Clark Filio is an artist living in New York. He staged his debut solo exhibition last year at Kimberly Klark, a gallery in Ridgewood, Queens. His next solo show, “The Cycle of Fire,” opens this January at Lower East Side gallery Yours Mine & Ours. In addition to his own practice, Clark is currently working with filmmaker John Wilson on an unannounced project.
For this edition of Consumer Reports, we get to follow the artist around during a busy pre-Halloween week in New York City. This means some light costume preparation, mostly in the form of a haircut. Besides that, things are business as usual—studio time, meetings, and plenty of media consumed, of course. Additionally, there is time spent with the aforementioned Wilson, who wisely recommends a viewing of the genius comedian Conor O’ Malley’s new talk show, which takes place in a river. The week culminates with a Halloween party at the artist’s former residence. —John Chiaverina
Monday, October 22
Wake up alone at 10 a.m., brush my teeth, and pour a glass of water, sit down at my desk and read The Thorn. The Thorn is a weekly newsletter that the NYC DSA puts out about local politics and news for New York, it’s very cool. Read about the Right to Know Act which is a police reform law that passed last December and went into effect on Friday. Seems like a win for Big Printing, as now all officers in New York have to give you a personalized business card if they stop you doing whatever. I see that 1 in 10 students in NYC public schools is now homeless.
I bike over to Gories on Myrtle to get a sandwich, bike over to Topos and eat the sandwich at the counter. Abhijeet is working and we talk about TV. He has 2 days left on an HBO free trial and wants to make the best of it. I make a cautious recommendation for the Haunting of Hill House, even though it’s not HBO.
I park my bike at my studio and walk to the art supply store on Myrtle. The checkout line is long and is moving slowly. A man in line says to me, “You need 48 hours to get through a 24-hour day.” He has a big mustache and a pony tail, and is wearing all denim. I take the bus back to the studio.
Robert Grand from Kimberly Klark comes over and we have a very nice long visit. I show him the work I’ve got going for my show in January at Yours Mine & Ours. We talk about our life plans. He leaves around 4 and I spend some time alone with the work thinking about it.
I bike home, grab a couple tacos from the corner and settle down to finish the haunted house show. This show offers a vision of America where the most noble thing you can be is something called a Sleep Technologist, a person who helps people get good sleep. This show attempts to be the Evangelion of haunted house movies, and I think it does a good job at it. The last 15 minutes are garbage though, sorry.
Samantha gets home from her trip to Rochester. We make dinner and hang out, she had a very long weekend of work. She does housing organizing for a nonprofit in the city.
Sam crashes out and I get online for a quick game of Dota, it ends up going way too long but I do win in the end. I head to bed around 1:30.
Tuesday, October 23
I wake up briefly when Sam gets up for work, I squawk at her from bed while she gets dressed, she chirps back affectionately. Then I fall back asleep.
I wake up, do the dishes from last night and make some coffee. In the mail I have a package from my friend Max Geller, it’s a tee shirt, I have been expecting it. Take a shower and get ready to stop by the studio. I plan to hit the Met this afternoon so I make sure to pack all the supplies needed for the journey.
Finish up at the studio, I primed a bunch of canvases, more than I currently have good ideas for. I head up to the train to hit the Met. I’m reading Asad Haider’s new book, Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump. Samantha got us both copies so we could read it at the same time. These books have a big challenge in terms of being fun to read, because they have a self-selecting audience of Marxist types who would be bored reading the same introductory content, but the book needs to also be accessible to new audiences who need that introductory material. I’m struck by how well he handles this.
I am finally walking into the Delacroix show. Getting into the museum was a bit hairy because I don’t have a New York state ID, luckily my passport and lease did the trick.
My mind is distracted at this point. Earlier I had posted a picture of my new tee shirt from Max on Instagram and someone had reported it as hate speech and it was taken down. The shirt is basically a joke, but would not be funny at all to a Zionist, or the weak of heart.
A friend of mine has DMed me about how he took offense to the image, now that he has an Israeli girlfriend and has done a lot of research on the topic. I don’t have any cell phone service at the Met, so I’m forced to leave my PR crisis untended and look at some paintings.
