Meet the Downtown Gallerists Attempting to Make the Artwork Scene Much less Wack

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Marlborough, which once represented Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock and more recently hosted a number of lively young artists such as Kuo, spherical sculptor Lars Fisk, and avant-garde collaborators Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, was poised to become the next Chelsea mega-gallery before it derailed by a series of Internecine lawsuits. During his tenure there, Spengemann helped set up the gallery’s up-and-coming talent bank. On Broadway, he will bring along some artists and work with friends who do not fit into Marlborough’s program. (The Lipke show with the Sussian paintings by the Hudson based artist is the culmination of a 20 year friendship.) “We can do what we want here, and that just wasn’t the case in Marlborough because the overhead was higher and more cooks in the kitchen. Of course we have to do a lot of exciting things there, but now we can try more, ”said Spengemann.

One such exhibition was the gallery’s debut: an exhibition by Ho Chunk Nation artist Sky Hopinka, anchored by a 16mm short film installation. (It was a hit: Times critic Holland Carter says Hopinka’s work on Broadway – and a simultaneous poll on Bard – “rivals in visual and linguistic beauty any new art I’ve seen in a while.”) An expansive group “Homies” shows friends of the gallery like Devin Strother, Adrianne Rubinstein, Adrea Marie Breiling, Kuo and many more come next.

Lipke installs her work. Cole and Spengemann found their place on Broadway by calling a number listed in an empty shop.

Opening a gallery during a global pandemic is not without its difficulties. “The challenge is to get the collector’s base through the door,” says Spengemann, noting that many fled the city in the spring and are more on the older side. But the Palm Beach class is still buying – even this year’s online Art Basel showed healthy action. “I think the art market is getting through compared to something like retail,” said Cole.

The most remarkable thing about Leo Fitzpatrick’s new gallery, aptly named Public Access, could be its location: a basement room on the not particularly ornate St. Marks Place. Fitzpatrick, the actor whose breakout role as Telly in Larry Clark’s Kids got him downtown at the tender age of 17, joined Marlborough in 2015 to organize experimental shows with the gallery before leaving earlier this year. On a recent Friday night, Fitzpatrick surveyed the scene – noisy outside patrons, teenagers sneaking east – and noticed that until recently it hadn’t occurred to him that it was even possible to open a gallery through the legendary (if also something Disney-esque) to open. stretch. “In my 25 years in St. Marks, there never was a gallery,” he said. Planting his flag in the neighborhood he has long lived in wasn’t due to convenience or price, but rather to a decision that his gallery would stand out from the mainstream art world: “The Street,” said Fitzpatrick, “Dictates the kind of things I want to do show.”

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