This weekend, Yarrow, 25, and Auguste, 23, bring their eclectic vision of urban contemporary curation to FIFTY24SF with ‘Swimmin’ In The Playground’, a show hitting all the high notes with the aim to bring what Auguste calls ‘the now’ into a single space.
We wanted to pick these guys brains a little and learn some more about their background in the arts and how they go about deciding what’s fresh and what’s not.
SJ: Tell me about SWIM. What is it, and where did you come up with the concept?
AS: I had a friend who tried to do an art brand but it was too pretentious, and they just gave up right away. But then I was like, ‘let’s do an art organization that connects everything in an unpretentious way that puts art first and bridges the gaps in the industry. I contacted Yarrow, who I’ve known since I was like six years old, and the minute I told him about it, he was like, ‘oh shit, I had the same exact idea, and it’s called SWIM’.
SJ: So you’ve been friends since were six years old? How were your backgrounds similar?
YS: Yeah, we grew up in a similar way, just always around the arts. I might have took like six years off for music, but yeah, like 19 years just being around art all the time.
AS: Well, art has always been mainly a hobby for me, but I was always passionate for the arts, and have always loved discovering new artists. I also listen to a ton of music, and leading up to all this I was listening to a ton of Tyler The Creator and Kendrick and they were all saying, ‘go get your shit done, you can do this,’ so it kind of inspired me.
SJ: You two are some of the youngest people to ever curate a show at Upper Playground. How do you think your age plays a factor in the end product of the show?
YS: Well, as a curator, you just want to do your research, because the more you know, the easier it is think of an artist that would fit with an idea you’re having for the show. Basically, being around art shows you what you like, and doing your research show’s you who you like. Then of course, being from a younger generation, your decisions are going to be more fresh.
AS: Yeah, we’re closer to the source, the life force.
YS: Right in the solar plex...
SJ: Yarrow, the paintings you’ve selected for this show represent a departure from some of your other work focusing mainly on depictions of hip hop and pop culture icons. What’s behind the recent shift in subject matter?
YS: Well, I used to do a lot of paintings of my favorite rappers, but you know, as an artist you grow. For me personally, it was becoming more of a thing like, ‘who’s gonna post me next, what rapper’s gonna see this?’ But now I’m trying to say something different.
SJ: Right on...and what are you both hoping to accomplish with this show? What’s this show about?
Well, this is our third show, and with all of our shows, it’s kind of all about getting the ‘now’ into the present in one space. Like I believe that everything connects, art, music, theatre, and everything in our show conveys stuff that’s going on right now, like Black Lives Matter, the kind of music that’s popular right now, the sports teams that are popular right now...it’s all connected. Every idea that’s in the zeitgeist, everything that’s on tv and the internet, it all kind of connects in this one space. We basically try to put the youth perspective into a room and the end result becomes something kind of powerful.
SJ: Tell me more about how you see elements in the arts specifically being connected.
YS: Well with music, the idea of storytelling is how they’re connected. For me, I think about art as an essay, like any piece I do I want to research it well, so I can tell a story. Then in rap, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then you can’t rap.
AS: I’m also into filmmaking, and I see each art show we do as a film that we’re directing. We’re telling it where to go, we’re the directors. It’s very similar to making a movie...you have to edit stuff and cut stuff out and put stuff in. There’s a lot of crossover there. We put our hearts into it and go all out in order to make it something unique and special.We want to make you excited about art again.
Interview by Stephen Jackson
FIFTY24SF Gallery is pleased to present ‘Swimmin’ In The Playground,’ the latest group exhibition from SWIM Team curated by its youthful duo, Yarrow Slaps and Auguste Somers. After two highly successful and critically acclaimed shows at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, SWIM Team backstrokes into the Bay Area with an opening reception at FIFTY24SF GALLERY on Saturday, May 21st from 7 - 10pm in San Francisco’s Lower Haight. The exhibition features an unique array of dynamic and captivating artwork that, as the curators declare, "will make you excited for art again." The featured artists were chosen from a range of criteria prioritizing artist locality, subject matter and resonance within the collective subconscious of the group as a whole.
The show features an assortment of 24 Bay Area artists, six select LA-based artists and six SWIM Team all-stars from various locations to round things out. The group operates within a wide-range of mediums, techniques and career levels. From Tracey Snelling’s scale model neighborhoods to Matt Gonzales’ assembled collages. Justin Hager, Yarrow Slaps and Michelle Guintu’s often humorous interpretations of pop culture to Jason Jägel's mixed media paintings created from C-prints raided from his photographer wife’s studio trash bin. Kristen Liu-Wong’s otherworldly erotic neon-pastel clad illustrations will certainly pique some eyebrows as will Sean Newport’s mesmerizing geometric wood assemblages. There are so many spectacular artists and so much great work to share with you, we barely know where to start. Guess you're going to have to come check it out for yourself.