JS: What inspired you to start Chin’s Push?
LGM: I was constantly being warned about “The Art World” at school, and maybe I was kind of building my own boat to sail on? I’ve never thought about it that way before… but the analogy suddenly seems apt. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I just found this spot in Highland Park during the summer between my last two years of school. The space is made up a commercial store front, a pretty rundown house, a garage cum studio, a trailer, a big concrete pad of a back yard, and a little garden area complete with a raised bed and tangerine, Meyer lemon and guava trees. I fixed up the front to create a whitewall gallery space (preserving its quirks at the same time), but things happen all around the property.
JS: Is Chin’s Push the first space you have run?
LGM: My roommate Lucy Blagg and I dubbed our college apartment, “Babe Pad” and we had events every Monday night at 8pm. I didn’t think of it as “a space” back then; I just really liked having a regular meeting time and place. We did a talent show, a seance, a comic book workshop, a harvest festival, a reading, a charitable bake-off, a figure drawing session – it was playful, but we took it seriously enough that something new came together every week, word spread, and there was a sense of growing community around the space. It was a really wonderful experience.
JS: Where does the name come from?
LGM: The doorbell! That label was just there when we moved in.
JS: Would you say there is a movement in L.A. to create a community around independent spaces? You work for a gallery that is an artist-run-space-cum-commercial gallery, do you have the same aspiration?
LGM: I definitely think that there is a lot of energy around independent spaces in Los Angeles. There are sooo many, and new spots are popping up all the time. I get a real sense of bounty and opportunity here.
I don’t have plans for the space to develop into a commercial gallery. I have clear intentions for the space, not goals, if that makes sense?
JS: Do you consider yourself an artist or a curator first, or, does that not matter?
LGM: I guess I feel kind of uncomfortable with all the titles like “artist,” “curator,” “gallery,” “alternative space,” etc. etc. I’m fine with whatever people want to call what I’m doing, and I think about this stuff a lot, but I try to keep my options open, not to pin things down. Maybe I’m just too new to all this and I’ll have a better answer for this later. Or maybe I won’t!
JS: What is your curatorial approach?
LGM: It’s like this story about “stone soup” that I remember from my childhood. Some folks come into town looking for a bite to eat. They invite people over to share a big pot of “stone soup.” They tell their guests to bring something to throw into the pot. They put a water on to boil and throw a stone in the bottom. Someone brings a carrot, someone else some onion, the next a bunch of celery, and so on. Suddenly they’ve got a delicious soup, and a lovely dinner party to boot. Is that a cheesy comparison to make? But it sort of feels like how this all continues to come together. Maybe it could be a salad…Stone Salad!
JS: How did you curate the holiday shop? Did you buy anything from the store for yourself?
LGM: I tried to make it open and inclusive. I asked friends, family, people making things all over the place, and then some people approached me with items to sell, and I did. IWe had more than 135 contributors! It was really exciting to me to have “works of art,” next to something made by my mom, or a friend’s kid. It was an opportunity to level the playing field. But at the same time it really was all great stuff that I was proud to carry! And yes, definitely hung onto some things myself in the end…
JS: What have been the biggest challenges to starting your own gallery?
LGM: The biggest challenges for me are financial and emotional: The practical issue of how to keep the doors open without asking for handouts or compromising programming, the eternal issues of figuring out what I want to do and actually doing it, keeping it fun, being brave, and not putting too much pressure on myself.
JS: Judging by the amount of friends who dropped in during our salad session, I would say you are doing a good job.