Artists on Coping: Julian Kreimer

During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.

The artist at his studio

Julian Kreimer is an associate professor of Painting and Art History at SUNY Purchase. Solo and two-person shows have included TSA LA (CA), Lux Art Institute (CA), and Weeknights Gallery (Brooklyn) and his work has been included in group shows at Fluc space (Vienna), Hotel Pupik (Austria), Curator Gallery, Alexandre Gallery, Von Lintel Gallery, and TSA. His work has been reviewed in Art in America, Hyperallergic, Artcritical, and Two Coats of Paint. He is a repeat fellow at Yaddo and MacDowell Colonies and received a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Painting Fellowship. He is a frequent contributor to Art in America.

AS: How are you coping?

JK: I don’t have a coping strategy, after a very abrupt transition to online teaching at Purchase, we got a week of spring break, and I had grand plans of biking to the studio to film class demos and make work, but instead spent far too much time watching Babylon Berlin. And it feels weirdly satisfying to slowly be plowing through the random few bottles of wine that had accumulated from having guests bring it over the years.

The main thing is home schooling and child care for our 10-year-old. Luckily, I like my daughter, but it’s extraordinarily difficult to concentrate while keeping an eye on her, making sure she’s doing her assignments and not surfing youtube. You start with nail-painting videos, you end up in a terrorist cell.

A child takes up a lot of psychic space, and I have to give a lot of time to trying to create a routine while fielding the intense emotions that come up for her. And the worst part is that her crying now is about things that are just as bad as she thinks. But we’ve been trying to get outside each day, mostly to Greenwood Cemetery across the street, which is still pretty empty. It means I have to clock out for the day around 3 or 4, and it’s easier to be a decent human when I’m not trying to do anything other than be with her.

Not-yet-titled, 2020, ink on paper, 11×15 inches, photo courtesy the artist

AS: Has your routine changed?

JK: Immensely in some, not much in others. In the before-time,I relied on having studio time to not just make work, but concentrate on all the other things that needed doing for teaching, writing, and the endless admin of nowadays. Not having that has been a radical change. But we’re healthy, my students seem to be doing ok online, so what’s weird is the kind of ratio of the normal stuff that was already around me.

Not-yet-titled, 2020, ink on paper, 11×15 inches, photo courtesy the artist

AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?

JK: To be honest, I was in a bit of a mild depression for the year before COVID hit, mostly dealing with aging parents, making work in the studio but in a strategic retreat from social media and the public world. Weirdly, with all the changes, I am annoyed a lot, but that constant melancholy has lifted.

Of course, I’m impressed with people going out to work, keeping things going. But I’m fascinated with how this plays out, and the way the world responds. I feel like an ant along with all the other ants, scrambling and dealing with some giant new problem that’s arisen. But unlike the ants, I can read a million articles and comments about what’s happening in real time around the world.

Not-yet-titled, 2020, ink on paper, 11×15 inches, photo courtesy the artist

AS: What matters most right now?

JK: All the good big stuff matters, yes. I’ve heard enough stories of friends-of-friends, or neighbors, to be pretty aware that death is hovering nearby. What matters is staying alive. There’s so much talk of community, and coming together. But I have been fried on other people since late 2018, so being in a cocoon hasn’t been altogether unwelcome.

(Not-yet-titled, 2020, ink on paper, 15 x 11 inches, photo courtesy the artist

AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?

JK: It seems like every 8 years, something on this scale changes everything: the fall of the Soviet bloc, 9/11, the housing crisis. Things settle into a shaky new equilibrium, a lot of the old remains, new things enter. We get used to it. I’m not a Buddhist, but trying to accept change as a constant has been helpful as a grown-up.

4 Not-yet-titled drawings, 2020, ink on paper, 11×15 inches each, photo courtesy the artist

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: