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Get cozy with Brooklyn gallerist + curator Krista Scenna.

It’s always fun for us to link up with other folks involved in the NYC emerging art scene, but getting the chance for a quick Q+A with independent curator and gallery owner Krista Scenna is an extra special treat. In 2013, she co-founded Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Scenna (who also worked with 20x200 briefly back in the day!) has built the gallery around amplifying under-recognized emerging and mid-career artists, connecting them to a receptive audience and encouraging fledgling collectors to get to know their own artistic tastes. She’s also orchestrated a substantial number of benefit exhibitions and collaborations with nonprofits, seizing the opportunity to give back to her local community. And if you ask our founder, Scenna’s just got that special curatorial something. If you’re into the art world, the talents Scenna highlights and shows she curates are quite simply unmissable.

Like so many other small business owners, Scenna has had to pivot during this pandemic, to rethink her gallery’s model to accommodate the new norm. She’s faced the challenge with grace and agility, closing her physical gallery space to retool it into a virtual platform that concentrates on solo artist projects and commissioned pieces, and offers art consultation for new collectors. Exhibitions currently on show include
Balancing Acts—a collection of color-rich, ovoid works from artist Rhea Hurt—and Mary Negro’s commanding pencil drawings in UNFOLDING. Follow Ground Floor Gallery on Instagram for the latest. Scenna also independently curated the inaugural online exhibition for Arts Gowanus, on view here through January 31st, 2021, and will guest curate the Ely Center of Contemporary Arts Open Call 2021 exhibition, to run this coming March through April.

This past July, Scenna was interviewed for
The Fold and Introspective Magazine. (Fun fact: her feature in The Fold was written by another 20x200 5+5er, Public Art Fund’s Nora Gomez-Strauss.) Both interviews evidence her positive, present-minded approach to her work, and are testaments to her intrepidness and ingenuity. Her 5+5 is similarly expressive, packed with inspired art picks (no surprise there!), excellent insights, and a contagious enthusiasm we could really use right now. Read on!  — Team 20x200 

5 Perfect Picks

1) The Ten Largest, No. 3, Youth, Group IV by Hilma af Klint 
This show at the Guggenheim last year was such a revelation! A knockout. I find the Guggenheim is at its best when it works closely and unabashedly with its uniquely curvaceous silhouette and, in my mind, this retrospective did just that. af Klint was an enigmatic and fiercely private figure whose crystal clear vision and spiritual tenets were revealed to us incrementally as we traveled through the space. It felt like solving a mystery. I was completely consumed the entire time and wished I could've seen the show 10 more times! This vivacious little reminder brought me back there. I enjoyed looking at the piece for a while during a (rare) quiet moment.


2) Victorian Interior II by Horace Pippin 
I didn't learn about Horace Pippin until my first visit to the Barnes Collection at its original site in Merion, PA. I visited the Barnes as an art history student in Philadelphia. Pippin (an African-American figurative painter born and raised in Pennsylvania), was not part of my formal studies so coming across his intimate and inviting domestic scenes was quite refreshing! I really had a sense that he wanted us to step right in and stay a while. There are so many alluring details to get lost in. Now that we're spending so much time at home, this piece spoke to me - loudly! - yet again!


3) Welcome by Lindsey Warren 
I really enjoyed seeing Lindsey's work again. Funny enough, I met her when she was an artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Project even though (at that time) she lived a few blocks away from us at the gallery in Park Slope. We had a laugh about that! We subsequently showed her work at the gallery and a neighbor fell in love with one of her paintings at first sight. He was so taken by it and begged us to buy it and take it home with him right then and there during the first weekend of the show! I'll never forget it. Lindsey is now back in her native CA but I love following her work from a distance. She always incorporates such interesting color combinations and her landscapes are nothing if not serene and seductive. Her skies - as you can see here - are simply magnificent!

4) GPN-2002-000059, a 20x200 Space Edition 
Alternatively, I am struck by how a piece bereft of color can still be as dramatic and dynamic as this particular scene. The palpable sense of movement, the curious perspective and expansive background convey such grandeur and sense of possibility. It's mysterious but whimsical at the same time.

