ARTE: Interview with the NY Observer

Interview with Observer Arts...full interview at this link

Photo by Bridget Fleming courtesy of Rent The Runway

Fourth in The Expanded Field, a series of talks with unique art world personalities.

Michelle Papillion opened her eponymous space in 2010. Since then, she’s tapped into a talented circle of Los Angeles-based artists that includes Kenturah Davis, Samuel Levi Jones, and the late Noah Davis among others who make powerful artworks in every medium imaginable. The Observer spoke with her right after her successful showing at EXPO Chicago last week and discussed the changing face of the LA art scene and how she’s navigated it.

You started your career as a curator in New York. What made you decide to move to Los Angeles?

The weather and the beach.

Would you say that your gallery “focuses” on African-American art, or are you simply exhibiting the artists in your circle?

This question always perplexes me. I’ve never seen someone ask a white dealer, “Do you only focus on white artists?” and yet I am asked the above question repeatedly. My galleries focus is being the best at what we do. We show great artists who I believe all have the “genius factor.”

Would you say that you might have a greater understanding of work by African-American artists than many dealers? Particularly in Los Angeles?

I would feel more confident saying that I have a greater understanding of the emerging market, particularly for Los Angeles.

One of your artists (Samuel Levi Jones) has recently become wildly in demand and very hard to get. What is it like to suddenly go from a position where you’re predominantly pushing an artist to a one where you’re predominantly protecting them?

Good question, I think for me “protecting” the artist is something that is a priority at all levels of their career. The artist and I make a plan of what we would like to accomplish and if we’re successful then the profile for both of us is raised. I am very happy with what Jones and I have accomplished together, he is a very diligent worker and very very smart. I think at this moment for he and I we are continuing the work we set out to do when we first decided to work together.

Are there any other galleries or institutions that have particularly inspired you to do the work that you do?

Deitch Projects was a source of inspiration for me when I started and it still is.

What is it about Mr. Deitch that you admire?

When I lived in New York, from 2001 to 2008, Deitch Projects was always a space that stood out because they did lots of risky things in art. I admired that they were able to do these really ambitious over the top curatorial ideas but still upheld the integrity of the artist and the gallery. I also really appreciated how comfortable and non-elitist it felt when you would visit his galleries in Soho.

Over the last five years, galleries have sprung up or moved to a variety of neighborhoods in Los Angeles–Downtown, Culver City, Venice Beach–but you chose to open up in Leimert Park. What was it that drew you to this neighborhood?

I just wanted to be there. When you drive onto our street were on you realize right away that there is some magic that lives on this block.

You’ve shown every type of medium at Papillion; from film and video to painting, drawing and sculpture. Do you feel like there is a certain aesthetic that connects all of your choices?

I really push the artists that I work with, I demand that together we work hard to present something spectacular. That’s probably the most common thread that connects everything together.  I’m also thinking about the work that we do as a historical archive. One thousand years from now, there should be a record of what we accomplished from both a business and curatorial perspective.

The art scene in Los Angeles has really exploded over the last five years. Do you see a lot of new collectors entering the marketplace and what fields are they coming from?

Yes, I do see new collectors and there popping up in LA, coming from places as far as New York, Europe and Africa.  I’m most interested in building with and helping to develop the next great art patrons, so cultivating relationships with millennials is a priority.

One last question: Is Papillion your real last name?
Haha, yes! And you have my father to thank for that.



ARTE: Suné Woods and the IRAAA


ARTE: Thelma Golden x Cultured Mag

Thelma Golden on the cover of Cultured Magazine standing in front of Lauren Halsey's "Doo Rag Gods" Totem columns.



ARTE: EXPO CHICAGO / Exposure section booth 633

Samuel Levi Jones

EXPO Chicago

Booth 633



We are excited to participate in EXPO CHICAGO 2015 happening September 17-20 at the Navy Pier.  We are booth 633 and will have new works by Samuel Levi Jones, Kenturah Davis, Suné Woods and Andre D. Wagner

tickets on sale now at


ARTE: KENTURAH DAVIS & California Senate Contemporary Collection

Kenturah Davis was selected by Senator Holly J. Mitchell with the help of curator (and now director of PAMM) Franklin Sirmans to exhibit in the California State Senate Contemporary Art Collection 2015-2016.  Her drawing 'Mediatation VIII: Karim' from the Narratives and Meditations series is on view now.




