Arisohn and Murphy: Placing Art in Public Spaces

Arisohn and Murphy is a project management and consulting firm for the arts. Established by Jessica Arisohn and Rysia Murphy, the company works with artists and galleries to place art in public spaces such as building lobbies. Their clients include Alchemy-ABR Lobby, the Galerie condo development in Long Island City, and a rotating lobby exhibition for a building near Bryant Park. Working directly with local artists to curate installations (and pay them a loan fee to have the works on view) is standard practice for Arisohn and Murphy which truly values supporting the arts and artists. Other types of short-term curating for clients in real estate including model apartments and showrooms. The company has also helped establish permanent curations for clients including Memorial Sloan Kettering and hosted independent pop-up exhibitions. Their Instagram page carefully details these processes.

Arisohn and Murphy takes a unique approach to working with clients to integrate art into their physical space. Community support efforts, marketing, and social media goals are also important to the organization.

Rysia Murphy recently discussed the organization and its goals via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in real estate and how did you break into the business?

Rysia Murphy (RM): One of our goals when starting A+M was to bring art into unexpected locations and real estate was a natural fit to expand where we could feature artists. Our first project was through a personal connection and that experience allowed us to market our services to other real estate clients.

MM: Has art always been a big part of your life?

RM: Yes! We both majored in art history in college and Jessy even minored in painting as well. Our entire professional careers have been in the art world and you can often find us on the weekends visiting museums and open studios.

MM: How did art become such an essential part of Arisohn and Murphy?

RM: We started Arisohn + Murphy after working at Gagosian Gallery together for close to 10 years. Our careers are built around art and we started our company to provide a variety of services for clients looking to do art focused projects.

MM: What are the challenges of curating art for buildings?

RM: Curating art for multi-use spaces can be challenging because you have to take into account all of the different uses of a space and the different people who interact with the space. Our goal is to curate art that compliments the uses of the space without compromising an authentic art experience.

MM: Some of your clients enjoy having rotating art exhibitions in their spaces, is that becoming more commonplace?

RM: It is! Clients are seeing the value in providing rotating art as an amenity for the building’s community and also as an opportunity to create content for their digital media channels.

MM: What is it like to curate artwork for hospitals? How different — if at all — is that from curating for building lobbies?

RM: Recent studies have shown that art can have tangible benefits for people in hospital settings. We look for artwork that can be ambient and soothing but with interesting elements that will spark contemplation for people looking to engage with the art in a more sustained way.

MM: How do you find artists to work with and what sort of art do you seek?

RM: We have a huge network of artists from our years in the art world but we are always looking to connect with new artists. Open studio events are a great way for us to see and meet a lot of new local artists at one time. We also find a lot of artists on Instagram and from recommendations by other artists in our network.

MM: What do you seek in the clients and spaces that you work with?

RM: Clients that see the value in elevating their spaces with art and authentically supporting artists. We like to say that we can find art for any space! But freshly painted white walls and good lighting always helps.

MM: What are you pop-up shows like? For instance, how long do they last and are they based on any particular themes?

RM: One of our favorite things about pop-ups is they can last for a day or for months! They provide flexibility and a lot of room to be creative. As an example, in 2019 we had a two-month pop-up exhibition to support the ACLU and Yellowhammer Funds featuring a number of female artists working in various mediums.

MM: Due to Covid, is it possible that many companies will not reopen. What do you think the real estate industry will do with empty storefronts? Could there be an opportunity for the arts amid this situation?

RM: In the Hamptons, there has been a recent requirement mandated by the town for landlords to put art in empty storefronts and we’d love to see initiatives like this expand. Ideally, landlords would grow their collaborations with local artists and the arts community by providing free or low rent spaces for pop-up exhibitions, artist studios, and other arts programming. The arts are an essential element of a vibrant neighborhood and a resource that landlords should look to foster. A space filled with art is much more compelling and attractive than an empty one.

MM: What are some of the most memorable artworks that you have curated/seen?

RM: We both saw Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors in different exhibitions and were blown away by it. His work exists at the nexus of performance art, theater, and music and is deeply moving. We’ve also been following Adrienne Elise Traver’s work for a few years and love to see the new directions she continues to take her work. She’s launching a print set with Davis Editions and recently had a spectacular exhibition with Victori + Mo.

MM: What has been the most memorable feedback anyone has given you about the art that you have curated?

RM: Artnet News Editors Selected our 2019 pop-up exhibition as something not to miss in New York’s Art World while it was on view. Having the mark of approval from one of the most prestigious art publications was hugely gratifying for us.

MM: Are you currently working on any new exhibitions?

RM: We’ve created an Instagram feature #inthestudio to showcase the works of artists we love as a way for people to engage safely during the Pandemic. But, post-Covid, we’re hoping to turn this into a pop-up exhibition.

MM: How do you anticipate Arisohn and Murphy’s contributions to the arts evolving and expanding over the next five years?

RM: We’re excited to tackle more public art projects and to expand further into artworks and exhibitions that feature interactive elements and technology components.

MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

RM: We hope to continue and to grow our business while supporting artists and creating unique moments of art engagements for diverse audiences.

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To learn more, visit Arisohn and Murphy’s website and Instagram.

Meagan J. Meehan is a published author of novels, short stories, and poems. She is also a produced playwright and an award-winning modern artist.

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