Daniel Rolnik Gallery took 6 years to create and was birthed from a fire started to disrupt the art world. It began in 2010 when Daniel Rolnik embarked on an adventure to become the World's Most Adorable Art Critic that led him to opening up the Daniel Rolnik Gallery in 2014 and eventually the Daniel Rolnik Foundation in 2016. A core belief of the Daniel Rolnik Foundation is to be transparent, which is why we have written out such an in-depth history to our formation. Eventually, more details will be added to this history as we progress.
JANUARY 2010 = DANIEL ROLNIK BECOMES THE WORLD'S MOST ADORABLE ART CRITIC
The original bio on Daniel's website read as follows: "Daniel is an accidental writer from Los Angeles. It all started when he handed his old band's flyer to a drunk girl named Pocahontas, who for no particular reason invited him to write for a new magazine called LA Record. Since then, he's gone on to interview some of the raddest artists in the world... If you ever hear "Hi, I'm Daniel" at an art opening, then just know that he's probably near."
When searching for Los Angeles art critics on Google, at the peak of Daniel's writing career, he came up first. Beating out the LA Times chief corespondent and other writers with the power of multi-national corporations behind them. This attention spread fast throughout the city to the point where The Getty, one of the world's largest arts organizations, put together a monumental project known as Pacific Standard Time and selected Daniel as an official corespondent.
Soon afterwards, he was asked by gallery owner, friend and artist Anne Faith Nicholls to curate a show for her space Curio in Venice, CA. Here's a quote from an interview with him about the show: "At a certain point of coming up with heavily edited lists of artists with Anne Faith Nicholls (owner of CURIO), she just gave me free reign. So, I went through huge lists of artists that I loved and wanted to see in a room together and found a way to make it happen. I called or emailed people and wouldn’t let anyone say no. It was also really important for me to have a big spread of available work, so the show has works from $40 – $4500. The $40 works are from an artist I’ve been following for a long time on ETSY and her pieces were right next to Boris Hoppek’s photos – who is a big artist that lives in Barcelona. Also, this may sound crazy, but it was really important to me to choose artists whose energy I really like because art mimics life and therefore I think the artists who make the work should be really nice and cool people that you’d want to be around. If I don’t want to be around the artist, I don’t want to be around their art. It’s my like one weird hippy belief, even though I normally hate hippies hahah!"
Keith Dugas, the writer who conducted the interview (and artist that Daniel would work with later) had this to say about him: "Talk to anyone who knows Mr. Rolnik and the word that always comes up is energy. The man has boundless energy, unrelenting, take no prisoners energy. So it’s no surprise then that the exhibit he’s curated is a wildly kinectic ride through a vast array of artistic styles. High brow minimalist pieces offer visual whispers alongside the boisterous bellows of pop and street art. Craft and folk pieces actually find harmonic balance with impressionist portraiture. The garish dances with the elegant. Honestly, it shouldn’t work, but it does. It works beautifully, and as one might expect from Daniel Rolnik, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It’s probably about the most fun, engaging show I’ve seen all year."
In addition, to his curation work for galleries, Daniel began throwing Pizza Socials, which made their way all the way up and down the state of California. The first one was held in downtown LA at an artist's studio, followed by a larger one at ForYourArt's former Wilshire Blvd offices, and eventually ended at a huge studio/gallery complex in NorCal. The idea was simple: a non-commercial gathering for artists to socialize amongst their peers. At its most basic level, the idea was so simple it sounded stupid. But when one dove deeper into the actual events you would see wonderful and beautiful things happening. At least 3 galleries were formed by strangers meeting each other for the first time at the Pizza Socials as well as countless artists meeting countless curators and being in countless exhibitions. At first, Daniel bought all the pizza himself, and eventually different organizations would help out.
But just as the Pizza Socials were coming into full effect, Daniel received an interesting proposition that would alter the course of his life.
