Monica King Contemporary
Spring to Action
Apr 15th – May 31st
25% going to support
FEED the FRONTLINES NYC
To support New York City and the world in the ongoing battle against COVID-19, Monica King Contemporary’s “Spring to Action” benefit exhibition features 25% of each sale going directly to Feed the Frontlines, a grassroots initiative that has provided over 60,000 (and this number is growing each day!) free meals to the hospital staffs around the city bravely working to save lives and end this global pandemic.Through supporting this exhibition, the cultural community will be helping frontline healthcare workers, the struggling local restaurant industry, and artists from MKC and beyond who are trying to continue creating during this turbulent time.
To learn more about how this initiative was born and the impact it has garnered, we spoke to gallery owner Monica King where she explains more about how this pandemic has changed the approaches taken as a gallery owner, and the importance to give back to our community during these testing times.
You only opened your gallery on Lispenard St in September, all of this must be quite a shock! What inspired you to open up your own gallery space?
I opened the gallery in September of 2019 to feed an overwhelming, if slightly insane, desire to support art and artists via a program that was warm, inclusive, critically focused, and collaborative. I certainly did not include the phrase ‘global pandemic’ in my initial business plan– and being closed to the public for such a vast amount of time has been surreal, to say the least. That said, I think that this moment has actually further crystalized a genuine engagement with artists, culture, and the larger world in a positive way. I think we will all emerge from this global moment a bit more sensitive to and appreciative of our own cultural voices, regardless of how strong we thought they were before COVID-19.
How has your gallery been adjusting to the COVID-19 shutdowns?
Almost as soon as I locked the gallery door on March 13th, I knew that I needed to do something to continue to support artists and my beloved city during such a challenging moment. The ‘Spring to Action’ online benefit exhibition for ‘Feed the Frontlines NYC’ thus emerged in the days that followed. The last few weeks have seen me and my amazing team (Jenny Mushkin Goldman and Macey Tam) building a virtual exhibition of over 50 artists and over 125 works … from our living rooms via zoom and text. We had no idea what the response to the initiative would be as it started to take shape, but we are thrilled to say that we have already sold over 20 works in the first two weeks. This week, we cut our first check to Feed the Frontlines NYC—which in turn served 167 hot meals to NYC hospital staffs. Much more lies ahead as we continue this initiative through the end of May, and we are adding new artworks almost every day. ‘Spring to Action’ has been immensely healing for everyone involved– us, the artists, the collectors– all navigating such a difficult period in our individual and collective histories.
Can you tell us about the benefit show you are hosting “Spring to Action” supporting Feed The Frontlines?
The online benefit exhibition ‘Spring to Action’ is a collaboration between the gallery and over 50 artists from around the world. We are collectively sharing 25% of the proceeds with Feed the Frontlines, NYC, a local grassroots movement started by a NYC business owner trying to save his home city and his own passion in the restaurant industry by using his staff’s talents to feed frontline hospital workers while his restaurants had to remain shuttered. Feed the Frontlines NYC represents all that I love about New York City … its heart, its drive, its boldness, … its tenacity. The amount to be donated–25%– was the most that we could give while protecting the artist’s investment in the work. It had to be significant and impactful. We wanted to make a difference, even while locked away in our homes and studios.
There are a lot of exciting artists in the show, how did you and your team curate the benefit exhibition? Any particular themes or directions that resonated for the selection process?
The show, like many things in the last few weeks grew both organically and rapidly. It really was driven by a passion for supporting artists from our roster and well beyond. Artists we had collaborated with in the past, artists whose work we had admired or gotten to know– some artists reached out to us, which was such an honor. As with many things that grow from a deep place, what began to emerge was a brilliant group of diverse works from a vast range of talented artists. The theme that began to emerge was the survival of creativity and the important voice of culture in our complex society at the most difficult of times. While our curatorial eye can perhaps be seen in the selections, we definitely challenged ourselves and encountered some new directions throughout this curatorial process. I realized the other day that I had somehow curated the biggest group show of my rather lengthy career while in the throes of a global pandemic. It was a powerful realization. ‘Spring to Action’ has taught us so much about ourselves, the gallery, our artists, our city … and our world!
Are you planning any other special programming coming up?
