Saturday, June 23, 2007

Art Space Talk: Steven Zevitas and Andrew Katz (The Open Studios Press)

I recently interviewed Steven Zevitas and Drew Katz of The Open Studios Press. Mr. Zevitas (President & Publisher) and Mr. Katz (Associate Publisher) discussed New American Paintings with me. Also, Mr. Katz gave me insight into a new publication- Studio Visit Magazine. You can learn more about this project by visiting the following site:

New American Paintings began in 1993 as an experiment in art publishing. With over five thousand artists reviewed annually, it has become America's largest and most important series of artist competitions. New American Paintings is a juried exhibition-in-print. Each edition results from a regionally focused, juried competition and presents the work of roughly 40 painters.

Thousands of artists enter the competitions every year, but only a limited number make it through the rigorous jurying process. Mr. Zevitas and Mr. Katz work closely with renowned curators, such as Lisa Phillips of the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Charlotta Kotik of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in order to select those artists whose work deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

From post-modern pastiche to the landscape, from recognized artists to recent M.F.A. graduates, New American Paintings does not discriminate against style or yield to art world trends. You can learn more about The Open Studios Press and their publications by visiting the following sites:,,

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas, you are the President and Publisher of New American Paintings. The publication has featured the work of more than 1,800 emerging and mid-career artists from throughout the United States. Why did you decide to focus on emerging artists? Many art magazines only focus on artist who are established- what makes New American Paintings different?

Steven Zevitas: New American Paintings' focus on emerging (and in some cases mid-career) painters has defined the publication since its inception. Most art publications devote editorial space exclusively to artists who have been sanctioned by curators, critics, and, increasingly and perhaps disturbingly, collectors. Because of the jurying process that we employ, literally ANY painter has a chance to appear in New American Paintings. This would never happen with Art forum.
Our readership tends to be a highly independent group of art aficionados who do not need to be spoon fed a list of "hot artists" and new trends; they are capable of making up their own minds.
New American Paintings presents a wide swath of emerging talent and our readers may choose who is deserving of their attention. Of course, many artists who have appeared in the publication over the years have gone on to receive a lot of editorial coverage in other art publications (Layla Ali, Alexis Rockman, James Siena and Amy Cutler to name several).

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Katz, you are the associate publisher of New American Paintings and you are also involved with Studio Visit Magazine. What is the difference between the two publications?

Andrew Katz: Given the popularity and function of New American Paintings, I am pleased to say that there are more similarities than differences when it comes to it and Studio Visit. For example, the goals of both magazines are essentially the same. For artists, we are helping them get their work published and into the hands of collectors, galleries, and other individuals that might help advance their career or generate sales. And, on the flipside, we want to bring art to artlovers.

New American Paintings and Studio Visit are both juried exhibitions in print, however, New American Paintings only features 40 artists and Studio Visit will likely showcase the work of 150 artists per edition.

Methods of distribution will be the main difference between New American Paintings and Studio Visit. Given its reputation and long history, New American Paintings has a large subscriber base and presence on the newsstand. This means that the reader pays to receive the magazine which allows us to produce the publication free of charge to the artists selected.

Given that Studio Visit is a new magazine, we will be sending the publication to galleries and curators at no charge in the beginning, so in return, artists chosen will be asked to contribute a small fee that will go to its production.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas... Mr. Katz... when did you both decide to enter the field of art publication? Are you both artists as well? What are your goals for publications that are released by The Open Studios Press.

Steven Zevitas: I graduated from Boston University in 1991 with a degree in Art History and Business Administration, so I come to the fine arts primarily from the side of art appreciation. My early career was in financial services, but I quickly realized that I had no interest in that career path.

In 1993, I was hired to start New American Paintings under the roof of a larger publishing company. I had no prior publishing experience a the time. In 1999, I has the opportunity to buy the publication, and I have since launched several new projects.

I have never looked at The Open Studios Press as a publishing company per se. I have always viewed the company as a mission driven organization, whose mission is to find new and creative ways of bringing artists and art lovers together.

My hope is that all of our "products" effectively help artists reach the widest possible audience for their work with a minimum of expense. Our latest publication, Studio Visit, is another project driven by this goal.

