Curator Interview: Michael Cuffe

We had the chance to sit down and talk with Michael Cuffe, founder of the docu-magazine Warholian and curator of the upcoming show, Universe: The Art of Existence at Modern Eden. This will be the second exhibition at Modern Eden curated by Cuffe, following last year's Tarot: Art of Fortune.

ME: What was your inspiration for this show and how did you come about the theme UNIVERSE: The Art of Existence?

MC: I personally really love looking up at the sky at night. The Universe that surrounds us is simply amazing. For years, my partner Lyrica Glory and I have thrown around the concept of a space based show. We both have been personally interested in the cosmos over the past few years, and one day Lyrica brought it up during a brainstorming session. The timing just felt right, and it was the most exciting concept for me personally to bring artists together under.


Left to Right: Chris Blackstock, Mab Graves, John Wentz, Xiau-Fong Wee

ME: How did you select the participating artists for this show?

MC: I know hundreds of artists through my arts site Warholian, which covers the world of contemporary art. Once I think of the concept, I then decide the type of artists I’d like to present. For this show I really wanted there to be a lot of painters, which tend to always balance a handful of mixed media artists within any exhibition.

To pick an artist, I often imagine their art in the overall aesthetic of the show itself. I also look for diversity in a range of styles. I then bring them in under one centralized concept, and ask them to create entirely new work based on a specific size. Keeping a show size specific focuses the viewer in on the art, and not the actual scale of the work. In this way, the art is allowed to speak for itself. Artists can communicate through their various mediums, and be heard more clearly as well. Size specifics also can be practical when trying to determine how many works I can fit into a space without making the show feel cramped.

In this show the artists have had a little more than a month and a half to create a work for this exhibition. After years of visiting artists in the studio, I began to notice that some of their best art was created under a deadline. In UNIVERSE I am highlighting that fact that artists can - and do - create amazing art often with little time. They are all master creators, and watching professional creatives at work is always inspiring.


Photo by Michael Cuffe

ME: Do you have any other-worldly stories?

MC: I've seen UFOs three times in my life, and I’d say that’s always stuck with me. The experiences have been strange, and most definitely otherworldly. From what I've seen with my own eyes, they sure don't look like they're from around here. :)


Photo by Michael Cuffe

ME: In general, what is your goal in curating art exhibitions?

MC: I want every show to be a fun experience for both the artists involved, and visitors to the gallery as well. With some structure, artists can really achieve amazing feats when they work towards a common goal. I’m just the facilitator. I see a group exhibition as one overall art piece, and there has to be structure when dealing with a large talent pool of creatives. Overall though, it’s always a fun process… and that is the goal. It’s all about the joy of the journey.


ME: You are the founder and editor of Warholian as well as an accomplished photographer and artist. How did you initially get started in your art career?

MC: I grew up in Minnesota and was always an active participant in creating art. I used to draw quite a bit, and participated in a number of after school art programs. We had family friends who were artists (The Heyn Family) and they were deeply inspiring to be around. I loved creating art. 

In college I took up formal studies in the world of Fine Art. I spent over 3 years in figure drawing classes, pottery classes, jewelry making and casting classes… I used every elective I had to delve into art. But my true focus was feature film production, and attended Loyola Marymount University where I earned a degree in the field. Shortly thereafter I had a position at Paramount Studios in Creative Development. Hollywood showed me how to take creative projects to a large worldwide scale. After Hollywood, everything felt possible. 

In 2008 I became involved with Shepard Fairey’s Manifest Hope art movement, and my fine art work was exposed to the world. I found a renewed interest in the art community, and decided to professionally participate.

In 2010 I launched the contemporary arts site Warholian, in which we documented artists at work in the studio, gallery, and the streets. The site has continued to grow and has reached a worldwide audience with readers in most every country worldwide. 

Photo by Michael Cuffe
Throughout all of this life experience, I've had a camera in my hand - and I’m most known these days for my photography. I've come to realize that it’s always the things that come most naturally, that we tend to get known for. I have a die hard love for photography. It’s just so enjoyable for me. I continue to take pictures, for both personal and professional projects daily.
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942

ME: What historical artists most inspire you?

MC: Edward Hopper, Alphonse Mucha, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Rene Magritte, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Chuck Close.

I grew up loving the work of contemporary comic book based illustrators and painters such as the Hildebrandt Brothers, Todd Mcfarlane, and Alex Ross. I’m very excited to  have Rick Berry in our show, as he’s well known for his work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. 

To conclude, all artists inspire me. They inspire others to create. Creative endeavors drive personal fulfillment. And being fulfilled is truly being happy. :)




UNIVERSE: The Art of Existence opens April 12th at Modern Eden Gallery. More info about the exhibition can be found HERE.

Kim Larson
Kim Larson


Kim Larson is the Gallery Director and Co-Owner at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco's historic North Beach neighborhood. Opened in June 2010, the gallery features monthly exhibitions of established and emerging artists. The gallery's contemporary aesthetic ranges from realism to surrealism with a strong focus on illustrative painting and representational sculpture. She is a pround member of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association and the current Director of North Beach First Fridays. Her passion for art started at a young age and continues today with her private art collection.