Sue Spaid

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Sue Spaid (born 1961 in Pittsburgh) is an American curator and philosopher, currently based in Belgium. She grew up in Saudi Arabia, where her father George Spaid worked for Saudi Aramco as a petroleum engineer. Her interest in contemporary art began while living in Austin, during the early eighties, but intensified when she moved to New York City in 1984, affording her regular visits to East Village and Soho galleries.

She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983, an M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University in New York City in 1999, and a PhD in Philosophy from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2013 for the dissertation Work and World: On the Philosophy of Curatorial Practice. She has presented various parts of her dissertation at Goldsmiths College, Central St. Martin's, Stony Brook University Manhattan, and several American Society for Aesthetics conferences.

Between 2010 and 2012, Spaid was Executive Director of the Contemporary Museum.[1] While at the Contemporary Museum, she published A Field Guide to Patricia Johanson's Works: Built, Proposed, Collected & Published and edited Contemporary Museum: 20 Years. Spaid has taught courses at Art Center College of Design (1993–1998), Otis College of Art and Design (1996–1998), University of Cincinnati (2004–2006), Temple University (2006–2008), and Drexel University (2010).

Spaid’s thematic exhibitions feature all types of art, though she is most known for experiential exhibitions, such as “Action Station: Exploring Open Systems” (1995) at the Santa Monica Museum of Art; “Comestible Compost” (1998) at the Pavilions Marketplace in West Hollywood; “Cremolata Flotage” (1999) on the Andrew J. Barberi Staten Island Ferry; “An Active Life” (2000) at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati;[2] “Hovering Above” (2008) and “Endurance: Visualizing Time” (2009)[3] for the Abington Art Center Sculpture Park in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania; and “Microfibers” (2009) at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia. She has organized career surveys for Jim Isermann (1993, Sue Spaid Fine Art), Robert Overby (1994, Sue Spaid Fine Art), Lynne Berman/ Kathy Chenoweth (1997, Special K), Eileen Cowin (2000, Armory Center for the Arts) and Jim Shaw (2000, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati).

Professional background[edit]

Since 1984, Spaid has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Baltimore, where she has been active in the art world as a collector, art writer, curator and adjunct professor. While Curator at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (1999–2002), she curated fourteen solo shows, organized five thematic exhibitions and authored the book Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies[4] to accompany the exhibition, co-curated with Amy Lipton. In 2010, she was awarded an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award to produce "Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots," which was accompanied by a 244-page book, featuring 200 full-color illustrations and three chronologies. In 2012, "Green Acres" opened at the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, and traveled to the Arlington Art Center, Arlington, Virginia and the American University Museum, Washington, DC.

As an independent curator, Spaid has organized over 50 exhibitions for artist-run spaces, university galleries, commercial galleries and museums, including the Abington Art Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Bellevue Arts Museum, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Mississippi Museum of Art, P*P*O*W, Santa Monica Museum of Art, SPACES in Cleveland, and The Suburban. In 2005, she and Patrizia Giambi discovered and documented the remains of Robert Smithson’s Asphalt Rundown (1969) in a quarry outside of Rome, Italy, an experience Spaid documented in Domus.[5] During her 2005-2006 “Yes Brainer Tour,” she traveled via car through 38 states presenting “The Gist of Isness,” based on an essay published in X-tra[6] and delivered at the 2006 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Portland, Oregon.

Spaid's ephemeral performance career began at Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA; where she read “This Aint No Manifesta” during Manifesto Night (1992, interpreted “Vindicating the Vulva” during Erotica Night (1996), and Tree-Top awarded cultural heroes (1997) during July 4 Readings. Tree-top is one of several alter egos (plus Pippi and Dragon-Princess) who have performed and exhibited since the mid-90s. Spaid modeled outfits designed by Antonio Gomez-Bueno during “The Gomez-Bueno Spiritual Fashion Show” (1993); Gomez-Bueno and Pippi during the "Food House Fashion Show" (1994) and Lun*na Menoh in "He(ad)dress" (1997). The Dragon Princess launched her "presidential campaign" at the Lotus Motel (1995).[7] In 1997, Spaid hosted the live talk-show “Trailblazing the Economies of Art” in the Barnsdall Art Park auditorium. She played a cameo role in Martin Durazo’s film Suck It Up (1998).[8] Olga the May-Day Nymph performed only once at Dirt (1998), Los Angeles, CA. Works created by Tri Via, a collaboration between her alter egos were exhibited in “Grouptopia” (2001) at Warsaw Projects, Cincinnati, OH; and “Tasty Buds” (2003) at The Work Space, New York City, NY. In the mid-90s, Spaid co-wrote for Coagula under the nom de plume Miles Tut-Hill.

