SNOW IN THE DESERT INTERVIEW: BETTY NGUYEN

Betty Nguyen is a curator, writer, instigator and artist, founder of Living Arts Fund and founder and editor of First Person Magazine. She curates and hosts this weekend’s Snow in the Desert at Ace Hotel & Swim Club, an activated art space for women. Artist workshops are open today from 2-4pm in the Clubhouse, and we’ll have DJs by the pool all afternoon Saturday and Sunday. Betty DJs tonight in the Amigo Room as well. She’s whip smart — as evidenced below.

You’ve said that you “embrace all forms of cultural delivery.” How do those semantics disrupt ideas of art?

I’ve never regarded one art form higher than another: film, music, performance, dance, painting … if the shit is good, I’ll take it. They all influence each other if we are open to them. I have very fluid instincts. I trained in college as an art director, so I envision worlds through texts and vice versa. Just because work is fun or colorful or punk doesn’t mean it’s not informed. My work goes deep and I enjoy it. The disruption comes from opening people’s perspectives to expand what art is or how it can be presented which includes where it can be presented like at the Ace Hotel.

Tell me about interviewing Yoko Ono and Missy Elliot.

Yoko Ono is so fucking alive. The bigger the name, the more I tend to be restrained as an interviewer. But that’s bullshit right? I interviewed Yoko Ono for First Person Magazine’s “Discomfort of Sculpture” issue that also included Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, and Maya Deren. I first encountered Ono’s work at ICA East London in 2000. She showed these big Oxford shoes in larger than life rat cages on top of tons of used paperback books. A map of the world was on a table top with her Imagine Peace rubber stamps all over the table for you to make an impression on a country or border line, the ocean whatever needed it. And the last memorable piece was this long dark corridor that led to a light box of a rainbow. Her work is so provocative in a positive way. It’s sometimes difficult to do both in a work. And it’s always been there in hers for me. She was on tour as the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band with her son and I was pretty nervous, thinking I had to make sure the questions were related to music. But she just went straight out the gate with, “You know John and I did a lot for promoting peace to end the Vietnam War” after I said I thought we were simliar… refugees of war. We talked about both being women and immigrants. And working in the arts as Asian women as being really fucking hard. I can name one other Asian woman curator at the New Museum. And one in Tokyo at the Mori. Oh, yeah and I made her pink peace sign sugar cookies for her show with Sean Lennon.

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Bookmaker and badass Trinie Dalton joins us this Saturday as part of Snow in the Desert, an activated art space for women at Ace Hotel Palm Springs, along with artist Eve Fowler, magician/musician Abby Portner, artist Anna Sew Hoy, pastry maverick and painter Leah Rosenberg, and other incredible peeps including host and co-founder of First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund, Betty Nguyen, who DJs women producers, singers and songwriters Saturday night in the Amigo Room.
As illustrated above, Trinie’s work recently moved Thurston Moore to epistolary splendor.
Here’s the full schedule for the weekend — it’s going to be a kind of unprecedented mix of poolside lounging and artistic power that could just change the world.
SATURDAY MAY 5
Noon-4pm PoolsideMagician and musician Abby Portner DJs and performs live with a set that invites you to improvise with her as she provides instruments and a framework of vibrations.
2-4pm ClubhouseARTIST WORKSHOPS
Leah Rosenberg, head pastry chef and artist from Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco and at SFMoMA, prepares a DIY sno-cone station where participants  can select from locally foraged ingredients to build their own flavor combinations.
Bookmaker and badass Trinie Dalton sets up a collage art book station where you can make your own mini books.
The inimitable Anna Sew Hoy leads a “make your own talisman” table with clay, leather cords and beads.
10pm-2am Amigo RoomCurator, artist and First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund founder Betty Nguyen spins an homage to both women and Cinco de Mayo. She’ll be curating songs by women producers, singers and songwriters, coordinating the decades chronologically — 50’s girl groups early on, then 70’s disco singers, then Latin freestyle jams into the wee hours.
SUNDAY MAY 6
Noon-4pm PoolsideDJ Dorian Garry plays mellow-vibed, long-playing, smooth jams. A tour manager by day, and a devotee who knows music inside and out.
See all info here.

Bookmaker and badass Trinie Dalton joins us this Saturday as part of Snow in the Desert, an activated art space for women at Ace Hotel Palm Springs, along with artist Eve Fowler, magician/musician Abby Portner, artist Anna Sew Hoy, pastry maverick and painter Leah Rosenberg, and other incredible peeps including host and co-founder of First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund, Betty Nguyen, who DJs women producers, singers and songwriters Saturday night in the Amigo Room.

As illustrated above, Trinie’s work recently moved Thurston Moore to epistolary splendor.

Here’s the full schedule for the weekend — it’s going to be a kind of unprecedented mix of poolside lounging and artistic power that could just change the world.

SATURDAY MAY 5

Noon-4pm Poolside
Magician and musician Abby Portner DJs and performs live with a set that invites you to improvise with her as she provides instruments and a framework of vibrations.

2-4pm Clubhouse
ARTIST WORKSHOPS

Leah Rosenberg, head pastry chef and artist from Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco and at SFMoMA, prepares a DIY sno-cone station where participants  can select from locally foraged ingredients to build their own flavor combinations.

Bookmaker and badass Trinie Dalton sets up a collage art book station where you can make your own mini books.

The inimitable Anna Sew Hoy leads a “make your own talisman” table with clay, leather cords and beads.

10pm-2am Amigo Room
Curator, artist and First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund founder Betty Nguyen spins an homage to both women and Cinco de Mayo. She’ll be curating songs by women producers, singers and songwriters, coordinating the decades chronologically — 50’s girl groups early on, then 70’s disco singers, then Latin freestyle jams into the wee hours.

SUNDAY MAY 6

Noon-4pm Poolside
DJ Dorian Garry plays mellow-vibed, long-playing, smooth jams. A tour manager by day, and a devotee who knows music inside and out.

See all info here.


Save the date: artists Eve Fowler and Anna Sew Hoy — excerpts from their co-created piece, Two Serious Ladies, are shown here — join a transcendent roster of writers, makers, movers and shakers at an all-female art symposium and retreat with First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund at Ace Hotel Palm Springs May 5 and 6. The cast of teachers and thinkers includes artist and writer Trinie Dalton, Fowler, Hoy, artist Margaret Tedesco, social practice artist Amanda Eicher, musician Eva Inca Core, DJ Asma Maroof (of Nguzunguzu) and First Person Mag publisher and Living Arts Fund director Betty Nguyen.
We’ll post more details soon, but know that they include the making of ice cream, films at twilight, panels on how art influences local and global communities, and music by the campfire. The retreat will be documented for the upcoming First Person “Value of Art” issue. 

Save the date: artists Eve Fowler and Anna Sew Hoy — excerpts from their co-created piece, Two Serious Ladies, are shown here — join a transcendent roster of writers, makers, movers and shakers at an all-female art symposium and retreat with First Person Magazine and Living Arts Fund at Ace Hotel Palm Springs May 5 and 6. The cast of teachers and thinkers includes artist and writer Trinie Dalton, Fowler, Hoy, artist Margaret Tedesco, social practice artist Amanda Eicher, musician Eva Inca Core, DJ Asma Maroof (of Nguzunguzu) and First Person Mag publisher and Living Arts Fund director Betty Nguyen.

We’ll post more details soon, but know that they include the making of ice cream, films at twilight, panels on how art influences local and global communities, and music by the campfire. The retreat will be documented for the upcoming First Person “Value of Art” issue. 


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