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Chelsea Gallery Crawl

Chelsea is a neighbourhood on the west side of Manhattan Island that is currently the main gallery district in NYC. It has been three years since I did a gallery crawl through Chelsea.


Walking back and forth between 10th and 11th Avenues, up and down the streets: West 25th, 24th, 23rd. It is so easy to find a gallery on these blocks, just go to the next door, the next room on the floor of a warehouse, they are in almost every space.


In Chelsea you have to put up a sign to say that it is not a gallery.

Often my gallery crawls are endurance walks, hours of the touring around galleries, climbing up stairs in old warehouses and in newly furbished gallery spaces. Often I was looking at third rate commercial art, or second rate work by established artists. At times I wonder why am even here looking at pointless commercial art suitable only for the lobby of a three star hotel. I’ve never heard of any of the artists exhibiting at the Agora Gallery’s “Out from Down Under & Beyond – Fine Art from Australia and New Zealand.” My guess is that Agora is renting the wall space by the metre.


James Turrell installation at Pace

Wondering is Cindy Sherman too old to play dress-ups and what will happen if she lives into her 90s? There are other veteran established artists continuing to blandly do their trademark thing; David Hockney is drawing Yosemite National Park on his iPad, Richard Serra has large pieces of steel, and James Turrell working with space and light. Then I see art that really works and I know why I am on this gallery crawl.

The highlight of visiting all of these galleries had to be an installation by a duo of Canadian artists, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, “The Marionette Maker” (2014). The installation, at Luhring Augustine, included a caravan with robotic marionettes, audio, and lighting. It was such stuff as dreams are made of; amongst the miniature scenes in the caravan was a tiny scene of the caravan in a field by a lake. (For more see Hyperallergic’s review.)

Another exhibitions that caught my attention was Anthony Adcock, “Marks of the Trade” at Lyons Wier Gallery, has painted aluminium to look like sheets of plywood and carved wood that looks like steel, it is very impressive while remaining almost too subtle.


Aiko at HG Contemporary

And at HG Contemporary a group show of street artists from around the world; Retna, Swoon, Olek, Aiko, Pixelpancho and Jay West. There is so much variety in styles, and techniques from Aiko’s stencils to Olek’s crochet world.

There is some good street art on the streets; street artists like to put up work near art galleries, perhaps because there they find an appreciative audience. I see a couple of low relief panels by Kai (tying in with my special interest in street art sculptures).

I pause briefly for lunch but then I keep going until 5pm as I don’t know when I’ll be going around the Chelsea galleries again.


Northcote Galleries

I went to Northcote to see Advanced Vandalism by Johnny Duel at Kick Gallery. Duel an aerosol artist who started out doing graffiti in the 1980s have moved on to commissioned pieces has now moved into the gallery. His hard edge abstract forms are a mix between wildstyle aerosol art and modern abstract art. In the exhibition Duel’s style is expressed in both 2D works and 3D sculptures, not an uncommon practice for street artists exhibiting in galleries.

Kick Gallery was one of the few galleries open in Northcote when I visited. Vanguard Gallery on the opposite side of High Street has closed and looks like it is having a garage sale and Synergy looked like it was between shows. Kerala, further north on High Street, is a relatively new and not listed in Art Almanac, “art and photography gallery”. It is a well-lite, white cube shop-front gallery with a group show of contemporary flower photography on when I visited.

When I returned home from my visit to Northcote galleries I emailed Eugene von Nagy who ran Vanguard Gallery to find out why it had closed and if he wanted to make a comment for my blog. Eugene von Nagy kindly replied: “Vanguard Gallery was a great experience for me, a great learning experience, a lot of work and a real pleasure too. “

“Although my personal art production suffered because the gallery took the lions share of my time, the entire gallery for me was like a giant art project in itself.”

“I really enjoyed opening it from scratch and improving the facilities and decor as I developed my skills as a curator and manager.”

“One of the best sides of running the gallery was that I met a great deal of interesting people at all levels in the arts industry. I also enjoyed engaging with radio and print media to promote various events, and working with the local arts community to create the annual ‘Northern Exposure’ arts festival.”

“I plan to continue the gallery website and develop it in a more personal way to reflect changes in my career. Eventually I will sort and post a larger collection of photos from the many exhibitions and events held throughout the life of the gallery. “ And explained that he had to close the gallery as he is “moving to Brisbane to paint full time while my wife finishes her studies at UQ.”

The Northcote arts scene will miss Eugene von Nagy’s energy and Vanguard Gallery.

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