In addition to collaborating with Alysse Stepanian on the multi-media event at OnetoManyThree (1999), Spaid performed “Suitably Contrite” (1998) (Socrates' The Apology & Dave Soldier soundtrack) at TwoMANYtwo. Soldier also dejayed “Worker’s Opiate” (1999), an outdoor fashion show at the corner of Walker & Broadway, New York City, across the street from Canal Self Serve, whose motto “Serve Yourself and Save” inspired artists to create fashion from less than $10 of stuff purchased there. In 2000, Jan Baum Gallery presented “Used and Amused,” which featured works by twelve artists who had used Spaid as their muse.[9]

She has thrice curated shows within shows, “Migration Platform” within “Once Upon a Time in the West” (2007), curated by Mark Harris; “Artists’ Installation Instructions” appeared both in “appropriately enough” (2004) at Warsaw Projects, Cincinnati, OH and “view do” (2005) at the Suburban, Oak Park, IL.[10]

Sue Spaid Fine Art[edit]

From 1990 to 1995, Spaid’s Los Angeles gallery presented solo shows by artists Lynn Aldrich, Polly Apfelbaum, Angie Bray, Carole Caroompas, Laura Cooper, Steve De Groodt, Jacci Den Hartog, D.E.M. (Jan Tumlir/Erik Otsea), Steve Derrickson, Nancy Evans, Terrie Friedman, Kenneth Goldsmith, Theresa Hackett, Larry Hammerness, Jim Isermann, Patrick Nickell, Robert Overby, Carter Potter, Adam Ross, Carole Szymanski, John Souza, Kevin Sullivan, Wastijn & Deschuymer, and Marnie Weber.

Ten thematic exhibitions featured works by gallery artists and Maura Bendett, Keith Boadwee, Robbie Cavolina, Russell Crotty, Linda Daniels, Sally Elesby, Sharon Ellis, Ava Gerber, Robert Gero, Patrizia Giambi, Michael Joaquin Grey, Paula Hayes, Jim Isermann, Shirley Kaneda, Kahty Chen Milstead, Dave Muller, David Schafer, Marc Schlesinger, Pam Strugar,[11] Linda Stark, Fred Tomaselli and Richard Tuttle.

“In the Courtyard,” presented outdoor projects (1992–1995) by Lindsay Alstrom, Phyllis Baldino, Lynne Berman/Charlotte Moorman, Kahty Chen Milstead, Steve Hurd, Laura Howe, Eric Otsea, Eric Magnuson, Robert Overby and Jennifer Steinkamp.

In addition to gallery artists receiving dozens of reviews in Artforum,[12] Art issues,[13] Frieze,[14] and Contemporanea,[15] The New York Times featured Sue Spaid as the cover image that accompanied Roberta Smith’s story “The Art World’s New Image,” December 29, 1992.[16]

Recurring collaborators[edit]

Collaborators have included Michael Anderson, Jay Belloli, Maura Bendett, Kristian Bjørnard, Robert Blackmon, Angie Bray, Kendall Bruns, Emily Buddendeck, Fred Dewey, Robert Gero, Patrizia Giambi, Theresa Hackett, Twan Janssen, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel, Amy Lipton, Dave Muller, Kahty Chen Milstead,Ole Jørgen Ness, David Schafer, Alysse Stepanian/Philip Mantione, Shirley Tse, and Christian Wilhelmy.

