographs, she writes:

“They contain ambiguous but accessible bodies in inhabitable spaces; but amid the hot riot of linear crispness, mingled layers, and saturated color, these presences are not always easy to spot straight away, as individuals are both celebrated and subsumed.”

Wording that could easily be part of a fictional story, her writing conjures up visual imagery that explains the work without seeing the photographs she describes.

When she completed her BA in Art History from Vassar College in New York, not knowing what kind of work might be available for someone with a background in art history, Nys Dambrot asked herself “Is there a job where I can see and think about art and also write about it?” It all began as a child growing up in Connecticut and NY, when she visited many museums. A pivotal moment came  when she visited the Museum of Modern Art  where one painting grabbed her attention. It was by Kazimir Malevich called  “White on White” painted in 1919. Nys Dambrot also talked about a favorite - the Peabody Museum at Yale College, not far from her home where she often visited a collection of small bird paintings painted by J. William Gould, coincidentally an ancestor of hers.

When she was a teenager, she saw the Picasso retrospective which she described as “weird” in that in the show’s totality, she hadn’t seen such a large collection of cubist work before that time. These childhood experiences all led her to choose art history as a major course of study in college. Nys Dambrot described Vassar as the best art history program in the U.S. where she was mentored by several professors who also brought in many well known scholars to speak to the students.

Upon graduation from Vassar, Nys Dambrot got a job at the Guggenheim in N.Y. in their Childrens Education Program. There she helped write grants for a program that brought professional artists in to teach children. After a few years in N.Y. C., she visited a friend in Venice California - another defining moment, that convinced her to move to LA where she quickly got a job as Gallery Assistant at the Patricia Correia Gallery. That position led her to meet many art world folks and she began writing  for Juxtapoz, was contributing editor at Artweek Magazine and wrote for others, and also worked for a collections advisor.  Then in 2002, Nys Dambrot was hired as Managing Editor for Flavorpill, Los Angleles. Nys Dambrot noted that it was great working for a magazine that "took art seriously" as an important part of American culture along with cultural events , politics, books and social issues. She was involved in the creation of 400 issues of Flavorpill when she left in 2010.

In more recent years, Nys Dambrot has written a multitude of catalog essays, been involved in internet TV shows, curating, being on panel discussions, and has written for a large array of magazines including Flavorwire, Modern Painters, Art News, Artkrush, Art Ltd.,Art Review, Whitehot, Coagula, Tema Celeste, VS Magazine, Scene Magazine and others. In discussing the nuts and bolts of her philosophy about art writing,  Nys Dambrot said “ I consider my audience to be smart people without degrees.” and that she wants to “inject visual culture into mainstream discourse”.  She commented that she enjoys writing for general culture magazines because she is achieving her aim of art being included, accessible and easy for the general public to read and understand. She believes the term “art critic” is misleading and that she sees herself more as an “art analyst” but admits there is really no good way to describe what she does in her writing about art.

It is remarkable to hear about the sheer number of art reviews, editing, writing and other projects she is engaged in – perhaps the biggest clue to her amazing amount of energy is the “bowl sized” cappuccino coffee she consumed during our meeting. As we were leaving she told me she was off to write another 1,500 word essay. 

Alexander Salazar, Interview with San Diego Art Dealer, Gallery Owner and Businessman in Behind the Scenes Conversations with Cathy Breslaw

Alexander Salazar was born and raised in Houston Texas, the youngest of a family of seven children. 
Alexander Salazar
San Diego is a long way from home – yet he has claimed his roots in a city where he is committed to establishing an arts district. He has over 10 years of experience as an art dealer and has lived and studied in other parts of the U.S. and Europe.  In my conversation at his gallery, Salazar explained that he was first inspired by art when his high school English teacher showed his class slides of her trip to Europe and all the art she saw there.

Salazar received a BA degree in Sociology from Colorado College, an MA in Art History and Sociology from Boston College, and an MTS in Theological Studies from Harvard University.  During his sophomore year in college, he spent a year studying art history in London and Florence. Prior to working in the business of art, Salazar was an educator. He was a middle school advisor at the LULAC Educational Centers in Houston, a college counselor assistant during summer programs at the Phillips and Andover Academies, a college admissions officer at Lesley College, an associate director at the Summerbridge program for middle school students, and a teacher at the Sanchez Charter School where he taught U.S. History, English, Photography and ESL.

Salazar’s jump from educator to art dealer is curious, but that can be explained in his philosophy about selling art. Salazar sees his mission as “teaching people about art”. His first art related job at the Wentworth Galleries in Massachusetts taught him that if you “tell people everything about a piece of art and the artist, you don’t have to ask for the sale”. Salazar moved to San Diego to open a gallery for his previous employer and soon after, he found himself working as an art dealer in La Jolla, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach.  These years of honing his skills and art expertise led him to growing his own retail art spaces and in 2010 he opened his doors as Alexander Salazar Fine Art.

