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Friday, November 2, 2012

Art Underwater in New York

Posted by on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM

The inside of Gasser Grunert Gallery post-Sandy. Gasser Grunert represents Seattle-based artist (and UW prof) Doug Jeck, and former Seattle favorite (and UW grad) Tim Roda.
  • Photo by Jomar Statkun
  • The inside of Gasser Grunert Gallery post-Sandy. Gasser Grunert represents Seattle-based artist (and UW prof) Doug Jeck, and former Seattle favorite (and UW grad) Tim Roda.

Let me start by saying that loss of art, property, or livelihood is not the same thing as loss of life, and there's plenty of disaster around the country and world that beats this.

But the New York art world is reeling.

Jerry Saltz has just put out an emotional essay about visiting Chelsea. Power's still out below 34th Street, and Chelsea is both the center of the gallery universe and the lowest part of Manhattan. Four feet of water accumulated in these rooms. Art was destroyed, unless, like the rarity of Mark Bradford's paintings, it was outfitted with plastic diapers. Saltz:

Even the most cold-hearted gallery bashers should wish the best for all these galleries. Every one. Palaces of art and mom-and-pop shows. Right now, along with much of our beautiful city, Chelsea galleries are going through hell. A huge part of the New York art world has suffered a colossal blow. Thinking about New York without its density of galleries is like not being able to think about New York at all. Grim.

Unlike Saltz, I still do distinguish between palaces and mom-and-pop shops, I suppose.

Mike Neff, a Seattle native now in New York, is a web designer and artist. His clients and friends include lots of artists and dealers. He's been wading around Chelsea, and has put together a Pinterest board called "Hurricane Sandy vs. The Chelsea Art World." That's the place to see all the aggregated photos and stories from the scene.

I talked to him today by phone, and he expressed sympathy for every gallery, of all sizes, but had special sympathy for the small-timers. "It would not surprise me if this pushes a lot of the smaller galleries either out of business or out of Chelsea," he said. Chelsea is already having a Soho moment, in which smaller spaces are moving toward the New Museum in the Bowery/Lower East Side as rental rates in Chelsea have skyrocketed (see Schroeder Romero on this in Artinfo just before the storm). Will Sandy mean any significant and lasting gallery attrition in New York, especially on the side of the non-giants? We will see.

Sending thoughts of support.


Comments (4) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I know it's impossible to predict much before the storm, but... why weren't more preventative measures taken?
Posted by STJA on November 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
watchout5 2
Usually its standard for there to be an insurance policy? Surely it's terrible to lose art that could theoretically never be replaced, but if there's any light at the end of the tunnel I hope it's that these people don't stop making their art. :)
Posted by watchout5 on November 3, 2012 at 2:46 AM · Report this
Lele Barnett 3
Can mom-and-pop shops really afford first floor rents?
Posted by Lele Barnett on November 4, 2012 at 10:04 AM · Report this
Paul Kuniholm Pauper 4
Lele brings up a valid point. Storefronts are an anachronistic extravagance, and with the liberal proliferation of art fairs, are proving less substantial in the contemporary commerce of culture. We at Form/Space Atelier will keep the doors open. Count on it.
Posted by Paul Kuniholm Pauper on November 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this

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