Closin' Main Interview

Posted February 25 2016

We served Glühwein our final Arts Night Out liquor license December 11, 2015. My wiser, funnier, cooler partner in crime KARW was at my side. She asked me some questions about the Q&A.

KARW: From the Q&A and our conversations, it seems there is some confusion about why you are closing your Main Street location. Please explain, for the record.

Nicole: Yeah, true. It’s not about the rent; we thought it was totally reasonable for that beautiful space. We were open downtown for five years. That gave us a lot of time to try different things and reflect on what was working, what wasn’t, what was important to us and what we would like to change. We like change and we always want to try to do better. We think a different structure will provide us more flexibility and allow us to focus our energy on the things we love, and also try some new things.

KARW: Can you tell us something about this new structure and your plans?

Nicole: Well, we definitely want to take some time with this. There’s no reason to rush. So we’re still in the researching and discussing phase on lots of it, and we like to allow for chance. If we didn’t get that space on Main Street (and there was competition) we probably would have moved somewhere else or closed in 2012. We’re excited to think about what we’ll do next with FOE. Some of the things we’re working on right now are a second colorway of Cat with Dagger and a pop-up aesthetic event. We’re also looking at different cons, fests and places we’d like to visit. And plenty a good ol’ drivin’ around, lookin’ and talkin’. It’s fun! We do want to have a space again, but it’s nice to take this time to plan for it.

KARW: Ok. So what was your favorite question at the Q&A?

Nicole: Ha! That was my favorite question! Some anonymous smartie put that question in the skull. Was it you? It came up early, so it was kind of funny, but it did prompt me to look at the questions again later. The two I pondered and discussed most were: Is there a scene in Northampton? Who are your idols and why?

KARW: Yes. Your friend from Smith College said “That’s a great question” in reference to a scene. You said there are probably lots of smaller scenes these days. Now that you’ve had a chance to think about it and discuss it, would you care to elaborate?

Nicole: Yes, definitely. First I wanted to make a big joke of it, “ain’t nobody should be asking middle-aged ladies ‘bout no scenes” but Steve’s comment made me want to take it seriously. I said something about scenes being smaller or more esoteric. I didn’t mention virtual scenes, but that’s huge too. It combines nicely for us at FOE. We might be aware of someone from the interwebs and then work with them or meet them at the gallery. Or a stranger walks in and we have a great conversation and then we follow that person on some platform. So the good news is there are scenes everywhere. They’re next door and around the planet. You have more access now than you ever had before. As I was simmering on scenes, I had an interesting conversation with a professor from UMass. He told me that when he first came into FOE a few years ago, he found it disruptive. I wanted to hug him! First of all, I think that’s a great compliment to us and the artists we work with. But that word “disruptive” gets to some of my feelings about scenes. The scenes and experiences that were most influential in my life were disruptive. They challenged and excited me. In my opinion, I think disrupting the status quo is pretty essential to a scene. If it’s palatable to everyone and everyone gets it, it is definitely not a scene.

KARW: It was very sweet of you to say that I am one of your idols, but maybe you could name a few more popular favorites?

Nicole: Gurrrl, you da best! Honestly, and sappily, so many of my friends and colleagues are my idols. I have been blessed with some amazing friendships, mentors and coaches! It’s really the people I know and love who inspire me. In the bigger world, it’s always been the artists, visionaries and iconoclasts that I looked to. The people who dared to follow their own path and who created beautiful and provocative work and lives. Those brave people, they are my inspiration and my idols.

KARW: You released your new zine Shot In The Head at the Q&A. I haven’t read it. What’s it about, in a nutshell?

Nicole: Loss of innocence, rites of passage, the horror of being human, death, despair and wonder. Merry Merry.