Publication history[edit]

Spaid currently contributes to the Flemish art magazine Hart. From 2003-2012, she was a member of the Contributors Board for artUS, writing regularly for this LA art publication and its predecessor ArtText since 1997. She has also written for Art issues.,[17] Art in America,[18] LA Weekly,[19] Village Voice[20] and New Art Examiner.[21]

For artUS, she discussed exhibitions of works by David Altmejd, Diane Burko, Marcel Duchamp, Dan Flavin, Victor Grippo, Terence Hammonds, Nadia Hironaka/Mathew Suib, Mark Harris, Thomas Hirschhorn, Carsten Höller, Jonathan Horowitz, Nina Katchadourian, Rockwell Kent, the land foundation, Jennifer Levonian, Tony Luensman, Margherita Manzelli, Martin Margiela, Ree Morton, Ron Mueck, Laurel Nakadate, Cecilia Paredes, Roxanne Pérez-Méndez, Nouveau Réalisme, Jorge Pardo, Todd Pavlisko, Richard Pettibone, Print Liberation, Liza Ryan, Simparch, the Situationist International and George Stone; and reviewed Manifesta 7, U-Turn Quadrenniel for Contemporary Art, Carnegie International, The Whitney Biennial and Dia:Beacon and interviewed philosophers, such as Richard Shusterman and Joseph Margolis.

Book Title Essay Title Date Publisher ISBN Number
Following the Line Following the Curves 2012 Girls' Club, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Jacci Den Hartog From Elephant & Castle to Far Away Places 2012 Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots Main Text 2012 Contemporary Arts Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 0917562828
A Field Guide to Patricia Johanson's Works: Built, Proposed, Collected & Published Main Text 2012 Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD 0970098626
Contemporary Museum: 20 Years “Epilogue” 2011 Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD
Nefeli Massia: Remaking Realities "Beguiling End Games" 2011 Stevenson College, Stevenson, MD
Splendid Entities: Twenty-Five Years of Phyllis Green “In Glorious Resplendence” 2011 Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Mara Scrupe “Buyer Beware” 2010 Indiana State University, Terre Haute, ID
Carmel Buckley “The Aesthetics of Physics: Space, Replace, Erase, Place and Trace (f.k.a. matter, created, destroyed, isolated system and time)” 2009 Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Stewart Goldman “Sea Change” 2008 Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH
Guglielmo Achille Cavellini “Four Places, Many Faces and Thousands of Races” 2008 Cavellini Foundation: Brescia, Italy
the handmaking “The Work of Art in the Age of Femmage” 2007 Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA
Shrinking Cities “Shrinking Cities: Expanded Opportunities” 2007 SPACES, Cleveland, OH
Locally, Localized Gravity “How the Gold Fish Test Became the Bicycle Messenger Test” 2007 Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
Mississippi Invitational 2006 “Going Places: Jackson to Nachez and Back Again” 2007 Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
Sabina Ott “Set Theory: A Set is a Set is a Set” 2006 Gallery, University of Texas at San Antonio, TX
Presence "Being Here: Wrestling with Resemblance in an Antirepresentational Era" 2006 Speed Museum of Art, Louisville, KY 961227664
Ruby Ossorio: A Story of a Girl “Flirting with Femininity, Freedom and Femmage” 2005 Saint Louis Contemporary Art Museum 10:0971219559, 13:9780971219557
Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies Main text 2002 Contemporary Arts Center Green Museum,Eco Art Space 10:0917562747, 13:9780917562747
Sharon Ellis “A Phenomenological Phoenix” 2002 Long Beach Museum of Art
Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger “Lay of the Land” 2001 Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati
Patrizia Giambi: A Ten Year Survey “A 360 Degree Stretch” and “Testimonial” 2001 Galleria Neon, Bologna, Italy
Eileen Cowin: Still (and all) “The Impossibility of Expression” 2000 Armory Center for the Arts 10:189390010, 13:9781893900011
Angie Bray “A Palimpsest, You Jest!” 2000 Fresno Art Museum
Surface <=> Structure “Nautilus: Surfacing, Anticipation and Effervescence” 1999 Peggy Phelps Gallery, Claremont Graduate School
Twan Jansen “Je suis ne pas une Prestidigitator, Mais Je le Joue Dans Le Monde” 1999 Stedelijk Museum Schiedam
Under Construction “Skirting the Perils of Representation” 1995 Armory Center for the Art ASIN:B00EV06TO
Steve de Groodt “Resisting the Culture: Perusing, Cruising and Moseying” 1993 SF MOMA



