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Yes, More Brooklyn Gallerists You Need to Know

March 5, 2014
Brooklyn dealers robert henry

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Brooklyn’s art scene is no longer a mere training ground for artists and dealers with Manhattan aspirations. The network of galleries, studio-filled warehouse neighborhoods, and seasonal art events spanning the borough provides a kind of self-sustaining circuit courting critics, curators, and collectors across the river.

Last week we spoke to the gallerists behind six of Brooklyn’s most dynamic art spaces, and this week we’re talking to another six. Many of the galleries profiled this time (and last) will be staying open late on Saturday, March 8, for Bushwick-Ridgewood Armory Night (6 p.m. onward).

Henry Chung and Robert Walden, co-owners and co-directors of Robert Henry Contemporary.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your gallery program and makes it stand out?

We have a narrowly focused program that revolves around minimal, abstract, and conceptual work. We only show work that we both agree on, and therefore the aesthetic of the gallery is a combination of ideas that interest both of us. We seek out artists who demonstrate high levels of commitment and consistency and who are engaged in making work that both delights our eyes and engages our brains. Collectors can see a lot of obsessive drawing, geometric abstract painting and sculpture, and also video and installations. We are especially interested in work that explores ontology, time, memory, systems, architecture, formalism, geometry, mathematics, color, and process.

What are the greatest advantages to running a gallery in Brooklyn, as opposed to Manhattan?

At the moment, the lower rents in Bushwick allow us to have more space. For what galleries in the Lower East Side pay for 300 square feet we have more than twice the amount of space. Another great advantage is that the community of art galleries where we are in Bushwick is very supportive of one another. There is still a certain pioneering spirit in the gallerists who set up shop here, and a sense of camaraderie in that we are all trying to bring some freshness to the established models of running art galleries in New York.

What are the greatest challenges to running a gallery in Brooklyn?

The biggest challenge is getting domestic and local collectors and press to venture beyond Manhattan. We are constantly surprised by the number of foreign tourists who visit Bushwick, mostly Europeans, Koreans, and Japanese, but others as well. In general, the international crowd seems to take the Bushwick art scene more seriously. The locals are missing out!

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

Our favorite spot is Falansai, serving fantastic Vietnamese street food and home-style cooking It is also a nice quiet place to have a conversation over wine or beer.

Currently at Robert Henry Contemporary: Pancho Westendarp’s “Things That Barely Exist,” through March 9.

Armory Week Plans: Robert Henry Contemporary will be showing new works by Robert Lansden at VOLTA NY, March 6-9.

Deborah Brown, artist and owner of Storefront Ten Eyck.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your galleries’ and makes them stand out?

At Storefront Ten Eyck, I pair the work of mid-career artist peers with the work of young artists. I am less interested in the strictly new than I am in enduring themes—formal beauty, craft, and an engagement with materials and ideas. I try to give young artists an opportunity to put their best foot forward and gain a larger audience for their work. For older artists, it’s a chance to be recontextualized alongside up-and-coming artists and to have their work seen and discussed by a vibrant artists’ community. The shows I organize are frequently an extension of my own studio practice and complement what I am thinking about formally and intellectually in my work. On occasion, I invite someone whom I respect to curate a show, knowing that this will result in something very different from what I would do.

What are the greatest advantages of running a gallery in Brooklyn, as opposed to Manhattan?

The freedom to do whatever you like, unfettered by commercial imperatives, is incredible. I don’t represent artists, and I am not trying to compete in the traditional gallery arena. Each show is different, and this makes for a lively curatorial smorgasbord. I am interested in an inter-generational dialogue that mixes up hierarchies—younger and older artists, well known and lesser known artists. This would never work in Manhattan.

What are the greatest challenges of running a gallery in Brooklyn?

Getting critics and collectors to come to Bushwick on a regular basis is still a challenge. Over the years Storefront has had its share of attention, so I am not complaining, but it would be nice to have more people see the great shows that are consistently programmed in the galleries in our neighborhood. Higher-ups in the art world food chain do appear at my door from time to time but not on a regular basis. It’s out of their way, and the galleries in Bushwick and Ridgewood are spread out over a wide area. We galleries now have a common website [www.bushwickgalleries.com] where we list our shows, openings, and locations. This website and late evening art crawls have helped to make it easier for visitors to get around and know where to go in our neighborhood.

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

The Anchored Inn on Waterbury Street at Scholes Street is decorated with paintings on velvet of Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chaves, and Kim Jong Il and has great bar food and drinks. One Knickerbocker at Johnson Avenue is an ambitious new restaurant that is garnering a lot of attention. The Newtown Cafe on Waterbury has great vegan sandwiches and salads and is now open for dinner, BYO.

Currently at Storefront Ten Eyck: The group show “Spitball,” opening March 8 (6-9pm) and continuing through April 6.

Regina Rex, gallery collective.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your gallery program and makes it stand out?

We are a group of 12 artists, so there’s a broad range of interests and we are continually challenging ourselves to look outside the formal tendencies we might naturally lean towards. That said, we do look at a lot of work that addresses the conditions of materiality, craft and the body existing in an increasingly dematerialized world.

What are the greatest advantages to running a gallery in Brooklyn/Queens, as opposed to Manhattan?

For almost four years, we’ve had a large, very affordable space where we can offer artists an opportunity to show a substantial amount of work.

What are the greatest challenges to running a gallery in Brooklyn—or in your case, right over the border into Queens?

The L train.

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

Bun-Ker. Great Vietnamese food. They’re only open for dinner now, but well worth it.

Currently at Regina Rex: “Looking for Work,” a group show featuring works by Kara Braciale, Aideen Doran, João Enxuto, and David Stein, through March 30.

