During one of the first days of staying in New York last summer, I explored Williamsburg, stopping at Roebling Tea Lounge and luckily, Cinders Gallery. I say luckily because not too long after that time, Sto and Kelie, who had created the space, had to give up having a physical space in Brooklyn, which led them to the opportunity of being mobile and taking their art and the spirit and goals of Cinders any place in the country or world they’d like. Here are Sto’s words on the past, present and future of Cinders Gallery.
Hello, Sto! What are you currently working on, personally and for the organization?
Right now I’m working on SATURN DOGS, which is a sci-fi dance noise performance piece involving costumes and homemade instruments. We will be performing in January and hope to have a recording done in the next month or so. The record is gonna be called ‘Blu Pu’. With Cinders, I’m working on our website all the time and trying to get our huge inventory of art up online for people to see it and be able to purchase it. Also, applying for some grants and trying to plan 2013.
How did Cinders begin? What inspirations would you say helped the project take shape?
We simply wanted something that oddly wasn’t there in an art metropolis like NYC-a friendly alternative art space that showed the art we were interested in. So we started it ourselves, even though we didn’t know a thing about running a gallery. But we did have amazingly talented friends that showed their art with us and inspired us to keep it going.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your co-owner/co-starter? What’s something you’ve learned from Kelie?
Well, we kind of grew up together in that mid 20s-30s period of one’s life. We met at a BBQ in Brooklyn in 2002. She mentioned a traveling art circus that she was in and I realized that I had actually seen her perform back in Virginia. I was smitten. We began collaborating on art, then decided to start a gallery. Then her house burned down and we both moved into the storefront that became Cinders, hence the name. We went through a lot of crazy stuff together over the years. I learned so much from Kelie, she is one of the hardest working people I know. I learned to not let anything stop me no matter the odds. And she got me to start eating sushi when I was a vegetarian. Now I can’t stop.
What have your five favorite moments been since you began in 2004?
Uhh, it’s hard to pick. The very first day we opened was so rad and pretty cute looking back on it. The summer we had the Porch Show was amazing. We built a porch inside the gallery as part of a group show and had bands play on it. It was exciting to go to Japan to do a Cinders show there and have people know about us and be super excited. We had a Prom Party once during Maya Hayuk’s show where people dressed up and took prom photos in this psychedelic plant scene and we all danced like we were in a John Hughes film. The FUNeral, which was the closing of our original space was incredible too, such an outpouring of awesome human beings coming to pay respects to what we built was so touching.
I understand rent became too high for you to continue to house Cinders in your Williamsburg space– what has an advantage been to the changes that have taken place since then?
We have realized that Cinders is not just a physical space, it’s a community, an aesthetic, an idea, a feeling. The Williamsburg space we had was a specific time and place, the neighborhood is much different now, and we can’t recreate that so we must move on and adapt. Plus, it’s good to spread the love to other cities, countries, planets…. its been liberating.
What is something you hope for Cinders in the next year?
I hope that we get to do the things we have been planning for.
How about five years?
I’m not sure. That may be too far in the future for me to think about…
What has Cinders got up its sleeve in the beginning of the coming new year?
We are curating a print show in February at our sister space, FLA Gallery, down in Gainesville, Florida. Kelie is living down there full-time now and running FLA Gallery with another Cinders artist, John Orth. Right after that, we are heading to Santiago, Chile to paint some murals for a music festival and then do an exhibition there with some Chilean artists. Psyched about that!
What can you be seen doing when you’re not working on Cinders projects?
Playing music. Painting on paper and walls and clothes. Trying to build instruments. Baking gluten-free breads. Making big soups. It’s winter time, ya know?
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
That you gotta keep on keepin’ on.
What’s something that working on Cinders has taught you?
It’s important to do it yourself because no one else is gonna do it for you.
What’s the best place you’ve ever visited? Share a brief story from that place/trip, pretty please?
Well, I just came back from a Saturn Dogs tour in Europe and we spent a couple weeks driving through France, which was beautiful. Passing through little old villages, eating amazing cheeses and escargot and playing squats and rock clubs at art schools. We went to this one place called Palais Ideal, which was this super insane palace made by a postman who brought home stones on his daily route to make it with. It took him 33 years to build and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Straight outta a Tim Burton film. I thought, ‘What have I been doing? I gotta start building my ideal palace man….’
Finish these sentences:
New York is…intense.
New York is not…the center of the world.
Cinders is…in my heart.
I am always looking for…inspiration.
I would love to…go to space.