Global pandemics definitely make you think outside the box. We have some immensely interesting ideas milling about our quarantined minds. I believe that this type of thinking will be so critical in the tenuous months ahead– hopefully it will fuel a new kind of energy in the global art world … perhaps more collaborative and celebratory of humanity as opposed to simply rooted in economics. When you feel like you are standing on the edge of a crumbling world, leaping into ideas actually becomes far more instinctual. It is kind of brilliant!
Any words of advice for artists who are struggling through the crisis?
Keep working. Trust in your network if resources are tight. Use the quiet time to reconnect to yourself as a human and why you became an artist. Find the light and try to find some peace. Celebrate the little things every day. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. Seriously. Message me on Instagram. You’ll have to hear my dog Julep barking in the background, but I’m here.
A SELECTION OF ARTISTS INCLUDED IN ‘SPRING TO ACTION’:
Luis Arturo Aguirre, Hyun Jung Ahn, Chellis Baird, Lauren Ball, Matthew Baumgardner, Noah Becker, Evan Bellantone, David Iain Brown, Sharon Butler, Indira Cesarine, Russell Connor, Trevor Croop, Zoe Crosher, Michael DeFeo, MyLoan Dinh, Joy Episalla, Tommaso Fattovich, Thomas Gleaner, Rebecca Goyette, André Gregory, Peter Gregory, Clare Grill, Judithe Hernández, Kharis Kennedy, Cindy Kleine, Adam Krueger, Gracelee, Lawrence, Juan Logan, April Marten, Christina Massey, Zoe McGuire, Riad Miah, Nelson Morales, Prema Murthy,Alan Neider, Mallory Page, Erin Parsch, Oswaldo Ruiz, Will Ryman, João Salomão, Beatrice Scaccia, Robert Selwyn, Craig Stockwell, Aleksandra Stone, Jason Stopa, Simonetta Testa, Taylor O. Thomas, Francine Tint, Ng Lung Wai, Tootsie Warhol, Chris Watts, Taylor Anton White, Michael Wolf, Carrie Yamaoka, Mie Yim, Ashley Zelinskie, Jen Ray, Adam Handler, Eliot Greenwald, Mark Milroy, Sheryl Rubenstein, Eric Freeman
ABOUT MONICA KING CONTEMPORARY
Monica King Contemporary was opened by gallerist Monica King in fall of 2019 at 39 Lispenard Street in Tribeca. The gallery program, headed by the 17-year art world veteran (formerly with Pace Gallery and Paul Kasmin Gallery, among others) is dedicated to an unwavering vision of equally supporting emerging, mid-career, and established artists in a manner that both builds and continues to nourish individual artist careers; encourages collectors from all walks of life to approach art with an unmistakable sense of curiosity and joy; and celebrates the vital contribution that contemporary art brings to our collective society and to each of our individual souls. King holds a Masters in Art History from Washington University, St. Louis.
ABOUT FEED THE FRONTLINES
Feed the Frontlines NYC nourishes New York City healthcare professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping local restaurant workers employed. The initiative started in the wake of Governor Cuomo’s order that all restaurants close their doors to customers. That week, restaurant owner Luca Di Pietro had to shutter 4 of his 5 Tarallucci e Vino restaurants and lay off 95 people. But on Thursday morning, a friend reached out to ask how she might help Luca’s business survive and keep its staff employed while also lending much-needed support to the medical workers battling the new coronavirus. She purchased 40 dinners from Tarallucci e Vino, complete with fresh panini and hot lasagna, which Luca and his wife, Kate, delivered to the hungry, tired and very grateful ER staff at NYU Langone. That first delivery planted the seed for Feed the Frontlines NYC.
Since launching Feed the Frontlines NYC, Luca, Kate, and their children, Isabella (22) and Ian (19), have raised enough funds to rehire 35 Tarallucci e Vino employees and help partner restaurants bring back 24 of their own staff members. So far, they have delivered over 21,607 individually packaged meals to 27 hospitals in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. They are expanding every day to meet the needs of more healthcare workers and bring additional restaurants into the fold, from Mesa Coyoacan in Williamsburg to Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side. They have also been helping friends in other cities, including Toronto and Boston, bring this initiative to their communities. With the continued support of loving friends, loyal customers and generous New Yorkers, the team at Feed the Frontlines NYC hopes to bring even more people back to work and continue to fuel the extraordinary efforts of our city’s healthcare professionals.
Click here to see the “Spring to Action” exhibit.