Meet Eric Shiner, President of Powerhouse Arts

On May 18, the 2023 Open City Benefit will bring together hundreds of New Yorkers for a festive evening at Powerhouse Arts—a 117-year-old power plant that has been transformed into a contemporary art center and fabrication space on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. At the event, we will confer the Open City Award to the design and development team behind Powerhouse Arts led by Herzog & de Meuron, PBDW Architects, Urban Atelier Group, Buro Happold Engineering, Silman, and Ken Smith Workshop.

Eric Shiner, President of Powerhouse Arts, shares his vision for the organization and the statement it makes about New York City’s future.

Tell us what role you play at Powerhouse Arts and what excites you most about being part of the team.

I was recently appointed as the President of Powerhouse Arts and started my role in December 2022.  It has been a distinct honor to work with an amazing team doing innovative work to support artists and to build strong community ties. Both bring me joy and excitement on a daily basis.

“[Powerhouse Arts] truly functions as a hive for creative expression, and that creativity and commitment starts with our very own team.”

– Eric Shiner, President, Powerhouse Arts
Powerhouse Arts team, Credit: Albert Vecerka/ESTO

Tell us about the team effort required to manage the many different parts of the organization and facilities.

As a purpose-built facility with state-of-the-art fabrication workshops specializing across key materials and techniques such as ceramic and print, among others, our team is composed of highly skilled experts in each area. As a true factory for art production, Powerhouse’s facility also requires the knowledge and acumen of our amazing operations and engineering crew who keeps us functioning in addition to our visionary education, programs, and administrative teams. The organization truly functions as a hive for creative expression, and that creativity and commitment starts with our very own team. 

How do you hope this facility will benefit local artists and the surrounding community?

We are already collaborating with several local arts organizations to foster relationships that welcome and support collaboration from the artists, community leaders, and tastemakers that are critical to and continue to shape the neighborhood today.  As an organization that believes in the value of work-based learning opportunities and apprenticeship,  we hope to champion participation in the arts both on a personal level as well as a professional level through community collaboration, teaching and learning, and employment, as those opportunities arise.

Powerhouse Print Shop, Credit: Albert Vecerka/ESTO

What statement do you think Powerhouse Arts makes about New York and the city’s future?

New York City is a true hub of creativity, and we hope that our varied programs contribute to the robust and vibrant activities that sustain our creative economy. As a nonprofit focused on supporting artists in all that they do, we hope that we can support them on their journey by offering opportunities for knowledge sharing, for collaboration, and creation within the walls of a meticulously-designed, resourced building focused on the highest level of health and safety standards for production.

About Eric

Eric Shiner was most recently the Executive Director of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. He was formerly Artistic Director of White Cube, New York and Senior Vice President of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. Prior to this, Eric was the director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2016, and was the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Warhol from 2008 to 2010. A leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, Eric lived and worked in Japan for a total of six years and was assistant curator on the inaugural Yokohama Triennale in 2001. Eric has curated dozens of contemporary art exhibitions in cities around the globe and was the team leader on The Warhol Museum’s major Warhol retrospective that traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo between 2012 and 2014. Notable exhibitions include Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei in 2015/16, Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After in 2012, Armory Focus: USA at the Armory Show in 2013 and Armory Platform in 2017. He is the immediate past President of the board of Visual AIDS, a NYC-based nonprofit promoting the artistic legacy of those artists lost to and living with AIDS, and a board member of The Romare Bearden Foundation and Art at a Time Like This.

Powerhouse Arts