Interview with Platinum Cheese founder Stephanie Chefas in advance of her show “Platinum Blend” at the Modern Eden Gallery.
By Daniel Barron.
Since 2011, the online art magazine Platinum Cheese has been a reliable source for in-depth artist interviews, art show recaps, art reviews, and street art coverage, all centered around some of the most unique voices within the New Contemporary Art movement. Founded by Stephanie Chefas, the site has supplied coverage of innovative talents such as Retna, Herakut, Cleon Peterson, Laurie Lipton, Souther Salazar, and James Jean, among many others.
Last year, in a sublime marriage of sensibilities, Chefas partnered with San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery to curate the wildlife-themed exhibition “Feral Creatures.” Emboldened by the success of the show, they have decided to pair again in 2015 for “Platinum Blend,” an artistic stir fry of some of the most distinct voices that have been featured on the site.
The full lineup:
Aaron Nagel, Ben Venom, Bradley Platz, Brian Donnelly, Caitlin Hackett, Caleb Hahne, Candice Tripp, Christine Wu, Christiana Mrozik, Cristina Paulos, David Bray, Deedee Cheriel, Henrik Aa. Uldalen, Jeff Ramirez, Jana Brike, Jeni Yang, Jennifer Nehrbass, Kelly Allen, Lily Mae Martin, Linnea Strid, Liz McGrath, Lucien Shapiro, Marco Mazzoni, Maria Rubinke, Max Kauffman, Mel Kadel, Meryl Pataky, Michael Alm, Morgan Slade, Peter Gronquist, Shawn Huckins, Souther Salazar, Zoë Williams.
In the following interview, Chefas talks starting Platinum Cheese, her foundations as an art lover, and where she hopes to take her publication in the future.
Why did you start your own magazine and what was the mission statement for it? How did you want to create your own specific voice?
Platinum Cheese basically started as a personal blog. Many years ago, when I was new to the LA art scene and going to a lot of art openings and taking photos, basically just for myself, I realized that I wanted to share everything that I was experiencing. I just loved the energy that was happening in LA and so that’s when I started the personal blog. It’s evolved over time. I got into interviewing artists and contributors would come onboard who kind of expanded the focus and brought more content to Platinum Cheese. It was just a way of sharing and expressing the excitement of the creative energy that I felt.
Did you have prior experience interviewing artists?
I didn’t really have that much experience, although when I was in college I took this graduate folk art class and there was a required project that the whole class had to do. It was a small class, I think there was maybe eight or ten of us. The class, as a whole, decided that we were going to interview a handful of artists. Each of us would pick a couple of folk artists, interview them, and we would compile a book with all of these interviews, self-publish the book and bring it to the Florida Folklore Society so they could raise money for their programs. So that was actually my introduction to interviewing artists.
And it was something that you just became more comfortable doing with practice?
Yeah, yeah. I like to challenge myself. There are some similarities, obviously, from one interview to the next but I also like to challenge myself and see what more I can bring to the viewers.
Did your fascination with art start with that class or was it something you had prior?
I had some interest prior but that was a class that was really influential for me. It really solidified my focus at the time, because I loved art but I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do with it or what my part should be in the art world. That class brought me to the International House of Blues Foundation and I started working with them, helping to promote blues music and folk art within the community. Are you familiar with them?
I’m not sure if there’s one that still exists in LA or not. I think I heard that the House of Blues closed down there. So the House of Blues has this non-profit organization and basically their mission is to promote blues music and Southern folk art to grade school children and to the community at large. It was a great thing to be a part of, but eventually I made the decision to leave and move to LA.
“Platinum Blend” is your second show with The Modern Eden Gallery. How did that partnership begin?
This is the sixth show that I’ve done in the past couple of year, but with Modern Eden I had been aware of the gallery through Platinum Cheese. I have a list of ideas that I always have in my arsenal, so to speak. So knowing the gallery, I thought that some of my ideas would really fit with them so I contacted them basically out of the blue and pitched the “Feral Creatures” show and one other show to see if one of them would resonate with Kim [Larson] and Bradley [Platz]. Of course, they picked the “Feral Creatures” show. From the very beginning it felt like a good fit.
After “Feral Creatures” we had such a great time working together and the show went well so we said, “Let’s do another one.” [laughs] “Great! I have another idea!” I’ve always wanted to do another show where it featured a grouping of artists that were written about on Platinum Cheese, sort of like an invitational, where there wasn’t really a theme to the show but it was a great blend of artists who are super talented and whose work complements one another. There you have it, “Platinum Blend.”
A “Greatest Hits” show?
Kind of, yeah. It’s a combination of artists I’ve either interviewed or done a spotlight on. They’ve all been in Platinum Cheese in one form or another.
Moving forward, how would you like to expand on Platinum Cheese?
Oh, well [laughs]. I’d definitely like to broaden the focus from LA to the East Coast, more art from San Francisco, hopefully Portland now that I’m here. I just want to keep expanding and bringing more art out there to the art lovers.
“Platinum Blend” opens at the Modern Eden Gallery on Saturday, January 10th and runs thru January 31st.
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Read our features on other shows curated by Stephanie Chefas:
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