The Norwood Club: New York's Destination for the Curious — Curator and Founder in Conversation
This year, Artsy has partnered with The Norwood Club, a private destination for New York City creatives, known for a dynamic art collection reinvented by its members on an annual basis. For the conclusion of this year's curation, all works in the collection are exclusively available for bidding on Artsy through August 24th. Below, curator Andi Foster explains her introduction to Norwood, and speaks with founder Alan Linn about his vision for the club, artistic collaboration, and favorite works.
I wish I could say that I found The Norwood Club, but that would be a lie. The truth of the matter is Norwood Club found me in the spring of 2015. I was introduced to Norwood by a friend who had told me about the intriguing atmosphere and suggested I go have a look for myself. I had never seen anything like it. Floor after floor of the Chelsea townhouse was decked with the most dynamic art collection I had ever seen. I knew this was a special place and that I wanted to be part of its community in some capacity.
After applying for membership, I introduced my brother-in-law, Todd Michael Detwiler to Norwood. I walked him through each floor and told him the interesting facts I had learned. Similar to myself, he was hooked. Within the same week, we had applied, interviewed and both joined The Norwood Club.
After a year of membership, I convinced Todd to apply to curate the first level of Norwood. It was an honor that was bestowed onto a member of Alan's choice each year and I knew that together we would create something worth sharing. After a rigorous application process, our proposal was accepted and the work began. Alan pushed Todd and me in all of the right ways. He challenged us when we needed to be challenged, supported us when we needed to be supported, and trusted us to explore our creative limits. On Labor Day 2016, Todd and I installed what is now known as 'Observations: A Digital Life,' The 2017 Norwood Club Lounge Collection.
As we conclude our yearlong curation at Norwood (live on Artsy through August 24), we decided to sit with The Club's founder, Alan Linn, and fully understand how he allows his members to reinvent this wonderful, private space every year.
Andi Foster (AF): To start, could you tell us a little bit about yourself – where are you from, what's your relation to the art world, have you always worked in art and hospitality?
Alan Linn (AL): I was born in the UK. I studied in Dundee, Scotland, where I received my first (undergraduate) degree in Illustration. I then moved to London and attended the Royal College of Art, graduating with a Master's in Fine Art (printmaking). To support myself as a young artist, as many others before and after me have done, I got a job as a waiter and began my journey in the world of hospitality.
AF: When did you know you wanted to open a private arts club?
AL: For twelve years I was the general manager of Blacks, a private members club in Soho, London, until 2005. I then decided to follow my heart to New York City where my partner resided. For several years we had been going back and forth across the pond and it was time for us to be together full-time. I also viewed the landscape in New York and saw that there was an opportunity to develop a modern private club for its creative community.
AF: Was the vision of Norwood always clear or did the concept continue to develop over time?
AL: I'd say the vision has always been clear; however, as I've immersed myself in this great city, I've adapted my vision to its landscape.
AF: It's has been said that Norwood is remains one of the most "exclusive private clubs" in the world – do you believe that rings true?
AL: The club is exclusive only to the extent that I'm always trying to find the right alchemy of its membership: what interests and talents do we as Norwoodians bring with us as we come through the front door.
AF: But you have described Norwood as "a club for the curious" – what exactly are your members most curious about?
AL: Each other (that's what salons have always been about).
AF: Allowing a member or members to curate the Lounge every year is another unique aspect of Norwood – where did this idea come from?
AL: From me! I love the process of collaboration with individual members; and love the excitement it generates among the membership as a whole when the new collection is revealed each September.
AF: Is it difficult to give up that sense of control for an entire year?
AL: No, not at all.
AF: What about this year's collection is different for years past?
AL: This year's collection brought a relevant, contemporary, and fun vibe to the room.
AF: For those who will not be able to see the works in-person, how would you best explain the available works?
AL: They're whimsical, graphic and surprising. That's a difficult question-you do have to see the collection!
AF: What is your favorite work? Why?
AL: The iridescent wall-mounted walrus by the Cuban-born artist Enrique Gomez de Molina. Don't worry, it's not a real walrus! People stop to look at it and smile-it's beautiful and is a catalyst for discussion about the entire collection.
AF: Alan, it's been such an honor to curate Norwood for the 2016–2017 year – thank you for giving us this opportunity! We're excited to share our work not only with Norwood's members, but all of Artsy's audience. Thank you again for being a great mentor, partner, and taking the time to sit with us today.
AL: You're very welcome. It has been great collaborating with you. Stay curious.
Explore The Norwood Club—Observations: A Digital Life and bid on works from their collection, before bidding closes on August 24th, at 5:00pm ET. For any direct inquiries, you may reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.