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Artists Space suspends programming amid dispute with landlord


We’re sad to learn that Artists Space has been forced to suspend its exhibition programming at 38 Greene Street due to a dispute with their landlord over construction work. Artists Space has occupied the third floor of 38 Greene Street since 1992, and seemingly has had problems with its landlord since the building’s purchase in 2008. The 2011 occupation of Artists Space, in which a splinter group from Occupy Wall Street attempted to take over the 38 Greene Street space, comes to mind. At that time, director Stefan Kalmar openly communicated that actions taken by protestors, such as flying “Occupy Artists Space” banners out the windows, would jeopardize their lease and already rocky relationship with their landlord, who could rent the SoHo space for many thousands more than what the art institution is currently paying.

Notably, Artists Space is launching a new series of talks titled We (Not I) at their Books and Talks location down the street. Organized by Melissa Gordon and Marina Vishmidt, the series brings together various leading female artists, critics, curators and thinkers. More information on that program on their site, and the report in partial via New York Times below.

Artists Space, a nonprofit art gallery in SoHo, has suspended programming in a dispute with its landlord over construction work that it says would disrupt future exhibitions.

The planned work by the landlord includes adding two floors to the roof of 38 Greene Street, where Artists Space has rented the third floor since 1993, and strengthening interior columns, said Stefan Kalmár, the gallery’s executive director.

Mr. Kalmár said that Dario Zar, the head of a real estate company that owns the Greene Street building, began telling him about the construction plans in the spring, saying workers needed to be inside the gallery for up to two months to reinforce the columns, with or without the gallery’s consent. Mr. Kalmár said that would make it impossible to put on exhibitions. The gallery has delayed an exhibition by Cameron Rowland that was scheduled to open in late September, Mr. Kalmár said, adding that he was discussing with lawyers how to proceed.

“The underlying agenda is to bully us until we move out,” Mr. Kalmár said. “But that is not going to happen.”

Mr. Zar did not respond to a phone call or an email message requesting comment.

The news of the impending shutdown was first reported last week by Artforum.

Artists Space, which started in 1972, has long been viewed as a pioneer of the downtown alternative art scene. Exhibits there have shown the work of Tom of Finland, who created hypermasculine gay images; and Christopher D’Arcangelo, who once showed up at the Guggenheim with shackled hands and feet and the words “Long Live Anarchism” stenciled across his back.

Mr. Kalmár said he had offered to allow workers access for four months in exchange for payments equaling 90 percent of four months’ rent as well as an additional $10,000. The landlord replied with an email message, Mr. Kalmár said, that read “No compensation.”