  1. ^ "Contemporary Museum names new executive director" Baltimore Sun, 17 November 2010
  2. ^ "CAC's season invites exhibition interaction" Cincinnati Enquirer, 11 May 2000
  3. ^ "Endurance at Abington" at The Art Blog of Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof
  4. ^ Spaid, Sue Ecovention: Current Art to Transform Ecologies, Contemporary Arts Museum Cincinnati, 2002
  5. ^ Spaid, Sue. “The Treasure Map.” Domus. March 2007
  6. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Isness: A Philosophy for Avant-Gardes”, X-tra, February 2006, pp. 10-19.
  7. ^ Greenstein, M.A. “Lotus Motel” World Art Winter 1996.
  8. ^ Harvey, Doug. “Sue Spaid: Used & Amused.” LA Weekly, 2 February 2000
  9. ^ Harvey, Doug. “Sue Spaid: Used & Amused”, LA Weekly, 2 February 2000.
  10. ^ "Can I Come Over to Your House: The First Ten Years of the Suburban", Oak Park: The Suburban, 2010
  11. ^ "Exhibition - New View: NV5" from American Towns: Baltimore, 2011
  12. ^ Auerbach, Lisa Anne. “John Souza: Sue Spaid Fine Art.” Artforum. December 1994.
  13. ^ Iannaccone, Carmine. “Jacci Den Hartog: Sue Spaid Fine Art.” art issues. February 1994.
  14. ^ Duncan, Michael. “The Zone: Sue Spaid Fine Art.” frieze. Nov-Dec. 1993.
  15. ^ Anderson, Michael. “Los Angeles.” Contemporanea. October 1990.
  16. ^ Smith, Roberta. “The Art World’s New Image.” The New York Times, December 29, 1992.
  17. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Raymond Pettibon.” Art issues, Summer 1990
  18. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Assembling Africa.” Art in America, May 1997, pp. 46-53
  19. ^ Spaid, Sue: “Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle,” LA Weekly, 1–7 May 1997, p. 53
  20. ^ Spaid, Sue. “‘Twofer (Sylvie Fleury/John Armleder.” The Village VOICE July 20, 1999. p. 151.
  21. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Survival Strategies: Gearing Up for Autarkic Communities or the Post-Political Society?” New Art Examiner. November 2001.
  22. ^ “Looking for LOL at the Contemporary Museum” The Baltimore Sun. June 9, 2011
  23. ^ Newhall, Edith. “Microfibers,” Philadelphia Inquirer. December 27, 2009.
  24. ^ "Endurance: Daring Feats of Risk Survival and Perseverance" at Abington Art Center, 11 September to 29 November 2009
  25. ^ "Global Suburbia: Meditations of the World of the 'Burbs'" at Abington Art Center, 11 September 2008
  26. ^ Donohoe, Victoria. “Review: Abington Art Center.” The Philadelphia Inquirer March 23, 2008. p. L10.
  27. ^ "Hovering Above" Abington Art Center, 7 June – 30 November 2008
  28. ^ Mark Harris profile at the College of Design, Architecture, Artand Planning website, University of Cincinnati
  29. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Shrinking Cities: Expanding Opportunities.” Shrinking Cities (Cleveland: SPACES Gallery & UDC, 2007).
  30. ^ Spaid, Sue. “Going Places: Jackson to Nachez and Back Again.” Mississippi Invitational (Jackson: Mississippi Museum of Art, 2006)
  31. ^ List of 2005 exhibitions, The Suburban
  32. ^ City guide, Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 August 2002
  33. ^ Bauer, Marilyn. “Art of a New Nature.” Cincinnati Enquirer. June 27, 2002.
  34. ^ Bauer, Marilyn. “Sprawl Has Fun with Found Objects.” Cincinnati Enquirer. May 5, 2002.
  35. ^ Kangas, Matthew. “Works in BAM’s Annual Resist Traditional Categories.” Seattle Times. October 19, 2001.
  36. ^ Findsen, Owen. “Jump Into Fun Exhibits at CAC.” October 22, 2000.

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