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WHAT IF COPERNICUS GOT IT WRONG?

IS IT TIME TO PACK UP MY TOYS AND MOVE TO NEW YORK?
 
US Navy Shipyard in Alameda
In the 16thcentury, the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus put forward a theory that would revolutionize science. In his genius, he posed that the Sun – not the Earth – was the center of the known universe. Yet, increasingly, this is something I’ve been doubting, at least in my universe.  And in all deference to Copernicus, who like me is Polish, my universe, revolves around Art – and that’s with a capital ‘A’.  And in the universe of Art it's New York that is at the center, which everything else revolves around. 
New York City is the premiere stage for radical artistic expression and is home to more galleries and major art institutions than anywhere else in the world. 
 
I hadn’t thought about working, or living in New York, until my friend and a seasoned art dealer, Robert Berman, first brought up this topic. I saw Robert when I was in Los Angeles, at the opening of a major group exhibition that I had contributed a few of my large pieces to, entitled “Polish Identity: The Poetic Perception”.  It was there when Robert urged me to seriously consider moving to New York. 

Moving isn’t a decision I take lightly. I’ve fostered great relationships in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The unofficial name for my work, #disrupt, is unequivocally related to tech culture in the Bay Area, which is known the world over as “Silicon Valley”, the birthplace of micro-chips, computers, and so much more. What’s more, I have a great studio in the Mission district (by far the most eclectic and creative part of San Francisco) and I have a fantastic residency on the USS Hornet, a World War II aircraft carrier docked in the East Bay.  Machines, technology, and innovation – the life-blood of my practice – are here in plenty!
 
And, the thing is… my romance with painting started as a result of my fascination with American industry, not art. I sort of fell into the art world through the back door by using the language of painting as a way of telling my story. It was the story of machines, innovation and industry in America as seen through the eyes of someone who grew up in Eastern Europe. Living in the center of the ‘art hub’ was never a priority for me, while being near entrepreneurs and innovators was.

‘Polish Identity: The Poetic Perception’ Los Angeles, Building Bridges Gallery
So, why would I move? 
Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe the question I should be asking is: do I really need to leave San Francisco and make the Big Apple the home of my studio practice?
Well, I honestly hadn’t even considered New York as where I should be until a few months ago, and I’m still not sure that I belong in that world. The fact is, that I’ve always felt closer to American industry and to the innovative entrepreneurs, who over a few short decades have literally changed the world, than to the elite chosen few on museum boards and art councils. There’s definitely something to be said for being able to roam the streets of Silicon Valley and find fabulous stories of the modern world.
That said, I’m filled with curiosity at the thought of what New York City has to offer. 
Carrie Eldridge, ATO Gallery, New Museum, Manhattan.       Pace Gallery, Chelsea
To thrive as artists, we need the right environment: a rich artistic community, local and international collectors, an engaged audience, affordable studio space… and while it’s not as if San Francisco falls short on these points, New York (apart from being equally as unaffordable as San Francisco to career artists) really has it in spades, and then some. 
 
Even though there are art fairs, biennials and the Internet, which have all made it easier for artists to broadcast their work globally, New York seems to remain the center of the art universe. I aspire for my work to be global; yet ‘global’ seems to be tied to a specific location, which is still New York. Every time I hear someone refer to me as a ‘local artist’ my ego suffers a blow. If moving to New York City is what it takes to cast-off this label, I just may be ready to take that risk.
The thought of leaving San Francisco, and Silicon Valley behind, along with my friends, collectors and the many entrepreneurs whom I admire so much fills my heart with sadness. The center of my universe is in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is THE CENTER of the universe as it relates to innovation and technology, which has, and continues to change the world. The future is made here. My machines are born here, and my work pays tribute to that spirit.
My artist residency at USS Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum
Is then New York a must location for a career artist or not? To help me answer that question, I reached out for advice to people in the art world whom I trust and respect. Luckily for me, I have become friends with one of those people, Martin Muller, one of America’s leading art brokers; and he disagrees with that notion. Who better to ask then Martin who has staged more than 500 shows since the opening of the Modernism gallery in San Francisco..? Mary Zlot, one of the most influential art advisors in the world, had the same advice for me: in the contemporary, global landscape, artists can have great careers, even if they don't live in New York.
As Jerry Saltz said, ‘Vampires must live and show and dance among other vampires.’ With our hectic schedules, lack of sleep, and need for an audience, us artists aren’t all that different. My question is then: where is the ballroom in which I must live and show and dance...? 
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Pilat Fine Art · 3526 17th St. · San Francisco, CA 94110 · USA

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