Don't Interrupt: Kendra Crone
Becky Brinkerhoff is the social media manager for 3% and a copywriter at Arnold Worldwide in Boston. She’s a diversity and inclusivity activist in all things and hasn’t been “chill” a single day in her life.
Sometimes the best roles are the ones we make for ourselves. Or at least, that’s the case for Kendra Krone, the Creative Assistant to Arnold Worldwide’s CCO Icaro Doria. It didn’t take long for Kendra to take her administrative role and shape it into something much larger. With an art history degree in her back pocket, she is the creator, curator, and producer of The Good Gallery at Arnold, an in-office art gallery that features the artistic works of employees and other Boston area artists.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL?
I was, I dunno, very middle of the road. Not super popular, but people didn't dislike me. I wasn't really nerdy, but could hang out with the nerds if I wanted. I also did weird shit like be in a play while also playing varsity volleyball. So I had to sneak into theater rehearsals in between volleyball practices. It was weird.
SO YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIT INTERDISCIPLINARY?
Yeah, I guess so. I'm okay.
WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST JOB YOU’VE EVER HAD?
The weirdest experience in a job I've had was the coffee shop I worked at in college. It was owned by this insane man and he called it IV Drip because the neighborhood is called Isla Vista and “IV”, meaning intravenous for coffee. He would buy Costco muffins and make us rewrap them individually to sell them. Or when making cookies we had to include like three Reese's pieces decoration on each cookie and, if you didn't include three, it was like a really big deal. Like that kind of shit. It was really weird.
HOW DID YOU GET WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
When I decided to major in art history, I thought I was going to be a curator. Post-grad, I started working at The List at MIT, which is their fine arts museum. After that, I worked at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. I was working in the director's office with the board of trustees when I realized I didn't want to be a curator. Partially because of the schooling involved and partially because I decided I didn't have enough patience to be a curator. I was kind of jaded by the whole thing, which is stupid to say at 27. I realized I had to pivot my career and figure out what I wanted to do in the long run.
So I started looking for jobs and found the one at Arnold as a creative assistant. It wasn't explicit in the job description that I would be involved in creative things in my day to day. But it was implied that I’d be participating and contributing to the culture of the office. That was something that interested me. When I got here, it became clear there was a lot of desire for more cultural things. I've found a space for myself where I can do more creative things in my position. Whereas someone else doing the same thing as me wouldn't have necessarily seen those opportunities.
YOU RUN AN IN-OFFICE ART GALLERY. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
My first week here, ECD Wade Devers was like, "So you were in a museum, right? You did a museum thing? Now that you're here, we have a big blank wall in our lobby and I think that we should make it a gallery wall for employees art work" And I said okay. And he was like, so do you want to just figure out how to do that and make that happen? And I was like, oh, okay. Yeah, I guess I'm like the curator of the wall now.
So that's how The Good Gallery happened.
HOW HAS THE GOOD GALLERY CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED IT?
The initial idea for the gallery was to have people do exhibitions and, at the end of a year, take a piece from each exhibition and auction it to support a Boston arts foundation. But, we realized as we were going that it couldn't necessarily be that. Each exhibition takes longer to get up, so it stays up longer than we thought it would because it is a full time job to be switching around artwork on a wall, no matter how big or small. Finding those people to do it and producing all of that takes a lot of time. So, we haven't been able to get enough people on the wall yet to then auction something off that would actually produce any profit.
Hopefully, we'll eventually do an auction. The most recent good gallery exhibition took up a whole floor and was a really great opportunity to work with artists from outside the office. So I think there's definitely a possibility to have some sort of silent auction because we know we can incorporate a lot of people from outside the office. So I think it will still happen; we just haven't had enough pieces yet.
TALK ABOUT YOUR LAST EXHIBIT, MORE THAN A RIOT.
We wanted to celebrate women's equality day. So, Ashley Herrin and Mel Simonich wanted to create something and thought that doing a group exhibition in honor of that day would be a good way to highlight women in the Boston area, bring the community to an Arnold event, and get us more recognition locally.
I worked with Christina Balch, she's an artist with a studio in Somerville, to find women artists in the Boston area. We had a couple of artists from New York who contributed pieces, too. We looked for artists who would be willing to participate and had a piece that they could contribute that was reflective of their feminist perspective, their perspective as a female artist, or someone who is producing something specifically in relation to the trump era of Feminism.
It went way better than we thought it would to be quite honest. I mean, we got all of that done in two and a half weeks, which was kind of crazy. So that was a lot of coordination. It was hectic because I was blind emailing a lot of those artists and the fact that they were just like, "oh yeah, sure you can have my artwork in your office" was mind boggling to me. Mostly because I was coming at it from a museum background where you have to sign a contract and send the contract back and forth before you even talk about sending the art in the mail and there's so many more steps when you're dealing with a more professional grade situation. I was shocked that so many people were like, yeah, sure.
DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE?
Well, there's one piece by Ariel Freiberg that was basically a straight up vagina. Which was sick because everybody was like oh, that's a vagina. I just thought it was really funny. It’s interesting to bring something so different in this office because, especially when working with clients, you don't always want to bring something as salacious as art, you know? Everything is so stock photo permissible. Also, there was another piece by this woman named Nicole Duennebier called a Still Life with Pink Folds. It had a very phallic rock formation in it and also a vagina looking thing, which I was like, this is freaky and weird. It was very surrealist so no one was like that looks phallic, but it was. So I liked those because they seemed like secretly subversive around all these nice clients.
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE GOOD GALLERY?
Next we're going to have Wes Dorsainvil’s photography, which I'm excited about because he shoots fine art photography, but no one really knows that because he's secretive about it. So I'm really excited about forcing him to do something else. I'm hoping to get a different type of installation next where, in a dream world, I convince Dan Hlivka to let me show some of his animations on a bunch of different ipads on the wall. So we'll see. He was also like, nope, definitely not. And I responded with you're going to do it. It'll be fine. I'm going to force you.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EXPAND BEYOND THEIR ROLE?
In all my jobs, I've ended up having responsibilities beyond my regular role. And it's mostly because I asked for those things. It can be really difficult for a lot of people to speak up and say they want to try something or need to do something else to be satisfied. Something I've learned is to just say, "Hey, I'm willing to help with this" versus being like, "I demand doing this thing." Just say you’re willing to help or are interested in talking to people. And if you have a good idea, find the people that will help your ideas do well.
YOU HAVE A DEGREE IN ART HISTORY. AS SOMEONE WHO WORKS IN ADVERTISING, DO YOU SEE ANY CROSSOVER?
There's definitely a lot of secret crossover, even just coloring on one thing is in reference to something else. Our CenturyLink campaign with the couch has patterns and lighting that are very similar to Dutch still life paintings. Rembrandt's style coloring, all really dark and rich and shadowy. But even the VW campaign with the white background and the new bug in the front is a reference to fashion photographers from the sixties, like Richard Avedon and other people that worked for Vanity Fair on retainer. There's a lot of work with a slight touch on something else from art that advertising has incorporated and is now part of that Canon.
Humans are really visual. There's a lot of subtle references to art that people don't even recognize. It's like those memes you see on the Internet that say "this looks like a renaissance painting" when it's like a photo of people dodging a baseball bat.
Like that is a straight up renaissance painting. The fibonacci sequence is a math principle that’s applied to nature and is a pattern in art known as the golden ratio or spiral that’s mimicked in that baseball bat photo. That’s why people are like this is a renaissance painting. It's because the motion moves through the image in a way that matches the pattern of renaissance painters when they tried to make a dynamic scene of like hell or whatever. Which, by the way, they sure painted hell a lot for not wanting to be there.
IN TERMS OF CAREER, WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?
I'm trying to switch over to production full-time. I'm doing so much internal production for random Arnold events. It's basically an amalgamation of all of the skills I've gained from my various jobs and understanding how to make some things--some events, some meetings, some commercial--happen. And hopefully, I'll move into that full-time so I can keep making shit happen and getting stuff done.
YOU HAVE TWO MINUTES TO SPEAK UNINTERRUPTED.
Art history is totally relevant to advertising and I wish more people recognized that because visually, the repetition in art every single day is crazy, but not many see it because they don't necessarily have that background. People will be like, oh, that's like this other ad. And I'm like, yeah, but it's actually like this other painting from like 40 years ago.
The weirdest thing about switching from art to advertising is, while there's a connection between the art world and the advertising world in how they influence each other and are intertwined, art is so slow in comparison. Once something is created in advertising, it's onto the next thing. That is done. It might be on tv now, I don't even care. It was like five months ago, I don't need to see it anymore. And then in art, it's like it takes four years to get something into a museum and then it starts influencing the culture as a whole. I think that's why I find advertising so interesting: you're creating pop culture while art is more reacting or reframing something that's already happened.
*Note: Interviewer (Becky Brinkerhoff, 3% Social Media Manager) also works at Arnold.
A recent convert to the east coast, and also advertising. Kendra Crone is originally from California, which she has never called the best coast, and has a background in art history. With a passion for museums and straight talk, on the weekends, you can find her cavorting with friends or yelling about celebrity red-carpet appearances (she also does this on twitter). Her go-to karaoke song is Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and she’s not not a witch.
Don't Interrupt is an interview series from The 3% Movement that showcases inspirational industry women.
Cover Illustration by Raphaela Putz.