The guys who make up Arch P&D—Evan, Ian, and Zak—are some of the nicest, hardest-working dudes I have ever met. Not only were they willing to give me an interview and walk-through of their amazing new space way late at night, they actually set up a private art opening for me and Maximus, new works by Andriana Santiago in collaboration with Evan, weeks before the show will be open to the public. The Arch artists hung out with us for hours, bubbling over with excitement and energy and passion, chatting about art and life and skateboarding and bedazzling and pleasant anarchy.
You’ve probably heard of the previous incarnation of Arch, from their big, bright gallery space on Troutman Street in Bushwick, where they held group art shows and indie boutiques, and were a fixture in neighborhood art events like Beat Night and Bushwick Open Studios. But they’ve moved on, with a new space (in Ridgewood, technically), new goals, new ideas, and new synergy. As Evan says, “Arch was started to create a space where artists could get together and share art and skills, to do work that everyone could benefit from in a sustainable manner.” There are eight artists sharing space at the new Arch, and they make every kind of art imaginable, from visual art to commercial art to music to skateboarding to metal and woodwork. Even with so many people, the space is incredibly organized and doesn’t feel cramped; every workstation is built on wheels, so they can clear out the space easily for parties and events. They’ve got a crazy diverse roster of high-profile clients—including Lady Gaga, Dos Equis, Andrew WK, Dance New Amsterdam, and Lindsey Lohan—as well as working with many other underground Brooklyn spaces, like Red Lotus Room and House of Yes. They also throw art salons and parties, have open hours as a gallery, and are open to collaboration and skillsharing.
brooklyn spaces: How did you all come together?
Evan: I met Zak doing a job for Dos Equis. We made steampunk party boxes and a steampunk piano for Andrew WK.
Ian: I met Evan through working with Narcissister. He started pulling me onto some jobs, and I pulled him onto some, and it went back and forth for awhile, until we decided that it was silly not to merge into one entity.
brooklyn spaces: So you guys have lots of high-profile clients, individually as well as collectively.
Evan: Everything is collective now. Together we’re doing what one of us could never do alone.
Ian: Everything in the shop is communal, so long as you know what you’re doing and you clean up after yourself. It’s respectfully collective.
Zak: It’s an open exchange of ideas and materials and tools.
brooklyn spaces: How did you pick the name?
Evan: It’s from a project that I did with a massive group of friends for Pier 59’s fifteenth anniversary party. It was for Fashion Week Spring 2010. We designed a massive Roman set, with an arch and columns and blocks, which took every last bit of help from everyone I knew. And it became obvious that the structure of an arch requires every block in the arch to hold it up. Actually, tomorrow we’re going to go and pick up that arch from storage, and we’re going to install it in the House of Yes for the new show, Caligula Maximus. It’s coming full circle.
brooklyn spaces: Where will it go when House of Yes is done with it?
Evan: I don’t know, it might end up at Materials for the Arts.
Zak: Sustainability is a key element for us. Everything we do is going to get reused or given away.
brooklyn spaces: Has Bushwick influenced the space, or Brooklyn in general?
Zak: Bushwick is the pulsating center of art in Brooklyn right now. It’s where everything is happening.
Ian: I think even the way we’ve set up the space, it has a Brooklyn feel. It’s open, there’s no walls between our spaces, everything is there for everyone to see.
Evan: It’s all DIY and scavenged, the windows leak, it’s freezing cold, you’re working in the shop in all your clothes. That’s Brooklyn.
Zak: Survival skills.
Evan: Also it’s really bleak, it’s this post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland.
Zak: In the wintertime you walk out there and it’s like snowfields and dilapidated train tracks and broken-down warehouses, but what’s coming out of here is what people deem some of the most beautiful artistic work in the world. On the outside this building looks like nothing, but inside we’re creating stuff that’s on Fifth Avenue. The juxtaposition is fantastic, it embodies the whole situation.
Andriana: And we’re remaking the neighborhood. It’s just about taking what you have, whatever it is, even if it’s old or dirty, and making it your own and creating your own life. Whatever you want it to be.
Ian: That’s what’s so beautiful about this space, it’s all of our dreams put together, making it into a collective dream.
Evan: I’m gonna cry.
brooklyn spaces: What else is even in this immediate neighborhood? Are there other artists creeping out?
Evan: Oh yeah. There’s a lot of lofts out here that are filled with artists.
Andriana: We’re like roaches.
Zak: Yeah, we come out at night and we’re impossible to get rid of.
brooklyn spaces: Will this space be open to the public like the last one?
Evan: We just recently did a gallery show; obviously this will be an ideal place to have art hanging on a regular basis. We’ve been open to the public for about five events. We’re trying to find where our public presence as a space exists.
Ian: A lot of it comes from opening up the space to other artists. We’re open to helping people who don’t have the space to do larger projects.
Zak: We’ve all been there, having a concept but not the space to realize it. So we’re more than willing to help out other artists with space and materials.
brooklyn spaces: Do any of you want to talk about recent favorite projects that you’ve done?
Evan: We just made a mannequin for Melody Sweets, a burlesque performer. And we did a really nice set at Lincoln Center for Fashion Week for Odd Molly, a Swedish fashion company. And we did a set for Black Nativity Now, an Off-Broadway production by Alfred Preisser. Zak just headed up a project doing two suites for the Lady Gaga concert at Madison Square Garden.
Zak: I also make surfboard fin key necklaces, in a range of metals and finishes, and Lindsey Lohan has taken a liking to them, so I’m getting some calls from her. That speaks to the diversity in the whole situation, we have high-end sets, high-end furniture, high-end jewelry, it’s such a range.
brooklyn spaces: Anything else you want to tell the world?
Zak: Tell them to come by! They’re more than welcome, our doors are always open. Just be friendly. Have a smile on your face and want to be a little bit creative and get your ideas out.
Ian: There’s always a way to make your project happen.
Zak: Yeah, whenever someone says “Is that possible?”, we never say no. It’s always possible. It just takes a little bit of creativity, a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears.