Leo Fitzpatrick | In episode 94 of Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits talks with Leo Fitzpatrick an actor, skateboarder, and curator who starred in the generation-defining movie 'Kids' at age 16
From his unlikely casting in Larry Clark’s movie “Kids” at 16 to his cult status as actor and consummate art world outsider, Leo Fitzpatrick’s don’t-give-a-shit ethos has worked, landing him a role in the Wire and a co-director gig at the blue chip Marlborough Gallery. Though he recently shut his St. Mark’s Pl. gallery, his commitment to youth-driven culture continues unabated. We talk about New York’s mean streets and the tragic loss of his friend, artist Dash Snow, his reverence for Larry Clark, the “Beautiful Losers” generation and being the father of a five year old boy.
Photo credit: Jenkem MagRead Transcript
David Hershkovits (00:01):
Leo Fitzpatrick is an odd fit for the art world, though he’s made it his home for the last decade or so. First of all, he’s a working actor who was discovered at 14 skating in Washington Square Park by Larry Clark and cast in the seminal ’90s flick Kids. And he continues to act in shows like The Wire and whatever else meets his peculiar criteria. He doesn’t really like the art world, but until recently, he was co-director of the prestigious Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea.
David Hershkovits (00:34):
He’s an artist himself, but he’s reluctant to show his own work. He opened a new space Public Access Gallery, on of all places, St. Mark’s Place to exhibit only artists who have never had a one person show before. He once owned a gallery with artists, Nate Lowman, and Hannah Linden. So, if I say he does things his way, you won’t think I’m feeding you a cliche. The former skate punk from New Jersey who quit high school to hang out and became famous along the way is my guest today. Welcome, Leo Fitzpatrick.
Leo Fitzpatrick (01:12):
Thank you for having me.
David Hershkovits (01:14):
Yeah, my pleasure. You have had your fingers in a lot of creative pies; acting, music, art, art dealer, zine, publisher. Is this something that could only happen in New York, do you think?
Leo Fitzpatrick (01:28):
Well, yeah. I mean, for me, it’s pretty much the reason I moved to New York. You know, when I started coming to New York when I was 12, it just opened my eyes to so much and, there was no turning back after that first trip into the city by myself when I was 12 years old, and going to the Brooklyn Banks, and it was just so eye-opening, I couldn’t believe that other kids in New Jersey weren’t doing the same thing. And also, this idea of New York, you can kind of reinvent yourself over and over and be whatever you want to be at any given time.
Leo Fitzpatrick (02:13):
That’s at least the New York that I wanted to experience. Basically, the only job I ever had was avoiding getting a day job. You know, it was like always trying to figure out a new thing and, and evolving. You could be an actor, and a DJ, and do stuff in the art world. I really look up to people like John Lurie, who do lots of different things. Jim Jarmusch, like those were the people who inspired me to move here.
David Hershkovits (02:46):
Yeah, those are two great examples, John, also being a master of many different artistic activities, he’s a musician, he’s an artist, he’s an actor. When did you first even know about John Lurie? Was that something you picked up after you came to New York?
Leo Fitzpatrick (03:08):
Yeah, for sure. My parents are both from Ireland, and they’re very working class. So, there wasn’t much time in my household for cultural stuff, like music, or film, or anything like that. It was basically, go to school that was about it. Um, but that gave me, it-
David Hershkovits (03:33):
Which you didn’t even do that, (laughs). I mean-
Leo Fitzpatrick (03:35):
David Hershkovits (03:35):
… the minimum-
Leo Fitzpatrick (03:35):
David Hershkovits (03:36):
… you didn’t even do the minimum.
Leo Fitzpatrick (03:37):
… (laughs). Yeah, once skateboarding entered the picture-
David Hershkovits (03:41):
Leo Fitzpatrick (03:41):
… that all changed, but it was great, because I was able to discover everything on my own, and everything was exciting. Skateboarding was a great introduction to a lot of things. I started reading on my own fairly young, probably around 13 or 14.
Leo Fitzpatrick (04:03):
And it wasn’t that I didn’t like school, I just didn’t like the things I was being taught. I was very interested in being educated about certain things, but it wasn’t the things that the school system was necessarily teaching me. Like every kid I started out reading Basketball Diaries and, and things like that.
