ART IS A VERB: Season One

ART IS A VERB: Season One

At Barrett Barrera Projects, we believe that ART IS A VERB — it’s the ongoing process of re-constructing our world, and creatives are the harbingers of a new reality, with the ability to catalyze real change. Join your co-hosts Susan Barrett and Todd Thomas as we navigate these new circumstances with a collaborative intention, connecting with thought leaders and multidisciplinary creatives for intimate conversations about how we can use this unprecedented moment to chart the way forward toward a better, more sustainable, and equitable future for us all.


Episode 1

Antwaun Sargent on Dismantling Traditional Relationships With Art and the Widening of Possibility

Author, editor and critic Antwaun Sargent examines contemporary art with a proficient visual critique that has established his writing as an essential addition to a variety of publications on art. Antwaun’s curatorial focus is photography and in particular emerging and under-recognized photographers of color, whom he profiled exclusively in his first book, The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion. His exhibition, titled “Just Pictures” was realized with Barrett Barrera Projects in September 2020. In this episode Antwaun discusses contextualizing photography as fine art, the converging of art with other social and creative platforms, and the inevitability of change.



Episode 2

Fashion Pioneer and Legend Dapper Dan on the Power of Image to Shape a Movement

Dapper Dan (or simply “Dap”) has long stood at the intersection of fashion and activism. From his start in Harlem to his partnership with Gucci, Dan’s career trajectory upended traditional routes to luxury clothes-making, bypassing, with style and sensibility, the barriers to entry in that world, recounted in his memoir, Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem. In this episode Dan tells hosts Susan and Todd about how a shifting balance of power in fashion mirrors current movements for justice and equity—a dynamic symbolized in even basic accessories like a tie. Dan shares how he achieved self-empowerment through the fashion system and why, despite his many accomplishments in the world of luxury, his ultimate goal in fashion is to fashion young minds.



Episode 3

Multilevel Artistic Collective Pussy Riot on the Process of Activism

Pussy Riot merges music, performance art and protest into hard-hitting advocacy for human rights—including prisoner’s rights—while also utilizing this artistic mélange to express disdain of the current Russian government. Hosts Susan and Todd speak with members of Pussy Riot about the group’s development from punk rock band to arts collective, their reflections on protests happening in the United States, and the presidential regimes of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.



Episode 4

Ben Sinclair on Writing Comedy in the time of COVID-19

Everyday life offers depths of inspiration for Hollywood production, so fittingly, writer, actor and director Ben Sinclair of High Maintenance translates his personal experiences into astute observational comedy. He shares with hosts Susan and Todd the challenges and opportunities of writing for television in this time of despair, and his hopeful conviction of what the post-pandemic future will bring.



Episode 5

Brittney Escovedo on Creating Art and Equitable Workspaces with Intention

Founder of the experiential events and production company Beyond 8, Brittney Escovedo is a creative force in the art and fashion industries. She founded Beyond 8 on lessons from her business-savvy mother, who allowed Brittney to run a company at age 18, and grandmother, who inspired the company name. To date, Brittney has collaborated with clients including Pyer Moss, Gucci, Rachel Comey, Reebok, Solange Knowles, Sephora, W Hotels, and more. In this episode, Brittney talks with hosts Susan and Todd about the leadership power of women-run businesses and how the Black Lives Matter movement has shaped opportunities for creatives in the art and fashion economies.



Episode 6

Restaurateur Zoe Robinson On Designing Experiences and Meeting Passion Through Crisis

Zoe Robinson is a spirited risk taker with the tenacity to see her dreams to fruition. The founder of many beloved restaurants in St. Louis opened her first at age 23—a feat achieved through fulfilling her passion of making beautiful spaces for people to come together and enjoy delicious food. Although this attention to detail ranked her as a James Beard semifinalist she still indulges the humble joy of her waitressing roots by making heartfelt connections with clientele, even on each restaurant’s frequent at-capacity nights—a scene now paused due to COVID-19. Zoe shares with hosts Susan and Todd the trajectory and serendipity of her journey, and on staying nimble and innovative to continue her life’s work in the changed landscape of the restaurant industry.



Episode 7

Rachel Comey Discusses Navigating the Fashion Industry with Instinct and Passion

Rachel Comey started her eponymous label through genuine curiosity about how people communicated through their fashion choices. It was a foundation rooted in the designer honoring her instinct rather than the product of formal learning in fashion school. Nearly twenty years later, the label remains a solid favorite in the fashion world in spite of its independent origin. Hosts Susan and Todd speak with Rachel about engaging the label’s cult following in the midst of the COVID-induced push toward e-commerce, what fashion can learn from the food industry, and how following her instinct shaped her much-loved brand.



Episode 8

DJ Lina Bradford Discusses Style, Advocacy and Unfazed Optimism

From the heartbeat of New York City’s club scene to international destinations like St. Tropez, and at parties during Art Basel Miami Beach, Lina Bradford’s reach as a DJ is legendary. A mixed-race transgender woman born in New York City’s Upper West Side, Lina’s love of the city and passion for LGBTQ+ advocacy stem from her core. In this episode, Lina shares with hosts Susan and Todd her key to maintaining unflappable optimism, musings on style and influencer culture, and how she merges music with advocacy.



Episode 9

Dario Calmese on Storytelling Across Creative Disciplines and Producing Work that Permeates History

Dario Calmese pivots between roles as artist, writer, director, and brand consultant with the unrepressed ease of a trained dancer—which he also is, among other capacities in a deeply varied creative skill set. In the fashion sector he is a frequent collaborator with the brand Pyer Moss and recently completed a history-making photo shoot. Together his creative ventures weave a story of Black excellence, Black beauty and Black wisdom. In this episode Dario tells hosts Susan and Todd about the many launching points of his multidimensional output—from academia and historic and present cultural appropriation within the fashion industry, to empathy and meditation—and intentionally working outside of the fashion system to learn the language of brands.



Episode 10

Parker Posey on Resilience, Reinvention and the Resonance of Art

Dubbed “Indie Queen,” Parker Posey embraces her position as outsider and her “undefinable” reputation. The themes of Posey’s recent projects underscore this outlier quality—as a cast member of the sci-fi series Lost in Space, and author of a memoir imagined as a conversation between the actress, and a stranger on an airplane, You’re on an Airplane: A Self Mythologizing Memoir. In this episode, Parker shares with Susan and Todd how hardship sharpens resilience, compassion as courage, and losing oneself in the discovery of what you didn’t know you were looking for.