The Rachel Uffner Gallery Controversially Closed Adjacent Community Garden for Private Party

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 at 10:19 am by
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The Rachel Uffner Gallery on Suffolk Street celebrated its latest installation – Strauss Bourque-LaFrance’s “No Aloha” – this past Sunday evening with a private party. Pretty standard. The only problem, however, is that the showroom roped off the adjacent 2,385 square-foot public garden for private use.

Boogie reader Josh Cohen was concerned with this over-reaching action, noting that the Dorothy Strelsin Memorial Garden at 174 Suffolk is a public space strictly intended for community use. Not for one organization’s event and guest-listed elite. He writes:

From the street I could see that the event organizers had done a great job of decorating the garden. And as a lover of that particular garden I was eager to step inside and get a closer look. But when I entered the garden, I was told by event organizers that it was a private party and I was asked to leave.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I complied. But this is actually a fairly major breach on the gallery’s part: the whole point of a community garden is that it is green space for the entire community. It can’t and shouldn’t be roped off for an elite few.

The New York Restoration Project – the garden’s caretaker – is apaprently aware of this breach. Garden rules are pretty crystal clear:

This garden may only be used for community events that are free and open to the public. No fee may be charged to rent the space, enter the garden or participate in events. The gates must remain open during all events.

UPDATE: The gallery issued this statement –

No one was turned away by the gallery at any point. If someone was found turning away guests, that individual was not affiliated with the gallery in any way.
We apologize if someone felt rejected. There was no doorperson or guest list, so whoever was pretending to be the host was making a misguided joke.

The Dorothy Strelsin Memorial Garden was established in 1980 as Iglesia Pentacostal Arca de Salvacion. Strelsin was a philanthropist who passed away in 2001. A year later, the green space was reimagined by volunteers from Ground Force – a BBC America production – and the New York Restoration Project.

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Photo: Joshua Cohen

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