Louisahhh presents : Erik Foss
Louisahhh!!! made her first steps as a DJ at Lit, a club in NYC, that was founded by her friend and artist, Erik Foss. Read below the interview she led, and be sure to check Erik’s collages and drawings here.
For the unfamiliar, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Erik Foss. I am an artist living and working in NYC. I have been so for almost 20 years. I was raised mostly by my mother who was a survivor of an abusive marriage. My childhood was not really a childhood and I was forced to deal with adult situations. So ultimately a lot of my work is a host to a lot of what I survived. I grew up very humble and chose skateboarding , music and art to obsess over. There I found my niche and community. After suffering through high school and with the guidance of one particular art teacher I soon moved to NYC in 1996. I am ultimately a product of the streets and self tought.
Most of what I’ve done and learned is from a DIY sensibility. Taking the path not normally taken has shaped me and my work. Everything I have and have accomplished is from a simple idea , work hard , ask for nothing That can’t be earned and help people along the way. After moving to NYC I immediately started working in night life and that’s how I made my living up until a year ago.
I co founded 2 clubs , one gallery and one cafe along the way. My curitirorial path led me to the National Museum of Mexico where I co curated the largest and most diverse contemporary drawing exhibition to date. I am now a full time artist living and working in the lower east side of New York City.
If you’re not too sick of talking about it, what are your feelings of Lit’s closing/moving? It really feels like the end of an era for a lot of us who came up in that community.
I helped create something that will be remembered in history books and movies, it was an adventure that I couldn’t put into words, I feel blessed for the opportunity to have helped a generation of artists, musicians and Djs in a time where there wasn’t anything quite like it. I forged hundreds of relationships and experienced things that one could only dream about.
Lit and Fuse Gallery was my entire 30’s and a very special time in NYC. I feel like we helped inspire so many people and things. I’m just glad I photographed so much of it. It will all make an awesome movie some day :)
How do you balance being a leader and staple of a creative community and an artist yourself?
I don’t know about being a leader of a community but for now I just am focusing on art. I have a book that’s about to come out, a new gallery in NYC I am working with and a big show in LA in early 2016 comn up. That’s enough for now and all I really want to be doing.
Louisa in Lit’s basement back in 2004
What role does living and working in New York have in your art? Your attitude or ethos? I have a really hard time reconciling the city I know and grew up in and the city that actually exists today…what has it been like riding the transformation?
No matter what any one thinks about NYC, it is still the largest amount of humans living in one small island in this country, wich means there is more actual human activity on this island than any where in this country. Activity means inspiration.
At this point I have witnessed the most grose example of capitalism any artist could experience, that is just a part of my life and I utilize this in my work.
I try and keep a positive additude no matter what. I survived 20 years here and now let’s see what the next couple decades have to offer. I see it as nature , human nature and that’s what inspires my work.
It seems like you’ve done a really good job of riding the line between the gate-keepers of the art scene and the dirty awesome weirdos of night life, like a lot of the universe you’ve had a hand in creating combines the best of these two worlds. Is this a conscious balance or something that has come naturally? How has your relationship with (or within) each changed over your career?
Night life was something I had to do to make a living , and being social was my role in my business’s, this did come natural. I feel like one can learn something from each human interaction, and I never took that for granted.
For the first 15 years of living on this rock creative people used night life as a place to network , now that has all changed because most artists can’t afford NYC any more. Now NYC is ultimately a city filled with ultra conservative capitalists and tourists looking for a NYC of the past.
I just focus on making work.
What (or who) are your present muses or inspirations?
I am inspired by so many things and people , its a long list. Basicky I am inspired by Friends , music , politics , ect.
I am constantly trolling the Interweb knowing that occasionally something will jump out. It’s a massive source of information that’s available 24/7 and it’s free for now.
I recently read an article about the eleged corruption in the music industry and its behind closed doors buisnes ties with the American private prison complex .
This article inspired a series I call “ WyTang Drawings ”. These drawings are basic disney cartoon drawings with the WuTang logo (below).
I use Walt Disney as a reference to represent corporate greed and power.
There’s a lot of these references subtly used through out a lot of my work.
Coming from humble hard working working class back ground , what is happening to the majority of working class Americans is in my work .
What artists are you excited about right now?
Joe Roberts , Chris Johanson , Devin Troy , Chris Oh , Ben Bertocci , Gibby Haynes , Bäst , Ben Ein , Brin Degraw , Madam Ette , Joe Grillo , Rachel Rose Cuccia and the list goes on and on.
What are you working on and what direction are you moving in creatively or hoping to move?
I am working on my first book of Soley my work and photos, a collaboration show in Los Angeles with Joe Roberts and some new work for a new gallery I am working with in NYC.
And hopefully I can find a new studio in my neighborhood soon .
If you have time/energy, I always love a Proust Questionnaire (all questions not mandatory, but answer what/if you want):
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
The health and happiness of my family and friends , enough time and money to continue making work consistently in NYC , and my own health of course.
What is your greatest fear?
Not being able to make art while still alive
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My trust in people , especially the ones I choose to open my heart to.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your current state of mind?
I need to make more art
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Human physical beauty