David Hershkovits (04:29):
Which is, a Jim Carroll novel, right? Uh, uh-
Leo Fitzpatrick (04:33):
… yeah, yes.
David Hershkovits (04:33):
… um, which is almost like a memoir, half real, half not real? But kind of depressing for a young person to read about someone who gets heavily addicted to drugs.
Leo Fitzpatrick (04:46):
Yeah, but he made it sound also romantic.
David Hershkovits (04:48):
Leo Fitzpatrick (04:49):
(laughs), you know. That was the excitement about coming to New York and being a part of it and, and, you know, I think for me and my friends, it was always about contributing. You didn’t want to seem like you were leeching off the scene, you want to be a part of the scene, and you wanted to contribute to the scene.
Leo Fitzpatrick (05:07):
And it’s interesting, I still think about some of the bars and stuff we used to hang out at, like Max Fish and The Hole, and these sorts of places. It’s interesting to think about how many people came through those places that aren’t still around. And you think, “Where did those people go?” For five years, they were like, you know, in the scene, and then they just kind of disappear one day. And, uh, that’s interesting to me.
David Hershkovits (05:33):
Yeah, what happens? I mean, some of them have passed away from one reason or another, and something that you have addressed in a work that, I’ve seen and heard about you call it The Refrigerator Piece where you’ve tried to-
Leo Fitzpatrick (05:49):
David Hershkovits (05:50):
address some of your friends who have fallen over the years?
Leo Fitzpatrick (05:54):
Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. For me, it’s fairly normal, which is very strange thing to say. But for someone like my mother, who, you know, didn’t really have many friends pass away until she was much older. She thinks my life is crazy, because I’m constantly telling her about people that are passing, (laughs), away. And she’d think, “Oh, my God, what are you boys into?” You know, it’s strange to where that’s something you just grow to accept. My last friend who passed away because of drugs, he had a very long addiction. And, uh, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a glamorous death by any means.
Leo Fitzpatrick (06:49):
And you think, “Well, like, you know, that’s over with. Now, can we just start dying of natural causes?” You know, the drug thing is really tricky. Because if somebody fucks up and overdoses, and dies, it’s almost better than dealing with a 20 year addiction, and you’re slowly withering away. You know, it’s tricky. And I’m just glad to have survived my-
David Hershkovits (07:17):
Leo Fitzpatrick (07:17):
… 20s, and with the friends that I did, you know, I think everybody goes through a rough patch.
David Hershkovits (07:24):
Yeah, I don’t know if you’re referring to Dash Snow, in particular, in that instance. But yes, he was a friend of yours, and one of the big stars of that era of, uh, ’90s and 2000s, New York. Who had a huge influence on a wide range of other artists, and continues to do that. And I know, there’s a documentary coming out that Cheryl Dunn did on his life that shows that.
David Hershkovits (07:52):
Was that a tough thing? It’s always difficult because I know, in the past, when something happens the friends are always, second guessing themselves, “Maybe I should have done something, I could have said something, I could have helped him.” But usually, it’s not really, (laughs), the, the case. But people do tend to feel that way.
Leo Fitzpatrick (08:17):
The only thing I took away from Dash passing away was, obviously it was terrible. But, it’s one of those things where you get frustrated because people will know the myth and not the actual person. You know, people will hear the legend of Dash Snow. When I think of Dash, I think of like, a very sweet young kid.
Leo Fitzpatrick (08:50):
I don’t think of crazy Dash, I think of like, he was very sweet, and sincere, and loving, and just really liked to have a good time. He had a dark thing to him as well. But that’s not how I picture him. Even in his like, being kind of crazy, it was all about having fun. It would come across like he was doing crazy things. But it was just to make other people laugh and to make himself laugh. You know, it wasn’t about being the craziest guy in the room,
Leo Fitzpatrick (09:25):
… and, at that time, all my friends were addicts of some kind, you know, like, it wasn’t a big deal. It’s just, some people cross the line, and you get worried about them. And you know, I was with Dash when he was sober, I was with Dash when he was fucked up. It was just something.
