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New York warms to apartment galleries


Robin Pogrebin writes about apartment galleries for the New York Times, which she notes have grown more popular since the 2008 economic downturn. As a former Chicagoan, I would remiss to not point out that this has long been “a thing” in the Windy City–basically everyone who went to art school at SAIC or Columbia (or beyond) had an ironically named apartment gallery. (To be fair, she does mention Chicago’s The Suburban in passing.) It seems to me these younger, Brooklyn-based galleries are picking up from a generation of gallery owners in Williamsburg, such as Pierogi, that made up an alternative, albeit commercial artist-run scene in that borough.

Read Pogrebin in partial below, or the full version via New York Times.

Given a high-powered, high-priced art market, in which it can be impossible to break in, “the opportunities come as much from your colleagues,” Ms. Weiner said. In 2013, she featured the artist Sam Adams in a Willows show. Mr. Adams suggested to the artist Jay Davis that he look at Ms. Weiner’s paintings. Then, last February, Mr. Davis included Ms. Weiner’s work in a group show that he curated in the space between the Ace Hotel’s lobby and the John Dory Oyster Bar in the Flatiron district.

“A decade ago, collectors would buy works straight out of your graduate school studio and there was a feeling of cutthroat competitiveness,” Ms. Weiner said. “It doesn’t help to be competitive right now.”

Most of these alternative galleries are open by appointment only and publicize their events through Instagram, Facebook and other social media. As a result, visiting these spaces can take effort. In an email to prospective attendees, Mr. Eddy explained that openings at his place, called Eddysroom, “are semi private events, so please refrain from passing out the address and phone number, but feel free to bring a plus one” — and to “call or text if you are having trouble finding the spot.”

Indeed, those involved in this gallery scene say the trouble it takes to see shows at odd times in out-of-the-way spaces are a testament to the hunger for art experiences that feel human and intimate. “People travel to the neighborhood, find parking, come to my front gate, call the number because there’s no buzzer,” said Paul Soto, a writer who runs Park View gallery out of his home in the MacArthur Park section of Los Angeles. “For me to come down and have this interaction with them — it’s really personal.”

Several of the artists featured in these unorthodox shows are already established professionals, like Mr. Johnson, for example, who had a solo show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co in New York in 2010 and has been featured in group exhibitions at Marlborough Chelsea and the Sculpture Center.

“The big thing is just having a show, no matter where it is,” Mr. Johnson said. “There isn’t always an opportunity to show someplace, so you just make your own opportunity.”

Once a novelty, artist-run spaces now abound. The artist David Prince runs Adjunct Positions out of his garage in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles. Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam, married artists, operate the Suburban gallery in two outbuildings in the yard of their home in the Oak Park neighborhood in Chicago.

Many, not surprisingly, can be found in Brooklyn, including Mountain, which the artist Michael Fleming started this year in his Bushwick apartment, and Violet’s Cafe, which three artists started in 2013 in a former factory in Carroll Gardens.

*Image of Michelle Grabner and The Suburban via Chicago Tribune