Here’s a tip: Always trust an artist to deliver a good mixtape. After all, an artist needs to fill long hours in the studio with something more than expectant silence. And many of them—like Raymond Pettibon or the late Mike Kelley—were rock stars, or part of the music scene, once upon a time. Tonight, White Columns curator Matthew Higgs will deejay a party at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise to celebrate the publication of You Should’ve Heard Just What I Seen (Gregory R. Miller & Co.), in which more than 50 contributors (most of them artists, with a few gallerists and curators) freestyle on their relationships to music: Higgs inventories the artist Peter Doig’s record collection; Alex Olson offers up playlists next to the paintings she made while listening to them; Andrew Kuo makes slightly twisted concert tees; Scott Reeder, helpfully, came up with a list of band names using only three-letter words (“Thy Ass”). And so on.
The book actually started out as a series of three shows in 2012 and 2013 curated by Kelly Taxter from the collection of Marty Eisenberg at the Riverview School, which specializes in kids with learning disabilities. “I like that the kids walk through the gallery on their way to the cafeteria, so they really get to interact with the art,” says Eisenberg, whose daughter attended the school. “The shows were so good, I said, ‘Let’s do a book.’”
Like the surprise bonus tracks at the end of a strong album, the back pages of the book offer one of its greatest treasures: lists of “Desert Island Discs” by the likes of Elizabeth Peyton (two Bowie albums among them), Rashid Johnson (a fan of Metallica, apparently), and Kalup Linzy (who included the holy trinity of Whitney, Mariah, and Aretha). Eisenberg himself chose a number of jazz albums, which he started collecting in college. (He now has a library of more than 600 records.) Ever the serial collector, Eisenberg actually had an enormous number of rock records in high school. But when he discovered jazz, he says, “I got out of rock and gave away every album I had.” Should he ever get out of art, we’ll be waiting to take it off his hands.