Andi Potamkin Blackmore is a private art dealer and founder of LeMise, a Brooklyn-based art and design advisory firm. Potamkin curates exhibitions and installations for both public and private institutions across the globe.
We invited Andi to curate a collection of her favorite artworks by Tappan artists. In tandem with this collection launch, we're launching a small series of limited edition prints by artist Isabella Huffington, an artist whose solo exhibition will debut at Three Squares Studio on Tuesday, October 18.
We asked Andi a few questions about her career, the artists she works with, and her curated collection of Tappan artwork.
Tell us a little about your background and your relationship with art.
I've been surrounded by art my whole life. We all are. That's cheesy, I know, but it's true. There is art everywhere if you know how to look for it. My father is a big collector of ancient Egyptian art, so I grew up in a house filled with mummies and canopic jars. My mother on the other hand is drawn to modern art. Seeing that dialog, which in my opinion is far more interesting than anything one-note, is what got me interested in the context and conversation between art works.
I studied set design in college and it was there I learned the power of objects in giving voice to a space.
What was your inspiration behind founding Le Mise and the name itself?
I first learned of the term mise en scène when I was in college studying set design. It roughly translates to 'the arrangement of scenery and props on stage' and I've since found other variations of the phrase that are equally as beautiful: mise en place, for example, is a culinary phrase referencing both the proper preparation and presentation of food. It's a really beautiful term.
Le Mise literally means 'putting the right thing in the right place'. That's how I think of our company. We are set designers for the home, with both art world knowledge and a sense of play in installation. Our process is energetic and psychological in addition to visual. We start with an understanding of the mood our clients want to create in their home and work from there to find a piece.
You’ve presented numerous artists in New York; what is your relationship with these artists?
I would say the base of my relationship with any artist is that I am a fan: a fan of their work, of their process, of their person. Sometimes I will be involved in mounting a show of an artist's work. That's always thrilling. Sometimes I pitch an artist to clients, privately. That's a totally different thing.
I go out to coffee often with artists, visit studios often: sometimes as a colleague, sometimes as an advisor, but always as a fan.
What does your average day look like?
Oh man, I don't think I've had an average day in years. Every single day is different, which is one of my favorite parts of my job. Le Mise is a project-based company, so projects come in waves. Sometimes we will be very involved in an installation. I spend a lot of time working on the curation and design of the shows we put on, figuring out how to create an energetic frame around the work.
With our private clients, our process is intimate, so we spend a lot of time getting to know them: what they like, how they live, what sort of vibes they want within their home. Then we hunt. I'm very thankful for my private clients. They are amazing, all quite different, and they keep every day new and exciting.
Where do you see Le Mise in five years?
I see Le Mise being a respected and sought-after company that works with curious and passionate people looking to live an more artful life. I see us helping people develop art collections that are uniquely their own. I see us mounting interesting and creative installations. I see us championing artists: creating platforms for people to exhibit great work.
We love your selection of Tappan pieces. What do you consider when curating a selection of work?
Thank you! Well, I had a really gorgeous body of works to select from... That's always a good start, I guess: to have high quality work. If the work is good overall, then my first step is to just spend time with all the pieces I have at my disposal. I try not to make initial judgements until I can see everything in one place. Some pieces, when put together, become greater than the sum of their parts, you know?
I lay all the images out on the floor and wait to see what pieces jump out at me, and which are drawn to each other. Then it honestly happens quite fluidly: I start to gather pairs and groupings, and a story begins to write itself. Once I see the story, it gets really fun. I pull in additional pieces that create a dialog, help translate the overall energy.
For this Tappan selection, the hardest part was that there were so many good pieces. They all compliment each other beautifully, because you guys have exceptional vision and already did a lot of the hard work. But I was feeling very feminine desert vibes when I put this together. Kind of like a beautiful young woman planting succulents and sketching with charcoal in a dusty desert house situation.
Any interesting projects to share with us right now?
This one! I'm so excited to be working with Isabella. She's an angel and her work is fantastic. I appreciate a women who manages to be powerful in an uber-feminine way. Isabella does that. I admire her greatly. Her work is a mixture of lightness and gravitas.
Also, this one again! I'm so excited to be working with you on the limited edition prints in tandem with the show. I'm such a fan of Tappan and really, thrilled to be collaborating with this company.
How did you sync up with Isabella?
We were introduced by a dear friend named Baruch Shemtov who is a television host and a truly beautiful looking man. He knew Isabella and I would be fast friends, and from the moment we met, we have been brainstorming. Creativity and drive are my favorite qualities in both friends and collaborators.
View the collection here.