Andrew Katz: I went to school for Industrial Design at RISD but never really practiced as a designer. Almost right out of college, in 2002, I opened a fine art gallery (Gallery Katz) which had a presence for four years in Boston directly across the hall from Steven and The Open Studios Press.

As I became closer friends with Steven, who by the way taught me a lot about the gallery business, I also learned about New American Paintings and the publishing business. When I made the decision to close Gallery Katz, Steven offered me a position at OSP. Since then, I have been busy helping Steven improve what was already a highly successful business.

Brian Sherwin: Can you tell us more about The Open Studios Press? When was it founded and why?

Steven Zevitas: The Open Studios Press was founded under the roof of a larger publishing company in 1993. The first edition of New American Paintings was released a year later. The company was founded because of the large number of artists who are unable to find meaningful exposure for their work.

From the beginning, we were convinced that their were two groups of individuals whose needs were not being satisfied. For artists, New American Paintings is an exposure vehicle of immense value. For those with an interest in contemporary painting, the publication is an invaluable resource for discovering artistic talent that they might never come across within their local environment.

One of the great challenges facing artists is how to get exposure beyond their immediate geographic area. The internet has done much to alleviate that problem, but with the vast amounts of information available on line it has become increasingly difficult for an artist to get their work noticed.

New American Paintings was connecting the creators and consumers of fine art for at least four years before the first "on-line gallery" emerged. I think that the quality of our jurying process makes exposure in New American Paintings an extraordinarily valuable opportunity.

Brian Sherwin: How can artists get involved with your publications. In others words, do they simply submit images of artwork to you via email? Do they send slides? Also, what are some of the common mistakes artists make when submitting work for review?

Andrew Katz: Each publication has different criteria. Because New American Paintings only features 40 artists per edition, our editor is able to contact each accepted artist to gather necessary materials for printing.

Studio Visit accepts a much larger group of artists, so we ask that all work that is submitted be "press ready," meaning all digital files are high resolution and all slides are good enough quality to be scanned and printed.

In the near future, artists will have an opportunity to submit work online (we will be done with the online option for New American Paintings within the next one to two competitions).

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Katz, I understand that Michael Lash is the juror for the first volume of Studio Visit Magazine. Can you tell us about Mr. Lash. What are his credentials? Also, when is the deadline for submissions?

Andrew Katz: We are fortunate to have Mr. Lash jury the first edition of Studio Visit. Currently, he is the director for the North American operations for the Center of International Cultures in Mexico City. In addition to his busy schedule, he is also the Director of The Freeport Art Museum and Northern Illinois University Art Gallery In Chicago.

In the past, he has served as the former Director of Public Art for the City of Chicago. The deadline for submissions is June 30th, but we will take submissions from any "myartspace" blog readers until July 11th.

Brian Sherwin: The Open Studios Press jurors list is very impressive. Would you say that these juror connections help you to build bridges between emerging artists and high ranking members of the art world? Is that one of the goals of your publications?

Steven Zevitas: I have always worked hard to make sure that we have the best and brightest curatorial minds working on our projects. There is no doubt that the quality and integrity of our jurying process is what sets this project apart from other publications and web based products that try to replicate our model.
Having a respected juror adds an incredible amount of "weight' to the publications. In the early days of the project I was able to convince some extremely respected members of the curatorial community to work with us. As the publication's reputation has grown it has become easier to find jurors. At this point, we are contacted by curators who want to work with us.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas, I met you in New York during a meeting for You are one of the jurors for the New York, New York Competition- along with Mr. Rondeau (Art Institute of Chicago) and Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern). How did you get involved with Are you looking forward to the competition?

Steven Zevitas: I am very excited to work on the upcoming myartspace competition. James has worked on several editions of New American Paintings, so I have known him for years. He is absolutely one of the top talents in the curatorial world.
Jessica is a former curator at the ICA in Boston, so I got to know her during her time here. She has also juried an edition of New American Paintings, and is similarly gifted at her chosen profession.

