The Art and Design Gallery at FIT, image by Smiljana Peros
I am a worker, making drawings, sometimes building things, with an eye on the larger art community and I am a teacher. For now, I am at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), managing a new exhibition space and implementing programming for 17 departments in the School of Art and Design, visit, it’s right on 27th and 7th Ave in NYC.
Sharon Louden, drawing with pen and marker on paper
In February of 2017, I started a salon in my apartment, called Apartment 38, so that I could have a place to curate, gather and make a community. I curate three projects a year that remain up for six months each. The idea behind this intimate art space, open by invitation only, is to nurture the artist in preparation for an expansion of their ideas out into the world.
Post Pocket Utopia
For a short period of time, I ran a pop-up space called “Post Pocket Utopia” in Newark, New Jersey at the Gateway Project Spaces. I brewed beer and organized a crowd-sourced photography project called #seeingnewark that anyone using that hashtag could participate in by posting an image of the City of Newark online.
Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia
Operating out of a renovated loading dock on 22nd Street in the Chelsea art neighborhood of New York City, together with Sarah Christian and Jason Vartikar, we organized exhibitions, attended art fairs, hosted seminars on the expanding themes of audience participation in museums and served up many meals to visitors.
Pocket Utopia merges with Chelsea gallery Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden
In 2014, I joined then artists Jason Vartikar and Sarah Christian to form one experimental art organization called Hansel and Gretel Picture Garden Pocket Utopia. First operating two spaces, one in Chelsea and one on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and then combining efforts into one space in Chelsea, we hosted salons, brewed beer and even started an online art journal, titled "Art Daily Bread." This joint effort continued for a year.
Pocket Utopia Gallery, LES, New York
In 2012, I reopened Pocket Utopia on the Lower East Side of Manhattan showing artists I had exhibited in Brooklyn and collaborating with the old masters print and drawing gallery C.G. Boerner. The exhibition program featured historical and contemporary artists in an attempt to deepen the conversation, historically and to collaborate with an ever expanding group of artists.
Camp Pocket U.
For two weeks in Rouses Point, New York, artists from all over the world gathered to teach a free art camp to kids traveling as far as Burlington, Vermont. By day, children were taught by working artists and by night those artists joined the local community to hear music, listen to lectures, dine together and watch performances. One performance was even staged in Lake Champlain.
Camp Pocket U.
Camp Pocket U., grew out of the Pocket Utopia gallery and was a collaborative project with the arts non-profit Norte Maar. After months of planning, the camp took place the last two weeks of July 2010 and was camp for kids, adults, artists, non-artists, experienced tennis players and the uninitiated. At the center of this project were the invited artists and the bond formed between them and the community.
Pocket Utopia closed in the summer of 2009 with Sharon Butler as the last artist in resident. Hrag Vartanian, critic, curator, Editor-in-chief and co-founder, of Hyperallergic, wrote about the space's closing in a post titled, "A Little Pocket Utopia Closes in Bushwick Today," where he expressed this sentiment..."It was a space that, regardless of the artist showing, always had something to contribute to New York’s art conversation. Its success is a credit to both Austin and all those affiliated with it."
Pocket Utopia's first official exhibition, "Pierogi Flat File Show"
The first official exhibition (after several salons and performances) at Pocket Utopia featured 22 artists from the venerable Pierogi Gallery, another artist-run space that began in Brooklyn in 1994. Pocket Utopia continued for two years in Brooklyn, showcasing approximately 100 artists, hosting salons, providing a dozen artists with space to work, publishing editions, and teaching art classes to the surrounding community.
Pocket Utopia, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
Salon, Exhibition, Artist Residency Space
I opened Pocket Utopia in 2007 in a storefront space Bushwick, Brooklyn to exhibit and curate other artists' work, to operate a residency program and to organize salons on ideas from blogging to beer making. Pocket Utopia was created to be a social space for initiating community by connecting artists.
Notes on a Post-Studio Practice
a chronicle of making art without a studio
The blog ATfreespace (http://atfreespace.blogspot.com) chronicled my art making without a studio. For three years, I kept this online log of where and when I made work, which was mostly in libraries, laundry mats and public places. Pocket Utopia, my exhibition, salon space grew out of this writing and making project, bu focusing on functioning as an artist out in the world as oppose to making artworks in a private studio space.
I am an artist and curator heavily influenced by Joseph Bueys, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Betty Parsons and Louise Bourgeois. I have a BFA in Psychology and Women Studies and an MA in Studio Arts from NYU. I live in New York and have been involved in nonprofit art spaces, galleries, assisting other artists and have worked at museums for over 20 years. I ran a community-oriented, artist-centered space called Pocket Utopia and an apartment art salon, with a focus on political action and community-building. I also teach “The Artist as Entreprenuer,” at the New School and am an exhibitions manager at FIT.