The show is awesome. The paintings look about as you’d think they would, and it’s hard to tell at a glance what distinguishes Delacroix’s work from a lot of other similar painters of the period. His paintings don’t value precise drawing, and my favorite thing about them is how a lot of the compositions end up working out in non rigid geometric ways, but are like, swirly and organic.
Take the 5 train headed downtown, and this guy called Randy Kearse is selling books he wrote and self published on the train. I buy one for 10 dollars and he signs it for me. I read a bit of it on the rest of the trip, and it is not bad at all. I take the train all the way home.
I get a quick game in and then head to meet Jakey Begin at Pearls. I grab a bag of Zapps and a beer, we catch up and talk about some ongoing projects of his. He’s got new roommates, and describes an exciting energy of creativity shared amongst the three of them, it sounds like a good setup.
Meet John Wilson at La Mesita on Myrtle. John and I have been working together on a project of his for the last several years, and within recent months it has picked up steam of life-changing magnitude. I wish that I could say more about what it is, but it has to remain under wraps for now. We discuss the project over dinner, it turns out a man was eavesdropping our conversation and as we made moves to leave the restaurant, he approaches us, introduces himself, and asks for a job. We are polite to him, and John gives him his email address. We walk over to June on St. Nicholas. By the time we get there, the guy has already sent John an email, hailing his work as “poetic.”
John and I walk over to my house and we find Samantha. John is excited to show us the new Connor O’Malley bit where he does a talk show in a river. It’s very funny, we are all laughing. John gets up to leave, Samantha and I start watching Derren Brown’s new special on Netflix called The Sacrifice. It’s incredible, I can’t really start to unpack what it all means, but it’s mostly actually just really funny. We are both in bed by 12:45.
Wednesday, October 24
Wake up and make coffee. Samantha had to get to work early so she is not here. I spend the morning on my computer, looking at craigslist, watching the Dota tournament going down in Hamburg, and reading some of the older Consumer Reports.
I bike over to JK and Sons on Broadway for an omelet, I’ve done some reflecting on how to respond to my friend who was upset over the tee shirt. I really like him so I hope that it can be ok. He sent me another message late last night encouraging me to respond, so I knew it was important to him. Without getting into too much detail, I tell him that I actually am kind of embarrassed about the image. Maybe a little embarrassment, but no regret. Despite this, I make it clear that it is unlikely that he can convince me to change my position.
I meet Scott Goodman at his studio/gallery. He just closed a group show there that was all about lizards, and I bought a piece from it so I needed to pick it up. It’s an older painting by Sara Blazej of an alligator eating another alligator.
Scott and I walk over to my studio, we hang for a minute. After he leaves, I start back into this picture of Don Draper that I’ve been working on.
I clean brushes and pack up to head back home. I think I did ok resolving some problems with Don, and I make a small painting of a sailboat at sea. I wish I knew boat names, like sloop or skiff or something, but everytime I look them up I immediately forget them. I queue for a game, lose after 40 minutes.
I bike over to John’s house in Ridgewood to work on the project.
Chris Maggio comes over to John’s, we watch a short Derren Brown bit where he plays Russian roulette with a stranger, having used his mentalist skills to guess which numbered chamber the bullet was placed in. We walk over to Paradise afterwards, for a quick cold one and some fried food. Chris is going to Salem to shoot some ghouls over Halloween weekend, we lament that we won’t get to enjoy the holiday together.
I head home, Samantha needs help playing a DVD for work and we are both surprised and pleased to find out that my computer has a disc reader. We are in bed by 12:30.
Thursday, October 25
Wake up and read the news about all these bombs sent to liberals.
I dress and get on the M, I’m heading to the Essex street market for some food and a haircut. Continue reading Haider, he’s talking about one of my friends, Noel Ignatiev, and quoting him and Du Bois back to back.
Grab a bite at Shopsin’s. Everyone there is doing well, and Kenny’s ashes have joined the store’s display. We are all very excited about the new Red Dead game that comes out tomorrow, and we look at videos highlighting the games graphics on Zack’s phone. The Eastern European barber is on vacation, so my haircut will have to wait.
I walk over to Yours Mine & Ours to talk shop with RJ. We go over the plan for my show, and set the date (Jan 5th!). He is travelling a lot so we do a bit of scheduling and I show him pictures of the stuff I’ve been making.
Hop on the J and head to the studio.