SEPTEMBER 2014 = DANIEL ROLNIK GALLERY IS BORN AT 1431 OCEAN AVE IN SANTA MONICA, CA AND RESIDES THERE UNTIL DECEMBER 2015.
September 18th was the launch of Daniel Rolnik Gallery with its first show named "Smile Isle" - inspired by the notion that this small space facing the ocean would a little utopia of happiness.
The rest of this history chapter is told from Daniel Rolnik's own voice:
I was curating a show for my friend Om, who was operating 3 gallery spaces at the same time in Los Angeles. One was on La Brea, another in Bergamot Station (a prestigious facility that houses galleries), and the third in Santa Monica - which is the location I would eventually take over the lease on and transform. Om's work as a gallery owner and curator was inspirational to me because he was the first person I saw that treated his gallery space as if it was a work of art.
When the show I had curated for him was about to come down, he told me he was consolidating all his locations into the Bergamot Station space and asked if I knew anyone who would want to take over the Santa Monica lease*. At first, I started thinking about artists that lived nearby who could turn the space into their studio or personal shop. But, when I went to sleep that night, I couldn't stop dreaming about opening up my own gallery. So, I called him the next day and said I’d do it.
He helped me work out a deal with the landlord and within a matter of days I was putting my vision to life. The space was a sublet, where I was renting a portion of another person’s gallery; an artist-dealer named Warren who had been there for years and years. He had already built a short wall to separate the two spaces and so it was perfect because the room was separated enough to have two distinct identities in the same location. I had a million dollar view of the Pacific Ocean out the window and a clear vision of what I wanted the gallery to look like.
The space started out with white walls, tract lighting, and a burgundy colored cement floor. For some reason, I couldn't get the thought out of my mind to have a bleached wood floor. So, I found a perfect match by accident and I set about with my best friend at the time to install it.
We had saws and paint and got the space to look like what I had in my mind. My buddy even hung the show for me since he was a wizard with making things straight and even on the walls while I got to work promoting it. The rent on the space was $1,800 per month (for about 200 square feet), which was a lot of money for me at first, especially since I would have to drop twice that amount on the first month to also include the deposit. So, I asked for help from my family. We split the cost in half and they continued to help me for the first 4 months of the gallery’s operation, after which I was able to completely take everything over and get it all together. At the time, and throughout all of the gallery's locations I was living at my mother's house. I figured that having my own place to live in on top of renting the gallery would be too big of an expense, so by eliminating it and my sanity, the only expense I had was the gallery.
Soon after our first show, I had a vision to paint one of the walls a deep dark blue, which took forever because I was using the wrong kind of paint rollers for a heavily textured wall. But once the blue was on there, it made the space appear larger than it actually was and I started feeling like none of the walls should be white anymore. Around this time I had also taken a trip up to Portland to see a couple of the artists in upcoming shows and got inspired by the colors of the city. When I returned, I walked over to the local paint store to buy strawberry shortcake pink, pool party blue, and basic yellow to cover the white walls with and it looked epic.
The whole space cheered up and people began staying for longer periods of time. However, behind the scenes there was a lot of tension with the landlord. His lease, after something like 10 years, was coming to an end and he wanted to do the last few months of it solo - in effect, not renewing my lease. I figured this was coming and so I had already started searching for another location. I packed everything into a UHAUL during the last day of my lease and as I was 5 minutes from my house Om called to tell me Warren had passed away. It was weird. Looking back, even though Warren and I had our tensions and arguments, he still let me do whatever I wanted with the space, which was incredible. I have to thank Warren for letting me run wild.