Leo Fitzpatrick (09:53):
I think because you downplay things when you’re young, you don’t realize the seriousness of the situation. Um, you know, it’s all about having fun, and oh, Dash fucked up again. But it’s not a big deal, it’s Dash whatever. But I mean, there was definitely dark moments where, you know, you’re watching your friend go through withdrawal and stuff, and, and it’s, um, you know, heroin has played a, a big part in my life without being a participant,
David Hershkovits (10:21):
Just by being other, other people around. The movie actually shows the sweet side of him, I really felt that ’cause I didn’t really know him. But I’ve heard stories, obviously. But, I think-
Leo Fitzpatrick (10:33):
David Hershkovits (10:33):
… the movie did help to humanize him and, didn’t really just go over to that dark side, and 100%. And I know, Cheryl, was really instrumental in making sure that was part of the message. New York itself is hard on people. So, when you say, your mom is surprised that this is happening. But this has been happening for a very long time. It’s not as if it just started with your generation,
Leo Fitzpatrick (11:02):
David Hershkovits (11:03):
… it goes all the way back before that, New York has a way of destroying people, or, in your case, you know, giving them opportunity to try and, and find their way and to success, finding a place in the art world, or just in the creative community. Do you feel that’s still true of New York for the younger generation? ‘Cause I know you’re still very much in touch with them.
Leo Fitzpatrick (11:28):
Yeah, I think strangely, this pandemic has really opened up a lot of doors for young people. Because, everything was so rent-driven. You weren’t able to experiment anymore, whatever you were doing, you had to make a profit to be able to afford to keep doing it. But now the rents have kind of, sort of leveled out or bottomed out or whatever it is, and now people can experiment again, and I think that’s a really good thing.
Leo Fitzpatrick (12:00):
You can play music and talk in the Park. You can sell your clothes on the street. Like, the cops don’t get out of their cars anymore. There’s a great big graffiti boom happening right now, and, people selling stuff on the street, the guy’s selling fake Gucci bags down on Canal Street are back. I love that sort of stuff. I love the grit, in New York City. I think young kids will always figure it out, I really do believe that. sometimes they’re a little more reckless than I care to be anymore, but that’s being young and stuff.
Leo Fitzpatrick (12:42):
The next show that I’m doing at the Gallery, I’m letting a young person curate it, because I know that I’m no longer young, and I don’t necessarily know young artists, but I’m smart enough to know that. And so I ask a young curator to put together a show and to not worry about actually the quality of the art, just put together a good group of people. Because when I was coming up, you had places like Max Fish and stuff where you were allowed to experiment and curate. But the rents got so crazy, and I just wanted to give my space over to a young kid, because I don’t think those opportunities are around very much anymore.
David Hershkovits (13:32):
I was thinking about New York also with regard to something that happened over this recent time, which is the cannabis legalization and what impact that might have on the city. I feel that a lot of these empty retail spaces are gonna be taken over by businesses relating to that in some way. Consumption lounges are part of the program, and people are allowed to smoke outdoors even now, you know, before we’ve gone through all of the final paperwork to make it legitimate. Do you feel that could have an impact in bringing us back to this gritty New York that, you seem to like?
Leo Fitzpatrick (14:18):
I mean, I don’t know. Like, ’cause where my gallery’s on St. Marks, people just smoke weed all day in front of it.
David Hershkovits (14:23):
Leo Fitzpatrick (14:23):
So and me being, 40-some odd years old, all I’m thinking about is, these guys passing blunts or joints, and I’m like, “You know there’s a pandemic, and you guys are sharing weed.”
David Hershkovits (14:35):
(laughs) Oh, they’re still passing? Really?
Leo Fitzpatrick (14:37):
I’m the worry wart. It’s not about the weed, it’s about the getting sick with stuff. For me, I have no problem with weed or people smoking weed. That is the least of my concerns when it comes to walking around New York City. I have a five-year-old, I don’t know what I’ll say to him when he’s 15, but I think weed is pretty harmless even though I haven’t smoked weed since I was 16. It’s just not a drug I like.
Leo Fitzpatrick (15:19):
But yeah. I think weed’s great. Go for it, you know?
David Hershkovits (15:26):
The way you talk about people back on the streets selling stuff, and the way the city has become less strict about a lot of what goes on on the streets, the police don’t come out of their cars, and I see that as a real new space for the city, because we haven’t really experimented with something like this that’s been going on for quite a long time in other states and cities.
Leo Fitzpatrick (15:55):
David Hershkovits (15:56):
We’re behind the ball on that one, but I think it’s gonna make an impact. I just that it has a certain element that brings people together, that’s very communal, that it’s about community and, you know, remains to be seen if I’m just naïve because of-
Leo Fitzpatrick (16:14):
David Hershkovits (16:15):
… the cor- corporate side that’s coming. But that’s kind of I, what I’m hoping for.
