Interview conducted in New York City on July 23, 2005 for the 2008 documentary film Beautiful Losers.
Aaron Rose is an artist, film director, curator and writer. For ten years (1992-2002) he was owner and director of the Alleged Gallery in New York. His painted works often reference circus signage, abstract poetry and underground spirituality claiming his signature style came to him while experiencing an LSD trip in his apartment on 14th Street. Rose was also curator of the museum exhibition Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art & Street Culture which toured the world through 2009 and the accompanying hardcover art book. In 2011, he co-curated (with Jeffrey Deitch) Art In The Streets, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles. Rose has also directed numerous films including the award-winning feature documentary film, Beautiful Losers as well as Become A Microscope, a film based on the life and art of 1960’s artist/activist nun Sister Corita.
Tell us about your upbringing.
How long did that feeling of being an outsider last for you?
Was the punk scene the first subculture you identified with?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What were your thoughts and reactions to American culture and politics when you were growing up?
Did that alternative education give you a sense of mistrust toward the American government?
Tell us about your history as an artist.
What was it about art education that bothered you?
What as your first impression of New York city?
What was happening in the art world during the time you moved to New York?
When and why did you decide to open a gallery?
So when did you realize this was something you really cared about?
Without any formal training in art, and with no experience running a gallery, what made you think this could work?
When the space started attracting attention, did you begin researching other galleries in town?
How did you come up with the name ‘alleged’?
Were there any selfish motivations for opening the gallery?
At what point did running the gallery become a viable career option?
Did you have any hesitations or fears about investing in the gallery?
What was it that attracted you to working with cultures from the street?
What did it feel like for you and your peers to gain notoriety for alleged outside of your immediate community?
Tell us about why the space closed, and how you transitioned from that moment onward.
What are some of the pros and cons of running an independent gallery?
What are some of your regrets and how would you run things differently?
What do you think it is about yourself that has inspired such a strong sense of loyalty within the group of artists you’ve worked with?
What positive impact do you think an independent gallery like alleged can have on the art world?