*Prior to starting the first location, I had come up with the idea of a traveling art gallery. I had recently come off of a giant road trip across the entire United States - meeting all these epic artists face to face and visiting their studios. I thought it would be epic to be like a band traveling and touring the country - only as an art show instead of a music thing. When I was in Austin, TX the artist Tim Kerr (who was also in the punk band BIG BOYS) and I had a long conversation about it. He had thought about the idea too. Ours only differed a little bit. So, when I got back I mentioned it to the artist Trace Mendoza. Trace and I had a couple meetings with people about getting the whole thing together and I was coming up with ideas for it on the spot. I really didn’t have a concrete way of understanding it yet, I just knew I wanted to do it. We had someone we wanted to be a tour manager, and I had the artists and cities in my mind lined up. And eventually we met with a man who was willing to sponsor it. He was an artist and businessman who was very nice, but something about it just didn't feel right to me. I didn’t like the idea of having to obey an investor or sponsor's rules. For example, he wanted certain things to occur for his investment and those were that his art take center stage and also that we teach people about the joy of Jesus everywhere we went - which I found way too weird since I’m Jewish. And don’t get me wrong, I think Jesus was probably a cool and epic guy, but I just didn’t want to mix religion into something that was supposed to be secular. His idea was also that he wanted a semi-truck whereas Trace and I were thinking about using vans. Anyways, it got too overwhelming and the idea kind of just sat to the side as I got the opportunity to open the Santa Monica space in the midst of it.
JANUARY 2016 = DANIEL ROLNIK GALLERY PARTICIPATES IN ITS FIRST OFFICIAL ART FAIR; THE LA ART SHOW
The LA Art Show is one of the longest running art fairs in Los Angeles, CA and something like 50,000 people attend every year. But I have to give a little backstory before we get into the gist of things.
A few years prior to our involvement in the show, the owner of Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans (and current member of our advisory board) set up a new section of the event called Littletopia. I think the idea was to bring in younger galleries and therefore attract a hipper audience. As a writer, I had covered the show for many years and their section was always my favorite. So, when Noah came by my gallery during one of his trips to Los Angeles, I mentioned it would be epic if we could have a booth at the next show.
Knowing that it would be too expensive for me to have my own booth at the fair, I asked Noah if I could split it with another gallery. Not too long afterwards, we got the green light from the show's producers and filled out all the paperwork. The Littletopia section had discounted booths already compared to the rest of the fair and so we ended up paying $2800 for a 5 x 5ft space over the course of 5 days. The other galleries in our section were paying around $5000 for a 10 x 10ft booth and then the rest of the fair was paying something like double that amount (if not more). It's really insane when you think about it - especially considering the LA Art Show is one of the more "affordable" options in terms of fairs out there.
I wanted to treat the LA Art Show like an exhibit rather than a supplementary addition to what we were doing in the gallery. Most of the other galleries at this show bring a selection of works to represent their gallery as a whole, instead of make a specific exhibition for it. But keep in mind, while we were setting up for the fair I was also scouring the whole entire city of Los Angeles with the help of a friend looking for a new location. We would send offers to landlords and for some reason or another they would fall through. Too small, too expensive, too …. anyways. My friend was epic for helping me and I learnt a lot during the process about how to find locations - since the original one had fallen into my lap.
The LA Art Show on the other hand was chaos for us. First, I probably pissed them off by only wanting to split a booth. In fact, they were giving me a headache about this by asserting trivial rules into place - like only one of our names could be on their website and 3 or 4 other things along those lines - all of which, I managed to negotiate them out of. But, then I really pissed them off by sending out an email with a blog post saying we hacked the LA Art Show to give everyone free tickets.
It was all a hoax. I hadn’t hacked anything, since I don’t know how to hack, but I knew it would be a captivating headline.
Here’s what really happened. The show’s producers sent all the galleries a link to give our patrons free tickets to the fair, which normally cost something like $25 each. They also gave us 4 VIP passes that got you into the preview night, which normally cost upwards of $250 each.
Rather then put an email out, like everyone else, saying ‘here’s free tickets to the show’ - I thought it would be more fun to say we hacked their website and also include a whole guide to the cheapest parking, food, and other ‘life hacks’ for our patrons. Anyways, enough people utilized the free tickets from my email blast that it came to the attention of the producers.
They called me saying that ‘draconian’ actions would be taken if I didn’t delete the blog post. And then they also kept asking about how I was able to hack into their system. All of which was hilarious to me because I didn’t hack anything, nor am I even capable of doing so. Needless to say, it made emotions tense.
It didn’t help either, that on top of that situation, the contract we had to sign for the show said that all the art had to be hung ‘museum style’ in orderly rows - whereas the whole plan I had devised was for an interactive bakery with shelves and chaos and live painting. I knew it would be epic and that I just had to ignore their stupid rules. I also knew if I got enough press for our installation there was nothing the producers could do to stop us without looking like fools.
It became my mission at that point to get as much press coverage as possible. Almost every news outlet that covered art wrote about our bakery and what we were going to do and it was epic. I built the shelves, John Kilduff built a drying rack, and Turtle Wayne flew in to take part as well. We assembled everything inside the convention center at the last possible moment - so it would be a pain for the fair to have us deinstall it. And then, when the doors finally opened, we let loose.
Yelling and screaming and carnival barking (well, at least I was) to attract passerby’s attention, which worked. People stopped and bought art from us who would normally just walk around sneering. I engineered our pricing so nothing would be above $100, which was scary because everyone around us had works priced well into the thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands. One of the people I looked up to as an arts writer, Mat Gleason, even mentioned us as his favorite booth when he was interviewed on NPR about the show.
Don’t get it twisted, I was nervous when we walked in to set everything up. The convention center was so big and we were so small - literally half of the smallest sized booth available. It felt like David & Goliath and it was an epic because in the end we won. But not without pissing off at least two other galleries along with the producers of the show. The gallery behind us got pissed because I brought a speaker and started playing Michael Jackson songs really loud to get everyone pumped up and excited in the morning. And the second booth across from us walked over to tell us to keep our voices down. We were rebels at the fair and we won.
Turtle Wayne even came up with a great idea to mess with the fair’s producers by constantly requesting slips of paper that were required when walking out of the show with art. Don’t get me wrong, we sold a lot of art, but we made the fair think we sold far more than I think is even possible. I still have stacks of the slips somewhere and they make me laugh every time I see them.
In the end, the LA Art Show was great. We made a lot of money, sold a lot of art, and had a lot of fun. But the search for a new gallery location continued.
FEBRUARY 2016 = DANIEL ROLNIK GALLERY MOVES TO 2675 S LA CIENGA BLVD, LOS ANGELES, CA WHICH IS IN THE HEART OF CULVER CITY - AKA THE EPICENTER OF THE HIGH BROW LA ART WORLD - AND RESIDES THERE UNTIL JUNE 2016
I was still looking tirelessly for a new space to house the gallery in and I wasn’t posting on social media about it because my ego was telling me that I WOULD FIND THE NEW LOCATION MYSELF and that it would be weak to publicly ask for help. Which, of course was total bullshit. And just about the time I realized that, something magical happened. I got a Facebook message from a friend.
The artist Camilla Taylor, told me about these guys in Culver City who were trying to sublet their former gallery space named Bustamante Gil. They had gotten tired with the art businesses and wanted to rent out half of the space to someone trustworthy while they retained the other half as personal offices. Camilla had shown at their gallery before so I had actually been there and knew it was in a great area.
I drove over to meet Eli and then later his businesses partner Jon at the space and signed an agreement within 48 hours to sublet it. It was nearly half the amount of the Santa Monica space, at $1100 per month for about 400 square feet, and in the epicenter of Los Angeles' fine art world. The block we were on (which is technically Los Angeles, but considered by the crowd to be Culver City) had international galleries on it selling million dollar works of art. It was almost too good to be true.
Foot traffic in Culver City was a lot less than I was used to in Santa Monica. In Santa Monica thousands, if not millions of people, would walk by our windows everyday whereas in Culver City we would be lucky if 4 or 5 people walked in. The spaces around us were catering to a very specific crowd, whereas our target audience was the general public.
However, it was the most exciting space in the universe at the time because I had it all to myself. Yes, it was a sublet, but my wife and I installed a door between the two halves so it was completely isolated.
