In founding the ISSUE Project Room in a former East Village garage in 2001, the late Suzanne Fiol aimed to cultivate a “Carnegie Hall for the avant-garde.”
Since its humble beginnings, the experimental performance space has come a long distance. As it gears up for a fourth and perhaps final move to a 5,000-square-foot space on 110 Livingston St. in Downtown Brooklyn, West Coast art workhorse Ed Patuto has been appointed to fill the shoes of Executive Director of ISSUE Project Room.
Since Fiol died of lung cancer at age 49 last October, ISSUE has combed through 200 eligible applicants to find a worthy successor to the cherished "impresario of avant-garde culture in New York." ISSUE curator Lawrence Kumpf says that newcomer Patuto "will work with us to evolve and expand our larger curatorial projects while simultaneously continuing to develop our support of local and emerging artists."
This is what makes ISSUE a necessity for New York City: it’s a nexus for established and emerging artists whose work encompasses several fields. The organization eschews the politics of experimental genres, not afraid to program hyper academic experimentalism, no wave, and the most intuitive outsider folk music all in the same season.
Currently nestled in the depths of the Old American Can Factory in the Carrol Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, audiences have seen the likes of Morton Feldman’s rarely performed six-hour Sting Quartet No. 2, Jandek, Rhys Chatham, Tony Conrad, Omar Souleyman, Swans, Neptune, and Peter Evans -- all highly influential forces in their disparate scenes – because of ISSUE Project Room.
Coinciding with this world/artistic view, Patuto has worked as an artist and arts administrator in the West Coast for over 20 years, overseeing intersections of music and visual arts that span experimental and popular cultures.
At the halfway mark of a $2.5 million capital campaign for the organization’s major move to the downtown Brooklyn location, Patuto steps in on November 1 to help reach ISSUE’s financial goal (to his advantage, the organization has acquired a 20-year rent-free lease). Patuto’s arts funding ventures and past development posts at West Coast mainstays like MOCA and the Montalvo Arts Center should help deliver a promising future for the organization.
As ISSUE Project Room expands from an intimate performance space with serious underground art-world cred, to a major arts presenting organization, Fiol’s dream of a “Carnegie Hall for the avant-garde” is nearing reality.