Leo Fitzpatrick (16:19):
Yeah. Well it’s interesting, because I went to Denver about a year after it had been legal in Denver, and, nobody had a problem with it. They raised a ton of money through taxation, was giving it back to the city, and it just seemed like a great idea. And, you know, as long as that money is going back into schooling and things like that, like, why not? Right now, the schools are suffering and, and so much, so much stuff is suffering. So if you can raise money on this very simple thing and give it back to the community, why not do it is basically my thought.
David Hershkovits (17:09):
And also, yeah, expunging, um, you know, the, some of the records of people who have been arrested-
Leo Fitzpatrick (17:14):
David Hershkovits (17:14):
… over the years, and, you know, there’s a lot of social justice aspects that are really great. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Beyond the Streets documentary.
Leo Fitzpatrick (17:23):
David Hershkovits (17:24):
You have? So as, as someone, you know, very closely identified with that era, with Chloe Sevigny, Harmony Korine, Harold Hunter, Rosario Dawson, who were just people in your group wound up in this movie. Do you feel that, youth culture today has a, an opportunity to live that kind of style where scenes are, are really important. You mentioned Max Fish, you know?
Leo Fitzpatrick (17:52):
David Hershkovits (17:52):
To me, it’s always been about the scenes more than the art, per se. I was always more attracted to a scene where there were artists and creative people around and doing a variety of things, and I was very anxious to get to know those people and wanting to, hang out with them. And the art was great, also, so that was just like the secondary thing for me, but the scene is always been the primary thing. Is that something that you could relate to?
Leo Fitzpatrick (18:20):
Yeah. I, I 100 percent agree, and that’s why I said, like, “This kid is curating the next show of my space.” I said, “Don’t worry about the quality of the art. As long as they’re good people, put them in the show.” Because yeah, it’s about communities. And my only concern is that young people might be looking for something that’s not available instead of creating something, where I’m like, you know, if there’s not something that you’re looking for, you need to create it. You need to develop your scene and find DIY places to do art shows. Find places to do music shows. You can’t wait around for somebody to offer you something if it doesn’t exist, you know?
Leo Fitzpatrick (19:14):
For me, my first gallery, we were just drinking and talking about art a lot, and then we just kind of said, “Hey, why don’t we just do this, but, like, start a gallery?” Nobody asked us to do it. There was no real need for it. We just did it to have fun and to experiment. I hope that there are some young kids who are hungry enough to do a similar thing. I don’t, I don’t really know what it’s like to be young anymore,
It’s having a passion and being ambitious and just going for it. It’s okay to fail. That’s what I don’t think is explained enough is that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work. You still have to try it. You know, being successful isn’t the best thing in the world, you know, if that’s your only goal is to be successful. Well, you’re gonna get let down a lot. So you might as well experiment, have fun, try things, fail, do it over, do it over, do it over (laughs). It’s okay to be genuine and to admit you don’t know what you’re doing, and to fucking just try it anyway. You know, that’s what I think. there is no right way to do anything.
David Hershkovits (20:44):
New York in the ’90s is, an era that I don’t feel gets enough attention in the media world today. So much is focused on the ’80s.
Leo Fitzpatrick (20:54):
David Hershkovits (20:55):
And, you know, for good reason, but in the ’90s was an equally creative and amazing community in New York. The skate scene particularly around the Alleged Gallery and Max Fish and that whole era. How do you look back at those days? Do you feel that that, like, a golden age?
Leo Fitzpatrick (21:17):
Yeah. I definitely feel like it was a golden age, but, you know, nostalgic is definitely a word, uh, that I would use. I might be seeing it through rose-tinted glasses. Like, maybe it wasn’t that great.
David Hershkovits (21:35):
Leo Fitzpatrick (21:35):
But I think, like, Alleged Gallery, Aaron Rose, I look to Aaron Rose as- not like a role model, but what he did with Alleged is what I want to do with my space. Alleged was the coolest gallery in New York City for a moment. The vibe around it, the community, how accessible it was. I really respect what Aaron did with Alleged. American Fine Arts was another one where it was sort of Colin De Land was comfortable enough to let the people who worked for him curate shows. And, and then there were places like Tonic and stuff where you’d go see music. It was seeing, Elliot Smith hanging out at Max Fish. You know, things like that where you’re like, “Whoa. Like, that was pretty cool.” Taylor Mead,
David Hershkovits (22:33):
He was a regular.
