Ballast Projects is not a space, not just a gallery, but a curatorial initiative founded by Adam Mignanelli, an artist, curator, and champion of a new generation of emerging New York painters. Mignanelli is an example of one young promising curator bridging the gap for emerging artists who take themselves and their work seriously, with new and established collectors and institutions that are open to seeing a new generation mold the art world in the twenty-first century. Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, Mignanelli draws from a rich background in the arts, attending classes at Rhode Island School of Design (at the ripe age of six) and gaining a degree from Parsons at The New School in graphic design. After years of planning and building upon his experiences in marketing and advertising in New York City, Ballast Projects was founded in 2012. FRONTRUNNER sat down with him to discuss.
What is your background? How did Ballast Projects start? What inspired you to begin curating/producing shows in NYC?
Well, I was born and raised in Rhode Island, and since I was old enough to hold a marking object (pencil, crayon etc.) I spent a heck of a lot of time at RISD with children’s classes at the museum, after school programs, summer programs, pre-college etc. My parents were pretty active in taking my brother and I to museums and opening up the world of art to us despite not being artists themselves. I then decided to make my move to NYC for college. I studied Communication Design and Technology at Parsons and graphics for a term at Central Saint Martins in London before graduating and going to work for Magazines, youth brands and media. I went into the media world for design knowing that it wasn’t the ‘pure’ art world i grew up around, but loved the pulse of the advertising and media world. During this time I kept painting, drawing, collecting stuff and making collages…
This brought me to a point where I wasn’t in love with a job I had, and I started a blog called Ballast NYC. Basically art shows, design work and funny things… A typical thing to do in your early 20’s. It was more for my friends and such, but it started to catch on a little, but I knew I wasn’t a full-time dedicated blogger. My brother mentioned that my personality lended itself a little to maybe ‘curating’. I always kept running lists in notebooks and in my phone of artists and shows I loved and started to get serious. And here we are.
You have featured a lot of abstract work by emerging artists. What do you look for in abstract work and what mediums are most appealing to you?
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a sucker for painting. I love the resurgence of the classic ‘painter’ mindset, and it seems so freeing and bold. As the art world tends to go, it can be a boy’s club, so I did a show of women painters once that was pretty cool, and I didn’t do it to be like “Hey I show women too” but more to start a conversation of saying “hey, these women are doing some amazing work, and it really stands out from what else is being done, and the resurgence of painting in our generation is not all men” That said, painting isn’t all I show.
I really look for great systems people have put to work in their art, amazing tonal experiences and some really wonderful experiences with scale and texture.
Tell me about Make Your Own Luck last spring. How did that partnership begin and evolve?
An artist I admire introduced me to the founders of the Spring Break Art Show, and they had been fans of my previous shows and we really hit it off on a personal level. I did Spring Break with them, which I felt was a really strong year for the Old School, and they had a program with the New Museum set up and
asked me to do it again, so I did. I showed one artists again, since I felt there was more that needed to be shown, and I really went for diversity in the works. Sometimes work that is so different works great together in a room, especially if it’s all white. haha
As a curator and producer of art shows in NYC what is it like finding wall space? Do you have a favorite layout for a show? Do you prefer the white box gallery or tend towards site specific installations?
Finding space is impossible sometimes. I do love unique spaces, but that has to work well with what you are showing. I also find that if you have a weird space (which you tend to find in NYC a lot) putting a fresh coat of flat white does wonders.
Ballast projects is going to be doing a bunch of new shows this late fall and winter, and will be focusing a lot on partnerships and special programs. Stay tuned!