Public eye: Lola Alexandra Siena, 26
New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.
Fri Jul 19 2013
Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
49th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves
Where are you headed? To Christie’s. I’m meeting a client to see some art before an auction—I’m an independent art dealer.
Diamond-encrusted skulls and the like? No, I’m involved in Native American art, actually.
So more peyote-style than cocaine-style? [Laughs] Well, I work with art from the Northwest coast and Alaska, from a few centuries ago, and they didn’t have peyote then. They did inhale fumes to perform the shamanic acts—and smoke hallucinogenic herbs.
In other words, not too much has changed in the art world since pre-Columbian times? Oh, this art is much more interesting than current art. [Laughs] But there are connections with contemporary art: Picasso, Ernst, Braque, Basquiat—they were all very much influenced by tribal art. For some artists today it’s all about the money and the market, though, and that connection gets lost.
You must have a window into the lives of a lot of privileged New Yorkers? I’ve seen beautiful art and all sorts of unexpected collections. Like, I have a friend who has a collection of old sexual objects from the ’20s—including the first condom machines, which are so strange. I don’t know where the obsession comes from, but it’s so interesting to see all this sex stuff from different times together. It’s not even badly sexual—it’s kind of pure.
You’re very buttoned-up. Do you ever have a sweatpants day? [Laughs] No, that’s not my style. Though I spend my summers in summer places, and there I don’t need more than a bathing suit.
What summer place are you going to this year? Patmos, a Greek island. I advise people in Europe. My life is very much about art and traveling.
I feel terrible for you. I work for it. I combine work with pleasure always. I chose that path.
Didn’t you graduate from college, like, two seconds ago? Yes, I am very young, and especially among Native American art people—everybody is old. In Europe they discriminate more on age and gender. In New York it’s how much you want something and how much you work for it. So there’s no barrier for me here.
More from Lola
“I grew up in Athens, Greece.”