Leo Fitzpatrick (22:34):
Like the idea that Taylor Mead was, like, so accessible, and he’d probably yell at you if you tried to talk to him.
David Hershkovits (22:39):
Leo Fitzpatrick (22:39):
But, like, how great is that, you know, that he’s just at the end of the bar? And, it’s interesting, ’cause for a long time, I said, like “Well, why do I continue to live in New York if the city I moved to, the feeling is no longer there?” Right, because New York I feel like is pretty cashed out pre-pandemic. It was just a rat race, and it was all about just paying rent and making money to survive. I think the pandemic reset things in a really good, interesting way.
Leo Fitzpatrick (23:17):
Me and my family, we don’t have a house upstate. We don’t have a beach house. We had nowhere to go. And a lot of the other families at Tompkins are in similar situation. So our community grew a lot stronger through this whole thing. And it’s another 9/11, Hurricane Sandy type moment. It’s like New York just resetting itself. It’s not only the strong survive, you know,
Leo Fitzpatrick (24:00):
You have to be fucking committed to living in New York. It’s not easy, they don’t make it easy on you. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. But it’s pretty nice to say like, oh, yeah. I’ve been here a long time, you know, um.
David Hershkovits (24:17):
Yeah, like you have really cleared out the tourists (laughs) industry…
Leo Fitzpatrick (24:21):
David Hershkovits (24:21):
… which was a huge impact on, on the city, uh, prior to the COVID. So, that’s definitely one, one thing. Uh, you mentioned Alleged Gallery just for a second, because to me, that was the first place or gallery that took skate culture seriously. It brought, uh, uh, the idea of painting on skateboards, for example…
Leo Fitzpatrick (24:44):
David Hershkovits (24:44):
… which was a California thing, but hadn’t really been shown here. And it just made this whole community possible and to the extent for me ’cause I wasn’t part of the skate scene, to help me to understand what it was and all the creativity because it’s a huge culture, subculture, you know, that has music, art, literature, all these elements to it that weren’t really understood at that time by most people.
Leo Fitzpatrick (25:13):
Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of interesting to think of Alleged Gallery, Supreme, and the movie, Kids, all s-sort of happening around the exact same time, you know. And pushing skateboarding into the forefront of fashion, art and that sort of thing. Because, I’ve been skateboarding since like the late 80s. And before all those things happened, nobody liked skateboarders. Girls didn’t like skateboarders, anybody other than skateboarders didn’t like skateboarders.
Leo Fitzpatrick (25:58):
But now, it’s very cool to dress like a skateboarder or to be a skateboarder. And, and I almost prefer it the old way. I liked it when it wasn’t cool.
David Hershkovits (26:10):
Leo Fitzpatrick (26:10):
And when you are sort of just, you know. I think it was, it was kind of depressing to be a skateboarder back in the day but that’s what I liked about it was that was like a loner thing. You weren’t a part of a team. You weren’t cool. You just went on and did it because you liked to do it,
Leo Fitzpatrick (26:28):
So it’s weird. I always tell my kid like, if you’re at Tompkins Square Park and you’re wearing a Thrasher shirt, you better be fucking skateboarding, you know.
David Hershkovits (26:37):
Leo Fitzpatrick (26:37):
When you used to see somebody wearing a Thrasher shirt or a pair of Vans, you knew they skateboard. Now, everybody wears that kind of stuff and it’s sort of co-opted the culture a little bit. And for the diehard, the purists, it can be a kind of frustrating,
David Hershkovits (27:00):
Yeah, totally. People wear Jordans who never played basketball,
Leo Fitzpatrick (27:04):
David Hershkovits (27:05):
It’s always interesting to look back on how things evolve and become mainstream. That’s something that I’ve always been interested in, of watching. That was part of my interest in the whole skateboard thing. Watching how it comes from the underground into the mainstream and sort of tries to keep one foot in each world and walk the line between the two because there’s a lot of appeal to being recognized and understood and, finding a little niche for yourself.