It’s very nice outside so I walk home from the studio. I stop on the way for a haircut. I say, “Gimme the Clark Kent.” After I get home, I play a couple games of Total War Warhammer. I’m really not good at this game at all, which is cool because I don’t care when I lose, but it feels great to win.
I head back into Chinatown via the M to meet Samantha for dinner. We go to 14A Elizabeth St, I’ve been heading there regularly for several years now, since Zack recommended it.
We head to MX Gallery for this play called Slash. Rafael had insisted that I would love it during a visit we had last week (going to do a group show here next month), though I don’t know if I’ve ever truly enjoyed a play in my life. I don’t recognize a single person in the audience, which is packed, maybe fifty people? The play is a series of sketches where the two performers (Emily Allan and Leah Hennessey, who also wrote and directed it) act out various shipping fantasies. The whole thing was bonkers, I’ve never seen anything like it—a clinic of precision and comedy.
I meet Vijay Masharani for a drink nearby, Samantha heads home. We talk about my short tee shirt scandal and catch up on our artistic activities. Vijay is working on a show for Jakey’s space, which is very exciting. We both take the train back to Brooklyn around 11:30.
I had been texting with Shyam Khanna for a few days now, and knowing that he’s a night owl I head over to his place (which is actually my old apartment). We make a nice fire in the backyard and drink Modelo. Shyam had been out of town for a couple weeks working on the launch of his new magazine Commune. When I first met him a few years ago, he was talking about this idea, and it’s very inspiring to see it finally start delivering content. We discuss possible titles for an article set to be released online the next day, about a fellow who infiltrated a variety of alt-right and fascist organizations in NYC. I recommend “Among the Thugs” after Bill Buford but they don’t go with it :(
Head home and crash.
Friday, October 26
Wake up with a small headache. I decide to spend the morning flopping around the house and doing things on my computer. I read some garbage fantasy by Brandon Sanderson, I play several games of Dota, I text with Nellie Kluz, I respond to some emails, I watch Grubby play Warcraft 3, I read two articles on Commune, I catch up on reading Hard Crackers, I play a match of CS:GO.
I walk to the grocery store and get materials to make some chili, as well as a couple of peaches and some milk and Wheaties. I head back home and idle on my screen while I wait for Samantha to get home.
Samantha arrives and I start making dinner. John and Anna Gelb come over, she brings a bottle of sparkling red wine, which is a thing that I forgot existed but it’s really good. We eat, and afterwards watch the newest Failarmy video.
Anna heads home. John, Samantha, and I walk up the street to June for a drink. The place is basically empty. We don’t stay out too late because tomorrow is a big party for Halloween and we need to conserve our energy.
Saturday, October 27
Samantha and I wake up. We get into a fight, and it sort of consumes the morning. Although it sucks in the moment, it turns out to be the good kind of fight and we end it with clarity and resolution. Hers is a daily life of stress that I struggle to fully understand the scale of.
Today is the big giant Halloween party at my old apartment. This party has been happening every year for six (seven?) years, and is always fun. Samantha and I leave the house to run some last minute costume errands around 4:00, and we meet John at Samurai Papa on Varet for an early dinner.
We disband briefly then Samantha, Anna and I rendezvous with John at his apartment in Ridgewood. We watch a bit of the Antique Roadshow while we put our costumes on, at 10:00 we get a slice of pizza at Joe and John’s, then we walk over to Moffat for the party.
I see Emily Ludwig Shaffer, dressed with her boyfriend as the ancient symbol of Yin and Yang. I clutch Andrew Connor, who is dressed as “Fridgeman,” and is wearing a working fridge full of snacks and beer. Alex Roesch and Jillian Jiggs are Tony and Carmela Soprano. Peysin is in a very well done version of The Crow. There is a whole crew of tennis professionals that I don’t recognize. Sylvia Kim is Eric Tyler from Friday Night Lights, Peter Loftus is a skeleton. Misha Spivack and Beth Beckman have come as the classic ship, Gimli and Legolas. There are plenty of animals, and many bloodied editions of American archetypes.
I see most of my ride or die homies. I indulge in consumption. I feel a little self-conscious dancing in my costume, but I don’t care. These parties have taken me into my thirties, and never fail to rejuvenate my love for the New York family, and this time, I don’t even have to help clean up!