Being an artist anywhere can feel like being a very little fish in a giant sea. Being an artist in New York City may at times feel like being a very small speck in an entire universe. While cities like New York are wonderful art hubs where a vast network can be developed and there is culture around every corner, it is also a highly competitive place where artists can easily get lost in the shuffle. There are hundreds of galleries in New York (one estimate puts the number near 1500) across every borough. Having some aim when it comes to where to direct your focus can be a huge help while trying to navigate an art scene this big. From time to time I like to break the city down one piece at a time and talk about some of the galleries you might set your sights on. In the past I have discussed the art scene in the Lower East Side and today I would like to give you the basics of what’s happening in Brooklyn, where many galleries both large and small are fleeing the soaring cost of real estate in Manhattan.
1. Cleopatra’s Gallery
This Greenpoint space was opened in 2008 by four women with standing presence in the New York art scene. The gallery plays host to imaginative and bold exhibits as well as events throughout the year. The space itself sits in a storefront, a former deli, and retains the name of its predecessor.
2. Real Fine Arts
This gallery was opened by a duo of friends, Tyler Dobson and Ben Morgan who, during college, worked as art handlers. Founded in 2008, it was originally intended as a space where Dobson, Morgan, and their friends could create art. Since then the gallery has grown and today has a full calendar of exhibitions and events. They are involved in the wider art world and work closely with some well-known names in the art world including Sam Pulitzer.
3. C L E A R I N G
Oliver Babin is behind this Williamsburg space which also has a sister gallery in Berlin. In 2014 the gallery moved into a 5,000 square foot space, once a truck repair outfit, and has since flourished. CLEARING has hosted booths at the Independent Art Fair as well as The Armory and is home to an impressive roster of artists.
4. The Journal Gallery
The Journal began as a zine before evolving into an art magazine. Michael Nevin, founder of both, opened a gallery in Williamsburg in a former garage. He runs the whole operation with the help of his wife, Julia Dippelhofer.
5. Interstate Projects
This gallery opened its doors in Bushwick in 2011. The primary mission is to connect artists and curators throughout the US and internationally helping to further dialogue and support artistic practices. The gallery accomplishes this through “ambitious large-scale solo exhibitions,” among other means.
6. Greenpoint Gallery
Artist and musician Shawn James established this gallery in 2005 with the aim of supporting up and coming artists. The gallery hosts salon evenings every Friday from September to June. There is no fee to submit your work for consideration and if chosen there is a $5 fee per piece. The gallery is a nonprofit organization which means that artists receive the full commission for any work sold here.
7. Pioneer Works Center for Arts and Innovation
To say this 27,000 square foot art space has been put to the test since its 2012 inception would be an understatement. The building itself has undergone multiple renovations and was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Despite all this, it remains a stronghold for artists offering space to exhibit, collaborate, learn, and explore.
8. Microscope Gallery
The gallery, founded in 2010 by artist/curator team Elle Burchill and Andrea Monti, in their own words, “addresses the unnecessary divide between the white box setting of the gallery and the black box of the screening/performance venue.” The gallery focuses on video, sound, digital and performing arts and seeks to support emerging artists in these fields.
As is often tradition among Brooklyn galleries, Soloway gets its name from the business that used to be housed within the gallery walls. In this case, the gallery sits in the former home of Soloway Plumbing and Heating. Soloway is an artist run space headed up by Tomer Aluf, Derek Franklin, Annette Wehrhahn, and Emily Weiner.
This diminutive gallery, opened in 2011 by Lacey Fekishazy, uses its modest size to create a “contemplative, intimate space” for carefully curated solo and small group shows. Sardine operates under the “art for art’s sake” philosophy. Since its inception the gallery has preferred to work with emerging and mid-career artists offering a space where they can show work free from the distraction of a larger space.