APF Director Casey Fremont has been in and around the art world throughout her entire life. Who knew she'd end up at the center of it?
As a little girl in New York, Casey Fremont got sick of art. Growing up with parents deeply involved in the contemporary art world, Casey and her sister Austin were taken to everything—from intimate openings and dinner parties to exclusive viewings at galleries and museums all over the world.
“Art and artists and the art world were what I knew as reality,” recalls Fremont. “Austin and I were very resistant at times. ‘How can you find a museum everywhere?’” they would ask their parents—dad Vincent Fremont, who was vice president of Andy Warhol Enterprises, and one of the key people who has kept the artist’s legacy vital, and their mother Shelly Dunn Fremont, a former art director at Estée Lauder and director of A/D Gallery. “It was torture for many years. Like any kid, at a certain age you feel like you have to hate it; and then you come back around and end up in the art world.”
"Like any kid, at a certain age you feel like you have to hate it; and then you come back around and end up in the art world."
End up in the art world? Not exactly. Now director of the Art Production Fund, Casey Fremont is arguably at the center of it.
Whether you recognize the name APF or not, you probably have seen or read about one of its many public art projects and artist editions. Founded in 2000 by curators Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen, the New York non-profit has commissioned hundreds of artists to create new works for unusual spaces. Think taxi roofs, vacant lots in Times Square, or on shops’ roll-down metal shutters on the Bowery. Equally—with a total Pop-Art sensibility—APF has produced artist-designed beach towels, plates and water bottles to fund its adventurous efforts.
Fremont started working with APF as an intern when she was a still a teenager attending the United Nations International School in New York. Completing her art history degree at Boston University in three years, and just as she was about to venture off to save sea turtles in Costa Rica, Fremont ran into Remen, who told her that APF needed someone. That was 2005 and she felt a dream was coming true.
Her initial title was production coordinator and one of the first projects was Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa, a permanent public sculpture that simulates a sleek Prada store along a dusty, desolate road in West Texas. Artist Aaron Young’s 2007 installation, Greeting Card, at the Park Avenue Armory was more challenging logistically. Titled after a Jackson Pollock action painting, Young’s dynamic work consisted of 288 plywood panels that made a 128 x 72 foot canvas on the Drill Hall floor. Various layers of paint on the panels were ground out by 12 motorcyclists in a live performance that had viewers covering their ears to silence the roar of the engines and choking on the fumes from the bikes’ exhaust pipes.
“It was so scary,” Fremont remembers. “We did all of the tests that we possibly could, but we couldn’t test it at the full scales because the costs were too high. We met with security during the installation and when they ran through the worse case scenarios, it was frightening. We were all on headsets freaking out as the smoke filled the hall—thinking OMG, we’re going to have to get out of here, but it ended perfectly. When it was over it was so cool.”
APF was back at the Armory the following year when it teamed with the Whitney Museum of American Art to present 37 projects—performances, installations and events—as part of the 2008 biennial. The same year, APF started APF Lab, a series of in-house and guest-curated shows at 15 Wooster Street, opposite Deitch Projects, in a newly designed storefront space. Over the next three years, APF Lab presented nearly 20 exhibitions—ranging from group shows to solo projects by Marco Brambilla and Lena Dunham (another art-world daughter), who presented Downtown Delusional Divas, her Internet series that was precursor to Girls. Outside of New York, and in partnership with The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, APF has supported 15 artists-in-residence. Fab Five Freddy was the first. APF also commissioned outdoor wall works by Shepard Fairey at Cooper Square; provided prop art by contemporary artists for Gossip Girl; and produced a laser-light installation in response to Hurricane Sandy that could be seen all the way from the roof of the Standard to Rockaway Beach.
“While we are doing these kind of projects, there are always a thousand other smaller things that are going on or products that are being developed,” Fremont says. Artists who have lent their images to be reproduced on their popular WOW (Works on Whatever) objects include Julian Schnabel, Kehinde Wiley, Yoko Ono, Ed Ruscha and Marilyn Minter, whose colorful towel of a seductive eye sold out. Fremont adds: “They don’t take a percentage, yet they all have fun doing it. Ed Ruscha loves his towel!”
Along the APF way, she married chef Brandon Crowe. “We dated for eight months and were engaged for a year,” she says. “We got married and had a baby last year. It’s really efficient.” The year-old boy (named Rex) gets featured on Patrick McMullan’s social pages nearly as much as his mother is and his grandparents were.
Maybe he’ll grow up to hate art, too. But only temporarily.
Artwork images courtesy of Art Production Fund.
Mural in main image from After Hours 2: Murals on the Bowery, Mural by Adam Pendleton, 2013.