Neidy is an LA-based artist, curator, sartorial icon, and art world personality.
Hey Neidy! Thanks so much for participating in this series.
How do you feel professional life differs for women in the art world than in other professions?
Like other professions, there has been great bias against women in the art world. Before feminism, women were refused exhibitions and gallery representation. Feminism activated the exhibition space for women artists and art workers, but market value disparity between the genders continues. However, I do believe we are on the brink of a cultural shift that will eventually level the playing field between men and women.
As challenging as these issues are, I still feel that my art practice brings me a great sense of agency and self-reliance that I might not have experienced early on in another profession. Having an art practice is very much like owning your own business; you manage yourself, your ideas, and your team to produce something you are proud of. Difficulties aside, I get a lot of freedom doing what I do, and I would not want it any other way.
How do you feel the art scene in LA differs from other places?
Los Angeles has been a cultural destination for many years, and its art scene has been well- regarded for its diversity and experimentation. However, it has not celebrated brown and queer art so vibrantly until recently. I think artists like Rafa Esparza, Sebastian Hernandez, Nao Bustamante, Mario Ayala and Tanya Melendez, to name a few, are making huge strides for the Chicanx and Latinx communities in Southern California and beyond. As someone from Mexican descent, it is rad to see our community getting some well-deserved recognition.
LA’s art scene is unique in that it is very supportive of artist-run spaces and nonconventional gallery spaces. As a result, more galleries have been established, more artists have been showing and marginalized talent has been surfacing to the scene. I think LA has a leg up on redefining current gallery structures. Yes, galleries are businesses, but they can also be cultural havens.
Could you tell us a little bit about the vision you have for your exhibition space, in lieu, and how that project came about?
Alex Perliter, Ethan Tate and I founded in lieu in 2016. We were all working together and really bonded over the idea of organizing an artist-run gallery. We wanted to provide a project and exhibition space particularly for emerging art. in lieu has been open for over a year now, and it has been nothing short of an exciting journey. We are continuing to learn and grow daily. In two weeks, we will be partaking in our first international art fair, and right now, we are prepping for our first show of the year with Gabriel Cohen. Overall, we try to keep things simple, and support artists as best we can.
How do you balance work, personal life, and art?
Routine is essential.
What do you think is the most pressing issue for California today, and how do you feel young California women can best become involved in the betterment of the future of our state?
I think environmental sustainability and land protection are very pressing issues for California. The best way for women to participate in the improvement of our state is by voting and putting politicians keen on strengthening preservation laws in office. More immediate ways involve recycling, saving power and wasting less food.
California has taken a leadership role in protecting the environment - how do you feel individual Californians can best protect our land? And, what role do women have especially in protecting our Earth and land in light of recent global political shifts?
Not to be repetitive, but voting is the best thing an individual Californian can do to protect the environment. Getting politicians that prioritize the environment is crucial to this fight.
As far as I am concerned, I feel that protecting the environment transcends gender; it really is a human matter. We need to work together towards mending this Earth. But the reality is that to be effective, we need to act globally. If we do not do that, gender, race and religion become irrelevant in California and everywhere else.
If you could give any advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
What do you feel have been the most critical moments in shaping the woman you are today?
There were two critical moments. One was moving to LA ten years ago, the other was opening in lieu. I grew up in a sheltered, conservative town with less than 5,000 residents, so when I moved to LA for undergrad, I quickly came to realize I needed more grit. I am far grittier now than I was ten years ago, but I am not ashamed to admit that I still have ways to go. LA also introduced me to my now husband and business partner, Alex. In many ways, we have helped shape each other, and opening in lieu together was another opportunity for us to grow personally and professionally. Running the gallery has been an exciting whirlwind, and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish together alongside Ethan.
What defines a great mentor-mentee relationship, and who are the women you consider to be mentors and role models for you in your personal life and in your career?
I feel that a great mentor-mentee relationship relies heavily on trust – trust of information exchange and reception. Throughout my career, I have had many mentors, but the most impactful one has been Liz Larner, an LA-based artist, feminist and environmental activist. Aside from sharing her vast wealth of knowledge and experience liberally with me, she also taught me a thing or two about grit – both in the art world and in real life. So, in being a mentor for me in my career, Liz has also been a mentor for me in my personal life.
What is your fashion philosophy?
I think having few, quality pieces that are timeless and/or unique is the way to go. To keep things interesting, I like to circulate my inventory often and go thrifting. I also like to collect from emerging designers like Cometees, Sanchez Kane, Nosseso, Barragan, Vaqueras and Cottweiler. Still, as much as I love the latest tabis, it is likely that you would catch me in my daily studio ensemble most times.
How do you feel feminism affects your dating and professional life?
For example, “I always find men AND employers who support me as a strong woman”, or “I have [xyz] problems with men who don’t understand [xyz] feminist issues, but I overcome that [this way], and I have [xyz] problems with employers but I work around that toward consensus and mutual understanding [this way].
Fortunately, my partner, friends, colleagues and employers alike, support me as a strong, independent woman. That said, I am a sculptor, and with sculpting comes contact with heavily male-dominated industries such as woodworking, metalworking and ceramics. To put it lightly, the boys’ club does not always take kindly to my construction knowledge and abilities. This I can brush off, because I know what I am capable of, but what really frustrates me is when my capabilities are further undermined by a grumbling hun or sweetie. That, I have not quite figured out how to deal with yet, but I think age is a major factor.
I feel that the coast of California has the most rugged and gentle beauty I have ever seen. To me, California feels both masculine and feminine, vibrant, gentle, and wild. How do you feel that the world of California, whether it is the natural beauty of the central coast, enclaves like Silverlake or Topanga, or the slick glam of Hollywood, affected your personal conception of Beauty?
Prior to moving to LA, my notions of beauty were skin-deep. Ironically, living in a metropolitan city has expanded my perception of beauty beyond the cosmetic. Now, I find something charming about a cockroach scattering aimlessly inside a five-star restaurant.
And, in a few words, how would you define beauty?
Of all interpretations regarding what makes something beautiful, and whether beauty is subjective or objective, relative or absolute, my personal feelings are pretty impartial. I do not think it is healthy to stick to prevailing tastes or traditions. Heedless to say, for me, beauty is less about cosmetics and sensuous gratification than it is about being a measure of affect and
emotions. Beauty is something that is unquantifiable and infinite, and therefore difficult to understand and explain, but easy to feel.
What do you love most about California?
I love that it has range – both the land and its people.