The Story Behind FAAN

You start with a problem that you think is specific to your circumstances but it bugs you more than it should until you realize that it is not your specific problem but a general problem that applies to huge numbers of people. In my case, the problem was a couple of large early paintings that I had to remove from my mother’s house in Boston because she was moving to a smaller apartment in New York. My father had died recently. He was a doctor and an inventor. His inventions came out of realizing that something that was clearly needed did not yet exist. It was a corrective approach to reality. I didn’t want to destroy those paintings and I didn’t want to pay to store them. I began thinking about how most artists create far more artwork in their lifetimes than they can exhibit or sell. At the same time, a lot of people with a real interest in art don’t own any original art. The system that we have for disseminating contemporary art, known as the art market, doesn’t manage to get a lot of art into a lot of homes.

This was not the first time I had found myself thinking about the art market and what it could or couldn’t provide. In 1984, I had founded Four Walls with Michele Araujo. Four Walls was an exhibition space intended to promote dialogue about, or really around, art. It ran for about 15 years with almost no outside funding and no sales of art. We asked for a two-dollar donation at the door. Michele and I ran it for four years in Hoboken, New Jersey, and then, in 1990, I met an artist named Mike Ballou and he and I ran it out of his home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Mike brought a slightly different flavor, more playful, more project based. We had one-evening monthly exhibitions that started out like traditional gallery art openings but halfway into the evening turned into brainstorming, theatrical artist forums that sometimes included over 100 people in Mike’s not so big former garage. At Four Walls, the artwork became a point of departure for dialogue that often left the art behind. At the same time, the work on the walls got looked at for longer and more intensively in that one night than work generally does in a month long gallery exhibition. A community of artists developed around these events.

FAAN would never have happened if it weren’t for the support of Art in General. Art in General had just begun its New Commissions program under Sofia Hernandez with the assistance of Anthony Marcellini when I applied with this project. Sofia saw the potential for the program to sponsor projects, like mine, that could only happen with hands on institutional support. Art in General decided to sponsor FAAN and found an unusually gifted designer and programmer named John Weir to create the site. What you see here is his work. His vision has given it its final shape.

Artists are explorers. They can be counted on to go into new territory. They are interested in ideas like Four Walls and FAAN because these new contexts reconfigure the way that art gets seen. This makes things more interesting. Welcome to FAAN.

Adam Simon Brooklyn, NY, 4/2006