Samuel Levi Jones is on view now at Pro Arts in Oakland, CA with his solo exhibition Talk To Me. He creates a large site-specific installation of deconstructed law books. These texts, usually found neatly organized in law firms or law school libraries, archive federal and state laws that are applied and interpreted by the courts. Talk to Me interrogates the limits of our legal system by rendering these books exposed and unbound.  He will have an artist talk on September 12th, more about this exhibition HERE



I had the pleasure of meeting Noah back in 2008.  He was already one of the best painters I had ever come across even back then.  He loved painting...I mean he really loved painting.  When I started my company in 2010 he was one of the early supporters.  Later he would create the Underground Museum.  He lived in the moment.  He cared deeply about community and artists.  He had a vision that was inclusive and meaningful.  I always believed and still do that he will be remembered as one of the greatest painters of our generation.  He shifted culture and moved it forward and for that we are all better because he was here. Our friend, Noah Davis.

Currently Noah Davis has a show on view at MOCA, "Imatation of Wealth"

Pueblo del Rio: Stain Glass Pants



Today I will be at LA Artcore discussing the work of multi-disciplinary artist Kathie Foley-Meyer, her current exhibition is a short film and photo documentary series of the MLK Day parade on the commencement of President Barack Obama's election in 2008 and reelection in 2012.

Today Sunday afternoon 3pm - 5pm - LA Artcore (Little Tokyo)  120 Judge John Aiso St. LA 90012


ARTE: Lauren Halsey x The New Yorker

Lauren Halsey's exhibition is on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem now.




Tatyana Fazlalizadeh installed an amazing mural for the Coney Island Art Walls Project that features the residents of the area.

"The day before Easter and the day after Labor day- people still live here. People die here. People love here."



Was thrilled to invite Smashd over to the gallery and discuss how to build an art empire!


ARTE: Deray Mckesson







Samuel Levi Jones interviewed by Mark Bradford in Studio Magazine's 2015 Winter/Spring Edition. View the article HERE.



Happy to finally debut this after such an amazing time last week at the premiere party.  Tiffany Gouché releases the short film Fantasy, the title track off her recent EP.  This short film serves as an ode to the city of Los Angeles and specifically the Leimert Park district with its rich cultural history and often misrepresented beauty within.

The free form 'Fantasy' depicted in this non-fiction piece leaves much to the imagination as Tiffany envisions a world where generosity, gratitude, deep connection and selflessness, all elements of unconditional Love, reigns supreme.
Written & Performed by Tiffany Gouché 
Executive Producer Vatana Shaw
Creative Direction by Frederick Arnold 
Choreography: Christopher Bordenave & No)one Art House
Wardrobe Design by Whitney Alix
Shot & Edited by CALMATIC
Track Produced by MDNSGN
"Fantasy" is also available on iTunes:


Happy to speak to writer Chaedria Labouvier and share my perspective with Elle Magazine about the #SayHerName movement and Black women who are preyed upon by the police.


To say that it's mentally draining would be an understatement. It's a combination of that and being mad as hell. These things are happening so quickly and so frequently there's not enough time to process feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The other day I had a conversation with an artist whose work deals with value and it dawned on me recently after having the police drive behind me for a few blocks this week that the body that I inhabit has no value in this country. They aren't seeing that I am a business owner who employs people who live locally, that we all pay taxes, that I have been referred to as a pillar in the community etc., To see value in me would mean you would have to acknowledge my story first but on first sight these things are not present and what they do acknowledge (my body, my skin) has no value. 

What makes this idea even more frustrating is that once you're murdered they erase your life in the media (history): Who you are, the things that made you a respectable citizen in society, the things that make you human. I hate that when we see these hash tags that we can not mourn the loss of someone that didn't deserve what happened. Instead we have to defend the life, morale, and character of these women and men. So yeah, I'm mad but not defeated and not giving up. The best way I know how to honor the lives of those slain to police terrorism is to continue to live, continue to thrive, continue to be active in the spaces we exist in, and to come up with ways where we are the authors of our own history. 

To read the full article click the screenshot above.




Lauren Halsey is in the "Coney Art Walls" project this summer. 


ARTE: Where are you POTUS

I need for the president to speak out and up on national police reform and police terrorism.



One of our favorite LA based performance art groups is seeking help in producing their next big performace.

Group Therapy looks at the inner workings of Poor Dog Group's members as they commit to receiving a year of real therapy with a licensed professional. Together they will listen, receive, and acknowledge each other as they work through almost 10 years of collaboration, friendship, marriages, divorces, physical fights, booze, rehab, falling outs, relocation and so much more.

Help Poor Dog Group raise funding for their new show HERE

PDG Fund Raise 45 from Poor Dog Group on Vimeo.

This video is about PDG Fund Raise 45




We had a magical night with EJ HILL last Saturday.  The open conversation between Hill and everyone else in the room was engaging to say the least, in the case of this emerging performance artist the best way to describe the night was "he was present"

Recorded live via U-stream the night of the conversation.

Above images courtesy Treyvon X