I was introduced to the founders of myartspace by a mutual friend, Christian Benedetto. The aims of our projects are parallel in many ways, and after sitting down with Brian and Catherine to discuss our mutual businesses it became clear that there might be ways in which we can work together.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the endeavor that they have undertaken. In its fully conceived and deployed from, myartspace can provide an incredible infrastructure for a sharing of images and ideas throughout the world. It is exciting to be a part of this project and to learn from it.

Brian Sherwin: What other projects do you have planned for the future? Can you give us any insight?

Andrew Katz: Well, in addition to these publications, we also run osp catalogs (, a project where we design and print Fine Art catalogs for artists, galleries and other institutions.
Recently, we designed and printed catalogs the Zach Feuer Gallery in NYC, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and we’re presently working on a 328 page book for the International Sculpture Center.
These projects are larger in scale, but we also regularly work with individual artists to produce catalogs for exhibitions or promotional use. For me, In the immediate future, my focus is going to be on improving online features for both artists and subscribers.

Steven Zevitas: We are always working on something new. Right now Studio Visit is a major focus. Our catalog design/production services, osp catalogs, is growing rapidly with new and ever larger clients finding their way to our door. I operate a gallery in Boston
( in which I work with emerging and mid-career artists from around the country.
Most significantly right now, we are in the process of bringing New American Paintings' jurying process on- line. When complete, this system will allow for a much more efficient process and the possibility of new applications such as multi-juror panels.

Brian Sherwin: Based on the level of controversy and success that has been present in the art world as of late... what do you think are some of the challenges facing younger artists today? Are you wary of some of the directions art has went in recent months? As in, diamond skulls and market booms...

Steven Zevitas: The rise of the internet, the popularity of the MFA degree and the current boom in the art market have done much to define the art world of the past ten years. I think that each of these forces has had both positive and negative implications for emerging artists.
While there may be a lot more opportunities to gain exposure, there is an extraordinary amount of pressure on emerging artists to develop their "style" and to find the "right" gallery - activities that should be secondary to a consistent and considered studio practice.
Seeing newly minted MFAs sell out shows in New York City at $10,000+ per painting is an intoxicating spectacle, but I truly feel that dealers are doing these artists a tremendous disservice. Eventually, the frenetic pace of the art world will slow down and their will be a large number of artists who are kept without a chair.

Andrew Katz: I agree with Steven. It is very tempting for younger artists is feel like the overall art market dictates the price of their work before they have even sold anything.
Young artists need to remember that their work is only worth what someone will pay for it. Start slow and raise your prices as your demand increases. Overall, pricing is a huge challenge for younger artists trying to make it as a professional artist.

Brian Sherwin: Are there any emerging artists that collectors should really be keeping an eye on at this time?

Steven Zevitas: Just about every artist featured in New American Paintings! There are a number of emerging abstractionists that I am interested in right now: Chuck Webster, David X. Levine and Xylor Jane, among others. As a disclaimer, I should state that I have worked with all three of these artists at my gallery (

Andrew Katz: Seriously, pick up any issue of New American Paintings, we believe in all of them. I am on the opposite side of the fence as Steven in regard to abstraction. Some of my recent favorites to come out of New American Paintings are Amze Emmons, David Linneweh, Donnie Molls, Jassalyn Haggenjos, James Benjamin Franklin, and Chris Ballantyne.

Brian Sherwin. Finally, based on the work that you do in the art world... what is your philosophy about art and the artistic process and how is that philosophy reflected in your publications?

Steven Zevitas: That is a tough question that would require a lot more time to address. I would say that I am most interested in artists who are able to marry their chosen form and subject in such a way that their work's content is an inevitiablity.
I am quite sure that whenever an art object effects me deeply it has a lot to do with an artist's ability to channel their energies into meaningful content. This can happen equally with the brash figuration of an artist such as Dana Schutz, or the reductive and intuitively driven abstraction of Brice Marden.
When it does happen, which I have to say is rare, the effect can be revelatory. As a passionate viewer of art, I live for those moments.
I'd like to personally thank Mr. Zevitas and Mr. Katz for taking the time to discuss their publications with me. A big thanks goes out to Mr. Katz for extending the Studio Visit Magazine submission deadline for readers of this blog. Also, to learn more about the New York, New York Competition visit the following link:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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