Artist Lydia Glenn-Murray wears many hats, and her interdisciplinary space, Chin’s Push, reflects her smorgasbord of interests. The Highland Park house, which Glenn-Murray has occupied since 2013, plays more roles than a character actor—it’s her home, an exhibition space, a residency program, a livestream, and (coming soon) a public-access TV station broadcast from the backyard shed. Glenn-Murray excels at forging connections between all sorts of creative output, from fine art to poetry to filmmaking to food, making Chin’s Push a dynamic site of experimentation.
Artsy: What inspired you to open a gallery?
Lydia Glenn-Murray: I started building out the space here in the wonderful but heavily gentrifying neighborhood Highland Park in the summer of 2013, before my senior year at UCLA. Before that, I’d been organizing things with friends on campus and at my apartment near school for a while. The combination of storefront and house, here, seemed like the natural evolution of the kind of intimate, living-room programming I’d become so interested in.
I continue to play with the lines between live and work space, public and private, but there is also a distinct white-wall gallery here, so that shows aren’t always forced to compete with household stuff. The name, Chin’s Push, comes from the doorbell of the house. A piece of paper printed with the family name “Chin’s” had been slipped into place on the doorbell above the button, which reads “Push.” It’s still there!
Artsy: How do you balance your own art practice with running the gallery?
LGM: I started the space while I still had a year of undergrad left, so I was making work at school simultaneously to running this spot on the opposite side of town. Since graduating a year and a half ago, my art practice has definitely been overshadowed by projects at the space, but overall my creative output is probably much greater than it would be otherwise—even if I’m not making artwork, in the straightforward sense of the word.
I very rarely call Chin’s a gallery. I like “project space,” because projects happen there and the whole thing is a rambling project in and of itself. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I forced myself to push through the difficulties of my studio practice—spirals of doubt punctuated by amazing moments of connection. But for me that requires a lot of private time and private space, which I have almost none of at the moment. When I’m working on stuff at Chin’s, I feel more happy, energized, and productive, and empowered to support other people, too. Maybe I’ll return to the studio at some point, but for right now, this is feeling good.
Artsy: Can you tell us a bit about your exhibition program? How do you decide which artists to work with?
LGM: I love being able to work with friends, and lots of exciting projects have come out of casual conversations. But I’m also aware that my reach is limited. People are eager for any space to work with, so proposals are always rolling in. It would be easy to just sit back and accept or reject, but it’s far more interesting, challenging, and responsible to have a program of events and exhibitions that might not happen otherwise. That means experimenting, taking risks, researching, reaching out, connecting, combining, extending unexpected opportunities, dealing with the idiosyncrasies of this space, and so on. The things produced out of this ethos are kind of all over the place, and I like that.
Artsy: What makes a gallery successful?
LGM: I’m interested in the gallery as a supportive, challenging, connective, discursive, and free space.
Artsy: Do artists make better gallerists?
LGM: I don’t know about that, but I do feel that my relationship with other artists I work with is more like a peer relationship—roles are fluid, and I think a lot of sharing and learning goes on. I approach this project with curiosity rather than commercialism, because I’ve framed it for myself more as a practice than as a business. In some ways, that might make me a terrible gallerist, since the space is funded primarily by my day job and I can’t offer as much financial support as I’d like to the people I work with. I think it’s just a matter of priorities.
Artsy: What’s next?
I’m very excited about the next few projects. We opened three shows on February 11th: Lali Foster in the gallery, SQ (a group who are in residence with me from Copenhagen) on the roof, and a group show organized by Seán Boylan in the garage-turned-studio space. Next up is a poetry reading organized by
, an ongoing restaurant project I’m working on with Holly Stanton, and a show in the gallery by OA4S.
The website has long been a full-bleed livestream, which has seen many people, places, and things. I just built a shed in the backyard and am looking forward to using that as a sort of public-access TV studio. Last but not least, I am excited to be shifting a bit more focus to what has so far been a very informal residency program based in the trailer in my backyard.
—Alexxa Gotthardt and Casey Lesser
Read more about artist-run galleries in Part I and Part II of our New York installment.