Gallerist at Home: Catlin Moore

Catlin Moore, the Director of the contemporary Mark Moore Gallery and co-Director of 5790projects, is stylish, youthful and a definite force to be reckoned with.  Though she cites her collection as being “in its infancy” (especially compared to her father gallery-owner and namesake Mark Moore), her art and artifice at home make me drool.  An established arts writer and LA gallerist, Catlin has created a respite at home, reflecting a space where contemporary art browses with library-esque bookshelves, curiosity cabinets, and a tangible life of its own.

I am so pleased to feature Catlin in the official launch of the monthly column Gallerist at Home for New American Paintings.  Following the same inspiration and interface of the interview I conducted with Heather Taylor in October of 2011, Gallerist at Home will showcase American art personas and explore the process of collecting art for both for public and private spaces. I see this largely as a forum for discussing the practice, process, and procedure of art collecting, and look forward to the conversations it sparks. - Read the interview with Catlin Moore by Ellen Caldwell, LA Contributor, after the jump!

Catlin Moore at home, Photo by Cambria Beilstein.

View of Allison Schulnik and Gin Stevens works

Ellen Caldwell: Since you’ve grown up around art, I am wondering about the first pieces you collected?

Catlin Moore:  These three works on paper were actually the first pieces I purchased for my home. I saw something of myself in each of these works – which is what makes this series from Okay Mountain so wonderful; everyone who sees them is able to map their own experiences into many of these collages. As an artist collaborative, Okay Mountain deals with a broad base of observations – from the very individual to the very widespread – and employs a very honest and satirical sense of humor to life in America. Each of the Okay Mountain members starts a 7 x 7 piece like this, but then someone else in the group completes it. The narrative is shared, and because the materials trade hands the outcome is never premeditated or contrived. I love the spontaneity and energy behind that practice, and these remind me to be less regimented and open to a myriad of outcomes in my life – which, let’s face it, can only be controlled so much anyway.

“7x7 Collaborative Drawing #2” (DETAIL) Okay Mountain (2011), 7 x 7” each

“7x7 Collaborative Drawings #1, #2 & #17,” Okay Mountain (2011), 7 x 7” each

EC: I love this concept of a shared narrative.  Beyond the conceptual, what drew you to these specific pieces?

CM: The first collage instantly reminded me of my work within the gallery – at first glance, it looked as if the figure was doing a sacrificial dance around a computer, and I couldn’t stop laughing at the irony of scanning this image into our database, and having it crash every three minutes. There are days you would sacrifice anything just to have things run smoothly, but the unpredictability of this industry is what makes it fun – so this piece reached out and grabbed me instantly because of that sentiment. The second drawing speaks to a similar need to constantly strive for more, do better, excel faster…and yet whose idea of championship do we aspire to? It’s easy to get caught up in the race, but it’s difficult to stay focused on what really matters.

“Sinking Monument,” Andrew Schoultz, (1802-2011), 17x 13” framed

EC: The personal connection you’ve found in these is great.  Where did you take your collection from there?

CM: This [Andrew Schoultz piece] is the second piece of artwork I purchased – and it was only just this month. On a personal level, this work is very important to me because Andrew was one of the artists I felt very strongly about adding to the program last year. We spent a long time getting to know one another so that he could get a strong sense of our gallery ethics and working style before committing to the program, so once he joined, there was a distinct sense of mutual respect between us.

EC: The subject and title of Schoultz’s piece “Sinking Monument” is really interesting to me. Can you explore this a bit?

CM: On a conceptual level, Andrew’s work illustrates many of the sociopolitical and philosophical inquiries I find most relevant and historically recurrent. As an imperialist lineage has shaped our ideas of global economies and power structures, how does our perceived entitlement simply craft our own demise? The cyclical patterns that cause eminent authorities to rise and fall still persist, and oftentimes we’re too self-absorbed to see the greater trajectory. I also love Andrew’s astute use of appropriation to exemplify these issues in a subtly ironic way: this work is created upon an actual etching from 1802. The “all seeing eye” motif radiating outwards from the monument is Andrew’s nod to the caution and heedfulness we should be practicing, and I also apply that to the humility and selflessness that our society could afford to implement a little more.

View of Allison Schulnik painting

Alison Schulnik painting and bowl: “Untitled” by Allison Schulnik (2009), 8 x 10” diameter

EC: It is really great to see the arts incorporated in every dimension of your home.  What about some of the work you didn’t purchase? 

CM: Allison Schulnik gave me this ceramic piece as a “thank you” gift after her “Home for Hobo” solo show in early 2010. It was the first solo exhibition of hers that I had worked on, and was really an exciting turning point in her career. She first showed with us in 2005, and this exhibition really demonstrated the growth, vision, and boldness she’d honed over the last five years – the gallery suddenly transformed into this otherworldly storyboard that was at once haunting and endearing, and it was a cohesive statement unlike any other I had experienced. Her work continues to thrill me every day, and to see how it has enraptured so many people is truly incredible and deserved. Her ceramic works feel like the common link between her clay-animated videos and her paintings; they really demonstrate how tactile and sensory her entire practice is, and she makes them infrequently – so to me, it’s quite the rare gem.

