The Lower East Side Gallery Scene

Posted on: September 3rd, 2010 at 6:16 am by

As if we needed further affirmation of the gallery district that has become the Lower East Side, W magazine has a sprawling writeup on the whole scene, bringing it mainstream.  The prose is more a proclamation that Chelsea now has a run for its money.

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Bargain shopping is swiftly being erased due, in part, to the influx of galleries. According to the article, there are more than 60 galleries around the neighborhood, many of which are focused along Bowery and the entire length of Orchard Street.  And they keep coming – the latest being Rooster Gallery at 190 Orchard, the Krause Gallery at 149 Orchard, and James Fuentes at 55 Delancey.

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We are reminded throughout of the swift changes around here:

That same year [2007], the Bowery Hotel colonized what had once been considered Skid Row…the Bowery got its own cultural heavyweight, when the New Museum moved into its new seven-story home, designed by the Japanese firm SANAA. This, plus the Cooper Union’s Thom Mayne–designed academic building at the Bowery’s north end, and the new Norman Foster–designed Sperone Westwater gallery…Greenberg Rohatyn is opening her biggest Salon 94 space there in September, and earlier this year the street received Keith McNally’s blessing [really?!] with his pizza restaurant, Pulino’s…

On Orchard Street:

…As the Bowery gets glammed up, the south end of Orchard Street is trying to stay true to its anarchic roots, but gentrification is also happening there.

Unlike Chelsea, there’s a scarcity of high ceilings and wide walls on the Lower East Side’s tenement-lined streets. The focus here is on thinking outside the white box, for artists and dealers alike. “I could never move!” exclaims Miguel Abreu, whose claustrophobic, postage stamp–size space at Hester and Orchard was one of the first in the neighborhood, and whose high-quality, small-scale conceptual program has helped define Lower Orchard art.

Who will win the crown for most storefronts occupied, bars or galleries?

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