I had built custom furniture for the Santa Monica location, but I began to really expand that practice in order to execute ideas that went beyond the typical gallery environment. I even built sandwich boards and designed walking maps of all the galleries around us to put out on the street so more people could learn about what was going on. Including, the patrons of the bar across the road who barely knew the galleries existed since most of the other spaces were fairly private. I even built a very special sandwich board to let people know about our gallery, which was located in the driveway of our courtyard and read “Daniel Rolnik Gallery is up your butt and around the corner” since you couldn’t see us from the street and on the back it said “WARNING: if you didn’t buy anything my mom will come to your house and fart on your pillow!”
While all this great stuff was happening, the guys I had been subletting from warned me about the actual landlord, who was an evil harsh man that owned the entire block. But I had never seen him until my very last day there, when he wrecked everything.
Here's a little backstory leading up the chaos.
This new gallery space in Culver City had a massive courtyard in the front. It was kind of weird. If you were walking down the street you would see a big gate and then inside that gate was the courtyard with three different businesses inside of it - one of which was ours; way far in the back that you couldn't see unless you actually walked in. During the exhibit's opening reception before our final one, I had an idea to have The Radioactive Chicken Heads perform in the courtyard, They’re an epic band who put on a whole theatrical show with props and costumes and they played and it was epic! Inspiring me to have the even bigger idea of throwing a carnival. It was a two-fold experiment. One, I wanted to throw a carnival and Two, I wanted to see if it was possible to throw my own art fair.
I invited a little over 20 artists, galleries, and makers to participate as well as had my intern at the time, Ansar, book a bunch of local bands he knew in addition to my other friend Kyle booking a string of comedians who could do a set while each band set up. It was a simple pitch to the vendors: bring your own table and I'll promote it. No one would have to pay anything to attend or be a vendor - they would only pay for whatever each vendor was selling directly from them if they wanted to buy it.
The gallery was having an opening reception for our artist Keith Dugas inside on top of what I was calling the "Epic Carnival" outside. It didn't even occur to me to tell the 'evil' landlord I had heard so much about, about this event, because in my mind he would either say no or ask me for money. And besides, for the past 6 months he hadn't shown up a single time, so I figured my odds were good.
We advertised the carnival to run from noon to midnight and I let the vendors know they could come at whatever time they liked. So, most arrived at around 11am that morning to set up and in effect be there all day. Things were going great. Bands were playing, comedians were performing, guests were coming and buying things, and everyone was in high spirits. At around 5pm our wave of 'all-star' vendors came by to set up and Ice Cream Ian arrived. He's an epic dude from Long Beach who bought an old ice cream truck and as a project uses it to give out free ice cream to people, which he was able to do until 6pm, when all hell broke loose.
At 6pm, the ‘evil’ landlord who I had heard so much about arrived. It was as if all joyous energy was sucked out of the world as he approached me. I hadn’t even seen a photo of him before, but I knew exactly who it was. It was one of the weirdest sensations I’ve personally ever felt. He started telling me in the coldest way possible that he was going to call the cops and say we were all trespassing on his property. And it was 100% apparent that he wasn’t a man that bluffed.
He was on the phone with his assistant or someone in his office and taking photos of the scene, when I carefully took the microphone from a comedian’s hands who was in the midst of their punchline and said the carnival is over and we all have to go home along with a short and sweet apology. To this day, I feel bad that I didn’t get to explain to the comedian that it wasn’t their fault. I had this odd sense they thought it was because of a joke they told. When in fact, it had nothing to do with that at all and everything to do with greed.
In my head, I had assessed and assumed that if he called the cops we would all get taken to jail and I would be slapped with a huge fine, since there was probably some kind of permit we needed to have for live music and people selling goods in the courtyard. And in this assessment I thought it was best to shut everything down, which is what I did. But I found out later from a police officer that it would’ve been alright to continue the event. Even though I wasn’t on the tenant agreement with the landlord, I had been given a key to the space and had received mail there, which in effect rendered me a legal tenant. So, had he called the cops, I would not have been trespassing. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this at the time so needless to say I was scared on the inside but trying to only show strength on the outside.
Before any of the vendors could make it out of the gates, the landlord had positioned himself in the driveway and was in the process of locking over 200 people inside. In effect, kidnapping and holding us all hostage. Luckily, I was able to position my foot in-between the gate and where it would’ve locked us all in place. On one side I could see the faces of everyone trying to leave and the other a man holding a cell phone continuing to threaten me with the police - this time while saying I was assaulting him because I was trying to keep the door open so people could leave.
The first person to run out was the photographer I had hired to document the event. And then thankfully others followed suite to the point where he could no longer hold the gate closed on us anymore. The landlord and I started walking towards the gallery with me constantly and calmly talking with him to get him not to call the police. Eventually he told me we could make a deal and almost knocks over my grandmother in the process of pulling me aside to tell me what he wanted without anyone else hearing.
His deal was that I paid him $500 so he would go away. I didn’t have $500 on me, but I did have $300, so I gave it to him - which people saw. I made sure to look him in the eyes and shake his hand on the deal, which he did. And afterwards he continued for a little bit to threaten people, but eventually walked away - having extorted me for money in an old world style shakedown.
The vendors tore down their gear in a manner of about 15 minutes and were out of there. My intern and his buddy gave me the tips that were supposed to be for the bands at the end of the night. And like that, this happy joyous event was over. We kept the gallery open, but announced everything had been shut down on social media.
Eventually, a few days later I got the cash back from the landlord. He came to the gallery to torment me and as he was leaving he said ‘you’re a good actor’ to which I replied, ‘No, I’m just a Jewish kid from Los Angeles’. Once he found out I was Jewish something clicked in his brain. Had I been born any other race or religion he would’ve had no problem taking my money, but when he found out I was just like him (minus the evil part) it was as though he realized he had sinned and thought God was going to punish him for it.
He proceeded to tell me about how he was actually a good person. To which I replied, if you’re such a good person why did you take my money and disrupt a peaceful and wonderful event. He came up with the excuse that he was teaching me a lesson and that when someone interferes with his property he becomes vicious.
It was so fucking weird. He went on to tell me his life story and eventually give me back half of my money. He assumed the guys I was subletting from were in on the event too and that the other half of the money was theirs - which he didn’t mind keeping. Like I said, it was weird. He even came back the next day and offered to be my business partner - saying he would rent me out the space for free as long as we split the money. And all I could think about was the ancient parable of the scorpion and the frog. The one that goes - one day there was a scorpion who asked a frog for a ride across a river. The frog said “no, I cannot take you across because you’ll sting me and I’ll die” to which the scorpion replies “I wouldn’t do that. Because if I sting you while we are in the middle of the river we will both die”. So the frog thinks about it and gives the scorpion a ride across the river - when about halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog, and as they are slowly drowning to death the frog asks the scorpion “why did you sting me?” to which the scorpion replies “it was simply my nature.”
To be fair, we all knew we would be out of that space soon anyways because the lease was coming up for renewal and the landlord wanted to literally charge double, which would've taken it too far out of all of our budgets. So as luck would have it one of the vendors at the carnival was another gallery who had offered me part of their space a few days before this all happened. I turned to them amongst the chaos and said “it looks like I’ll be taking you up on your offer sooner than expected.” And it was an almost immediate transition. I knew it wasn’t safe to have shows where a volatile landlord could appear and disrupt us, so I had to leave - even if the space was in one of the best neighborhoods for an art gallery.
JULY 2016 = DANIEL ROLNIK GALLERY MOVES TO 121 E UNION STREET, PASADENA, CA AND RESIDES THERE UNTIL THE END OF AUGUST 2016
Within a week of accepting the offer to sublet a portion of space from my friend’s gallery, and therefore get away from the ‘evil’ landlord of Culver City as fast as I could, I was moved in. But, as the universe has a funny way of operating, my car was also rear ended two blocks from that old gallery and completely totaled in the back. Things were starting off shaky.
The new space was on the other end of the county in Pasadena; a charming stepford wives city that only twenty years or so prior used to be the absolute pits with punk rock heroin junkies and broken windows. It was also the smallest space yet. In fact, much smaller than I had anticipated.
By this time I had built a lot of custom furniture pieces that doubled as both display and storage units. One of which, was a giant table on wheels that I absolutely loved, but unfortunately had zero chances of survival being that it took up more space than was allotted. A space that got even smaller due to unforeseen challenges in the sublet situation, which would eventually lead to me leaving.
I had worked with the owner of the new location before as a curator and pr person. They were a friend and so at first I felt comfortable in the new space. Albeit, soon I realized working as a curator had a different weight to it than actually subletting out space. As a curator, I could make creative choices but at the end of the day the owner was essentially my boss. Whereas, as a subletter, it changed the situation to one of a renter and a landlord.
I began feeling captive because I wanted to expand all the wild and epic things my gallery was doing without disrupting the other gallery’s brand whose space I was now in. It was a constant energy zap. Especially, when one day the owner asked me to tame down the artwork for an upcoming show, which is something I wouldn’t even consider in the slightest.
As destiny would also have it, I found a little note I had left myself long ago buried away in a notebook that said “BUY LAND, HOST POP UPS”. So one morning after I had given a rent check for a lesser amount (as I was pissed the space was smaller than initially agreed upon) I said that I didn’t want to rent from them anymore and that I’d rather just be friends.
I think it inevitably hurt the friendship. There really wasn’t much communication afterward and the atmosphere in the space felt tense. It also became even more uncomfortable when I thought it would be a great idea to host an art walk to bring the local businesses more publicity. An idea which would eventually be soured by one heinous business for no apparent reason.
I was able to get 6 super cool businesses all within a couple blocks from our location on board and even a couple of the local contemporary art museums. It was called the Pasadena Art Walk because that seemed to describe it perfectly, a chance for people to walk around Pasadena and look at art.
Anyways, it was all going great, until out of the blue I get an email from one of the shops involved asking to be removed from the flyers and Facebook event page. I snarkingly replied “Ok, bigshot” and did as they asked. Obviously, I couldn’t remove them from what had already been posted by other people like local press in Pasadena who had listed the event on their calendars.
But that wasn’t enough for this shop. They began calling other businesses involved and annoying them, saying the city was going to sue us (when they had no intent of doing that) and even began manipulating people in city positions - telling them I had falsely advertised the event as being officially sanctioned and organized by the city. When, the whole time, in all of my promotion, I had clearly stated that this was going to be an art walk set up by the local businesses.
It all came to a head when they annoyed the city so much that they actually sent me a cease and desist letter - saying I could no longer call the event the Pasadena Art Walk - and by this time the other businesses had been so annoyed that they didn’t want to take part anymore; no matter what the name was.
The funny thing is - the controversy actually drew more people who were curious to see what all the fuss was about. And all of the businesses who wanted out were open anyways, so it was an art walk, even though it wasn’t an art walk, which in effect render it an art walk - if you get what I mean.
We had a political art show up at the time by the artist JT Steiny and a few days before we officially ceased operations there a news crew arrived to interview us. They told us it was going out to 800 different stations around the world, but we never saw it, so if you did please send us a link.
I kept thinking about that post it note I had left myself. Why did I write it in all caps? Why did I find it when I did? I could only take it as a sign of progress. It was time to move forward and not repeat what I had been doing. Like a butterfly forming from a caterpillar, Daniel Rolnik Gallery would metamorphisize into the Daniel Rolnik Foundation so that ideas could not be stopped and beauty our creativity could be free to fly.
September 2016 = The Great Unknown
We are free!
For a brief stint, we called ourselves the Daniel Rolnik Foundation.