Neil Hamamoto makes a home with the art that makes room

Elizabeth Fazzare: How did you start putting together your own collection?

Neil Hamamoto: I’ve carried an iPhone with me almost every day since 2008 when I was 15. My collection really started with my iPhone camera and a special folder of photos I captured of works I wanted to “collect”. I believe it was through this process that I developed my interests and tastes which became the impetus for my first real acquisition.

EF: What was the first piece you bought?

NH: A genuine first edition copy of Robert Frank Americans. The one published by Robert Delpire in 1958 with the cover that actually reads Americans.

Neil Hamamoto in his living room. Right: Sayre Gomez, AMX2019. Silver Television: Paul Pfeiffer, Caryatids (Maïdana)2015.

EF: Do you have a defining theme for your collection?

NH: As an artist, I don’t like to feel confined. Defining my collection looks too much like that. I certainly have a preference for the objects that I wish to acquire and with which to live, but nothing formalized. My interests tend to align with artists working in medium to large scale three dimensions. And I also love artists who center materials and processes in their work.

EF: Which designers/artists inspire you at the moment?

NH: Kennedy Yanko, Hugh Hayden, Miles Greenberg and Sayre Gomez and all the artists WORTHLESSSTUDIOS works with: Tanda Francis, Michael Zelehoski, Behin Ha Design, Caroline Mardok, Tony Dibernardo and KaN Site Curators.

EF: What are the current collectible trends on your radar, if any?

NH: I’m not too interested in following trends, but I currently pay close attention to artists with grassroots practices whose work engages communities with public art like Hank Willis Thomas, Theaster Gates, Titus Kaphar, Dustin Yellin, Mark di Suvero. These are the artists we will talk about when we look back to that time.

EF: Does the marketplace help you discover?

NH: It can certainly help, but it can also hurt my discovery process. Trade shows, newsletters, Instagram are all sources of information that feed the market place. Unfortunately, I find myself spending time digesting these sources instead of going through experience, adventures, exploration, chance, manifestation. COVID didn’t help either.

EF: In terms of discovering new artists/designers, what are your trusted methods?

NH: As artistic director at WORTHLESSSTUDIOS, I am in constant contact with artists. Our mission is to support the making and production needs of artists as they experiment and work, so we host open calls and events to foster idea sharing and creative criticism. I have discovered so many amazing artists and work concepts through this process.

house with picture on the wall
Paul Pfeiffer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (30)2015.

EF: What’s the next piece on your radar?

NH: I’m more in an art-generating mindset than an art-buying mindset right now. The next work I will do revolves around American trucking and road infrastructure.

EF: What’s the last piece you bought?

NH: A Nate Lowman painting!

EF: What is the part that escaped?

NH: Nothing escaped! It just lives in my iPhone collection.

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