We are excited to have gallerist and curator Ken Harman Hashimoto for an “Ask Me Anything” interview – this Thursday July 26th Noon-2pm PST. If you’re a member you can log into our Booooooom Slack Community and ask Ken questions live. If you’re not a member, you can still ask a question here in the comments below, and we’ll post them to Ken on Thursday. You can learn more about becoming a member here.
Ken runs three galleries, Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco, and two Spoke Art galleries (NYC and SF), as well as the The People’s Print Shop and Paragon Books. If you have any questions for him related to approaching a gallery, representation, curation, publishing, anything, this is your chance.
Jeff Hamada: You’re running three galleries now, Hashimoto Contemporary and Spoke Art in San Francisco and a second Spoke Art space in New York, can you talk a little bit about the way you’re curating them?
Ken Harman Hashimoto: Sure thing! The two programs are markedly different and I think that reflects more on my personal tastes and the fact that I love many types and styles of art. As a general rule of thumb, Spoke tends to lean more figurative, illustrative and pop culture while Hashimoto typically is more contemporary, conceptual or abstract.
JH: Do you ever show work that you don’t personally like?
KHH: Never – that would defeat the whole point of owning your own art gallery!
JH: How would you describe the role of a curator now that we live in an age of algorithms?
KHH: That’s a great question. I’d suggest that a curator’s role is even more important now than ever. While algorithms are certainly convenient, the fact of the matter is that they’ve taken over how we consume media, what we’re exposed to and what we see first in our IG feeds. As such, almost everything that we experience online is dictated by some lines of code, with no real consideration or thought. As curators, we make conscious decisions ranging from how work is presented, where, and along with what, that no algorithm will ever be able to do (at least for now.)
JH: Can you describe one piece of art in your home?
KHH: Probably one of the most interesting pieces of art in my home is an original painting by Rich Pellegrino, done in the style of Egon Schiele, titled “Two Lesbians Masturbating”. The painting was featured in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel, it’s the lewd painting of… well, two lesbians masturbating, which replaces “The Boy With Apple”. Needless to say, it’s quite the conversation starter.
JH: Why should people buy art?
KHH: Well, firstly there are certainly many worst ways to spend your money! Buying art is a transformative experience and everyone should participate in that at least once, whether that’s an original work or a limited edition. More importantly, buying art supports artists, so if you enjoy seeing cool art every day on social media then help do your part by supporting the artists who work tirelessly make art for you to enjoy.
JH: I know Takashi Murakami bought some works of a fairly young artist through you, is that the kind of experience that motivates you to do what you’re doing?
KHH: Takashi has been an amazing supporter of the arts, not just with us but also with countless artists and galleries. Over the past couple years he’s purchased works by GATS, Dan Quintana and Ana Bagayan from us. Our experiences with Takasahi don’t necessarily motivate us to do what we do, but rather remind us the importance of patronage and contributing to the greater art ecosystem. His passion for supporting emerging artists and using his position in the art world to further younger artist’s careers is incredibly inspiring.
JH: As if the galleries are not enough work, you also run Paragon Books and The People’s Print Shop. Tell me about those!
KHH: Haha, yeah we keep pretty busy! Paragon Books is a relatively new venture and one I’m very excited for. For that, we’re looking at the art book publishing world and trying new ways to adapt to the changing market. Our first two titles, Suggestivism: Resonance and The Moleskine Project Volume II are wrapping up right now and should be delivering to our warehouse soon, very excited to get them in hand! The People’s Print Shop has been around for a few years, however most recently it’s really taken off under the leadership of my friend Zach Tutor (of Supersonic Art fame) who works tirelessly to bring a brand new limited edition print into the world every week. It’s a great platform for us to provide more opportunities for our artists and to also test out folks new to our gallery program.
JH: I usually end interviews with these two questions: What’s something you’d like to accomplish this year? And what’s something you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
KHH: For this year, my priority is to grow our presence in New York City and expand our book publishing with some new monographs. For the long term, I’d love to open a space in Los Angeles, eventually look to expand overseas, and of course, keep working with and supporting our amazing artists for many, many more years to come.
Ken Harman Hashimoto AMA – Thursday July 26th Noon-2pm PST
Members can post questions for Ken on Slack in the #AMA channel ahead of time and/or be part of the live discussion. Non-members can post questions for Ken here in the comments below!