David Hershkovits (27:40):
But at the same time, yeah, its gets co-opted and you see, people who don’t skate wearing the Thrasher t-shirt. It must be really insulting in some ways. In your role in Kids, you did not play a very, you know, friendly or not friendly, but appealing guy, right?
Leo Fitzpatrick (28:02):
David Hershkovits (28:02):
You were around like, screwing the girls and, and giving them diseases and…
Leo Fitzpatrick (28:07):
David Hershkovits (28:08):
Did that affect you afterwards? ‘Cause the movie is so much like a documentary in some respects. A lot of people took it for real that this is what was really going on?
Leo Fitzpatrick (28:21):
Yeah. Yeah. So basically, you know, you have to remember, I’m 16 when I make this film, right? So like I said, I’m already this awkward kind of loner skateboard kid. And people from New York really like to remind people from New Jersey that they’re from New Jersey, you know.
David Hershkovits (28:44):
(laughs) Yeah, right.
Leo Fitzpatrick (28:45):
So now, I’m playing the main character in this very New York movie. And a lot of the other actors and the other people in the film, were not so happy that a guy from New Jersey is playing the lead in this film. So that’s one thing it’s weird to represent New York when I’m very proudly like, New Jersey raised. And I like being the outsider. I don’t want to pretend I’m from New York. I moved to New York and made a name for myself but I’m, I know definitely, where my roots are.
Leo Fitzpatrick (29:21):
The other thing that happened is when the film came out, Miramax distributed it. They didn’t really tell anyone we were actors. They kind of let the idea of, is this real, is this fake, kind of this gray area. They promoted that. Larry and Harmony were the only people who ever did press for the movie. So a lot of people thought because, you know, Justin is very much like Casper, Harold is Harold. A lot of the characters were written for the people who ended up playing them. The only two people that were really casted were me and Chloe. And Chloe was supposed to play a different part.
Leo Fitzpatrick (30:11):
My casting was interesting because they had three other people, two other people, they wanted to play Telly before me. There was one kid, I don’t remember his name, but he basically hit puberty. And he grew, got too old to play the character. There was another person who was supposed to play Telly, but his mom actually knew who Larry Clark was and said, no way.
David Hershkovits (30:40):
Leo Fitzpatrick (30:41):
You know, there’s no way I’m letting you get involved with that guy. And then (laughing) I came around, Larry liked me. And the film studio said, no way, like, we can’t even understand what he’s saying. He looks crazy.
David Hershkovits (30:54):
Leo Fitzpatrick (30:54):
I know, they brought up the idea of, um, speech therapy.
David Hershkovits (30:57):
Leo Fitzpatrick (30:58):
And, uh, they said he doesn’t, he’s not like a good looking kid. And Larry says, well, yeah, if he was a good looking kid, he wouldn’t have to run around and chase girls, you know. Only like, an ugly awkward kid would have to be (laughing) that aggressive in, in getting these girls.
Leo Fitzpatrick (31:17):
Um, so it was weird. It was definitely a lot to take on as a 17 year old. And then living in New York after the film was pretty uncomfortable. I don’t really remember too much of it but I actually moved to London to get away for a year.
David Hershkovits (31:34):
It’s that bad, really. Wow.
Leo Fitzpatrick (31:36):
Yeah. I mean, people were straight up threatening me and stuff, you know. And be like, I’ll kick your ass and fuck you and blah, blah, blah. And I’m a pretty shy, awkward person. I don’t really handle those types of things well. I’m not gonna explain to these people that I’m just an actor. Um, I’m not gonna fight them. I’d rather just walk away and but uh, but yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s weird and we’re not, when kids still come up to me and they say, you know, the movie, you’re like, the film, Kids, is the reason I moved to New York. And I think fuck, like, it was a cautionary tale, you know. Like, you know. (laughs)
David Hershkovits (32:22):
(laughs) That’s, doesn’t always turn out that way, right?
Leo Fitzpatrick (32:27):
David Hershkovits (32:28):
People, people love that shit.
Leo Fitzpatrick (32:29):
But so yeah, it’s great. I’m still friends with Larry,
David Hershkovits (32:34):
You showed him his, his work in, in one of your spaces, I believe.