Kelani Nichole and Jereme Mongeon, co-directors of TRANSFER.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your gallery program and makes it stand out?

The Internet – TRANSFER is an exhibition space that explores the friction between digital practice and its physical instantiation. The gallery’s focus is on artists working with emerging digital practices that are embedded in the networked culture of our contemporary moment. Our program emphasizes humanistic tendencies in contact with digital aesthetics, and is inclusive of both the rigid and mediated objects that result from that contact.

What are the greatest advantages to running a gallery in Brooklyn, as opposed to Manhattan?

Brooklyn is home to an enthusiastic audience for the types of artists and artworks we work with. Also, rent is a big one. Physical exhibition space is the key resource that enables our artists to extend and expand their practice. The Internet is our foot traffic, so our address is relatively inconsequential.

What are the greatest challenges to running a gallery in Brooklyn?

Our exhibition cycles are a bit outside of the art world’s tempo.  Walk-ins are rare, given our location in the East Williamsburg Industrial Zone, so we are only open to the public one day a week (Saturdays). Instead, we thrive on being a destination for monthly receptions and events.

More and more we are seeing collectors make their way further down Metropolitan Avenue to our space. We recognize this is somewhat of an adventure compared to the typical early-evening meandering gallery nights of Manhattan’s lively art districts, and we like it that way.

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

We tend to have a late crowd—come out after dinner to one of our openings and then head to Alaska Bar (Ingraham and Morgan) for a taste of the local scene at their late-night videoart parties.

Currently at TRANSFER: Anthony Antonellis’s “Internet of my dreams,” opening March 8, continuing through March 29.

Jen Dalton and Jenn McCoy, Auxiliary Projects.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your gallery program and makes it stand out?

Auxiliary Projects’ mission is to spread artworks further into the world, deep into the uncolonized apartments of normal middle-class people. To that end, all of our exhibitions feature work that is available for under $300. We focus on conceptually-driven work in all media.

What are the greatest advantages to running a gallery in Brooklyn, as opposed to Manhattan?

We have a very active, supportive community in Bushwick and the relatively low rent on our tiny space makes it possible to sustain a gallery that sells unusually affordable art.

What are the greatest challenges to running a gallery in Brooklyn?

Many Manhattan art viewers apparently find it easier to fly out of JFK than to take the L train seven stops out, and we don’t have a ton of foot traffic in our little spot. People have to really want to come find us, and we try to entice them any way we can.

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

Our favorite spot for fabulous but casual food and drink (we’ve been known to use it as our office) is Bodega Bar, on the corner of Troutman and St. Nicholas.

Currently at Auxiliary Projects: Lisa Levy’s “Everyone Loves a Winner,” through March 9.

Alex Paik, director and Naomi Reis, assistant director, TSA.

What is a recurring or common motif, theme, interest or formal tendency that you would say characterizes your gallery program and makes it stand out?

Each member (there are 10 total) has complete freedom during their exhibition slot, so they can show their own work, curate a group show, or even hand over their slot to an outside curator. Since each member has about a year between their exhibition slots, they have a lot of time to think about their shows, which leads to carefully and thoughtfully edited shows.

Also this is not by conscious design, but there tends to be a common interest in materials and process—our shows are generally less ethereal (less performance and theory-driven), and more gravity-based (studio-driven practices). Since there is no predefined curatorial program or mandate, the direction is driven by the interests of each individual member. So the organic, bubbling-up quality of ideas and direction, rather than a top-down approach, yields many pleasant surprises.

What are the greatest advantages to running a gallery in Brooklyn, as opposed to Manhattan?

The greatest advantage is the proximity to artists and other artist-run spaces (particularly in Bushwick). The community here is unbelievably supportive and we are extremely grateful for the support that artists have shown us even as a new space.

The other most obvious advantage is the lower rent cost, with the connected benefit that who and what we show is not dictated by the market. The fact that we’re in a (relatively) affordable artist studio building in Bushwick makes it possible to show emerging artists whose work is still developing, and not as of yet functioning primarily as a commodity.

What are the greatest challenges to running a gallery in Brooklyn?

Basically the flip side of the lower rent, which is the lack of collectors and relatively obscure location. (The greatest challenge is getting people on the L train! The East River is like this unpassable firey moat for many curators, critics and especially collectors.)

As a young artist-run space, our community is mostly other artists and therefore we don’t have established relationships with a collector base yet. I think these kinds of spaces are essential as counterpoints to profits-driven businesses in other parts of the city, though more sales will certainly be great for the longevity of the space.

Can you recommend a nearby restaurant or bar where someone coming to visit your gallery should go for a post-art meal or drink?

Bodega Bar (24 St. Nicholas Avenue) is good for an early evening beer, and Wyckoff Starr (30 Wyckoff Avenue) or Cobra Club (6 Wyckoff Avenue) is great for grabbing coffee and a Dough doughnut. I’ve had the best pea soup in my life at Northern Kingdom (18 Wyckoff Avenue; I didn’t realize that pea soup could actually taste green—as in, like fresh peas—rather than a mush derived from dried peas), and I really love their burger (soft and so flavorful: you can really taste the delicate flavor of the beef rather than the chargrilled salt bomb you often find elsewhere). And of course, there’s the tacos at the tortilla manufacturer Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos (271 Starr Street).

Currently at TSA: The group show “Sump Pumped Sentiments” featuring works by Todd Bienvenu, Gideon Bok, Shara Hughes, and Jason Mones, through March 30.

FOR PART 1 OF OUR BROOKLYN DEALERS POWER LIST, CLICK HERE.

Current Exhibition

Making Good Time: Richard Garrison and Alexander Oleksyn

June 2 through
July 30, 2017

Opening reception:
June 2, 2017
6-9pm

More info »