Gallerist Dennis Christie’s New Horizons

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[Timothy Tompkins’ “Big Tree” from his Interstate Sublime series.]
Conner: Where are you from originally?

Christie: The off the coast of Florida, from Anna Maria Island.

Conner: When did you move to NY?

Christie: In 1994. Before that I was at Boston University. I really started in the art world in 1996. I was debating the masters route and then I just met the right mentor at the right time.

Conner: When did you come out?

Christie: When I was in college. Being gay was so far removed from the realm of possibility, at least from my growing up and where I’m from. I’m so envious in a way of kids today who are able to come out in high school because that fascinates me. That just wasn’t my world.

Conner: What got you interested in art?

Christie: My parents. Whenever we would travel anywhere my parents would always make it a point to go to an art museum though it wasn’t until I was half way through college that I took up Art History. I actually started in archaeology but didn’t want to spend a summer digging somewhere without a nice hotel.

Conner: Have you always been drawn to contemporary art?

Christie: It really started in the early 90s from reading Artforum and Art in America because our classes kind of ended with Pollock and an image of Warhol. When I was in middle school Warhol died, but I was already fascinated with him. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in New York at all. For a kid from an island in Florida it really had an impact.

Conner: So Warhol kind of pushed you to New York City?

Christie: For sure, even though he was dead and buried. But through my internship at Charles Cowles I met a lot of factory people and that always made me secretly happy.
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[Lia Holleran’s “Untitled (Diffusion 3)” helps build her Vellum series.]
Conner: What do you think about being young and gay and in the art world in New York now? A lot different from when Andy ruled the scene…

Christie: It’s great not even in New York because you have that kinship. For example, every year for the last several years going to South Beach for Art Basel Miami Beach has always been a funny thing.

Conner: You mean going to the club Twist, don’t you?

Christie: Yeah! The bar upstairs. We call that “the Office,” because you can see everyone and anyone in the art world pass through and do more business of any kind there. Being gay, there are so many specific outlets for us outside of work. I found I got so much more work done at Twist than during the day. It’s great to have that sense of community in the art world which can be kind of a…

Conner: Clusterfuck.

Christie: Sure. And corporate and very money-driven.

Conner: Do you think a crash in the art market would be good for art?

Christie: I think it’s important to take a step back from these issues of the market and money. That’s what I do a lot. I say to myself I don’t want this as part of my life. And that makes me happy.