Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Love Bushwick

By Charles Kessler
Opening of the Charles Atlas Exhibition at the new Bushwick branch of the Luhring Augustine Gallery

People in Bushwick are worried the blue-chip Chelsea gallery, Luhring Augustine, which inaugurated a new 10,000-square-foot building in Bushwick Friday night (see photo above), is the harbinger of a bigger and less congenial art scene. This may be so, but I think it will take more than Luhring Augustine and even a few other big galleries moving in to change things. Big galleries can even help small DIY ones by attracting collectors to the area who might otherwise be reluctant to come, and that in turn helps artists too. The problem will come, of course, if too many big galleries move in and make the area too popular. I hope it never comes to that.

I love Bushwick the way it is now. People are friendly, as you’d expect in a real neighborhood. At a typical opening of a small Bushwick gallery, people mingle in a relaxed manner and actually talk about the art and other shows they’ve seen. Of course it’s networking, but it’s comfortable and sincere.

At Matt Freedman's opening at the Valentine gallery, also Friday night, Fred Valentine welcomed people as they came in, introduced himself and introduced them to Matt Freedman, who in turn introduced them to other people. Contrast that with Luring Augustine's opening. Roland Augustine also greeted people at the door, and that was a nice gesture to the community, but it’s one thing to welcome hundreds of people into an anonymous space, and quite another to welcome a few dozen people into an intimate space and engage them in conversation.

The mood at Bushwick's other openings was so infectious Friday evening that Jerry Saltz went around introducing himself and Roberta Smith to a few people hanging out at the new Theodore:Art gallery; and as outgoing as Saltz is, I somehow can’t imagine that happening in a big crowded Chelsea opening, or Luhring Augustine’s new Bushwick space for that matter. In any case it wouldn’t be as amiable.

I really, really hope Bushwick doesn't change much for many years. I intend to cherish it while it lasts.

Next post: Bushwick gallery map and guide.

No comments: