Con Artist Opening Gallery Workspace Upstairs at 119 Ludlow

Posted on: August 15th, 2013 at 5:22 am by
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Stuck in the basement for much of its life, Con Artist is again breaking free to street level. This time, however, it’s remaining close to home. Indeed. In the wake of the Kropps & Bobbers departure to 189 Orchard last month, the four-year-old artist collective has seized the retail space for itself. And there are some ambitious plans at play.

Owner Brian Shevlin gave us a sneak peek of the in-progress premises. Similar to its brief stint on Suffolk Street, the new vision for 119 Ludlow Street tows the line between offering both a “clean” and “dirty” space split between the ground and basement respectively.

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The front third of the upstairs footprint is earmarked for a white-box gallery to display the work of its booming membership. Its weekly art parties will continue. Shevlin tells us that the showroom component will open on August 21 with an inaugural show featuring Conie Vallese and Liaizon Wakest.

The rear two-thirds, meanwhile, is undergoing the biggest transformation. Plans are to expose the brick walls and high ceilings to create said “clean” alternative. Here, members will have access to computer-based workstations with some unique furniture placements. For instance, a loft-like structure (“the biggest couch you’ve ever seen”) and soundproof pods on wheels.

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Exiting the back door brings you down a remarkably well-preserved spiral staircase to the basement. (Shevlin tells us the stairwell hasn’t been altered much since 1908). This OG raw room remains the “dirty” component of the operation. Meaning, it is here that artists with access store and utilize the messy materials for their projects.

In the end, this expansion is proof positive that Con Artist is booming, and that there’s still hope for underground art on the Lower East Side. Member numbers are up (over 120 active) and other programming is in the early planning stages. Like a possible artist residence program with rooming accommodations in the building.

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