Sotheby’s 2021 Employee Exhibition!

Matt Myers and Drew Maillard, welcome back to Carpazine!

Carpazine: When was the Sotheby’s employee exhibition created? 

Matt: I started here in 2001 and the employee art show was already established, here and in London Sotheby’s. I’m not sure how long before that it started. London have been hosting theirs online for years; this year is the first time for Hong Kong and New York.

Carpazine: How was the curation of the exhibition “The Art of Working from Home” accomplished during COVID lock-down? 
Matt: We created a committee of 6 staff members and 7 others in creative design and implementation of the catalog and online profile. Most of the communication and organization was done virtually via email and online meetings.

Carpazine: How was it participating in this year’s exhibition?
Matt: Around March of 2020, as the pandemic spread and businesses closed, many of Sotheby’s employees were furloughed, and the artists among us had the unexpected benefit of more time in the studio. I became unemployed and spent about 3 months creating large watercolors of exotic women I had photographed in the Philippines and Thailand that usually take forever because of my painstaking process. With the open studio time I managed to create much more than I had working a nine to five, Monday through Friday job. 

Drew: Like everything else this year, the Sotheby’s employee art show was a disappointment. The reception was cancelled and artists were responsible for their own photography. In the past, I would look forward to the party with colleagues. Being able to bring in difficult or large artwork to be photographed by the professionals that work there as a great perk to working there. I understand why all that was cancelled, but it’s just another drag from the COVID.

I wanted to do a big, involved piece during my 2+ months off, but being stuck at home made me feel stir crazy and unable to focus, combined with the depressing paranoia the virus created. Eventually, I created a series of Cootie-Catchers, (2 of which are featured in the exhibition), which was a fun project that evolved into 8 finished Cootie-Catchers, 5 Paper Airplanes and 3 Paper Hats (so far).

Carpazine: Tell us a little about the works in the exhibition.
Drew: It’s really a community arts show, comprised of Sotheby’s coworkers from every level: cleaners, security, art handlers, contractors, and art specialists. There are some worthwhile efforts done from many different and unique viewpoints, representing both academic and amateur skill levels. 

Matt: There were 37 participants this year, which is a decent amount considering the circumstances. Many of the pieces display incredible ingenuity, and some are of the highest caliber. 

Carpazine:  How do you feel you fit in as artists yourselves, working for a business selling art?  

Drew: They (Sotheby’s) trade in established, or up and coming artists’ works of art, and evaluate art as a commodity. They don’t promote and nurture artists, schools or movements of art until they’re marketable. Even though some of us (employees) are serious artists, we are often overlooked by Sotheby’s, which is a multi-billion-dollar art reseller corporation. I think Sotheby’s London does a much better job promoting from within.

Matt: I have a good personal reference to the art disparity here at Sotheby’s. Some years back, I did an erotic mixed-media piece called ‘Vengeance in a Box’, that had some video edits of Japanese porn stars. It was pulled from the exhibition after one day because someone complained about the content. A short time later, a nine and a half foot anime-inspired statue, ‘Lonesome Cowboy’, by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, was on exhibition a few yards from where my piece had been displayed in the employee art show. The nude figure was displayed holding his giant erect penis, a swirl of ejaculate lassoed over his head. No one complained because this piece had a higher market value and was produced by an established Contemporary artist.
Carpazine: How long have you guys been working at Sotheby’s?
Matt: 20 long years, and still surviving! Knock on wood! 
Drew: Since 2012, and for the foreseeable future!

Carpazine: How long will the exhibition be online?
Drew: London and Hong Kong kicked their exhibitions off in December 2020 and New York’s just happened on February 13-17, 2021.
Carpazine: Where can our readers find out more about both of you and your art?