EC: That is such wonderfully magical imagery you just conjured, “the gallery suddenly transformed into this otherworldly storyboard” – I am mesmerized picturing that.  How do you see that play out in Schulnik’s ceramics?

CM: I love the eerie quality of this bowl – it’s one part Munch, one part horror punk, and one part Dia de los Muertos; in total, it nods to the ephemeral life, which is easy to lose sight of. Between this, and the taxidermy and animal skulls I have peppered around my house, sometimes my guests interrogate me about my “inner goth,” but I’m drawn to these things with a real fascination and curiosity about existence and living things. The way Dutch and Flemish still life artists or 18th-century biologists would examine life is endlessly captivating to me. There’s art all around us that we completely dismiss every day, not all of it conventionally beautiful – and Allison’s work flawlessly explores the allure of the unorthodox.

“Untitled” by Peter Alexander, (1988), 24 x 30” framed

EC: Can you tell me a little bit about this Peter Alexander piece?  It’s so different than the rest of your collection.

CM: This piece was a gift from the artist when I was about two years old. My father opened his first gallery in 1984 in Long Beach, and had gotten to know Peter in the early stages of his career. I was born in 1986, and literally grew up in the gallery – my mother would oftentimes bring me to the office to handle the accounting, and when I got older, most summers and weekends were spent stuffing envelopes or making copies for upcoming shows. Peter gave this to my parents with the intention of it being the first work in my personal collection, and specifically inscribed it with “For Cat.”

EC: It is really interesting to see Alexander’s work on paper…

CM: Peter is most often associated with the Light and Space movement, so to have a two-dimensional work of his feels unique, and obviously having the personalized aspect to it makes it priceless to me. The simplicity and grace of the work is something I am attempting to achieve in my day-to-day life, which is much more challenging than I could have imagined. When I was studying Literary Journalism at UCI as an undergrad, it was all about the art of the concise sentence, and my father always told me that, “less is more,” when I was a teenager – simplicity is a challenge that has always followed me; perhaps this work was the inception of that idea.

“Like St. Peter Elway Demands to be Hung Upside Down,” Mark Mulroney, 2011, 7 x 5”

EC: You tie lessons and mottos from your art to your life seamlessly and in such complex ways.  It is really cool to see and hear about that… not to mention inspiring.  I am curious to see how your Mulroney piece “Like St. Peter Elway Demands to be Hung Upside Down,” fits into your life philosophy?

CM: Mark Mulroney gave this work to me after I included him in a group show last year, and I was completely floored when I opened the package. Mark’s work is always blatant and witty, but this was so incredibly specific to me that I was dumbfounded by his generosity and thoughtful humor. Mark and I had a conversation about sports fans in the art world being somewhat of a rare breed, and I had mentioned my family’s love of football. As a Denver Broncos fan, I’m usually quizzed about my affinity for an out-of-state team, to which I usually kiddingly defend with, “My mother raised me in the Church of Elway.” Mark obviously took great interest in this declaration, and made me an actual relic to go along with my dry sense of humor. This work is probably interpreted a bit differently now that “Tebowing” has exploded…but it was always intended as satire.

View of Kim Dorland with accessories vanity

View of bedroom, ArtForum archives, photo with parents, etc.

View of Catlin’s vinyl collection

View of Jeremy Fish, Andrew Schoultz, David Hilliard and Ryan Taber

EC: It’s not surprising that you have mentioned a bunch of the artists you represent in your home collection.  Overall, how do you see the art in your home differing from that at Mark Moore?

CM: My collection is still very much in its infancy. I’m very lucky in that most of the work I own has been generously gifted to me by artists that I adore, but the works I choose to purchase are equally as personal. I wholeheartedly believe in the artists we represent, so it’s not difficult for me to find work that I connect with in a unique way – and there certainly are many non-gallery artists that I hope to acquire art from in the future. There will simply never be enough space to house everything I am drawn to. Similarly, the artists we select for our program need to engage us as if we were to live with it forever. There’s a certain aspect of the selection process that is instinctual and emotional, but we also gravitate towards work that has a distinct narrative – a story that you’re eager to share with others. The artists we work with and exhibit are skilled technicians in storytelling and methodology alike; there’s some teeth to it.


Catlin Moore is the Director of Mark Moore Gallery, and the Co-Director of 5790projects. She is a regular contributor to several art publications, including Daily Serving, ArtLog and Beautiful/Decay. She has previously written for The Orange County Register, .ism Quarterly and others. She is an active member of the MOCA Contemporaries, ArtTable and the Modern and Contemporary Arts Council for LACMA, and is completing her graduate coursework in Art History at California State University, Long Beach.

Some upcoming events Moore is involved in include Mark Moore Gallery’s concurrent solo exhibitions: Ali Smith and Christopher Davison, opening February 25th and 5790projects second pop-up exhibition on March 20th.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, editor, and writer.