Leo Fitzpatrick (32:38):
In my original space, Home Alone, my first gallery with, uh, Nate and Hanna, Larry had this idea where he had all these shoe boxes of four by six Quick Prints because that’s how he would edit these. He would just go to the pharmacy or wherever and get Quick Prints. But he had two decades worth or something, you know, a lot. And he had this idea to sell them for $100 bucks each so that kids could buy them, young people. And his gallery, his main gallery, said, you’re crazy. We can’t do that because your prints are a couple $1000. And if we start selling them for $100, that’s gonna f- ruin your market. He’s like, this isn’t about the market. This is about young collectors and people who want something but can’t afford a lot of money.
Leo Fitzpatrick (33:32):
And it definitely worked. Larry has this amazing ability to continue to connect with young people. And, so many people came to those shows. Like, it was crazy. I mean, he did it in Paris, Tokyo, London, Los Angeles. And every day of those shows, there was a line of people down the block. And I don’t think his gallery understood that, but Larry understood what was gonna happen. He’s, he’s been around a long time and he’s confident in his ideas, you know. And you just have to follow his lead.
Leo Fitzpatrick (34:18):
Um, but the one thing I, I do know about, or the one thing I think about Larry is, um, you know, he’s quite old now. He’s getting older. And I think about this idea of being so obsessed with youth and the idea of getting older and getting further and further away from it, you know. I think a lot of what he does, I think he, he’ll never be satisfied that he captured the perfect portrait of youth, you know, and that’s what drives him. Um, that’s my personal opinion. So to get older, and to get further away from that, I can imagine it would be really difficult.
David Hershkovits (35:00):
Did you think you would pursue an acting career? I don’t know if you call it a career at this point.
Leo Fitzpatrick (35:06):
Yeah, I mean…
David Hershkovits (35:06):
I know, you’ve been in many dozens of, TV shows and films and things. The Wire being, you know, the cult hit that it was.
Leo Fitzpatrick (35:17):
I mean, I think it’s funny that you say I’m successful. Because I, I always say, the reason I do all these other things, is because I’m like a failed actor. And, uh…
David Hershkovits (35:30):
Oh, really? (laughs)
Leo Fitzpatrick (35:32):
Yeah, it is, it’s weird. I begrudgingly still act. I feel like I’ve gotten way worse at it. My craft has really gone downhill. I’ve been very fortunate to do a small amount of projects. But the thing is,
Leo Fitzpatrick (36:00):
With acting, I don’t control anything. I’m basically someone somebody else hires, right. With the art world, even if I get fired from Marlborough, I’ll just open my own gallery. I don’t need a partner, I don’t need a collaborator. I’ve more control over the art world stuff. Acting, you need to get a lot of approval before you get the job. And I always felt like an outsider in it, because I never really studied acting, I didn’t really think about it, it just sort of happened, and I was very fortunate and lucky that it did. But it was never a driving passion of mine, and I kinda felt guilty for taking jobs away from people who really did have a passion for it. Whereas I would just kinda like treat it as going to work.
David Hershkovits (36:50):
But you, you describe yourself as an outsider in that world but I feel like maybe that would be a fitting description for you in the art world as well, right?
Leo Fitzpatrick (37:01):
David Hershkovits (37:01):
I mean you, you’ve opened a gallery on the most unlikely block of St Marks Place where even though the gallery world is kind of moving down the canal-
Leo Fitzpatrick (37:11):
David Hershkovits (37:11):
And here and there, I mean all over the place basically. But even so, that’s not a place that anybody else would, uh, imagine having it. So, you know, and you’ve, I think you’ve said that you feel uncomfortable in the art world and obviously a lot of your values and things that you’ve represented over the years don’t match up with the big-
Leo Fitzpatrick (37:31):
David Hershkovits (37:32):
Art world of money and, uh, you know, primarily the driving force behind that. So, but you’re still there, so I, I think that’s what matters, right? That you’re in there.
Leo Fitzpatrick (37:42):
Yeah. I mean the reason I feel like I am still in the art world is to provide kids a service for something like what Aaron Rose provided me with an Alleged Gallery. I don’t really have any ego or any real, um, need to compete or compare myself to the art world because that’s not what I’m doing. What I’m doing, it’s like for the kids, that’s whose opinion matters to me. It’s not the art world’s opinion. I don’t give a fuck what the art world thinks about my gallery. It’s the kids who hang out at Tompkins, you know, if in 20 years some kid talks about me the way I talk about Aaron Rose then I’ve done my job. You know.