Salazar has accomplished a great deal since 2010, and toward his goal to develop a San Diego arts district. His art spaces include: White Box Contemporary Art, Alexander Salazar Fine Art, Salazar Artist in Residence, and annex locations at the Palomar Hotel, Hilton Bayfront and Andaz Hotel. All of these locations are in close proximity to one another and all serve as sales spaces for art that cover opportunities for both beginning as well as seasoned collectors, art consultants and designers  and a range of artists’ work from emerging to more established artists. He represents mostly painters. Salazar has also branched into doing art fairs including the Aspen Art Fair , Houston Art Fair and San Diego Art Fair.
Alexander Salazar Fine Art Gallery, San Diego

Salazar has put his own personal stamp on the San Diego art scene by taking big risks to open several locations of galleries and serving many different levels of the art community.  He is first and foremost a businessman with a vision for the future while fulfilling a huge need in San Diego for places where art can be both discussed and sold.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Money Stories:How Money & Spirit Combine to Create Abundance, Author Connie Hill discusses her new book in Behind the Scenes Conversations interview

As an artist, I have always struggled with the relationship between making art and making money.  My observations after many years is that often there is no logic to this tenuous connection. There is only a tiny percentage of artists making big money and not many making a living at it. Still, artists persevere – continuing serious art practices in spite of limited earning potential. In a culture that primarily equates success with money earned, an artist’s sense of self and the value of their work is challenged.

In her recently published book, Money Stories: How Money & Spirit Combine to Create Abundance,
Author, Connie Carmichael Hill
Connie Carmichael Hill asks us to explore our relationship with money. Rather than providing answers, Hill writes about money’s influence on our emotional, spiritual and material life. Through 16 interviews she did with well-known spiritual teachers, Hill hopes the reader will gain insights into their own personal journeys to find greater balance, abundance and an understanding about how money operates over the course of our lives.

In our recent interview, Hill talked to me about her life – starting with childhood growing up in a large family in the Midwest As a young teen, Hill met a charismatic youth leader at her church who influenced her spirituality at a ‘deep level’. She was also influenced by  Dr. Albert Schweitzer whose non -traditional life was devoted to helping others. After marrying and having two daughters, Hill and her family moved to Portland, Oregon. There Hill received a BA degree in  Sociology from Portland State University.
Rattle - made in Connie's class

Hill spent the following ten years as a single parent and worked as an administrator at a large electronics company where her computer and public speaking skills were honed while managing the company’s many programs supporting United Way campaigns. After Hill was laid off from the company, her path toward helping others and spirituality was awakened - she decided to take classes in Shamanism and Buddhism. She also pursued her continuing interest in drumming and doing astrological charts. It was at that time that Hill found a job at New Renaissance, a metaphysical bookstore in Portland.  She became their events planner and scheduled all the workshops and lectures related to religion, spirituality, meditation and healing. It is here that Hill expanded her creativity and explored ways of reconciling how money operated in her life.

Money $tories (Book Cover)
Rather than continuing to work in jobs that utilized her skills but that did not fulfill her, Hill chose to follow her own ‘calling’ established many years earlier – serving others and teaching them on their road to finding their path.  This time she planned to focus on her own forms of creativity which include astrology, drumming, tarot, and to answer her nagging questions about money.  Hill did not plan to write a book – the idea came as she began to ask spiritual teachers about their own thoughts on money and bringing creativity and abundance into their lives. When she received an enthusiastic response to requests for interviews, Hill knew she had found her next step – to write her book.

Hill asks us questions about our lives – Are we following the path intended for ourselves? In terms of money, how much is enough and what would ‘enough’ look like? She strongly believes that if we follow our intended path, abundance likely follows.  Hill continues her journey as  leader, teacher and healer and is planning to create a workbook to go along with her book called Finding Your Money Stories and How it Can Help You on Your Road to Abundance.

Connie Hill's Drumming Class
Though it is not a “how to” book about bringing abundance into our lives, these intimate, thought provoking interviews and personal commentary inspire us to ask ourselves about abundance as it relates to creativity as well as providing a guide to evaluating how money operates in our lives. Perhaps thoughtful reflection can assist artists in putting our “money lives” into perspective. As artists, it is vital that we stay on our authentic course in creating work, while reconciling how money operates within this path. ‘Money’ has a long history of conflict – wrestling with its practical necessity and clarifying how we value ourselves and our work. 


Connie Hill encourages readers to respond to her book and those interested in astrological readings, and her classes to contact her at:
Her book  Money Stories is available on