Skip to content

Creating What is Missing

Crit Club, photo provided by Catherine Haggarty
Crit Club, photo provided by Catherine Haggarty

I don’t believe in waiting for opportunities. I think in many ways creating what is missing from your respective world is the best way to navigate personally and professionally. For me, it drives my paintings and also my professional life as a curator and lecturer.

In many ways, One River School is the perfect model for this sort of innovation. Matt Ross saw a gap in art education and filled it. Now, a successful and growing business, One River is the prime example of how building a unique platform for art education can succeed outside of an institutional setting. One River offers a contemporary lens for artists of all ages to grow and learn and is unique it it’s drive and mission.

My two years of teaching Art Effect classes at One River were some of the most enjoyable teaching I have ever done. Now, I am focusing on painting full-time, but took some notes from the ethos of One River to my current role as an instructor & Director of NYC Crit Club that I co-run with artist and founder Hilary Doyle.

Hilary Doyle founded the NYC Crit club last summer as a reaction to her past students needing feedback, support and community after graduating and moving to the city. With this observation, Hilary began weekly summer crit classes. I too have noticed a huge gap in connection as a curator and artist here in New York and get frequent emails requesting studio visits and feedback.

Crit Club, photo provided by Catherine Haggarty

Hilary asked me to join to last semester while the course was running at the Abrons Art center with an enrollment of 18 artists. Now, Hilary and I have built a strong & growing program with NYC Crit Club. We now run three classes and work with about 45 artists ranging in ages 25-65. We treat this course as a graduate school style class, bring in guest critics and curate a final exhibit. We meet weekly, and facilitate studio dialogue, offer professional feedback and talk about their work in their studios. We both see this need for connection and feedback among artists and we are fixing it ourselves instead of waiting for an institution to ask us to do so.

As a curator and an artist, my interest in studio dialogue is at the center of my painting practice, but also the crux of my interest in teaching now. I am not a tenured professor or even formally lecturing at a university or college. Instead of waiting for these opportunities, we have observed a huge gap in New York City in terms of artists wanting connection & critical feedback post higher education– and filled it!

Crit Club, photo provided by Catherine Haggarty


When I say to people that I am a painter and that I teach a few courses, their first question is: ‘Where?’ This brings up a great point, but I can’t offer them a name of a University. Instead, I explain what we are doing and feel proud of helping to expand an already innovative platform that Hilary Doyle started for artists here in New York.

Creating what is needed and missing in painting, business or in education is crucial to being relevant and successful. Having the fortitude to build a life as an artist isn’t an easy task, but connection and innovation continue to push me forward on my own path. If you see something missing, have the confidence to fix it yourself – I assure you it’s worth the effort.