David Hershkovits (38:37):
Or Larry Clark. It seems like that’s also somebody who would figure in your pantheon.
Leo Fitzpatrick (38:43):
Yeah, I mean growing up, Larry’s basically like a substitute father for me. And to be introduced to the art world via Larry Clark is pretty special. It’s not glitzy, it’s not glamorous. Larry’s a real person, you know, and his friends are very real and, when you hear about Larry, some of his antics, and you are like, oh okay, I want to be on the side of the artist. I don’t want to be on the side of the dealers. If I go to a bar and there’s a table of artists and there’s a table of dealers, I want to sit with the artists, and I’m lucky enough that the artists respect me, to welcome me into their lives. Whereas, I know some artists who can’t stand gallerists and things like that but I am welcome because I’m just normal and I don’t pretend to know shit, you know. I don’t know. It’s interesting to come from the side of the artist and open a gallery.
David Hershkovits (39:52):
Yeah, it is. It’s great, it used to be more common.
Leo Fitzpatrick (39:56):
David Hershkovits (39:57):
In the history of artists in Soho and the East Village.
Leo Fitzpatrick (40:02):
When I started my gallery, I thought to myself, this is honest, I thought, how much can I afford to lose. For a year.
David Hershkovits (40:11):
That’s like going to Vegas right?
Leo Fitzpatrick (40:13):
Yeah. So I kind of gave myself a number that I would, I could afford to lose and I said, okay, let’s go for it. And like, let’s go for it. I’m just having this inner dialogue. There is no partner. I’m pretty bad at business. I’m like really bad at business. So, it was never a money making thing and, but we’ve been lucky to break even. Um.
David Hershkovits (40:37):
Leo Fitzpatrick (40:38):
But, you know, the interesting thing about the gallery is as much as I say it’s for young people, it’s really helped me through this whole time period. To be busy, to have a project, to have somewhere to go, something to do, it’s sort of like paying for therapy, you know.
David Hershkovits (41:08):
Leo Fitzpatrick (41:08):
The past year I opened a gallery, you know.
David Hershkovits (41:12):
Fantastic. You, you talk about the kids, being like your primary audience and, and you have a child of your own now, you grew up a certain way, like finding, learning things on your own and having, you know, this gut reaction to things that you liked or didn’t like, not heavily educated in the academic world. So now, you have a child, how is your experience transferring to, to, is it a boy or a girl?
Leo Fitzpatrick (41:40):
Yeah, he’s, he’s a little five year old boy.
David Hershkovits (41:43):
A boy. So to your son especially cause there’s going to be a lot of things going forwards and I assume you’re educating him and surrounding him with culture very different from how you grew up.
Leo Fitzpatrick (41:56):
I don’t care how old your kid is, it’s tricky to be a parent right now for sure. I just try to let him, it’s weird cause I collect records and I have a lot of records. And basically we break it down into slow or fast music. Like slow would be reggae, heavy metal would be fast. And I say, oh what do you want to listen to today, slow music or fast music?
Leo Fitzpatrick (42:24):
Somebody was talking to me about him the other day and said, oh does he ever break anything? Like art or anything? And I said, he probably does but at the end of the day it’s just stuff, you know? I want him to know… The only way he’s going to know how to use a record player is if I show him, you know. It’s not, these records aren’t, they’re just material things and even though it might be worth a lot of money to some person, I don’t want him to grow up like, I don’t know, like don’t touch daddy’s art work or things like that, like, I don’t know, it’s, it’s so hard to describe raising a child, but you would know. It’s like…
David Hershkovits (43:07):
Leo Fitzpatrick (43:08):
you just want them to be comfortable and confident in their own skin. And a lot of the problems that kids have these days, like internet bullying and stuff like that, that didn’t exist when I was growing up. And so, uh, so yeah, I, I take it one day at a time, for sure. I just try to make sure he is as happy as he can be on any given day and that’s my job, you know. Um. That’s about it.
David Hershkovits (43:43):
Sounds good to me. Thanks so much Leo for being on, uh, my show.
Leo Fitzpatrick (43:48):
Yeah, thank you for having me. I, I know I, I talk in circles and I don’t always make sense but uh, I hope…
David Hershkovits (43:54):
No. You do fine man. I, I totally get it. Yeah (laughing), no problem. Thank you, take care.
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