These are just so witty and fun! We need space for that in the art world. There's something in the spirit of Warhol and Keith Haring here yet completely original. I love that Joan wrote on one of the blocks, "Just vitamins" as if to say "it is what it is; nothing more, nothing less" - then I had a chuckle when I saw the title. I am someone who struggles with lengthy menus so I found these both hilarious and potentially useful! I just adore them.



5 Q's + 5 A's

1) What's your favorite museum?
The New Museum. That institution has has introduced me to so many brilliant contemporary artists whose work I still think about regularly. I saw their Adrian Piper show in college and my mind was blown. When I graduated, I applied to their inaugural docent program and was elated to be accepted! At that time, they were operating out of a small, temporary space and hosted a series of solo exhibitions. We received free catalogues to every show (those were the days!) and the artists led tours of their exhibitions to help us design our tours for the public. Man oh man! That was extraordinary (now that I look back). We're talking Patty Chang, Cory Arcangel, Brian Jungen, Andrea Zittel . . . We met them all and they would just talk to us about their work and process like we were guests in their living room!

2) What's your most coveted coffee table book?
This was a hard choice but I recently rediscovered my old Gees Bend catalogue from that seminal exhibition at the Whitney years ago. I flipped through it again and these women's quilts still leap off the page! They are absolutely radiant. That show really put these extraordinary talents on the map in so many ways and I am grateful to have seen it. If you don't know their story, look it up! This tiny, little-known rural community of black women quilters in Alabama is essential to the history of abstraction and Americana.

3) Do you prefer a single statement piece or a salon wall?
A salon wall. It's a visual conversation that never ends!

4) If you could be reincarnated as an artist, who would you want to be?
Okay, one of these two enigmas: 1) David Hammons. He is so incredibly brilliant, innovative and thoroughly original. He is at once established yet remains under-the-radar and consistently inscrutable. I am so thankful for his contributions and have so many questions! or 2) Tehching Hsieh: His endurance pieces boggle the mind! I am in awe of his physical and mental strength and self-discipline. As a person and artist, he seems to be wholly authentic, rigorous, and Zen. A day in the life of this master is probably all I could do!

5) Your Park Slope art gallery has housed some of our favorite exhibitions of the last few years. What’s it been like navigating the COVID-19 crisis as a small business owner and independent curator? From the outside, you seem to have been able to really adapt and stay engaged!
Well thank you for that because it doesn't feel that way from the inside! LOL. It's been very challenging to remain engaged as a primary caretaker of two young boys without the support system I used to take for granted. With all of us at home most of the time, it's difficult to find quiet time to work and tease through / implement many of my ideas. However, I am fortunate and grateful so am not here to complain but rather to acknowledge that I won't take my support system for granted again!

I've had to close our physical gallery space (sad but necessary) and am now concentrating on commissions (which I thoroughly enjoy!) and solo artist projects. I just don't have the capacity for events, group shows and the like and I'm okay with that. While online is different and doesn't replace in-person shows or experiences, I'm still able to connect with artists and collectors on their terms. Receiving a sincere note of thanks from a giddy collector who's just received their coveted piece in the mail is its own reward!


The 411 on Krista Scenna
Krista Scenna is an independent curator and gallery owner based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Art History and Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA in Interdisciplinary Contemporary Art from the Draper Program at New York University. Scenna has worked for the ICA in Philadelphia, the Queens Museum, the Whitney Museum of Art and the New Museum in various capacities. Scenna was also the BRIC Rotunda 2010-11 Lori Ledis Curatorial Fellow. Past exhibitions include collaborations with BRIC, NURTUREart and Lesley Heller Workspace and site-specific exhibitions in alternative forums such The Old Stone House, the DUMBO Arts Festival, SPRING/BREAK Art Show and the Cigar Factory, LLC. Scenna also connects local emerging artists with new art buyers as the Co-Founder and owner of Ground Floor Gallery based in Park Slope, Brooklyn from 2013-2020. The gallery continues to operate as a virtual platform specializing in solo artist projects, commissions and art consulting for new collectors. Scenna is a member of AWAD (the Association of Women Art Dealers) and a juror for the 11th Biennial Alexander Rutsch Award and Solo Exhibition for Painting. She recently guest curated the inaugural online exhibition for Arts Gowanus and is also the guest curator for the Ely Center for Contemporary Art Open Call 2021 Exhibition.
Site:     Twitter: @bespokecurator     Instagram: @groundfloorbk


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